The Korea Herald

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Top pro football league tops 10,000 in average attendance in 1st half

By Yonhap

Published : June 27, 2023 - 19:48

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South Korean men's national football team players wave to fans after a match against Peru at Busan Asiad Main Stadium on June 16. (Yonhap) South Korean men's national football team players wave to fans after a match against Peru at Busan Asiad Main Stadium on June 16. (Yonhap)

On the strength of an offensive surge and a tight race in the middle, the top South Korean professional football league has established an attendance record for its current format.

The 12 teams in the K League 1 averaged 10,328 fans per match through 19 out of 38 contests this season, the league office announced Tuesday. It's the largest figure for the first half since the K League introduced the promotion-relegation system in 2013.

Last year, with the country still not fully out of the COVID-19 pandemic, the K League 1 clubs averaged only 4,471 fans in the first half of 2022. Prior to the pandemic, the figure was 8,382 fans per match in the first half of 2019, and 5,384 the year before that.

On June 4, the K League exceeded 1 million fans for the season in a record 96 matches, beating the previous mark of 108 matches from 2013.

The K League said the absence of any COVID-related restrictions, combined with South Korea's run to the knockout stage at the FIFA World Cup last December, appeared to have contributed to the early surge in attendance.

The league also pointed to Ulsan Hyundai FC's dominance and intense competition among clubs in the next tier as reasons for increased interest.

Ulsan are poised to win their second straight title, having opened up a 13-point lead atop the table with 47. They have scored 43 goals so far, the most in K League 1 history after 19 matches.

Below Ulsan, seven clubs are separated by just seven points, with the fewest points separating the clubs at No. 2 and No. 8 in league history after 19 matches.

Ulsan rank second in home attendance with an average of 17,611 fans. FC Seoul, third in the tables with 32 points, are tops in attendance by averaging 24,228 fans per match.

Four other clubs are averaging over 10,000 supporters per contest, including newly-promoted Daejeon Hana Citizen FC with 13,111. (Yonhap)