Bern still tops the rankings of the most followed teams in Europe, and Switzerland is still ahead of everyone, including the KHL. Only the NHL boasts a higher average spectator per game than the National League.
The International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) has released its annual attendance survey after a year-long hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Switzerland and Bern are always at the fore in Europe
Numbers traditionally focus on the regular season. In Europe, Bern remains at the top of the table in terms of average stadium attendance – a situation that has not changed since 2002.
The Swiss league also remains the European league with the highest attendance rate, and second in the world after the NHL.
Compared to the most recent numbers in 2020, the numbers are down due to the Covid-19 pandemic, to a completely different extent depending on the league.
In North America, numbers are down 9% in the NHL and 16% in the AHL with some franchises having little or no impact in the pandemic period, while others have been hit by restrictions imposed by various state governments.
In place of traditional chiefs, Chicago and Montreal — due to restrictions — the NHL stadium attendance scheme has seen four clubs play in full stadiums this year: Tampa Bay, Washington, Minnesota and Nashville.
On average, there are 15,841 spectators in NHL stadiums – versus 17’423 in 2020. The AHL ranks second in North America and fourth in the world with an average of 4’652 spectators per game.
The Swiss National League – one of the leagues least affected in Europe due to capacity constraints – recorded a lower average turnout (13%) than the last season before the pandemic, going from 7,074 to an average of 6,139 spectators per game.
It is clear that the Swiss Super League remains at the top of the European leagues in terms of popularity.
It is interesting to note that most clubs in Switzerland and Europe have seen a decrease in numbers with the exception of Friborg and Umbro-Biota, which thanks to their new stadiums have increased the number of spectators, as well as the new Ajoi team. Promoted to the National League.
The most popular hockey in the UK
Two years ago it was eighth in Europe in terms of spectators while now, the UK Elite Ice Hockey League ranks fourth in Europe, behind Switzerland, Sweden and Germany, but ahead of Finland, Czech Republic and KHL.
In England and Northern Ireland, the numbers fell by just 5%, registering an average of 2,885 spectators per match.
Bern is always very much in driving
While Berne continues to lead the league’s fixture schedule in Europe with an average of 13,348 fans in their home games, there have been significant shifts in positions close to the Swiss Bears due to capacity constraints or a lack of it.
Berne is the only team to reach five figures, while in 2020, a record number of eight clubs in Europe exceeded the average of 10,000 spectators per match.
The new No. 2 in Europe is Frolunda Gothenburg with an average of 8’531 spectators (10,579 in 2020). Frolunda is the first Swedish club to reach second place since the classification was introduced in 2001.
Usually KHL or DEL clubs appear behind Berne, but now – less invasive restrictions to combat the virus – there are three other Swiss clubs: Friborg, Zurich and Zug. Eleventh place is for Ambrì with an average of 6’017 spectators per game and 22 for Lugano, with 4’960.
Sixth in the standings, with an average attendance of 6’693 fans (slightly more than last year) are the Sheffield Steelers of the English Championship, who have gone from 28th to sixth.
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