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Football attracting wider audience

Women and ethnic minorities are attending top flight football in greater numbers, according to research.

Figures for the Barclays Premier League suggest the face of the English football fan is changing.

Of the 13.6 million fans at games during the 2008-09 season, 19% were women and 8% were black or from ethnic minorities.

In a poll of 2.3 million fans who have been attending matches during the last five years, 33% were women and 16% black or ethnic minority.

The research, carried out by Populus, found a major reason new fans attended games was because of a growing belief it was safe and enjoyable.

Richard Scudamore, Premier League chief executive, said: "This research is hugely encouraging because it confirms the hard work we and the clubs have put into improving the quality of experience both on and off the pitch.

"Football is increasingly attractive to more sectors of society, which is fantastic because it was only a generation ago that people used to look down their nose and see it as a rather narrow preserve.

"Now women, children and black and minority ethnic fans make up a significant proportion of the crowd - and when you have 500 million homes in 211 countries tuning in to see Barclays Premier League matches every week they see that's a powerful advert for English football."

Children were not surveyed but season ticket sales for 2009-10 showed 13% went to youngsters. In 2004-05 the figure was 10%.

Populus found 28% of adults attended with their children and 70% of them viewed attending a game as a family day out. Almost all fans (97%) felt safe outside the ground before and after the game, and inside the stadium during the match.

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