British museums have more patrons than football

According to Hamish McRae of The Independent, more people in Britain go to museums than to football matches. The heaviest hitter in football is Manchester United, which in 2004-05 had just under 1.3 million attending its matches; the heaviest hitter in museums is the Tate, which had 6.3 million visitors. In fact, Man Utd was the only football club above the million mark, with the British Museum, the National Gallery, the Science Museum and the Natural History Museum all in the three to five million range. Although people have to pay to go to a football match, while museums are free, 43 percent of the UK population visited a museum in the previous year, whereas according to a Mori survey in 2005, only 41 percent of the population confessed to being interested in football.

These statistics come from a report by Prof Tony Travers of the London School of Economics, which the museums are using to beef up their case for more state support. There has been a squeeze on funding: income has been flat in real terms whereas the number of visitors has been rising.