logo
logo
Chelsea vs Leeds is the most-watched club match in UK television history.

The 10 most watched football matches in UK television history ft. Chelsea vs Leeds…

England unsurprisingly dominate the most-watched football matches in UK television history, but Leeds United, Chelsea, Manchester United and Liverpool are among the clubs that feature towards the top end.

For as long as football’s been shown live on television, flagship events like the World Cup, FA Cup and European Cup finals have brought people together in a way like little else can.

Here are the 10 most-watched football matches in the history of UK television.

10. England vs Germany – Euro 96 semi-final – 23.8m

Euro ’96 marked the revival of English football in the eyes of the public. The song ‘Three Lions’ was the soundtrack as Terry Venables’ memorable England team advanced to the semis on home turf. At Wembley, familiar foes Germany stood in their way of reaching the final.

Twenty-three million people tuned in to the match, which was shown on both ITV and BBC. They witnessed one of the most memorable – and heartbreaking – England defeats in history, from Darren Anderton hitting the post in extra time to Gazza coming that close to winning it. Gareth Southgate’s missed penalty remains woven into the collective psyche of all England fans.

9. Liverpool vs Club Brugge – 1978 European Cup final – 23.9m

The most-watched Liverpool match in the history of UK television. Almost 24 million sat down to watch Bob Paisley’s Reds take on the champions of Belgium at Wembley.

Kenny Dalglish’s strike was the difference on the night, with Liverpool’s 1-0 win soundtracked by the voice of Brian Moore on ITV, with the iconic commentator accompanied by scouse sidekicks Ian St John and Tommy Smith.

This was the second successive year that Liverpool lifted Ol’ Big Ears, and the most-watched of their historic six European Cup wins.

8. Leeds United vs Bayern Munich – 1975 European Cup final – 24.2m

The reason that Leeds fans still chant “We are the champions, champions of Europe“, having left that infamous Paris final with the distinct feeling of being robbed.

Over 24 million witnessed one of the most controversial matches in English football history, in which Bayern – featuring Franz Beckenbauer, Uli Hoeness and Gerd Muller – ran out 2-0 winners, having benefitted from some questionable decisions from referee Michel Kitabdijan.

Legendary former Leeds manager Don Revie served as co-commentator and was left aghast.

7. Manchester United vs Benfica – 1968 European Cup final – 26m

The most-watched match in Manchester United’s history, as well as the European Cup, the storied competition’s viewing figures have never been bettered since that unforgettable first-ever final featuring an English side.

Twenty-six million watched David Coleman introduce a special edition of Grandstand live from Wembley. Ten years after the Munich air disaster, Matt Busby’s side triumphed in Europe, going all the way to extra-time against the champions of Portugal before running away with it with a flurry of goals from George Best, Brian Kidd and Bobby Charlton.

6. England vs West Germany – 1990 World Cup semi-final – 26.2m

Over three times the population of London watched Gazza cry those tears, having picked up a booking that ruled him out of a final that England were ultimately absent from.

Sickener.

READ: Ranking England’s most heartbreaking defeats since 1990: France, Italy…

5. England vs Denmark – Euro 2020 semi-final – 26.3m

Yet another landmark occasion played at Wembley – seven of the top 10 were played at the iconic stadium – over 26 million were watching as England ended their 55-year wait to reach a major final in a nerve-shredding semi-final against Denmark.

Mikkel Damsgaard’s stunning free-kick threatened to spoil the party, but England fought back to force the match to extra-time – and eventually won out when captain Harry Kane slotted home the rebound of his saved penalty.

4. England vs Croatia – 2018 World Cup semi-final – 26.5m

The most-watched football match in the UK in almost half a century, it’s estimated that 80% of all viewers watching TV at the time were tuned into England’s defeat to Croatia in Moscow.

The audience peaked in extra time as Southgate’s Three Lions tried in vain to find an equaliser.

3. Chelsea vs Leeds – 1970 FA Cup final replay – 28.5m

Comfortably the most-watched club match in the history of UK television, it seems as though the British public just have an appetite for violence.

The more pearl-clutching members of the commentariat would have described some of the more robust challenges as “what we don’t want to see” – but the record viewing figures for the rematch, the first FA Cup final to go to a replay, well and truly prove that wrong.

Chelsea came from behind to win the replay 2-1, with David Webb scoring the match-winner in extra time.

READ: How many red cards? Revisiting the brutal Chelsea vs Leeds FA Cup final

2. England vs Italy – Euro 2020 final – 31m

“I am sure it a few days that will be more possible than it is now really,” Southgate told BBC One after England’s penalty shootout defeat to Italy at Wembley.

“At the moment the pain of the defeat is huge, we wanted to give our nation one more special night and a first European championship and we haven’t quite been able to do it.”

Thirty-one million watching on telly shared his pain.

1. England vs West Germany – 1966 World Cup final – 32.3m

England’s finest hour unsurprisingly tops the list. More than half of the country’s population at the time watched Geoff Hurst score a hat-trick as Alf Ramsey’s men beat West Germany 4-2 after extra time.

Not only the most-watched football match in the history of UK television, but the most-watched event full stop, beating the funeral of Princess Diana by two hundred thousand viewers.


READ NEXT: Ranking every Premier League manager on how they’d fare in The Traitors

TRY A QUIZ: Can you name every team to reach the FA Cup final since 1990?