Ipswich Town's average home attendance this season was their highest this century - and better than old rivals Norwich City.

The promoted Blues pulled in an average audience of 26,184 at Portman Road for league games this term, more than 4,000 up on the 21,779 of 2021/22.

That was the second-best figure in League One, behind only Derby County, who enjoyed an average of 27,259 at Pride Park.

East Anglian Daily Times: Ipswich Town fans have flocked to Portman Road this seasonIpswich Town fans have flocked to Portman Road this season (Image: Steve Waller)

Indeed, Town's average would be good enough for third spot in the Championship, with only Sunderland (39,328) and Sheffield United (28,746) able to say they attract bigger home crowds.

It's better too, than East Anglian rivals Norwich City, who finished their disappointing campaign with an average home crowd of 26,069.

That's the first time Town have topped Norwich since the 2004/05 season, when the Blues pulled in 25,651 per game in the Championship, compared to Premier League Norwich's 24,350.

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That season, when the Blues finished third and lost to West Ham in the play-offs, was Town's previous best mark this century.

After that, the number slowly dipped to a low of 16,272 in the 2017/18 season, Mick McCarthy's last as boss, when they finished 12th in the second tier.

This season's average is better even than the last time Town were in the Premier League, when they enjoyed home crowds of 24,396 in the 2001/02 season.

Much has been made of the importance of the Portman Road faithful in helping Town to promotion this season, with sell-outs - something not seen for years - becoming common place.

After securing promotion, skipper Sam Morsy said the support of Town fans was 'incredible.'

East Anglian Daily Times: Skipper Sam Morsy was carried aloft by fans after winning promotionSkipper Sam Morsy was carried aloft by fans after winning promotion (Image: PA)

He enthused: "It’s frightening!

“I signed for Ipswich from another massive club in Middlesbrough, but as soon as I signed for Ipswich you could see the ambition. The fans we get at home and away and the support from the area is incredible. 

"I remember at last season’s awards dinner, we had finished mid-table but the fans were emotional and were saying they’d got their club back.

"The support has been absolutely phenomenal and the fans really believe in us – they took to us straight away, they love the players and love the staff. 

"You can feel all of that as a player and this is just the start, really.

"As players we’re part of the journey and we know the club has great, historic, success and now we are on that journey, writing our names into the history books and hopefully helping the club go even higher."

East Anglian Daily Times: Ipswich Town players run to celebrate promotion with their fansIpswich Town players run to celebrate promotion with their fans (Image: Steve Waller)

Boss Kieran McKenna also paid tribute to the club's support after thousands of fans welcomed the team bus before the 6-0 demolition of Exeter which secured promotion.

He said: "It's a sign of the spirit and the love of this football club in the community. 

"Then we had the atmosphere in the stadium and it was, of course, all backed up on the pitch. 

"It's a special day, a fantastic season, a huge effort from everyone associated with the club.  

"I'm just really proud to be part of giving the club a day like today to enjoy."

East Anglian Daily Times: Ipswich Town fans greet the team bus before the win over Exeter CityIpswich Town fans greet the team bus before the win over Exeter City (Image: Steve Waller)

He added: "Seeing peoples' faces - the passion, the enjoyment, the excitement - it was wonderful scenes. Not many players will have experienced anything like that before in their careers.  

"It was a really special moment."

The full scale of Town's extraordinary support is laid bare when you compare this season's average attendance to the best in England and Europe.

The Blues enjoyed bigger home crowds than four Premier League sides - Crystal Palace, Fulham, Brentford and Bournemouth - and ranked 20th in the country as a whole in terms of average support.

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It also stacks up against the best support in Europe. Town's average home support is:

- Better than 14 sides in the Dutch Eredivisie, including FC Utrecht. 

- Better than 13 sides in France's Ligue 1, including Toulouse and Nice.

- Better than 13 sides in Italy's Serie A, including Sampdoria and Udinese. 

- Better than 12 sides in Spain's La Liga, including Espanyol and Villareal.

- Better than four sides in Germany's Bundesliga, including Wolfsburg.

With Championship football back at Portman Road next season and more improvements being made to the stadium over the summer, you wouldn't bet against Town getting near to the 28,000 average which CEO Mark Ashton has spoken of before.

East Anglian Daily Times: Mark Ashton is aiming for average crowds of 28,000 at Portman RoadMark Ashton is aiming for average crowds of 28,000 at Portman Road (Image: PA)

"This is top, top Championship attendances we are getting at Portman Road," Ashton said in March 2022.

"We want more. I think we can genuinely get to something like a 28,000 average."

Top 20 average home attendances in English football 2022/23

1) Manchester United: 73,661

2) West Ham United: 62,461

3) Tottenham Hotspur: 61,589

4) Arsenal: 60,191

5) Manchester City: 53,236

6) Liverpool: 53,171

7) Newcastle United: 52,126

8) Aston Villa: 41,679

9) Chelsea: 39,995

10) Sunderland: 39,328

11) Everton: 39,240

12) Leeds United: 36,549

13) Leicester City: 31,850

14) Brighton & Hove Albion: 31,480

15) Wolves: 31,326

16) Southampton: 30,420

17) Nottingham Forest: 29,170

18) Sheffield United: 28,746

19) Derby County: 27,259

20) Ipswich Town: 26,184 

Ipswich Town average home attendances this century

2022/23: 26,184

2021/22: 21,779

2020/21: N/A - Covid

2019/20: 19,549

2018/19: 17,764

2017/18: 16,271

2016/17: 16,980

2015/16: 18,989

2014/15: 20,001

2013/14: 17,110

2012/13: 17,526

2011/12: 18,267

2010/11: 19,615

2009/10: 20,841

2008/09: 20,960

2007/08: 21,935

2006/07: 22,445

2005/06: 24,253

2004/05: 25,651

2003/04: 24,520

2002/03: 25,455

2001/02: 24,396

2000/01: 22,504

1999/00: 18,524