Almost one million overseas visitors watched a game of football in the UK last year.

The 900,000 foreign football tourists spent £706 million, the equivalent of £785 per fan and £200 more than the average visitor (£583), according to new figures released by VisitBritain.

Around 40% of foreign fans going to a football match said that watching sport was the main reason for visiting the UK.

Nearly 20% went to see a game at Old Trafford, home of Manchester United, followed closely by Liverpool’s Anfield stadium.

Holiday visitors from Norway have the highest propensity to include ‘going to a football match’ (1-in-13), followed by those from the UAE.

The markets generating the highest numbers of football spectating visits in 2011 were; Ireland (174,000), Norway (80,000), USA (61,000), Spain (54,000) and Germany (48,000). Mexico, Sweden and Iceland also featured highly in the category of ‘highest chance of going to a game’.

VisitBritain has used a partnership with the Premier League to film international players such as Sandro, Tim Howard and Brede Hangeland talking about Britain.

The tourism agency’s chief executive Sandie Dawe said: “The Premier League is known as the most international and exciting league in the world, supported by fans across the globe who want to find out more about their favourite players, come and see them play and explore their local areas.

“Our partnership with the Premier League not only highlights the value of sports tourism to the UK economy, but it also helps drive inbound visits by inspiring travel to the UK at traditionally quieter times of the year.”

Sport and tourism minister Hugh Robertson said: “The Premier League is one of this country’s most successful exports and known the world over.

“It is no surprise that it has become a big draw for tourists who want to experience the most exciting league in the world in person.

“VisitBritain and the Premier League’s partnership is also showing overseas fans what more our country has to offer, helping to drive strong tourist spend.”