More than one million overseas visitors attended football matches in the UK last year, spending more than £700m to do so according to new figures from VisitBritain.
The 900,000 foreign football tourists spent the equivalent of £785 per fan, which is £200 more than the average visitor.
In 2008 VisitBritain began promoting the Premier League to potential tourist. It said that now around 40% of visitors reported that watching sport was the main reason for visiting the UK.
The research also found that football works as an effective tool in enticing visitors to Britain at quieter times of the year, with the greatest proportion of inbound visitors going to a football match between January and March.
Visitors from Norway are most likely to attend a match (one in 13), followed by visits from the UAE. The markets generating the highest numbers of football spectators were; Ireland (174,000), Norway (80,000), USA (61,000), Spain (54,000) and Germany (48,000).
Those visiting were encouraged to leave the capital to see their heroes play in Manchester and Liverpool too.
VisitBritain 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."
Minister for Sport and Tourism 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."
The wider research found that 1.3m tourists went to a live sporting event in 2011, with the total amount spent reaching £1.1bn.
Visitors who played sport in Britain spent £1.2bn.
By James Stagg
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