Thanks in no small part to its affordable ticket prices, peerless matchday atmosphere and world-class football, the Bundesliga remains the best attended league in Europe, while Borussia Dortmund top the pile with the highest average attendances anywhere on the continent.
As the most fan-friendly league in the world, it should come as no surprise to see the Bundesliga once again leading the way in terms of European attendances, as it has done for over a decade. According to a study carried out by KPMG Football Benchmark in August, the Bundesliga boasted an average crowd size of just over 41,000 per game in 2016/17, comfortably clear of the Premier League (36,000), La Liga (28,000), Serie A (22,000) and Ligue 1 (21,000).
There are several factors underlying the Bundesliga's continued supremacy, starting with the stadia themselves. Investment in infrastructure ahead of the 2006 FIFA World Cup led to Germany developing a generation of sleek, modern football grounds such as Bayern Munich's Allianz Arena, Hertha Berlin's Olympiastadion and Schalke's Veltins Arena. As a result, the Bundesliga now has an average stadium capacity of 47,000, which is also the highest in Europe.
Watch: Take a tour of Bayern's space-age Allianz Arena
Leading the way, for the sixth consecutive season, is Dortmund's Signal Iduna Park. Home to the famous 'Yellow Wall', a 25,000-strong standing terrace without equal in Europe, the world-famous stadium recently topped a study by DeporFinanza as the most attended football ground on the continent with an average attendance of 80,830 - almost 6,000 more than second-placed English giants Manchester United. Bayern, with a weekly average of 75,000, came in third on the list.
While the two powerhouses continue to lead the charge, no fewer than eight Bundesliga clubs registered attendances above 41,000 last term, including newcomers RB Leipzig, who had the best figures for a promoted club in the top five leagues (41,478). The return of Stuttgart and Hannover, meanwhile - two traditional clubs with large fan bases and impressive stadium capacities (60,000 and 49,000 respectively) - should push attendances even higher in 2017/18.
Stuttgart are a perfect illustration of the popularity of football in Germany, where the Deutsche Fußball Liga (DFL) estimates that 40 million people - around half of the population - actively follow in the Bundesliga. Last term, VfB claimed the Bundesliga 2 title with an average attendance of 50,692, higher than the champions of the Netherlands (Feyenoord), England (Chelsea), Italy (Juventus) and France (Monaco).
Furthermore, Germany’s second tier attracted an average attendance of 21,560 in 2016/17, a record for the league and an increase of over 13 per cent on the previous season. That figure is also higher than Ligue 1’s top-flight attendance and just under Serie A’s average crowd from the same season.
Crucially, the Bundesliga and its clubs remain committed to allowing fans to keep enjoying world-class football at reasonable prices. While ticket costs continue to skyrocket across the continent, German football fans can come down to support their favourite team for as little as €183 per season on average. That is around €80 cheaper than in Spain or Italy, and a third of what supporters are expected to pay in England.
Watch: Experience Dortmund's world-famous Yellow Wall
The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung recently calculated that an average Bundesliga football fan could attend their club's 17 home outings, buy a new home shirt, and enjoy two beers and a bratwurst per game for less than €500 a season. Bayern are one of the most successful clubs in European history, and yet their supporters can come to every game at the Allianz Arena for as little as €140 per season, which works out at just over €8 a match.
Then there is the football itself. With packed-out stadia providing a sensational atmosphere up and down the country, teams have responded by championing a free-flowing, attacking brand of football that often results in goals galore. Last term, Bundesliga clubs netted no fewer than 877 times - an average of just under three goals a game - proving that the spectacle on the pitch is very much equal to the spectacle in the stands.
Standout games such as Der Klassiker on Matchday 11 attract global interest - with the clash between Dortmund and Bayern broadcast in over 200 countries worldwide - and yet even when they harbour lofty international ambitions, the priority for Bundesliga clubs is often to keep their grassroots supporters happy.
Every club holds weekly public training sessions, and they are renowned for embracing local events, such as Oktoberfest for Bayern and Karneval for Cologne. The Bavarian giants have a policy of sending players out to meet with fan clubs once a year, while in general ticket prices include the cost of travel to and from the ground. This is, after all, the country of the "50+1" rule, which ensures that supporters have some say in how their club is run.
With a winning combination of affordable access, state-of-the-art grounds, passionate supporters and some of the most exciting football Europe has to offer, the Bundesliga looks set to keep attracting the biggest crowds on the continent for many years to come.