There can only be one story on people’s minds this week, and no, it isn’t the General Election. Even those not normally followers of local sport will have been caught up in the Easter weekend excitement as the Albion secured promotion to the Premier League. Fans like me were of course “over the moon, Brian”, and will be for some time.
Whatever your views on sport, it is no longer the game it was a hundred years ago, around the time my grandfather was pictured in his trilby on the East Terrace at the Goldstone Ground. The Premier League is the biggest in global sport, and big business.
An Ernst & Young (EY) Economic Impact Assessment of the Premier League reported that it generated a total tax contribution of £2.4bn to the UK Exchequer in the 2013/14 season. The assessment also reported that the League and clubs supported over 100,000 jobs as well as making a contribution of £3.4 billion to UK GDP. Five years ago the direct impact of Swansea City’s promotion to the Premier League on the city region was estimated at £58 million, largely from a major boost to visitor numbers.
In Leicester, during the 2008/9 season, the club generated revenue of £11 million in League 1. By 2013/14, in the Championship this had risen to £31 million. Winning the Premier League saw revenues rise to £128 million and this season with UEFA Champions’ League football and the new television deal, the club could generate £170 million to £200 million. Almost a 20-fold increase in turnover in eight years.
The Albion can expect a financial boost of up to £200 million from TV rights, and the potential for increased tourism to the city as a result of overnight stays is significant.
It’s a deserved return for Tony Bloom’s investment of around £250m in the club, stadium and training facility at Lancing since 2009.
Of course to the fans celebrating on Monday night, and those who will applaud the team at the event planned for May 14, all that matters is that we did it. We are on our way, finally, to the biggest domestic sporting league in the world. I’ve been an Albion fan all my life, and it means a lot. As Bill Shankly famously remarked: “football is not a matter of life and death … it’s much more important than that.”
Warren Morgan is the Labour leader of Brighton and Hove City Council.