How Leeds United's promotion to the Premier League can boost city's economy - Andrew Firth

It’s tempting to think that Leeds United’s promotion to the Premier League is only of interest to Leeds’ fans, however, I’m sure the positive consequences of their promotion extend much further.

Monday, 2nd November 2020, 8:31 am
Updated Monday, 2nd November 2020, 9:30 am

I see Leeds United as the number one brand in the city, as well as being a huge brand, globally. My business friends agree, whether they support the club or not, that Leeds United’s presence in the Premier League is great for the city, and football fans alike.

It’s not just about football. Off the pitch, I believe that Leeds United’s Premier League promotion will have hugely positive economic and social consequences for the district’s economy.

When the fans are able to return to Elland Road, we’ll see a boost to our hospitality sector, as well as retail.

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A street sign in honour of Leeds United manager Marcelo Bielsa is installed in Leeds city centre after his side secured promotion to the Premier League.

On a broader economic front, I’m really excited by the important work that Leeds United is doing for the city. For example, the proposed development of the South Stand will improve capacity from 38,000 to 50,000, bringing valuable construction jobs and club employment opportunities to the district.

I agree with Ernst & Young’s (EY) 2019 report which asserted that the Premier League and its clubs make a significant, direct contribution to the UK’s GDP and supports thousands of jobs.

Premier League football already plays an essential role in shaping perceptions of the UK, in attracting people to come to visit, study, live and do business in, for example, Manchester, Leicester, Cardiff, and other towns and cities up and down the country. I expect that the same will happen for Leeds.

Promotion to the Premier League is not just about economic benefit. The benefits of premiership status are social as well as economic.

Leeds’ promotion has bolstered their commitment to improving access to sport for inner city youngsters, with CEO Angus Kinner’s announcement of the relocation of their Academy and Training Ground, from Thorp Arch to the site of the former Matthew Murray high school. I’m delighted that this will create a development pathway for talented youngsters.

Like many people I speak with, I’m really encouraged by the breadth and ambition of Leeds United’s plans, which also include partnering with the Football Association to create a community sports hub at Fullerton Park, as part of their Parklife scheme.

This is a great example of the leverage that Leeds’ promotion provides, with opportunities for the local infrastructure to receive the valuable investment it deserves.

In the life of a football club, match days are the main event, but what goes on beyond each game, in the community, is the hallmark of the club’s wider role and value. The Leeds United Foundation uses the power of sport to educate, motivate, inspire and support people throughout the local Leeds community.

For example, alongside local businesses, the Foundation provides consistent financial and practical support to Holbeck Together, a neighbourhood charity which supports local people facing challenges in health, housing, welfare and wellbeing.

The recent sponsorship announcement by Cadbury is another illustration of community integration.

Cadbury’s involvement with Leeds United follows partnerships with other Premier League clubs, and will include donating their pitchside advertising space to support local businesses, plus financial and practical support for community projects and local charities.

For me, this is evidence of the appeal of Premier League status to key sponsors, and the value of their benefit-in-kind support, which will make a real difference to local communities and businesses.

Perceptions are influenced by perspective, and as well as being a fan and local business owner, I can see that the wider economic and social impacts of premiership promotion for Leeds United go way beyond football.

By Andrew Firth- Managing director of Ascensor