Elland Road set for Premier League crowds as Leeds United and city's economy await financial boost

A year ago today Leeds United were promoted to the Premier League after a 16-year absence.

Saturday, 17th July 2021, 4:45 am
Updated Saturday, 17th July 2021, 10:24 am
Lisa Toon, who runs Elland Road Cafe and Sandwich Bar. Photo: Steve Riding

Covid robbed Whites fans of the chance to cheer on Bielsa's team and Elland Road was silent for the majority of the club's successful first season back in the top flight.

The new season should see thousands of Leeds fans bring the buzz and excitement back to Elland Road along with a financial boost for the club and city businesses.

George Parrett, of Deloitte Sports Business Group, said: "As result of Leeds surviving their first year back in the Premier League and performing well last season, the club will see a minimum revenue uplift of c.£350m over a five years from 2020/21 to 2024/25, even if they were to get relegated in May 2022."

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Lisa Toon, who runs Elland Road Cafe and Sandwich Bar. Photo: Steve Riding

Coun James Lewis Leeds City Council leader and United season ticket holder, said: "With coronavirus restrictions continuing to be relaxed and at this current time fans being told they will be allowed back into stadiums, next season promises to be truly spectacular.

"Not just in terms of seeing a packed Elland Road for every home game, where the atmosphere is undoubtedly the best in the country.

"But also in terms of the additional economic benefits it will bring to the city and so many different sectors and local businesses with 37,000 people being in Leeds for each match-day.

Leeds City Council leader Coun James Lewis

"I can’t wait for the season to start. We wish Marcelo, the players, club chairman Andrea and everyone associated with the club the very best for the upcoming season."

On Friday, July 17, 2021, Huddersfield Town's 2-1 win against West Bromwich Albion confirmed the Whites had been promoted.

Among Leeds fans celebrating were Lisa Toon and Martin Adamson, who run the Elland Road Cafe and Sandwich Bar.

Formerly called Sheila's Cafe, it used to be a regular haunt of United players who had breakfast there when the training ground was on Elland Road

Lisa Toon, who runs Elland Road Cafe and Sandwich Bar. Photo: Steve Riding

Lisa, 51, said: "We had 16 years out of the Premier League and then the first season back we had no fans in the ground so it has been quite sad really.

"It has not been the same on match days. We have just not had the atmosphere.

"It has been very strange not hearing the crowd noise that we are used to.

"We are hoping that come August we are going to have a full stadium, Covid permitting.

Andrew Cooper, chief executive of Leeds BID (Business Improvement District)

"It will be nice to get the atmosphere back at Elland Road. On a matchday we get absolutely packed and there's a good feel and a good buzz about the place.

"It is going to be good for business and have the till ringing again, but we can't wait to see the customers.

"After five-and-a-half years we have built up a good rapport with the customers.They are friends and family now so it will be nice to see them"

Martin, 59, who ran The Old White Hart pub on Town Street, Beeston, for ten years, said: "We are looking forward to this season.

"It is going to be great. It is going to be a sell out every week.

"They have got a great manager in Bielsa. He has changed the whole aura of the place."

"We are going to get our old clientele back and we are really looking forward to it. We are looking forward to seeing some old faces."

David Wood, 43, has been manager of Graveley's fish and chip shop on Elland Road for around ten years.

Leeds fan David, of Beeston, said the shop has not been open when Leeds have been playing at home during Covid.

He said: "We tried opening when there were no fans allowed towards the back end of the Championship, but it wasn't viable because there was nobody about.

"We opened for the last game of the season when there were 7,000 or 8,000 people.

"We have got a good rapport with a lot of the customers.

"On match days we have people that come back all the time.

"As far as I'm concerned Leeds have always been a big club, even when they were in League One.

"There is just so much potential for a club this size. It can only get bigger and better for Leeds."

Andrew Cooper, chief executive of Leeds BID (Business Improvement District), said: "Getting promoted in a lockdown year has meant that Leeds as a city has not been able to fully capitalise on the financial benefits of being in the Premier League.

"However, it has had a positive impact on the profile of the city to a global audience.

"We anticipate that with the return of supporters, this will have a positive impact on the hospitality sector in Leeds.“

"Leeds is a premier city and having a football team in the topflight matches the city’s ambitions.

"Football has lifted the spirits of the city in the last year and we have seen more references to the city’s football culture through murals on walls, videos, social media, shops selling football related items, shopping centres rebranding their streets and more football memorabilia being sold.

"For the business community, we wish the club every success.

"Not only does this have a positive economic impact to the city’s businesses but it showcases Leeds to a worldwide audience of 750m who watch premier league football.”

“Having fans, home and away, in the city centre will be a welcome sight after what has been a joyless 15 months of battling the pandemic.

"We cannot underestimate the massive economic impact that comes with a successful football club, nor could we afford the indirect marketing costs Leeds receives by having a team in the Premier League.”

Coun Lewis added: “There is a real positive atmosphere around Leeds United, and this buzz has certainly rubbed off on the city in general.

"It’s brilliant to see for example so many people of all ages really engaged with the club and wearing their shirts out and about in the city and beyond.

"Club chairman Andrea and chief executive Angus deserve great praise for their role in helping to achieve this.

"From our perspective as a council we want to really build on this momentum, and we are for example, really excited to see progress continuing to be made on the ‘Parklife’ initiative which when completed, will provide top class football and needed health facilities in Holbeck as we as pitches at other locations in the city."

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