When Sunderland AFC take on Portsmouth in the promotion playoff semi-finals this weekend, it won’t just be diehard fans cheering them on. Local businesses also have a vested interest in how the team fares. “When morale’s high, people spend – but when it’s low they don’t,” says Andy Bradley, director of the Bridges, a bright, mall-style shopping centre in the heart of Sunderland. “If the team does well, parents spend their money on treats for the kids.”
The success of a football club can have a material impact on a city’s economy. When Leicester became Premier League champions in 2016, takings at the city’s tills rose appreciably, with the economic forecasting group EY estimating that the title triumph contributed a fairly immediate £140m to the local economy.
Relegation can have the opposite effect. After a decade in the Premier League the club’s two successive relegations, in 2017 and 2018, as documented in the Netflix series Sunderland ‘Til I Die, represented more than a hammer blow to sporting pride – they were a shock to the city itself. Read more