‘It’s up to city leaders to make the most of Sheffield United’s promotion to the Premier League’ – Former sports minister’s message as potential impact revealed
Former sports minister Richard Caborn has called on council and civic leaders to come together to ensure the city makes the most of Sheffield United’s promotion to the Premier League.
The Blades secured their return to the top-flight after securing a second-place finish in the Championship with a game to spare.
Finance experts predicted the club’s promotion could boost Sheffield’s economy by around £125 million and help to bring worldwide attention to the city.
The sum includes money spent by visitors as well as cash received by the club for getting into the top flight, such as TV rights.
Now, Mr Caborn, who was Sheffield Central MP for 27 years, said the city should follow the lead of Liverpool and Manchester to reap the benefits of the Blades’ top-flight return.
He said: “Sheffield United’s promotion has provided a great opportunity to the city to market itself on worldwide basis.
“Just look at the impact the Premier League has on the north west through the football clubs in Manchester and Liverpool – 1.2 per cent of the economy of the North West contributing £2bn and 1.8 per cent in Greater Manchester contributing £1.8 bn.
“There are further benefits – according to marketing experts, the Premier League creates a positive image of a place were people want to live, study, visit and invest – the so-called soft power.”
Sheffield Council’s head of city centre, Richard Eyre said having Premier League football in Sheffield presented a ‘great opportunity’ for the city.
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But Mr Caborn called for ‘urgent’ talks between ’like-mind leaders, influencers and institutions’ to ensure the city makes the most of the possible economic impact.
He added: “The city, along with the Sheffield City Region, needs to urgently bring together like-mind leaders, influencers and institutions who want to use this unique window now opening up to reach the world.
“We need to have a dialogue with our friends in the North West who have years of experience and, who I know, would share this experience with us.
“Let’s learn from the best, saving time and not reinvent the wheel.”
Mr Caborn, who is now project lead at the city's Olympic Legacy Park, also praised the work of Kevin McCabe.
He said: “I remember Kevin saying he was determined to get the Blades back into the Premier League in the middle of the Carlos Tevez affair.
“Not only has he delivered that, but in so doing built a club with a fantastic community foundation, a women’s team playing in the top echelons of women’s football, with their own ground.
“And not forgetting the football academy at Shirecliffe which has produced some of the top Premier League players. It’s now up to the city to take-up the challenge and deliver the opportunities.”