City hoping to make the most of Sheffield United’s return to the Premier League as Blades prepare for first home game
Sheffield United marked their return to the Premier League with a 1-1 draw at Bournemouth – and Blades fans are not the only ones counting down to the first top-flight game at Bramall Lane in 12 years.
Chris Wilder’s men take on Crystal Palace on Sunday and Wendy Ulyett, Welcome to Sheffield’s tourism manager, said the increase in publicity and media attention the club has had since securing promotion in May was ‘priceless’ to the city.
Ms Ulyett revealed earlier this year that Sheffield attracted 17.2 million visitors per year, with more than two million of those staying overnight, but added she was hoping that figure would increase given United's Premier League return.
She said: “We started to look at where fans may come from and what we need to be telling them about what a great city it is to visit.
“What we hope as the season goes on is that the visiting fans will celebrate or commiserate, depending on how the matches go, in Sheffield and get a feel for the city.”
The visit of Crystal Palace on Sunday will be followed by a game against 2016 champions Leicester City on Saturday, August 24.
Last year’s runners up and European champions Liverpool will visit on September 28, Arsenal on October 21, Manchester United on November 23 and Tottenham and Chelsea in April 2020.
Ms Ulyett said: “It’s very much about the profile that the games will bring Sheffield as the number of fans will probably be around the same but they’re from different areas.
“We may also get a number of international fans visiting too. Ideally, what we would like the fans to do is spend more time here and consider coming back here when there isn’t a football match.”
Ms Ulyett said it was ‘difficult’ to work out the value of United’s promotion to the city's economy but added it won’t just be the Blades’ faithful who are celebrating should he club secure its top-flight status come May.
She added: “To look at what the value has been in terms of monetary value, we really don’t know what the additional spend will be in the city and how much it will be worth but the value of the additional airtime and publicity is priceless.
“It will also get people talking about Sheffield which is value in itself and something you can't really put a price on.”
Ms Ulyett also praised the work of the city’s events team following a number of successful events including Tramlines music festival in Hillsborough Park, which sold out and saw more than 30,000 people on each of the three days.
Around 3,000 people attended the Invictus UK Trials at a number of sporting venues across the city to see 450 wounded and injured ex-servicemen and women compete for the right to represent the UK kin the international Invictus Games in the Netherlands next year.
And The Crucible Theatre will play host to its second major snooker tournament of the year this week, with the ROKiT World Seniors Snooker Championship, taking place at the home of snooker from Wednesday to Sunday.
Ms Ulyett added: “I think we will look back on this summer as a really successful one – it’s certainly been busy.”