Sheffield has a golden chance to build on its City of Sport reputation following the promotion of Sheffield United to the Premier.
Synonymous with sport, the city has, for decades sought to use sport as one of the springboards for a new future.
It has seen iconic sporting figures emerging at world level – Olympic superstar Jess Ennis-Hill, Ryder Cup golfer Matt Fitzpatrick, England cricket captain Joe Root and Premier League and England footballer Kyle Walker.
Sheffield’s sport and leisure facilities are the envy of many. From the Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park in Attercliffe to the Ponds Forge swimming and diving facilities; from the Graves Centre at Norton to the Hillsborough Leisure – all are playing a part in delivering sport at grassroot and elite level but also vital health and wellbeing services impacting positively on thousands in the community.
However, it is the rise of the Blades, when next season they will be playing Manchester City, Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur and others, that could make the biggest difference of all within the city and on a national and international stage.
The club has joined the elite competition in English football that has grown dramatically, becoming one of the World’s top brands, bringing direct financial and economic benefits of over £7.6 billion to the country’s GDP, exports of over £1.1 billion and watched in 188 countries in 643 million homes and a TV audience of over 4.7 billion viewers.
Former Sports Minister and Sheffield MP Richard Caborn said: “The global reach of the Premier League, according to the British Council, not only brings hard economic and financial benefits but brings ‘soft power’ which is incredibly important to selling a city far and wide.
“Sheffield United’s promotion has provided a great opportunity to the City to market itself on worldwide basis.”
Richard’s comments are compelling.
Just look at the impact the Premier League has on the North West through the football clubs in Manchester and Liverpool:
- 2% of the economy of the North West contributing £2bn
- 8% in Greater Manchester contributing £1.8 bn.
And there are further benefits. According to marketing experts the Premier League creates a positive image of a place where people want to live, study, visit and invest – the so-called soft power.
Richard 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. It’s now up to the City to take-up the challenge and deliver the opportunities, said Richard.