Huddersfield Town’s debut season in the Premier League is set to bring a £5m boost to the local economy, it is claimed.
Now University of Huddersfield researchers plan to work with the club to appraise the wider impact of the Terriers’ sporting success in more detail.
Emeritus professor Colin Bamford – formerly associate dean in the university’s business school – and a lifelong Town fan – has joined senior economics lecturer Dr Robert O’Neill in talks with the club about collaborating on research.
This will assess the economic impact of stepping up to the English Premier League (EPL) – with its capacity crowds, increased numbers of visiting supporters, large sums from TV viewing rights and much greater levels of national and global awareness for Huddersfield, which is already marketing itself as a “Premier League Town.”
Said Prof Bamford: “I remember when the club was promoted to the old First Division in 1970, but there wasn’t anything like the same excitement as there is now. The Premier League has become a huge thing globally.”
Figures show that its matches are carried by 80 broadcasters in 212 territories worldwide, meaning the EPL is the most popular league in the world. Prof Bamford is a regular visitor to China, where he has witnessed its massive following.
Before the start of this season, he wrote a blog in which he made a preliminary attempt to assess the benefits that accrue to the club and Kirklees Stadium Development Ltd; to businesses and individuals not directly linked to the club; and to the wider economic impact on the town and West Yorkshire.
He estimated that benefits to the club itself could reach £198m with a further £5m for the local economy.
“The wider economic impact is in many ways the most exciting,” said Prof Bamford. “Huddersfield is truly on the map. The Premier League is a marketing dream for the town, for its businesses and for the university.”
Prof Bamford also studied the findings of academic experts at the University of Cardiff, who analysed the economic effects on Wales when Swansea City joined the EPL in 2011. The net regional economic impact was estimated at £46m.
Prof Bamford said there were immense practical problems in trying assess the wider economic impact, adding: “It is a huge job and very difficult to assess, but however you look at it, there is an impact and there is a “feelgood factor” as well that you just can’t quantify.”
It could become a “feelbad factor” if Town’s form dips, but Prof Bamford believes the goodwill fostered between the club and its supporters makes rapid disillusionment unlikely.
The impact of Town’s promotion is also the topic for a breakfast briefing on Thursday, September 28, at the John Smith’s Stadium, by a panel made up of Welcome to Yorkshire chief Sir Gary Verity, Town commercial director Sean Jarvis and Kirklees Council chief executive Jacqui Gedman.