Researcher’s assess the financial impact for the town of the Terriers’ promotion to Premier League football

DURING its 109-year history, Huddersfield Town AFC has enjoyed several spells of success.  But as it joins the elite of the English game in the modern Premier League, it’s a whole new ball game.

As the club embarks on its debut season in the world’s most watched sporting competition, how will it boost the economy of the town and district?  Researchers at the University of Huddersfield plan to find out.

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The Terriers celebrate their promotion The Terriers celebrate their promotion (photos courtesy of the Huddersfield Examiner)

Emeritus Professor Colin Bamford – formerly Associate Dean in the University’s Business School – is a lifelong Town follower.  He and his colleague Dr Robert O’Neill a senior economics lecturer, have held talks with the club, aiming for collaboration on research.

This will assess the economic impact of stepping up to the Premier League, with its capacity crowds, increased numbers of visiting fans, 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”.

“I remember when the club was promoted to the old First Division in 1970,” said Professor Bamford, “but there wasn’t anything like the same excitement as there is now.  The Premier League has become a huge thing globally.”

Recent 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.  Professor Bamford is a regular visitor to China, where he has witnessed its massive following.

Before the start of Huddersfield Town’s debut Premier League season, Professor Bamford penned a blog in which he made a preliminary attempt to assess the  benefits that accrue to the football club and the stadium company; to businesses and individuals not directly associated with the club; plus the wider economic impact on the town and West Yorkshire.

He estimated that benefits to the club itself could reach £198 million, with a further £5 million for the local economy.

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“The wider economic impact is in many ways the most exciting.  Huddersfield is truly on the map.  The Premiership is a marketing dream for the town, for its businesses and for the University.” Pictured Colin Bamford (left) and Dr Robert O'Neill

In preparation for further research on the impact of the Premiership in Huddersfield, he has 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.

However, there are immense practical problems in trying assess wider economic impact, cautioned Professor Bamford.  “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 playing form dips, but Professor Bamford believes that the goodwill fostered between the club and its supporters makes rapid disillusionment unlikely.

He and Dr O’Neill now want to work with Town to appraise the impact of the Premiership.

“Even if we just monitor it anecdotally, we can get a good idea of the effect it is having on businesses and other organisations in the area.”