A Sunderland win this evening will be a boost for the whole of Wearside, say business bosses.
The Black Cats can guarantee themselves a bumper pay day by beating Everton at the Stadium of Light this evening.
If Sam Allardyce’s men can follow up Saturday’s magnificent victory against Chelsea with a win over Roberto Martinez’s side, they will guarantee Premier League football on Wearside next season – and send arch-rivals Newcastle tumbling into the Championship, alongside Norwich.
But it won’t just be the Stadium of Light coffers that will be swollen by Sunderland still being in the top flight of English football next season.
Sunderland Business Improvement District chief executive Ken Dunbar said Premier League football had a massive knock-on economic benefit for the city.
“The importance of Sunderland securing a place in the Premier League cannot be underestimated,” he said.
No-one can deny the city had a real buzz this weekend after the win against Chelsea. We want that every weekend.Ken Dunbar
“It’s not just about the value to the football club or even the huge footfall that it brings, important as that is.
“It’s also about the feel-good factor and atmosphere that it creates for the city as a whole and particularly the city centre.
“No-one can deny the city had a real buzz this weekend after the win against Chelsea.
“We want that every weekend.”
Sunderland’s latest financial figures highlight the importance of the club retaining its seat at world football’s top table.
The club’s latest financial results show the Black Cats made pre-tax losses of more than £25million in the 2014-15 season.
But next season’s TV deal will see clubs pocket an average £120million each, a 50 per cent rise on the current contract.
And with no guarantee of relegated teams bouncing straight back – Middlesbrough have taken seven years to return to the top flight - there has never been a worse time to be relegated.
But the implications for Sunderland as a whole of maintaining a place in the top flight status go far beyond next year’s record-breaking TV deal.
The Premier League is the most watched league in the world, seen by almost five billion people in 633million homes around the world, offering a unique opportunity to boost Sunderland’s profile globally.
Gentoo boss John Craggs is deputy chairman of the North East Chamber of Commerce’s Sunderland committee: “The potential economic impact of Sunderland staying in the Premier League on both the club and Sunderland’s economy is huge,” he said.
“The League’s new TV deal will be lucrative for the club should it avoid relegation and the value of ‘football tourism’ to the city is reported to be worth more than £22million per season.
“Being shown in 212 territories around the world with a global audience of 4.7 billion, there is no question that being in the Premier League puts Sunderland firmly on the map and raises its profile around the world.
“The city will simply be a better place with SAFC in the most popular division in the world, and more importantly, it’s what the city deserves.”
Sunderland University’s senior lecturer in psychology Dr Helen Driscoll said intense sporting rivalries, such as that between Sunderland and Newcastle, were an ingrained part of human behaviour.
“What people are doing with football is a vicarious way of competing,” she said.
“In cites such as Sunderland and Newcastle, football is a very big focus and people are much more invested in it than they are in some other parts of the country.
“In Sunderland, the football is a really big part of people’s identity and they see it as a big deal.”
A big victory on the sports field could provide a very real psychological boost, said Dr Driscoll.
“A sporting win can even have an impact on the Stock Market, because people are in a more positive mood,” she said.