How Sunderland win in League One Play-off final would spark feel-good economic boost for Sunderland

A Sunderland AFC play-off win this weekend could spark a feel-good economic boost for the city, says a leading academic.

By Kevin Clark
Friday, 24 May, 2019, 06:00
Sunderland fans celebrate their team's League One Play-off Semi-final win over Portsmouth

Jack Ross’ side take on Charlton Athletic at Wembley on Sunday, in a rerun of the 1998 Championship Play-off Final which ended in bitter disappointment.

But now fans will be desperately hoping the club can make it back into the second flight of English football at the first time of asking.

Sunderland University Professor Lawrence Bellamy

And Prof Lawrence Bellamy, Academic Dean, Faculty of Business, Law and Tourism at the University of Sunderland, says the result could have a major greater importance than just restoring a little of Black Cats fans’ battered pride.

“Large sporting events have a positive financial impact, primarily around their location, with sales of hospitality, accommodation and incidental purchases,” he said.

“For fans travelling away, purchase of tickets and merchandising benefit the club, with some local commodity sales benefitting other sectors, including transport.

“The largest benefit, however, is dependent upon the outcome. The psychological effect of a good result is likely to translate into increased spend, with consumers treating themselves.

Kieran Maguire

“For the Club, promotion brings with it sponsorship, additional revenue opportunities from merchandise and tickets, media revenue and helps to promote the brand for long-term benefit.

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“So whilst the event itself has some impact, the result and season to follow are much more important.”

Football finance expert Kieran Maguire said it was vital the club secured promotion before its Premier League parachute payments run out.

“Sunderland’s main income source, parachute payments, will not be impacted by failure to be promoted at Wembley this weekend, he said.

“However, promotion is important because if they do go up they will have £14million of parachute payments when competing in the transfer market next season in the Championship.

“This compares to just £7million if promotion is delayed to 2020/21. If the unthinkable happens and they fail to be promoted in either season, the TV deal is worth just £1 million in League One in 2020/21.

“It’s unknown how much of the parachute payments, if any, are due to former owner Ellis Short as part of the price negotiated when he sold the club in 2018.

“Commercial deals are also more lucrative in the Championship, as when the likes of Leeds, Forest and Boro come to The Stadium of Light, there tends to be bigger attendances, a greater chance of being chosen for live broadcast and sponsors are willing to pay for more eyes seeing their product being advertised.

“Whilst attendances have been impressive by League One standards this season, there’s a danger of ‘second season syndrome’ and these falling unless Sunderland are once again competing at the top of the table.

“Being in League One is also more difficult when selling hospitality packages when the opponents are the likes of Fleetwood, Bury and Rochdale.”