By staff reporter
The success of Wales’s leading football club – Swansea City – is having a worldwide impact, according to overseas students who have been attracted to the city.
Swansea University says it has seen an increase in applications and enquiries from around the world – and particularly Africa – since the city’s football team became the first Welsh club to win promotion to the Premiership in 2011.
“When we go out to recruitment events in different countries we actually have students coming up to our stands asking how far is the campus from the Liberty Stadium – and they are delighted that it is so close,” said Emma Frearson Emmanuel, head of the University’s international office yesterday.
Swansea City are now in their second season in the Premiership and are currently lying ninth just behind the likes of Liverpool, Arsenal and Chelsea.
News of the impact of the club’s success on university recruitment comes as a separate report was published revealing their first season in the Premiership generated an estimated £58m of revenue for the local economy.
The study found more than 400 jobs were created or protected, mainly through the spending of visiting fans – most of them from outside Wales – in pubs, clubs, restaurants and hotels.
Edwina Hart, the Welsh Government’s Business Minister, welcomed the findings of the report, which was produced by the Welsh Economy Research Unit of Cardiff University.
“Swansea City FC’s promotion and success in the Premier League has also exposed Wales to a worldwide television audience and provided the Welsh Government with rich opportunities to promote our economic development and tourism messages, not just for the Swansea region, but for Wales,” she said.
The impact of television coverage was confirmed by overseas students at Swansea University who said it had been a factor in their choice of a place to study.
“I knew about Swansea being in the Premier League and that was also a really big part of making my decision because I am a huge football fanatic – I saw them last season on TV pretty much every single game,” said Adithya Rangaswamy, a law student from Botswana.
Benjamin Bell-Gam, who is from Nigeria and studying for a Masters in international maritime law, said the club was also a factor in his decision to choose Swansea.
“I saw the play-off final at Wembley and the Premier League matches last season on television. Their football was outstanding, especially how they handled big teams.
“Going to the Liberty Stadium to see the Swans play Chelsea was really impressive. I really enjoyed it – the fans and the stadium were wonderful and I hope to go again. The Premiership is the biggest factor in coming here.”
Taylor Anderson, who is from the United States and studying for a Masters in War and Society, said he had followed British football at home and watched Swansea on TV before they reached the Premiership.
Having now visited the club’s Liberty Stadium for a recent Premiership match, he describes himself as ‘addicted’.
“The atmosphere at the game I saw against Wigan was outstanding,” he said. “The singing and chanting was much different from any sport back home. I liked football before, but I am definitely addicted now – I love the way Swansea play and I like the idea of being close to top-flight football in one of the best leagues in the world.”
Millions of fans around the world will be able to watch Swansea City take on Arsenal in the FA Cup this Sunday.
Photo: (l-r) Benjamin Bell Gam, Taylor Anderson, and Adithya Rangaswamy, Swansea University students, wearing their Swans fans’ gear.