By Mitchell Gadd
Cardiff City’s promotion to the Premier League will provide ‘significant opportunities to promote economic development and tourism,’ according to former Cardiff council leader, Russell Goodway.
Malky Mackay’s side secured promotion from the Championship to England’s top tier last Tuesday, but were crowned champions of the division with a 1-1 draw at Burnley on Saturday afternoon.
The Bluebirds’ promotion, 52 years on from the last time they played top flight football, means that from next season 10% of the Premier League will be Welsh, and former leader of Cardiff council and its current cabinet member for finance, Russell Goodway, believes it provides significant opportunities, not just for Cardiff, but for the whole of Wales.
Cllr Goodway said: “Cardiff City’s promotion to the Premier League is great news for Cardiff, and great news for Wales.
“There will undoubtedly be great economic benefits in terms of job creation, strengthening the visitor economy and rising the city’s international profile. We know that promotion to the Premier League brought over £58m and 400 jobs to the Swansea city economy. Given Cardiff’s role as a capital city and an established visitor destination, particularly for sports fans, we can expect the impact to be even bigger here.
“Premier League football will expose our city to worldwide television audiences and provide significant opportunities to promote economic development and tourism messages, not just for Cardiff, but for the whole of the country.”
Cllr Goodway was also quick to highlight the importance of other sporting events in shining a spotlight on Cardiff, and how the council plans to continue working in partnership with the football club to deliver success to the city not just on the field.
“The football club’s success is part of a wider story – over the past 20 years the Council has understood the economic development potential of which has been at the heart of our capital city’s approach to regeneration and job creation.
“Hosting major sporting events, including the Rugby World Cup, the FA Cup and Heineken Cup Finals, the Ashes Test and international cricket, as well as playing a bit part in the Olympics ‘war effort’, has allowed us to welcome millions of visitors to the city and raise the city’s world-wide profile as a major international city.
“Cardiff City FC has always been central to this strategy. The partnership between the club and the council, established back in 2001, led to the signing of a binding heads of terms agreement which delivered a plan, not only for the new stadium at Leckwith, but also a range of additional community benefits which too many people know little about.
“What happened on Tuesday has always been a shared ambition and part of that plan. Going forward, we will make sure that this partnership approach to success continues.”
Cllr Goodway’s views were echoed by the South Wales Chamber of Commerce, although its director, Graham Morgan, warned that a wider strategy to capitalise on this opportunity is ‘essential.’
Mr Morgan said: “While we can expect an immediate increase in visiting football fans, the majority are ferried to and from the match, returning straight home afterwards. Cardiff now needs to develop a wider strategy to capitalise on football tourism, encouraging fans to stay and explore the city and surrounding areas, use local businesses and visit tourist attractions. It also needs to reach out to those football fans who have traditionally watched the game on television, and encourage them to visit in person.
“Swansea has led by example here, running marketing campaigns in English cities which have been stepped up before key matches, and we hope to see the same for Cardiff.”
As well as encouraging inward investment into Cardiff, Mr Morgan urged businesses in Cardiff, Swansea and the surrounding regions to look at utilise the Premiership’s global audience to bolster their export activity.
“Now is the time for both Cardiff and Swansea to think globally,” said Mr Morgan. “The Premiership is an international brand and both cities will be promoted across the world on a regular basis.
“As such, we shouldn’t just be looking at this as a tourism opportunity. Businesses which currently export should use their proximity to both cities as a way of opening doors when searching for new customers abroad. Those who don’t should take another look at their products and services to see if they could be marketed overseas.
“The proposed Swansea Bay and South East Wales city regions would play an important role here, expanding the association of the premiership teams to a wider area in the eyes of a global audience.
“While it is true that not everyone is going to benefit, it is best to be well prepared, and I would urge all businesses to start to think about how they can capitalise on any and every opportunity that having two premiership teams in Wales will bring.”