By chief sports writer, Sell Outter
Has the Evening Cancer realised it might have made a mistake believing senior council officer Stephen Wray’s absurd estimate that £100m could come into the city as a result of a successful World Cup bid?
The Cancer’s Comment column on Saturday blustered inanely, “There is debate about how much monetary value a series of World Cup games would bring to the City. Forget the exact figures ….let’s just say the effect would be considerable”
Perhaps the penny has dropped that Wray – who, believe it or not, is paid a six-figure salary to give supposedly skilled and objective advice to elected councillors rather than act as a PR bag carrier for the city’s wealthy men – has provided figures that appear to be entirely the product of his own imagination?
England hasn’t hosted a World Cup since 1966, so it’s difficult to gauge the financial benefits that might accrue from a major football tournament. Although in 1996 we did host football’s European Championships – a tournament that, after the World Cup, is football’s most prestigious.
Indeed the Euro 96 tournament in England still holds the record for the largest overall match attendance at a European Championships:
“Euro 96 was in economic terms the most successful sports event ever to be held in England. In total over 280,000 visiting spectators and media came to the UK to attend Euro’ 96 matches, spending approximately £120m in the eight host cities and surrounding regions.
“London enjoyed the biggest impact, £34m in additional expenditure generated by overseas visitors associated with Euro 96. In the North West of England overseas visitors generated an additional £16.3m in the regional economy in addition to the £10.3m and £6.7m generated in Manchester and Liverpool respectively. If additional domestic tourism expenditure is included, the total economic impact induced by all spectators, media and officials in the eight host cities as a result of Euro 96 is estimated at £195m.”
Football Came Home: The Economic Impact of Euro 96 – Dobson, Gratton, and Holliday, 1997
So the total additional expenditure for all overseas and domestic visitors was £195m, which at 2009 values is £245 million. But our highly paid objective expert Wray apparently thinks that Bristol – all on its own – will attract £100m.
How? If Manchester generated £10.3m (or £12.9m at 2009 values) from it’s 5 matches, and Liverpool £6.7m (£8.4m today) from the 4 games held there, it’s difficult to reconcile how Bristol would generate £100 million.
At Euro 96, the capacity for Manchester’s Old Trafford ground was 55,000 and all but one of the games had attendances beyond the maximum capacity of the proposed new stadium for Bristol City. The income generated equates to £2.6 million per match, which is nowhere near the £20 million per match that has been proclaimed by Wray from the pages of the Cancer.
A study produced by the Leisure Industries Research Centre looked at the specific case of the city of Sheffield, which hosted three games during Euro 96. Sheffield Wednesday’s Hillsborough ground was used as a venue and with a capacity of 40,000 it is comparable to the proposed new Bristol City stadium.
During the tournament, Sheffield hosted the Danish team – their three games (against Portugal, Croatia and Turkey) attracted a total attendance of 97,615 (81% capacity). Of this, some 61,000 were visitors to the city (around 20,000 per game) with the majority being day visitors, despite the fact that Danish fans had good reason to locate themselves in the city itself.
The additional spend in the city by these visitors (both day and overnight stays, domestic and overseas visitors) worked out at £5.3m (£6.6m at 2009 values) over the three games or roughly £1.77m per match (2009: £2.2m). This, again, is nowhere near the £20m per match forecast by Wray but perfectly compatible with the figures for Manchester.
The World Cup Bid site itself quotes a figure equivalent to £340 million for additional tourism expenditure from the whole of the World Cup in Germany in 2006.
Is it any wonder the Evening Cancer suddenly wants to divert attention away from a detailed discussion of the potential financial benefits of a World Cup for Bristol? Their figures simply don’t stack up.
As for our extremely well-paid, “expert”, “best in the business“, “objective” employee Mr Wray, I wonder … Will he stepping up to the plate to issue a public correction and apology for his highly misleading figures? Or will he be keeping his head down hoping the new wealthy business and media friends he seems to be working for will protect him?