South East Wales

Cardiff's play-off dream excites businesses in the city

Sign on M4 welcoming football fans to Cardiff
Image caption Could Cardiff be welcoming fans from the Premiership on a regular basis?

No-one can match the excitement being felt among Cardiff City fans ahead of the Championship play-off final.

It may not be as intense but there's still huge excitement elsewhere at the prospect of the Premier League coming to Wales.

Other than the fans, the obvious big winner is the hospitality sector.

More than 1,500 people are employed in hotels in the capital alone. The number of hotel beds grew by 30% last year in the city and is set to grow by another 30% this year.

All those new hotels need new business, after a recession which has seen huge cutbacks in areas like corporate hospitality.

That is why the Premier League has been described as the "Holy Grail" by the Cardiff Hoteliers Association.

The city is no stranger to hosting high-profile sporting events. There have been FA Cup finals and Rugby World Cup matches at the Millennium Stadium and last year's Ashes test at the Swalec stadium.

Image caption Cardiff's new stadium can hold 26.000 fans

But this would be different, instead of one-off spectaculars there will be 19 matches at the Cardiff City stadium spread throughout the season.

And of course we are talking about the most watched sporting league in the world. The Premier League says on a typical weekend its matches are beamed into more than 500 million homes in 211 countries.

So how much would it be worth?

For the club itself it has been estimated at a staggering £90m.

Around £40m of that would come from television income, higher gate receipts and commercial income.

Financial difficulties

If the club is relegated after a season, it could receive close to £50m in parachute payments over four years.

After a number of years of well-documented financial difficulties it would deliver financial solvency at a stroke.

For the wider economy in south Wales it is unclear how much cash would be generated.

The most recent study was done by Cardiff council in 2003.

It concluded that a middle-order Premier League team in Cardiff would generate around £10m, create around 400 jobs and the football club would be among the top 25 firms in the city.

That figure has been dwarfed by some of the more recent estimates on the financial benefits arising from sporting events.

For example, the organisers of the Ryder Cup in Newport in October say it will generate more than £70m for the Welsh economy.

On one level it can be difficult to work out where all the extra money will come from if the club is promoted.

After all, the capacity of the Cardiff City stadium is 26,000 and only around 10% will be visiting fans.

The majority of those will not be spending money on long weekends in Wales but travelling home straight after the final whistle.

Yet that fails to take into account of what is considered by many as the most important benefit, developing the profile and image of Cardiff and Wales around the world and that is impossible to put a figure on.

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