New Gold for the City of Wolves?

High times for Wolves fans. Following one brief – and largely unwelcoming – visit to the Premier party, a new seat at the top table feels good for those who get their tales of Molineux glory from a father’s memory.

As Wolves enter the Premier League, it might be apt to consider the potential impact of the  team’s promotion on the city’s economy.

Historically, team and town have always been inextricably entwined. So can Wolves now help bring riches to the city’s door?

As a PhD student researching the economics of football at the University of Wolverhampton’s Management Research Centre  Andrew Jones is a Wolves fan who watches his team closer than most:

”Firstly, if you consider the increase in attendances - especially with the larger travelling support of Premier League teams – it’s feasible to expect an extra 4,500 fans at every home game. If these fans spent an average £10 per head each match day in the city centre, you could see expenditure increasing by around £855,000 over the season.

“The proximity of the stadium to the city centre is an advantage shared by relatively few top flight teams, and this points to a  rise in the takings of city pubs, bars, restaurants and cafes, not to mention general shopping activity.

“Also, presuming there’s a local source of consumables sold in and around the ground such as food and drink, as well as merchandise from the club superstore, you could expect benefits to suppliers.

“Not only that, larger volumes of consumption may mean an increase in, as well as the safeguarding of, jobs for sellers. Local  hotels also stand to profit from the potential needs of bigger away support and the larger entourages of Premier League  teams.

"A city with a Premier League team can expect a global exposure which brings new marketing opportunities as well as potential investment from international students who’ll note the proximity of stadium and campus.

“There are also intangible benefits which can indirectly boost the local economy, not least the ‘feel good’ factor of the team’s  rise.

“Putting a figure on it, the city could profit to the tune of some £5-10million over the season.”

Stuart Farquhar, a senior lecturer at the University of Wolverhampton Business School agrees that Wolves’ promotion could bring economic advantages for the city, but stresses that a definitive study would be difficult as the impacts are so uncertain, particularly given the current economic situation:

“Historically, there are many instances of a football club’s success positively affecting the psychology and, in turn, the  productivity of an area – Sunderland’s FA Cup win in 1973 springs to mind - and to some extent this would have translated into economic benefits.

“In the case of Wolves, there may be direct employment benefits if the club take on more staff to deal with higher attendances. This extra employment would give these people income they may spend in the city, with potential local multiplier effects.

“It’s also possible that match day car park revenue could increase, and the global reach of the Premier League brings added prestige to the city with the potential to influence inward investment decisions.

“But as well as potential income generation for the city, it’s important to take into account possible costs.

“For example, do increased attendances point to higher policing costs? Would citizens avoid the city centre and go elsewhere if there is a likelihood of larger football crowds? How many away supporters would spend money in the city as opposed to hopping on and off the supporter’s coach at the ground just for the game?

“The difficulty in arriving at any quantifiable answer is that there are so many factors difficult to pin down.

"The key will be Wolves’ ability to sustain success and consolidate their position in the Premier League. If they can maintain momentum, maybe increase the stadium capacity and attract fans to fill it, you might well see economic benefits for the city."

Success breeds success, then. And, who knows, it could be that an extended period of prosperity on the pitch could usher in advantages even for city dwellers with little interest in the team.

At the very least, those who do follow the Wolves will have golden tales to tell their own children.