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BUSINESSES are expecting a trade boom this year with cash continuing to flow into the city after Albion’s long-awaited return to the top flight.
Experts predicted that up to ten times more away fans would be coming here for home games now that Brighton and Hove Albion FC are competing in the Premier League.
Traders have already started to notice the positive impact of the club’s promotion on business and tourism in Brighton – and are taking it a sign of good things to come over the next 12 months.
Anne Ackord, chief executive of The Brighton Pier Group PLC and chairwoman of the city’s Tourism Alliance, said: “The Albion promotion was a great morale boost for the city and a city that has pride in itself always attracts more visitors who want to share in the excitement.
“The days when away supporters are in the city are bonus days in that local businesses benefit from additional trade.
“The Albion effect is a truly positive one for all of us.”
Ms Ackord previously said the city could see some of the economic benefits and improvements to infrastructure as Blackpool did after their promotion.
After a one per cent decline in tourism in Brighton was recorded from April to June in 2016, tourism bosses hope that once figures are released for 2017 they will show the club’s promotion has helped boost those figures.
VisitBrighton, the council’s tourism department, had a large increase in hits on its website prior to the first game of this season from the Manchester area, which suggests many Manchester City fans were ready to plan a weekend away to watch the match.
Councillor Warren Morgan, leader of Brighton and Hove City Council and lifelong Albion fan, said: “Hard and fast figures on the benefits of promotion are difficult to come by at this early stage of our first season in the Premier League.
“However studies on Swansea, Leicester and Stoke quantify the multi-million benefit of promotion to their city regions, so there’s no doubt the Seagulls’ rise to the Premier League will be significantly boosting our local economy by millions of pounds.
“Premier League fans travel in greater numbers. There are between 800 and 2,300 away fans at each game at the Amex, many of who will be visiting the city’s pubs, restaurants, shops and hotels.
“The global TV exposure for the city is also phenomenally positive – the Everton game in October was televised to millions in India alone, there’s hundreds of thousands of viewers in the US on a regular basis, plus the huge audience in China.
“They all have potentially huge benefits in terms of tourism and investment.”
Hotels, pubs and shops across Brighton and Hove are continuing to prepare for an influx in customers as they head into the new year.
David Powell, book keeper at the Ambassador Hotel in New Steine, Brighton, said: “Well we woke up to the change almost as soon as they were promoted.
“We made a point to make a note of all the home games.
“We have had more people through from further distances away and so on who stay for an extended weekend.
“With teams like Liverpool and Newcastle coming down to play you expect more people staying overnight.
“We want to see Albion stay up.
“You only have to see in the centre of town on match day that there are a lot more people and I imagine the Amex is a lot fuller than it was.”
Gabriel Forte, of the newly opened Arabella’s Pizzeria in Queen’s Road, Brighton, said he loves the busy atmosphere on match days around Brighton Station.
Mr Forte said: “We see a lot of customers on match days here.
“Our Italian street food is perfect for the football fans before they go to see the Brighton match.
“We want the club to do better in the Premier League this year and then we get more fans eating and celebrating nearby.”
The owners of Italian restaurant Donatello, former sponsors of the club’s shirt and the team’s dugout at the Amex, hoped to see more away fans eating there.
They have still been offering Albion season ticket holders a discount this season.
Adam Ward, manager at Reporter menswear in Church Street, said he hopes to see even more football fans staying in the city for games and spending time enjoying its shops this year.
Bars and pubs around Brighton Station said they have been packed to the rafters on match days thanks to fans travelling to the station for games at the Amex.
Slightly further away, The King and Queen pub in Marlborough Place has a big Liverpool fanbase, known as the Brighton Kop, but staff said Seagulls supporters have been visiting the pub in larger numbers.
They were certain Albion’s promotion was getting more punters through the door.
Cllr Morgan said Albion’s success was securing hundreds of jobs and should bring in tens of millions of pounds to the city region’s economy.
He said: “The city has good reason to thank Tony Bloom for his ongoing and significant investment in the club and its success.
“Premier League status is great for me as a fan – and good news for our economy too.”
At a meeting of the Greater Brighton Economic Board last November, Cllr Morgan said it could be beneficial to carry out research in a year’s time to properly assess the impact of Albion’s promotion on the city’s economy.
But as Albion’s exposure increases this season, tourism and business look certain to continue growing.
Source: The Argus