It's only a game - or is it?

Accrington Stanley, who are they?

Well, the well-established East Lancashire football club have just won promotion to the third tier of English football for the first time in their history.

Indeed, the Red Rose county is enjoying a mini-renaissance in footballing terms with Blackburn Rovers securing promotion back to the Championship at the first time of asking; and Burnley heading for European competition, courtesy of a seventh-placed finish in the Premier League.

Of course, success is almost expected in neighbouring Manchester, where City have won the Premiership with five games to spare, and United are favourites to lift the FA Cup at Wembley next month.

Liverpool looks destined for another Champions League final, and few would bet against Jurgen Klopp’s side from lifting the European Cup for an incredible sixth time in May.

Meanwhile, although the relegation from the top league of West Brom is a blow to the West Midlands, this is balanced by Wolves coming in the other direction, possibly joined by arguably the biggest club in the region, Aston Villa. Hopefully, Birmingham City can maintain their place in the Championship too.

What has this got to do with business? Well, in terms of economic impact and the profile of a town or a city, football can be hugely beneficial and influential.

You only have to have a conversation with the chief executive of Leeds City Council Tom Riordan to appreciate the positive impact a successful Premier League club can have on a place – whilst the absence of one hits the visitor economy hard and robs you of some very high-profile coverage via Sky Sports.

Hoteliers in Liverpool will evidence the improvement to their bottom- line this season because of their football clubs run in Europe. Similarly, the Manchester economy is boosted massively by City and United.

But, its not only about the financial economic benefits that we derive advantages from football. There will be an extra spring in the step of Accrington residents, Blackburn Rovers fans, and Burnley followers, that will result in a feelgood factor in those towns that is often immeasurable but is nevertheless there.

So, congratulations to all clubs who have enjoyed a good season in 2017-18 – and please, please, please, let 2018-19 be Everton’s year – it’s long overdue.

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