Leicester City Football Club’s success in the Barclays Premier League (for the hermits reading this, they won it) has put the Midlands city on the world map. The Foxes’ progress this season had all the ingredients of a fairy tale (including the happy ending) and as fairy tales have near universal appeal, the team’s success has been reported on right around the world, from prime time TV in the United States to near saturation coverage in Thailand. (The club’s owner is a Thai billionaire).
Football success translates into money and there is now a long list of those that can expect to bask in that financial glow; including the City itself and the wider Midlands region, which is now expecting to receive a record number of tourists.
First in line must be the club itself, which is predicted to receive a potential windfall of £150 million made up of Premier League prize money, Champions League participation cash, and increased match day revenues from ticket and hospitality sales.
Next in line is the manager, Claudio Ranieri, who is reputed to have bagged himself a £5 million bonus. With a £250,000 book deal already inked in for deadly finisher James Vardy, his windfall is getting the headlines.
But the entire squad is being well looked after, including them all taking delivery of a brand new Mercedes B-Class Electric Drive (on the road price, £32,670) plus an all-expenses paid trip to Las Vegas, both ‘thank you’ goodies paid for by the ultra-grateful (and ultra-generous) club owner and chairman Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha.
The self effacing chairman is reputedly worth over £2billion so presumably well able to negotiate volume discounts on car purchases and group holiday bookings and as he made his fortune from duty-free shops, we can guess where the players will be spending most of their time whilst at the airport.
The tourism industry, which is currently worth £1.57bn to the region, will certainly benefit as well, most notably from the thousands of European visitors who will be drawn to the city next season as a result of Leicester’s Champions League qualification.
And analysis carried out by the Sheffield Hallam University’s Sports Industry Research Centre, on UK teams’ past sporting successes predict that Leicester’s economy could grow by twice that of the national average, so heralding a mini-boom for the area.
Before the fabulous foxes completed their astonishing feat, Leicester’s most notable tourism draw was the discovery and reburial of Richard IIII’s body; estimated to have brought an extra £59m to the local economy and attracting an extra 600,000 visitors to the city.
Before that discovery, the city’s tourism department had had to rely on promoting a list of famous residents ‘including the psychedelic rock band Gaye Bykers On Acid and crooner Engelbert Humperdinck’.
Somehow, you sense that things just got easier in the tourism department.