A lot of Bristol citizens will be looking forward to the start of the English football league today. Ashton Gate will be full for the visit of Forest and the loyal traveling support of Gasheads will be making their way to Peterborough.
At 3 pm today so many hopes for the coming season will be put to the test and the passion of Bristol’s football fans will roar in the new season.
Bristol is a fervent football city and even those that don’t attend the matches today will be listening in or at the very least following the scores.
Football is important to our city and our two professional clubs are key city institutions.
When the clubs are successful, the city prospers. It was calculated that when Swansea were promoted to the Premier League, it brought around £60 million annually to the city economy. That would be higher for Bristol that starts from a higher economic base. On my international trips to bring trade and investment to Bristol, in China and Malaysia particularly, investors are most interested in cities where they recognise premier league brands. A premier league football club genuinely boosts the local economy as well as bringing excitement and colour to the city.
Bristol also has a hugely vibrant local football scene. From the semi pro players and decent crowds in the southern league and western league to the grass roots of the parks pitches, thousands more will soon be a regular weekend feature of our parks and green spaces. Football has been played on the Downs since the 1880s and the Downs League officially launched in 1905, still the biggest self contained single league in Europe.
Many will be looking forward to today’s season and football again seems on a high after a successful England performance at the World Cup.
Football fans are usually partisan but the banter and competition between Rovers and City fans is generally healthy for the city.
Promotion for both clubs will be great for the whole city so I wish them both well today to get off to flying starts on the road to promotion.