Countdown to the Barclays Premier League kick-off
The new Premier League season begins on Saturday – just three months after one of the most nail-biting finales in its 20-year history.
And research shows that nearly a million overseas visitors are expected to watch a football match this year, contributing nearly three quarters of a billion pounds to the economy*.
So what can visitors who are interested in football come and see?
A visit to their favourite team’s stadium is a must, a chance to hear about the history of the clubs, their star players and heroes, and to see inside the changing rooms and walk out on to the hallowed turf: famous stadiums such as Old Trafford (Manchester United); Anfield (Liverpool); Stamford Bridge (Chelsea); Sports Direct Arena (Newcastle United); the Emirates Stadium (Arsenal) or the Etihad (the ground of the champions, Manchester City). Or visit Wembley Stadium, venue for England International matches as well as concerts by major bands. Check out the VisitBritain Shop to book your stadium tour.
And one of Britain’s newest – and free – attractions is devoted to the “Beautiful Game”: the new National Football Museum in Manchester contains one of the greatest collections of football memorabilia ever assembled, on display in the city’s landmark Urbis building. There are 140,000 objects, works of art and photographs, with highlights including a shirt from the world’s first international match played in 1872, and the 1966 World Cup Final ball. Admission is free, but you can make your trip even more memorable by buying a ticket for the Football Plus experience where you can test your speed, reactions and accuracy; try and score a penalty like the best in the game or have a go at commentating.
Tickets to see one of the top teams play can be notoriously difficult to get, as they tend to sell out fast, but if you can’t get one direct, or via a specialist sports ticketing company, why not see them play an away match at one of the other Premier League grounds?
The last day of the 2011/12 season was extremely tense: on 13 May, Manchester City scored twice in stoppage time to be crowned champions for the first time in 44 years, winning the Barclays Premier League on goal difference from arch-rivals Manchester United. City manager Roberto Mancini described it as the “perfect finale for a crazy season”.
At a press conference, looking forward to the new season, Gareth Southgate and Andy Townsend talked of the passion, excitement, and quality of the game in England. The former top players, now pundits, also paid tribute to Norwegian, Swedish, Korean and other international players and the significant impact they have made on the teams they joined.
And there are more to come: with two weeks to go till the transfer window closes, there have already been some exciting new signings, including Japanese player Shinji Kagawa at Manchester United; Italian Fabio Borini at Liverpool; Spaniard Santi Cazorla and German Lukas Podolski at Arsenal; and German Marko Marin, Belgian Eden Hazard and Brazilian Oscar at Chelsea. All play in their national teams.
The conference at the London Media Centre was jointly held by the Premier League and VisitBritain, who are in the fourth year of a partnership. The Premier League is the world’s most watched league with matches broadcast to 720 million homes in 212 territories worldwide.
The markets generating the highest numbers of football spectating visits in 2011 were Ireland, Norway, USA, Spain and Germany; the markets where there was the highest chance of a visit featuring time at a football match were Iceland, Norway, Ireland, Sweden and Mexico.
VisitBritain has a section on its main website dedicated to the partnership and containing player interviews, club information, inspiring imagery, and ticket availability. http://www.visitbritain.com/en/Things-to-do/Premier-League/. Stars who have acted as global ambassadors for Britain and shared their experiences of living and playing in this country include Dirk Kuyt (Holland), Brad Friedel (USA), Clint Dempsey (USA), Cesc Fabregas (SPAIN), Ramires (Brazil) and Sandro (Brazil).
* Research has shown that in 2011 almost 900,000 overseas visits to Britain featured time watching a football match, up from just more than three-quarters of a million in 2010, with those that chose to watch a football match spending an average of £792 during their stay in the country, more than £200 higher than the average inbound visit.
For more information contact:
- VisitBritain, the national tourism agency, is responsible for inspiring the world to explore Britain and for developing the UK’s visitor economy.
- Americans made 2.8 million visits to Britain in 2012 and spent $3.7 billion USD (£2.4 billion). The US remains in the top spot in terms of market value for inbound tourism and is one of the top three most important markets in terms of visitor numbers.
- Visitors traveling to Britain can find out more information from visitbritain.us plus purchase money and time saving local transport, sightseeing, attraction, theatre and tour tickets from visitbritainshop.us
- Follow us on Twitter @VisitBritain, Pinterest (VisitBritain) and Facebook: LoveUK & LoveUK Film & TV