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What is the cultural and financial impact of Sunderland's relegation?

Sunderland relegation Photo: ITV News

By Kris Jepson

Sunderland fans are coming to terms with the prospect of League One football next season after the club was relegated for a second consecutive year. ITV News Tyne Tees examines how this relegation will affect the city both financially and culturally.

Watch @krisjepson's report here:

The landlord of the Wheatsheaf pub, Michael Collins, which has previously thrived as a big match day venue catering for fans before and after their visit to the Stadium of Light, said last season's relegation from the Premier League had a huge impact on the business.

He is hoping for fans to return to watch the team next season to make up for this season's loss of trade.

Coming down out of the Premier League last season's been really hard. Towards the back end of last season we actually shut upstairs, because it just wasn't worth opening anymore. The opening day of the season was pretty busy, so I thought this could be a good start to the season and we opened up the week after upstairs and it just seemed to be the same thing again. Nobody wanted to turn out. We try to get other things on. We've put bands on to try and get the takings up and try and build it that way as well.

– Michael Collins, The Wheatsheaf
Sunderland Pub Credit: ITV News

Researchers at Centre for Cities suggest the hospitality sector only accounts for 13 per cent of Sunderland's overall income.

They told ITV News for 23 home games per year, the financial impact of a few thousand extra fans does not make a difference to the city's economy.

The impact will be less than it was last year, when the club got relegated from the Premier League. When we think of the size of the impact anyway, we’re talking about a few less thousand people coming around 20 times a year, in terms of the number of matches. That’s actually a small part of the sunderland economy, so it's bad news obviously, bad news for the club, it's not great for the city, but the impact will be quite small. The big challenge for Sunderland is about attracting bigger paid, higher skilled jobs and that's something it's really struggled with for the last 30 to 40 years, so the focus has to be on that, irrespective of how the football club does.

– Paul Swinney, Centre for Cities
Sunderland Culture Credit: ITV News

For those on Wearside who helped promote Sunderland's bid for City of Culture, which went to Coventry for 2021 earlier this year, building on the momentum from that campaign is key to the city's success.

Irrespective of whether the football club is in the top or bottom divisions, Keith Merrin, from Sunderland Culture told ITV News, the city still has lots to offer.

Obviously it's a massive disappointment to a lot of people in the community, but I suppose in the same way, when we didn't win the City of Culture, rather than dwelling too much on the disappointment, instead we've started to plan to deliver all of those amazing aims that we came up with during the City of Culture and in delivering new gallery spaces, new theatre, lots of new activities for the city, so hopefully the football club and all the people who support it can do the same and really rebuild from there.

– Keith Merrin, Sunderland Culture