West Brom promotion 'a major boost for the Black Country'
West Bromwich Albion's promotion into the Premier League will be a "huge boost" for the Black Country – giving the region's economy a much-needed lift during the pandemic.
Local leaders have congratulated the team and their fans on returning to the top tier in UK football, after sitting in the top two of the Championship for nearly the entire season.
The last few games were nail-biters for Baggies fans, with promotion almost looking like it was out of their hands in the crucial last moments.
But a 2-2 draw against QPR on Wednesday night, coupled with the fact that promotion rivals Brentford lost 2-1 to Barnsley, saw the Albion victorious in the end.
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Andy Street, the mayor of the West Midlands, said the promotion would see a huge financial boost to the local economy during "a challenging time".
He said: "They didn’t exactly do it the easy way, but a huge congratulations to West Bromwich Albion and their fans on returning to the Premier League. After sitting in the top two for practically the whole season, you cannot say it is not thoroughly deserved.
"Not only will the promotion provide a huge morale lift for the people of Sandwell and Baggies fans across the wider Black Country and West Midlands, but it will also be a huge boost financially – at least in the tens of millions - to the region’s economy at such a challenging time.
"With the Baggies promoted, we are now faced with the very real prospect of having six West Midlands Premier League derbies next season, something I know fans of the respective clubs will absolutely relish."
Corin Crane, chief executive of the Black Country Chamber of Commerce said it was "great news" the Baggies had gone up.
He said: "Now we have two Black Country teams in the Premier League, it's really good news all round. And the rivalry between those two – Wolves and the Baggies – is good fun.
"The Premier League has a global audience and there's a lot to be proven around a team's effect on the economy.
"West Brom do loads of community work, they're exemplar the work they do with young people and deprived areas.
"But also having something this positive take place during a troubling time will just be huge for the area – we'll have people staying over, people coming to our pubs, there will be a buzz around the ground. It's a brilliant catalyst for the local economy."
Yesterday West Brom fans who gathered outside The Hawthorns to celebrate the Baggies' promotion on Wednesday were urged to stay away from people vulnerable to coronavirus.
Covid-19 cases have spiked in the Sandwell borough in recent weeks, with one factory closing for two weeks after a third of staff tested positive.
Hundreds of fans gathered outside the Hawthorns next to the A41 and celebrated the club's return to the Premier League late into the evening despite being asked to stay away by the club, police and Sandwell Council's director of public health, Dr Lisa McNally.