'Bring the National Stadium to Birmingham' - that's the overwhelming view of England fans across the country according to a new survey published by the University of Leicester.
Unveiled to MPs at a reception at the House of Commons, the new survey, completed by over 2,000 fans of 43 FA Premier League and Football League clubs, reveals that 60% make Birmingham their first choice for the location of the new stadium, compared with 29% in favour of Wembley and 11% voting for Coventry.
The survey also reveals that moving the National Stadium to Birmingham would encourage a greater range of fans to travel to England games. Attracting more England fans from outside London and the South East remains a major priority - 59% of responders indicated that having the Stadium in Birmingham would make them more likely to attend the matches.
In terms of accessibility, transport and overall suitability to host a National Stadium, the Birmingham & Solihull proposal fares favourably throughout the survey:
· 65% agreed that 'any new National Stadium should be nearer the centre of the country because it will even up the travel time for all fans'· 76% said having the Stadium in Birmingham would mean ease of access by car
· It was estimated that supporters could travel to Birmingham for an average cost of £29.47 compared with £41.65 on travelling to Wembley
The findings make particularly interesting reading given that 24% of respondents were from London and the South East, the highest proportion from any region in the UK.
Other statistics of interest revealed in the survey include:
· 50% of fans think that Wembley Stadium was a 'poor venue'
· 45% found travelling to Wembley 'difficult and inconvenient'
· 66% found the cost of attending Wembley 'poor value'
Commenting on the survey, Paul Spooner, Project Director of the Birmingham and Solihull English National Stadium Project said:
"This survey only serves to confirm what we have known for some time -the majority of football fans want to see the new National Stadium in Birmingham.
"We can not only offer the most accessible and convenient location in the country, but also the experience to deliver a Stadium the nation can be proud of."
John Williams, research director at the Sir Norman Chester Centre for Football Research at the University of Leicester, said: "When directly comparing Birmingham and Wembley it is clear that the majority of supporters four Birmingham."
"Comments from fans in the survey indicate both their priorities and concerns, and it is important that the football authorities take these fully into account before deciding where to locate any new national venue."
The survey is the latest in a long line of reports and polls that come out strongly in favour of locating the National Stadium in Birmingham. A recent telephone poll of BBC Watchdog viewers indicated that 56% advocated the Stadium coming to Birmingham. Another online poll of BBC London listeners revealed that 73.9% of Londoners were in favour of moving the Stadium to Birmingham. The Birmingham proposal also has the support of 50 English football clubs and the leading supporters associations.
A decision on the chosen location of the National Stadium is expected by the end of October.
For further information, please contact James West or Mireille Toddington at Harrison Cowley on 0121 236 7532 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
You may ring John Williams on 0116 252 2745 or 0116 270 2438 over the weekend. Please credit University of Leicester in your report.
Notes to Editors
1. The research was carried out by the Sir Norman Chester Centre for Football Research at the University of Leicester and was commissioned by the Birmingham and Solihull English National Stadium Project.
2. The survey took the form of a self-return postal questionnaire. 4,000 fans were sent questionnaires from the databases of respondents to the National FA Premier League and Football League surveys of 2001. 2,163 fans provided useable responses (a response rate of 54%) Supporters were selected randomly on the basis of three sample sizes; the distribution of fans between the Premier League and the divisions of the Football League, average attendances at each club and usable fan samples in each region.
3. Geographically, the sample was based on the relative regional size of the active football club audience. Percentages of where respondents live were as follows: London and SE 24%, East Anglia 5%, South West 6%, Midlands 19%, North West 23%, Yorkshire/E Coast 13% and North East 10%.
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