Mastercard report reveals how football fuels smart cities

April 29, 2019
  • A study commissioned by Mastercard reveals that the power of football to improve infrastructure, innovation and economy will mean cities centred around super stadiums will begin to take form within 50 years.
  • Existing football stadiums boost local economies by an average of €585m in Europe
  • UEFA Champions League Finals bring economical uplifts to cities with double the transactions taking place when the football comes to town
  • 1 in 5 believe football is more effective than religion as a tool for community cohesiveness

New findings today show that football stadiums across Europe are already providing a number of tangible benefits including a huge boost of investment to cities. On average a new stadium pumps €585m into the surrounding community including improved infrastructure and increased employment.

The study, commissioned by Mastercard and authored by Paul Fletcher, Co-founder of the University Campus of Football Business, explored dozens of new and upcoming stadia in cities that participate in the UEFA Champions League and interviewed 2,000 Europeans* that live close to an existing stadium.

The extensive research led to the bold prediction that we could see entire smart cities, with populations of 200,000 and over built around super-stadiums in Europe by 2060 – all fuelled by the power that football has on a community.

It is expected that the heart of the football city will feature the most technologically advanced stadium costing over €800 million to build. The structure will be the key to the city and will itself drive smart transport infrastructure, schools, hospitals, shops – it will even have its own police force.

The findings by Mastercard considered spending data from the host cities of the UEFA Champions League finals over the last decade. Analysts uncovered that the number of match day transactions in London, Milan and Kiev were double that of the previous year. Fletcher’s team believes the growth of the football city and the success of the team at its core would be intrinsically interlinked.

In less than fifty years, the first football city is set to be built in an undeveloped area within 80 minutes’ drive of a European nation’s second or third airport. The location will be selected for its open expanse and team neutrality according to the analysis.

This new breed of stadia will be a multi- purpose venue which could include: a hotel, a university, student accommodation, private medical centre, indoor and outdoor music venue, covered sports arena featuring basketball, tennis and boxing. It could also include a centre for E-sport, exhibition and conference venue.

This approach will be financed by cash rich investors as the demand to own a club will soon outstrip the supply, with future Abramovich’s expected to turn towards establishing new teams or resurrecting a defunct club.

Whilst constructions of this scale are sometimes met with protests, a football city is expected to be welcomed by the locals. Researchers cited recent success stories include Manchester City’s Football Academy that added 6,000 new homes in the city and Arsenal’s Emirate stadium which provided 3,000 homes to London, 40% of which were affordable housing.

Getting on the housing ladder is harder than ever in 2018 / 2019 with over 50% of respondents in the study stating they couldn’t afford to buy a property without affordable housing support from local community initiatives such as football stadium development.

Rose Beaumont, Senior Vice President Business Enablement and Europe Communications International Markets Mastercard, said: “Through our continued sponsorship of the UEFA Champions League our love of football has grown and we’ve seen how football leaves a positive legacy today in building the smart cities and communities for tomorrow. For supporters it can feel like their life revolves around their club and we imagine the concept of joining a team at its inception would be an incredible new experience for fans of the beautiful game.”

This new report that investigates how football powers smart communities has found that the sport is the most effective tool for community cohesiveness.

Nearly one in five (17%) agreed they felt a greater sense of belonging in their neighbourhood with football being the primary reason for this, compared with just one in ten (10%) who cited religion as the source of a strong community feel.

Over one in five (21%) of those interviewed felt that football was the number one topic to discuss over small talk in the local pub.

Following a sixteen-year career as a professional footballer, Paul Fletcher MBE, who carried out the research, has now become one of Europe's leading Stadium experts. He is former Chief Executive of the Reebok Stadium Bolton, the Mc Alpine Stadium Huddersfield and previously the Commercial Director of Wembley Stadium.

Paul Fletcher, Co-founder at the University Campus of Football Business said: “Football is loved by millions and the most remarkable outcome from the research is just how powerful it can be as a tool to encourage communities to grow and flourish. Football needs to be in the centre of the city and not on a greenfield site 10 miles out of town, this just does not work.”



Notes to Editor

For further information or press materials, please contact

*Survey commissioned by Mastercard of 2,000 respondents

The name Paul Fletcher has given to new city is “Assoc” – a reference to the game’s formal name, Association Football (as distinct from Rugby Football).

About Mastercard

Mastercard (NYSE: MA),, is a technology company in the global payments industry.  We operate the world’s fastest payments processing network, connecting consumers, financial institutions, merchants, governments and businesses in more than 210 countries and territories.  Mastercard products and solutions make everyday commerce activities – such as shopping, traveling, running a business and managing finances – easier, more secure and more efficient for everyone.  Follow us on Twitter @MastercardNews, join the discussion on the Beyond the Transaction Blogand subscribe for the latest news on the Engagement Bureau

About University Campus of Football Business

UCFB are a pioneering institution that is a world first in higher education, delivering university degrees from iconic campuses that have Wembley and Etihad stadiums at their heart. They have developed a profile of ground-breaking qualifications to enable those working within the football industry to drive forward their career, and to provide a gateway for those aspiring to pursue their ambitions of working in the global multi-billion-pound market sector.

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