Murrayfield boosts Scots economy by £130 million

THE attempts by Scottish rugby to make Murrayfield Stadium "sweat" in the past year have resulted in a boost to the country's economy of nearly £130 million.

Edinburgh alone benefited to the tune of 72.9 million, according to figures published yesterday and welcomed by Jim Mather, the Scottish Government's minister for enterprise, energy and tourism.

The reports, by Napier University and EKOS Ltd, a Glasgow-based economic and social development firm, studied the volume of people attracted to Scotland's capital by events at Murrayfield between September and May, their spending patterns, hotel occupancy and local business income.

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The Napier University investigation focused on the Edinburgh rugby team's 12 home games, Scotland's autumn Test matches with New Zealand and South Africa, and the RBS Six Nations internationals with Wales, Italy and Ireland.

EKOS concentrated on the impact of the high-profile events staged at Murrayfield in May, the SRU having attracted the Heineken Cup Final and a round of Super League games. The Oasis concert in June was said by the SRU to have come too late for the study.

A similar exercise conducted by Napier University in 2002 revealed that an average Six Nations international injected around 20 million into the Scottish economy, but this new report showed the Heineken Cup Final to have beaten that figure by 2 million, while May's three events produced 36 million in economic benefits for the country.

On taking over as SRU chief executive in 2005, Gordon McKie said that he viewed Murrayfield as an under-utilised asset, and that he would seek to make it "sweat" in an attempt primarily to reduce the sport's escalating debts.

The economic benefits are expected to fall as the Heineken Cup Final will move to Paris next year and Scotland have just two Six Nations games, but Mr McKie is pursuing the possibility of staging a competitive NFL American Football match in 2010.

He said: "The numbers we generate in terms of economic benefit should not be under- estimated.

"All too often, we criticise and knock Scottish life, but this is a fantastic story for businesses in Scotland, the community at large and Scottish rugby because it allows us to invest in and grow the game in Scotland."

He would not be drawn on how much hard cash this had meant for rugby in Scotland, nor whether the figures would help generate leverage in pursuit of more government support.

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Ironically, the chief contributor to the SRU's debilitating debt pile – which has held back Scotland's attempts to compete in the professional game and hastened its slide to tenth in the world – was the 50m construction of Murrayfield nearly 15 years ago with little government help.


International matches: 94 million.

"Magic May": 36 million.

The Heineken Cup Final and rugby league's "Magic Weekend" on top of the Emirates Sevens were added to Murrayfield's events.

Heineken Cup Final: 22m.

Engage Super League Magic Weekend: 11m.

An average of 30,000 fans of Europe's top 12 rugby league sides set up camp for two days in Edinburgh this year.

Emirates Airline Edinburgh 7s: 3m.

The SRU are three years into a five-year deal to host the two-day final leg of the world series featuring the best international sevens teams.