Red or Blue, everyone's a winner!

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I suspect a lot of Mancunians woke up clutching sore heads today – either as sore United fans or jubilant City fans. Either way, yesterday produced a nail-biting finish to the end of an extraordinary football season, which saw Manchester City clinch the Premier League title for the first time in 44 years.

But looking at the bigger picture, I think there may be an even bigger winner – Manchester itself. An estimated 160 million people, from more than 200 countries tuned in to watch the football yesterday, waiting to see if Manchester United or Manchester City were going to bag the Premiership. That in itself says a lot – two world class teams in one city and an awful lot of people from around the globe following the action.

Greater Manchester portays itself (rightly so in my opinion) as the counter balance to London, the ‘real’ second city. It was Cottonopolis – the beating heart of the Industrial Revolution. It is also home to a thriving and innovative arts scene, which has produced legendary musicians including 10cc, The Bee Gees, The Buzzcocks, The Smiths, Elbow, The Fall, Joy Division, and The Stone Roses.

It drove the development of dance music through The (in)famous Hacienda nightclub, and has for the past few years hosted the Manchester International Festival – which has played host to some of the world’s most original artists. The city region has also driven the regeneration agenda, transforming itself in the aftermath of the IRA bomb of 1996 and, in Salford Central, pushing forward the largest regeneration scheme outside the London Olympic Games.

But those of us lucky enough to live here know all this already, and the proof of the pudding is in the eating. Just a few weeks ago Manchester was named by VisitEngland as the third most popular tourist destination in the UK after London and Edinburgh, attracting 900,000 visitors in 2011. In fact, tourism contributed more than £5bn to the regional economy – as well as supporting 75,000 jobs.

These are very big numbers, and the fact that two outstanding football teams from Manchester were in close competition for the title can only further boost its international reputation as a vibrant and must-visit destination, driving up visitor numbers and spending.

So, congratulations to Manchester City and commiserations to United, and well done to Manchester as a whole – all I now need is for Altrincham FC to get promoted!