Stoke-on-Trent’s UK City of Culture 2021 bid will be in the national and international spotlight today (Saturday) when Stoke City take on Manchester United.
A giant 10x12 metre flag will be unveiled as the players walk out onto the pitch at the bet365 stadium for the Premier League clash, which will be watched by a live television audience of millions on BT Sport and around the globe.
The flag, which reads ‘Stoke-on-Trent for City of Culture 2021’, will be passed into the crowd and proudly held aloft by home supporters as it makes its way through the South, East and North stands shortly before kick-off at 5.30pm. The club will also play a promotional bid video on the big screens inside the stadium, and have included the #sot2021 hashtag on the front of the matchday programme.
Stoke City chief executive Tony Scholes said: “We’re proud to be backing Stoke-on-Trent’s bid to be the 2021 City of Culture and believe the global nature of the Premier League can help raise the profile of the bid.”
Angela Smith, chair of the Supporters’ Council, said it was fantastic to see Stoke City getting behind the bid. She said: “With the game being on live television and the pictures beamed across the world, it’s a fantastic opportunity to enhance the city and the bid’s reputation. Everyone in the city needs to get together behind the 2021 bid, this is a fantastic opportunity for Stoke-on-Trent.”
Also today, Port Vale will be showing their continued support for the bid when they play away to Coventry City, one of the four other cities shortlisted for the 2021 title, along with Paisley, Sunderland and Swansea. Vale players will be wearing Stoke-on-Trent UK City of Culture 2021 t-shirts during their pre-match warm-up for the League Two fixture, which kicks off at 3pm. The club will also do a live feed on their social media channels of the players warming up.
Jo Stanner, Port Vale’s sales and marketing manager, said: “Hopefully most people will be aware that Port Vale are heavily backing the City of Culture bid. We unveiled a 20 metre 'Back the Bid' stand sign at Vale Park a couple of weeks ago and we continue to help to raise the profile of this fantastic campaign, demonstrating how much the bid means to the city and how the community is behind it all the way. To send a clear message that Coventry is not the only shortlisted city being backed by the Midlands, our players will be wearing back the bid t-shirts during the warm up and hopefully, subject to viability, when they go out on the pitch to start the game too.”
The Government has set a deadline of September 29 for final bids to be submitted, and will reveal the winner at the end of the year.
Cllr Abi Brown, who is chair of the city’s bid, said: “We are one of only eight cities in England to have two professional football teams and both of them are woven into the social history and fabric of Stoke-on-Trent. The support of Stoke City and Port Vale shows how the city is coming together as one team to get behind the bid which is fantastic to see.
“The social and economic benefits that becoming UK City of Culture 2021 would bring to Stoke-on-Trent would be huge and felt across the entire city. The flag at Stoke City’s match against Manchester United will hopefully gain national and international attention and we’re planning to tour it around the city in the coming weeks.”
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