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Ben Hayes - Charlton Athletic programme

Foundation of Light

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Anyone who has read the excellent diaries penned by the independently minded former MP Chris Mullin would be aware that Sunderland has faced economic challenges.   Curiously, Mullin only rarely refers to the football club, but he doesn't seem to be a fan of football in general.

The football club employs 1,200 people (although most of those are part-timers used at home games) and turns over £80m annually.   Home games bring about £45m a year into Sunderland.   The 49,000-seater Stadium of Light has also developed a reputation for big rock concerts, hosting Bruce Springsteen, Coldplay and Take That.

The club spent £20m in the transfer window and has set itself the goal of finishing in the top 10 of the Premiership and qualifying for the Premier League.   Its Foundation of Light charity works with more than 42.000 young people and their families each year.

The club is also developing its profile in Africa through its shirt sponsor Invest in Africa, a not-for-profit initiative that promotes Africa as an attractive investment destination.   Economic growth in the continent was over 5 per cent last year, challenging the belief that Africa is only about poverty and distress.   The number of middle income families is growing all the time.

Interest in Sunderland AFC is growing particularly in east and central Africa.   The recent derby with Newcastle was shown by Ulimwengu wa Soka, BBC Swahili's flagship football programme.