It may have been a black weekend for Birmingham City and Aston Villa supporters in the FA Cup but the lack of footballing success in the Midlands is also hurting the region's economy.

That's according to John Samuels, professor of business finance at the University of Birmingham, who said clubs were held back by cautious directors being too prudent as the sport went global.

He said: "From a regional point of view if you go around the world most people think that the second biggest city in England is Manchester or Liverpool, and many don't even know where Aston Villa is. The success of the club has an effect on the fortunes of the city without any doubt. Look at Liverpool. Them winning the City of Culture wasn't just about the Beatles. Birmingham just doesn't have the name or the glamour of a Liverpool FC."

He added: "In terms of the effect football has on the economy, there are two dimensions. One effect you can measure is the amount of money it brings into the region in terms of fans spending money. But another which you can't measure is the effect of people not knowing the name of Birmingham round the world.

"Some people in this country might think of the symphony orchestra or the canals and think of Birmingham, but in China they don't do that.

"If I was a Shanghai businessman and I had a letter saying 'come over to Manchester and let's talk business and we'll go and see Manchester United', it would mean something. You wouldn't get that effect with Birmingham."

In his new book, The Beautiful Game is Over (The Globalisation of Football), Prof Samuels looks at how football is becoming a global industry with a small number of organisations dominating the market. He said the only way to break the grip of the "big four" - Man Utd, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool - on football in England was to have big-spending club owners willing to take big risks.

He added: "I like the people running Birmingham City, I wouldn't criticise (David) Sullivan's goals at all. They took over a rubbish operation and I think they have done a great job. But they might have been a bit prudent. At Aston Villa we don't really know the new owner (Randy Lerner) yet, but he hasn't done anything wrong yet.

"My big worry is catching up. If they go into the market now, Villa aren't going to be spending £10 million on a player. I don't think anyone we have got in the Midlands is going to spend the money catching up."