Trends & Features

Sport sector grows faster than English economy

Growth in the sport sector has outstripped the English economy over the past two decades, according to research published by Sport England.

The sport economy’s annual contribution has reached £16.668billion – up 140 per cent in real terms between 1985-2008.

Researchers at Sheffield Hallam University’s Sport Industry Research Centre found that growth between 2005-2008 was “driven by investment directed towards the London Olympics and a long-term Sport England policy to increase sport participation”.

They argue that sport’s resilience reflects the growing number of people who “consider sports participation as being more a basic need than a luxury”.

Other key findings of the report, The Economic Value of Sport in England, include:

• Consumer spending on sport in England was £17.384 billion in 2008 – up 138 per cent since 1985.

• The most significant areas of consumer spending on sport are clothing and footwear, participation subscriptions and fees, and gambling. Together these three categories account for £9.517billion (in 2003 prices) or nearly 59 per cent of the sport-related expenditure in England in 2008.

During the aforementioned period, the spending associated with ‘sport clothing and footwear’ and ‘participation subscription and fees’ increased by 25 per cent and decreased by two per cent respectively in volume. There was a seven per cent rise in expenditure on sport equipment during 2003-08.

• The number of people with sport-related jobs has also grown, reaching 441,000 – that’s 1.8 per cent of all employment in England. Over three-quarters of these jobs are in the commercial sector, with 13 per cent working in the public sector.

• Sport related employment bucked the declining trend of the UK economy. During the period 2005-2008, sport related employment increased by two per cent. The majority of these jobs are supported by the commercial sectors – accounting for
339,000 jobs or 76 per cent of the total sport related employment in England.

The report also compares the value of the sport sector across the country. It finds that London makes the largest contribution, reflecting the size of the capital’s economy.

However, per capita spending on sport is greatest in the east of England at £404.

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