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Sport makes heavyweight contribution to South West’s economy

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Growth in the sport sector has outstripped the English economy as a whole over the past two decades, new research has revealed.

The sport economy’s annual contribution has reached £16.668 billion - up 140% in real terms between 1985 and 2008. In the South West specifically it’s been estimated that sport is worth £1.6 billion a year to the region's economy.

The research was commissioned by Sport England and carried out by the Sport Industry Research Centre at Sheffield Hallam University. According to their report, ‘Economic Value of Sport in England’, sport-related employment in the South West accounted for 44,400 jobs, about 1.7 per cent of all employment in the region. Three quarters of those jobs are in the commercial sector, with 12 per cent in the public sector. Overall, sports' contribution to the region’s economy reached £1.606 billion in 2008, up 67 per cent since 2000.

The researchers found that growth between 2005 and 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 spend on sport in England was £17.384 billion in 2008 – up 138% since 1985
  • The number of people with sport-related jobs has also grown, reaching 441,000 – that’s 1.8% of all employment in England
  • Over three-quarters of these jobs are in the commercial sector, with 13% working in the public sector.

Sport England’s Chair, Richard Lewis, said: “These figures underline the huge value of sport to our country, and the significant role it can play in supporting the economic recovery.

“The growing number of people playing sport is driving up the sector’s economic value, as well as fostering skills, such as leadership and teamwork, that will help the nation’s businesses to emerge strongly from the current financial climate.”

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.

Minister for Sport and the Olympics Hugh Robertson said: “In these tough economic times sport has shown its worth. Hosting the Olympic and Paralympic Games is helping to deliver growth for the sector and we want to capitalise on that further in the run up to 2012 and beyond. This report is proof that sport is a serious industry and not just a pastime - with job opportunities on the rise in the private sector, despite the recession.”