Benefits of Sport

Benefits of Sport

Some will be aware that I was involved with a project last year which was mainly about  housing but had a little bit of football contained within it. To help create a compelling report to ensure the support of the local council I obtained background information on the economic impact of housing and construction and sought similar background information on football.


The range of stats available for housing can be a little overwhelming and I decided to err on the side of caution and therefore chose the lowest figures to ensure under promising and over delivering. The figures for property were as follows;

  • Every one house built generates 2.64 full time permanent jobs
  • Every £1 spent in construction generates £2.84 for GDP.


In other words, building 100 houses at (eg) an average build cost of £130,000 per property would create 264 full-time jobs and generate £36.92m of benefit to local GDP for the lifetime of the construction (and just to confirm, these are lowest figures, you can find stats up to 6 jobs created for every house built).  Upon receipt of these figures I contacted the SFA to obtain the football equivalent.


I wanted to know some basics. I assumed there would stats on the spend per person attending a game (eg £3 per person etc) as well as general stats about what percentage of population go to football (I already had some stats on that but wanted information verified), how many people participate, the percentage of kids who participate in football at local clubs, the percentage of people who keep playing football as they age (eg x% of people playing football at 11 are still actively playing 5-a-side to professional level by 21, Y% by 31, Z% by 41 etc) along with the benefit to the NHS of people remaining active as they age.


I may have been looking for a lot of information but it’s exactly the type of information I would want at my fingertips every time I met a politician, every time I met a civil servant and every time there was a negative story about the game in the press. So I contacted the SFA and went through various parties until I got to Stewart Regan – “We wouldn’t collate such information. Try the SPFL or individual clubs.” So I did. I still await anything back from SPFL and I did have a chat with people at Celtic but never got the information.


In my opinion, obtain such detail IS the job of the SFA. Surely the job of the governing body is to lobby on behalf of its members to get the best deal. This may be in the form of grants or other financial assistance or it may be in the form of lobbying to have legislation overturned which negatively impacts the financial viability of the game and sometimes it’s just about reminding the media and the public in general of what a positive vibrant sport we have. As I said yesterday, perception can often become reality and how best to change the narrative about our game than to be shouting from the rooftops about the positive impact football makes on the financial and physical well-being of our country – we all know the “wife beating stats” after a Celtic v Old Rangers game but how many can tell you the saving to the nation by the positive start in life football clubs provide through getting people involved in playing the national game?


Knowing the positive impact an industry makes is a must for a trade/governing body to ensure the members get the maximum return for the positive impact they make. NOT knowing this data is a dereliction and negligence by those in charge. How can Scottish football lobby for better public transport for spectators, ensure friendlier policing, demand more funding or seek changes to legislation if it doesn’t know these figures in order to commence the negotiations?


As said yesterday, football lets others dictate the narrative. The negative image of our game is completely at odds with its central role in Scottish society – much of which is doing good, but football has not collated even the most basic information to make its case. The negligence of the governing body is an impediment to success. Get the economics and social benefits set out to the politicians and public and it unlocks the keys to so many other elements that will drive our game forward.


The next piece I write will be my best guess at the massive annual rewards Glasgow reaps from having football as a cornerstone of the city.