Following extensive research, Celtic Underground can today reveal the value of football to the economy of Glasgow is upwards of £190m.
When taking into consideration how little support Glasgow provides to football the value of the game staggering. To provide some context, this would be the equivalent of hosting a Commonwealth Games every 7 months. On an even bigger scale, It would be like hosting the Olympics every 12 years without incurring any of the costs.
Glasgow spent £80m and the Scottish Government spent £345m to host the Commonwealth Games to obtain a £100m return in 2014. With the added legacy benefits of people taking up sport, Glasgow are rightly proud of this return on investment yet for decades Glasgow has had a Commonwealth Games every year and has provided little if any additional infrastructure to enhance the return from football.
This figure is staggering and shows the importance of football on Glasgow life but what does that mean for our game?
Well as illustrated earlier this week football needs to take control of the narrative. By driving home the benefits all of society gets from football being played every week in our Dear Green Place, football should be looking for it’s fair share in return. There have been some recently claiming state aid from Glasgow City Council to Celtic. These people probably come up with their sophisticated theories propping up their local pub wearing shell suits and brown brogues. A proper analysis of the facts illustrates the story is not one of illicit aid, rather the chronic underfunding of events and infrastructure around the game in Glasgow.
The figures here are based upon the activity of football fans and football tourists. Our research shows that every year approximately 1/4 million visitors to Glasgow from outside Scotland come because of football. To measure the full impact of the sports tourism associated with attending football in Glasgow the direct, indirect and induced effects need to be incorporated. These effects spread the impact of football tourism not only to other sectors not directly affected but also across other regions, through the purchase of the exports of these regions. In other words, the knock-on effect of sports tourist from outside Scotland spending money in Glasgow is economic activity not only in Glasgow but also the rest of Scotland. In 2010, Event Scotland estimated that the Edinburgh Festival generated £82m of additional income to the wider Scottish economy, creating 4,917 jobs. Today, Celtic Underground can confirm that football tourism to Glasgow produces similar figures.
Our research and the Edinburgh Festival study methodologies differ in detail and therefore only a general comparison is appropriate. Moreover the research we have undertaken was specific to Glasgow however it would be fair to state that the positive economic impact of football in Glasgow has on the whole of Scotland is on a par with “… the world’s biggest arts Festival.”
This report is based upon the attendance at football in Glasgow and the associated visitor numbers. It is perhaps a conservative view of the added benefit football brings to Glasgow as it does not take into account the football strips bought and the associated employment that brings, nor does it take into account the number of people who play football as a consequence of Glasgow being a football city and the employment benefits brought by people taking up and playing the game from childhood through to the 5-a-side complexes throughout the city.
This report also doesn’t take into account the positive aspects of playing the game and supporting a team. We have heard the reports on increases in domestic violence caused by the game (and next week I will provide information on why experts cast doubt on the role football plays in this), but rarely on the positive impact football makes. Below are just some of the benefits of sport, of which football is obviously a major contributor, brings;
- 80% of people who play team sports say it has made them make new friends compared with 14% of gym members.
- 90 minutes of exercise a week have a 3 year extension to their life expectancy.
- 150 minutes of exercise a week is twice as effective as medication at reducing the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
- Regular participation has been associated with around 7.5% greater earnings than inactive peers
- 67% of live spectators at sporting events studied feel inspired to participate or participate more frequently in sport as a result of their attendance.
Celtic, Rangers, Partick Thistle, Queens Park, Scotland, Cup semi-finals and cup finals. Glasgow is a football city and its economy thrives because of it yet football gets nothing in return. As discussed this past month, £12m was spent on improvements at Dalmarnock station, it was for the Commonwealth Games – I doubt it would ever have happened just for football. Altered train timetables, specialist games lanes, Merchant City festival etc. All of these things were done to ensure the optimum outcome for the 10 days of the Games and yet Glasgow has a “Games” every year thanks to football and does nothing to enhance it.
The Celtic Underground research was generated for another purpose and has been shared with Celtic but surely it is the remit of the SFA to undertake such analysis and keep it refreshed to use to ensure the politicians work with football to ensure a vibrant sport operating at maximum revenues provides the best outcomes for all and that Glasgow and indeed Scotland stops selling football short.