The economic importance of sport : a case study of Sheffield
Over the last decade, the concept of using sport for regeneration purposes has gained increasing credibility in a number of cities throughout the UK. Despite this, little is known about the economic importance of sport at the local level. Although research has been carried out on the economic activity generated through sport since the mid 1980s (Henley Centre for Forecasting, 1986), the majority of studies have been undertaken at the national and regional level. This thesis investigates the economic importance of sport at the local level, using Sheffield as a case study. It represents the first study of sport-related economic activity to be carried out at the city level, in the UK. Following a critical evaluation of the feasible methodologies for measuring the economic importance of sport at the local level, the National Income Accounting framework was found to be most appropriate for measuring sport-related economic activity in Sheffield. To satisfy the data requirements of this framework, extensive primary data collection was undertaken in the voluntary, consumer and commercial sport sectors using questionnaires and structured interviews. This was used, together with data collected from secondary sources and previous economic impact studies in the UK, to estimate the value-added and employment created from sport-related economic activity in Sheffield. The findings of the research revealed that the economic importance of sport in Sheffield in 1996/97 was approximately twice the level predicted from current national estimates. The value-added by sport-related economic activity was found to be £165.61 million, which was approximately 4.11% of GDP in Sheffield in 1996/97, compared with just 1.61% of GDP at the national level (LIRC, 1997). Whilst a number of explanations for these findings are explored within the thesis, one of the most significant findings of the research is that previous estimates, established in other studies on the economic importance of sport in the UK, have been inaccurate and have essentially underestimated the size of the sport-related economic activity. The research also evaluated the potential role for sport in economic regeneration and provided evidence to suggest that sport can perform as a basic sector activity, a function widely assumed to be fulfilled only by producer services, manufacturing and agricultural activities (Williams, 1997). The study demonstrates that sport is an industrial sector within its own right and that it has considerable potential for generating benefits, including local economic development, job creation and urban renewal. Nevertheless, the thesis suggests that the future development of the sports industry for regeneration purposes should take the form of an integrated approach with other cultural industries and tourism.