Elite-level sports clubs and organisations need to develop greater commercial maturity if they are to play a more central role in the economic regeneration of parts of the UK, according to a new report by independent legal practice Brabners.
The report, State of Play: The Future of Sport, cites the impact of Manchester City Football Club and Lancashire County Cricket Club (LCCC) as best practice examples of how elite level sport can stimulate community and economic growth via investment in stadia and facilities. The increased presence of international cricket at Lancashire’s Old Trafford ground is expected to contribute £84million to the Greater Manchester economy over the next six years.
Robert Elstone led the early phases of Everton Football Club’s new Bramley Moore Dock stadium as the club’s former chief executive. In the report, the current chief executive of rugby league’s Super League says: “The future vibrancy of professional and community clubs requires investment in stadia, but the reality is that it’s extremely difficult to bring a project forward without third party investment or a wider regeneration mix. Tottenham Hotspur’s new home aside, very few stadia of significant scale have been developed recently in the UK without significant ‘special circumstances’ contributions.”
While sport remains a hugely lucrative industry, contributing £23.8billion to the UK economy annually, the report argues that many professional clubs need to become more commercially savvy to maximise their economic potential or attract the right third-party investment.
Launching the report, Lydia Edgar, head of sports law at Brabners, said: “Beyond government funding, elite level sports clubs are a major vehicle for communities to attract investment, develop facilities and improve the overall health of residents. As the business of sport transforms the fortunes of various leagues and clubs for the better, we must strive to ensure that those successes are also for the benefit of the communities they are part of.”
With the UK set to host major international tournaments including the INF Netball World Cup, ICC Cricket World Cup, UEFA Euro 2020 and the Commonwealth Games in the next four years, the report calls on the industry to use the events to deliver positive change both on and off the field.
Maurice Watkins CBE, senior partner at Brabners, said: “These momentous occasions will all provide platforms to champion the impact of sport and create positive legacies that far outreach the events themselves. To maximise its contribution to the economy, it is imperative that the UK sport industry develops a sense of commercial best practice. While many elite sports generate huge amounts of money at the top, the current development and deployment of commercial skills across the industry lacks consistency, meaning that many opportunities are being missed.”