THE ROLE OF SPORT Sport is becoming increasingly important to the British - and indeed the world - on several levels. The Government is encouraging a sporting lifestyle following the discovery of high levels of obesity in the population, particularly among children.
Press Release Body = The Sports Market - Market review
THE ROLE OF SPORT Sport is becoming increasingly important to the British - and indeed the world - on several levels. The Government is encouraging a sporting lifestyle following the discovery of high levels of obesity in the population, particularly among children. The UK\'s local authorities play a crucial role in the provision of sporting opportunities by subsidising leisure centres, swimming pools and playing fields, and the National Lottery has also contributed to many sports projects, both national and local. Sport is also important as a passive entertainment, both live and in the media.
A Key Note survey in December 2003 found that 62% of adults claimed to take some form of regular exercise, but participation in many sports has either declined or reached a plateau since the early 1990s; more people now devote their time to general fitness activities, such as walking, swimming or working out in a gym, rather than involving themselves in an organised, competitive sport. The most popular competitive sports are a varied group: golf, snooker, football, badminton and tennis.
THE SPORTS MARKET The bias in participation towards activities that involve little or no equipment (e.g. swimming and working out) means that consumers spend less than £1bn a year on sports equipment - much less than the £3.7bn they spent on participation costs (e.g. joining health clubs) in 2003. The most popular `equipped\' sport by some way is golf; next come fishing and racket sports. Beyond these sports, the equipment market is extremely fragmented.
In-home fitness equipment has grown in importance (it is second only to golf in terms of consumer expenditure on sports equipment), but far more is spent on fitness equipment by clubs and gyms - expenditure that falls outside the scope of this report.
Consumers spend far more on sportswear than on equipment, but their spending is exaggerated by the fashion for wearing sports clothing and sports shoes as all-purpose leisurewear. Much lower sums are spent on sportswear for actual participation.
The largest garment markets are for fleeces and other outdoor products, swimwear, golf clothing and football kit. The football-clothing market includes replica versions of the kit worn by professional teams. The sale of replica kit has underpinned the growth of many of the multiple sports retailers, leaving independent shops, club shops and mail order as the leading sources of equipment.
Consumers doubled their spending on spectator sport in the second half of the 1990s, but the number of people attending these events actually fell - the increase in expenditure simply reflected the higher admission charges made by football clubs and other grounds with improved facilities.
In the early 21st century, spectator sport has levelled off as a market. The more elite clubs are increasing their share of expenditure, leaving many smaller clubs struggling. In 2003, two of the most famous football clubs experienced very different fortunes: Leeds United found itself heavily in debt and struggling on the field, while Chelsea was bought by a Russian billionaire and given cash injections to help it compete at the highest level.
The main trend in spectating, however, has been the growth of televised sport. As more households have subscribed to the specialised sports channels, there have been commercial battles for the rights to cover the biggest events. Sky Sports has gained a key position in the broadcasting of many sports, including football.
FUTURE TRENDS As ever, sport in the 21st century is a market full of extremes. English team sports are buoyant following the success of England\'s Rugby Union team in the World Cup and the qualification of its football team for Euro 2004 in Portugal, but a cloud still hangs over its supporters because of a hooligan element.
It forecasts that total consumer expenditure on sport will grow more slowly than consumer spending as a whole; the demographic projections are generally unfavourable for the market, and there are deflationary pressures in many areas, including clothing, equipment, admission charges and health-club subscriptions.
The key issues of the next few years will include attempts to combat obesity in the population - particularly among children - and London\'s bid to host the Olympics in 2012.