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Golden decade of sport provides opportunity for new global industry in UK
Golden decade of sport provides opportunity for new global industry in UK

Britain’s ‘golden decade of sport’ began in 201 The roster started with the Ryder Cup 2010 in Wales and builds to London 2012, and on to Glasgow’s Commonwealth Games 2014, the 2014 Ryder Cup at Gleneagles, the Rugby World Cup in 2015, a possible FIFA World Cup in 2018 and the Cricket World Cup in 2019.  It will provide a great opportunity to transform our social and economic landscape and give Britain’s sporting administrators the chance to build a world leading industry in these islands. 

That’s the positive viewpoint from Alistair Gray, the founder director of Renaissance & Co, the performance management consultancy.

Sport is a £20bn industry in the UK.  A decade of sport, and in particular London 2012, means the UK's gross domestic profit will increase by £1.9 billion from 2005 to 2016. The European Union (EU) recently reinforced sport’s position as the largest single social movement in Europe with profound benefits for health through people being physically active throughout their whole life.

The UK can benefit from the golden decade of sport by driving a new agenda of economic development, nationally and regionally, based on sport over the next decade. There are also major social opportunities. Cities hold the key to galvanising a critical mass of the population into action. For too long our society has assumed we are entitled to host World Cups, Olympics and major championships because we invented many sports. The next ten years give us the opportunity to welcome the world to the UK.

Perhaps the greatest opportunity is for England, Scotland and Wales – together as Great Britain to build a sporting industry with world-leading capabilities and genuinely become one of the world’s leading sporting nations. To do this we need to establish new skills and capabilities in our people, especially those in the sports industry.

Performance does not only come from the provision of facilities, money and science. Sustained performance will only be achieved if we increase the quality of demand from our young people, their parents and coaches, together making the most of the supply side investment.

Designing and executing a sporting cluster along the lines of industries such as Swiss Watches, New Zealand Lamb and Scotch Whisky would be of lasting value to the UK and provide a fresh, modern agenda for our regional development agencies. Innovative and far-sighted organisations such as Universities and Colleges might be engaged around a transformational agenda to develop new generations of sporting management.

Finally we must once and for all transform the attitude of many in our media towards sport to promote and support our sporting heroes, even in failure, as they strive for the great world and Olympic prize. The media should champion physically active lifestyles rather than size-zero models and be in the vanguard of making Britain great through sport.

Team GB’s performance in Athens and Beijing Olympic Games showed the results of years of investment in a performance system now capable of taking on the world’s best. Post 2012 will probably see reductions in funding of sports by government, and this will be no bad thing. Government needs to ensure the decade of sport impacts the whole of the UK.

There is no point in sport begging to business for help. Sports will have to develop ‘products’ that will appeal to media, sponsors and spectators – The Cricket’s 20:20 and British Swimming’s ‘Duel in the Pool’ are two examples of good practice.

And finally, those organisations charged with running sport – the sports councils, institutes and agencies should take the opportunity to fundamentally address their roles and the value they add to the sporting cluster.


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