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Cotswold economy gets a kick from sport

PUBLISHED: 15:05 25 September 2018 | UPDATED: 15:05 25 September 2018

Shaun Porter coaches Victoria Taylor from Truly Tailored (c) Antony Thompson/TWM

Shaun Porter coaches Victoria Taylor from Truly Tailored (c) Antony Thompson/TWM

© Thousand Word Media

From shooting schools to polo grounds, rugby clubs to football stadiums and racecourses, how much do our sporting organisations plough into the economy? Tanya Gledhill investigates

Sport is good for the economy. Of that there’s no doubt.

At the height of England’s 2018 World Cup success, economists argued the competition - combined with the summer heatwave - was helping the UK economy recover from the slowdown triggered by the Brexit referendum and heavy winter snowfalls.

Figures put the upturn at £30m.

Estimates suggested on the night of the England vs Croatia game alone, pubs were celebrating a 10m increase in the number of pints of beer sold.

Meanwhile, John Lewis reckoned its Champagne sales were fizzing and the taxman was rubbing his hands together at the thought of a £4.5m windfall in extra beer duties.

At the time of the World Cup, Mark Gregory, Chief Economist at consultancy EY, predicted the effect of the competition would be felt for months to come.

“Retail sales are on an upward trend,” he was quoted as saying. “You might see spending on food, drink and things like replica kit - thanks to the feel good factor and parties - continue over the next few months.”

Sport England suggests the economic value of sport in the UK in terms of health is around £11.2bn, with latest figures showing sport and sport-related activity generated GVA of £20.3bn.

“This placed sport within the top 15 industry sectors in England and larger than sale and repair of motor vehicles, insurance, telecoms services, legal services and accounting,” said a spokesman.

“Sport and sport-related activity is estimated to support over 400,000 full-time equivalent jobs – 2.3% of all jobs in England and generates a range of wider benefits, both for individuals and society.

“These include the well-being and happiness of individuals taking part, improved health and education, a reduction in youth crime, environmental benefits, stimulating regeneration and community development, and benefits to the individual and wider society through volunteering

“Consumption of sport benefits include the well-being/happiness of spectators, and the national pride/feel good factor through sporting success and achievement.”

But what’s the picture here?

Across the Cotswolds region, we are blessed with some top-flight sports clubs and organisations.

From Gloucester Rugby to Cheltenham Racecourse, Oxford United to Cirencester Park Polo Club, Worcestershire County Cricket Club to Worcester Warriors, Cheltenham Town FC to Oxfordshire’s Formula 1 giants, there are a plethora of organisations pumping millions into the regional economy.

In Gloucestershire, figures released by Gfirst LEP show the industry directly employs more than 5,000 people and puts the total direct economic value of sport to the economy at £1.796m.

Participation in sports adds £136.1m to the economy, and accounts for 3,822 jobs, latest studies show. By far the biggest share of the jobs is taken up by the operation of sports facilities and the activities of sports clubs. Of that figure, subscriptions and class fees amount to £53.9m, education adds another £49.1m, sales of sportswear brings in £1.1m and sales of sports equipment accounts for £16.9m.

Non-participation ploughs £43.4m into the economy and provides 1,242 jobs.

In that, gambling accounts for £2.4m, satellite TV subscriptions adds another £0.8m, spectator sports account for £13.5m and sportswear and equipment comes to £26.7m.

On top of that, volunteering in sports contributes £99.1m, the wider economic value in terms of health is put at £248.6m and wider spending comes in at £32m.

Country sports play a huge role.

The four-day jump racing Festival, which takes place at Cheltenham Racecourse every March drives more than £100m into the local economy, according to a 2016 study by the University of Gloucestershire.

It’s the highlight of the jump season in the UK and Ireland and sees the very best horses, jockeys, owners and trainers battle it out for £4.1m in prize money.

More than 250,000 racing fans from the UK, Ireland and further afield pour into Gloucestershire, making it the biggest jump racing festival in the UK.

Over the past 30 years, the Jockey Club has poured more than £80m into facilities at Prestbury Park and each year, a staggering £150m is wagered on the runners and riders.

The university’s Centre for Contemporary Accounting Research conducted a poll of 4,356 racegoers, asking about the days they attended and where they spent their money during their visit to the area.

Ian Renton, Regional Director for The Jockey Club, South-West, says, “The report revealed a staggering figure of what the four day Festival brings to the Gloucestershire economy.

“We have known for many years that many of the local business have a significant turnover during the four days of The Festival but we are delighted that we have been able to put a figure on this impact and thank the team at the University for all their hard work in bringing this report to life.”

Professor Neil Towers, who oversaw the project on behalf of the University of Gloucestershire, added: “The Cheltenham Festival is a major contributor to the Gloucestershire economy and we were pleased to be invited to undertake the Economic Impact Analysis.

“From our analysis we were able to show where the money was spent over the four days which in turn helps Cheltenham Racecourse better target its activities to meet the customers’ requirements in future events.”

In the wider equine industry, there are 216,000 horses in Wales and the south west, according to the BETA National Equestrian Survey.

More than 3,000 riders are registered to play polo in the UK.

At Cirencester Park Polo Club, 380 games are played each year between April and September, attracting players and spectators from all over the world, including the royals.

The Dukes of Cambridge and Sussex are regulars at the 3,000-acre club, founded in 1894. The Academy attracts riders to its lessons, training days, experience days, instructional chukkas and corporate events and the club also offers full-service livery and horse hire, widening its economic impact.

Shooting - according to a study by the BASC and 15 other shooting and countryside organisations - supports the equivalent of 74,000 full-time jobs and is worth £2bn to the UK economy.

Shooters spend £2.5bn a year on goods and services and providers spend almost £250m a year on conservation.

More than 600,000 people shoot live quarry, clays or targets and two million hectares are actively managed for conservation as a result of shooting.

Ian Coley Sporting, in Andoversford, is a key contributor to those figures.

Turnover at the shooting ground run by six-times Olympic coach Ian Coley, at which Cotswold Life Business & Professional holds its annual shooting day in partnership with accountancy firm Crowe UK, is approximately £6m.

“We employ 20 full-time members of staff, two permanent part-time members of staff and numerous contractors, such as additional shooting instructors,” says Head of Marketing Annwen Joffee, who joined the Ian Coley team in 2014.

“In addition to this, we also obviously also use the services of a large number of local companies including vehicle suppliers, waste disposal contractors, alarm systems, builders, printers, caterers, cleaners etc.

“We put in excess of 500 bed nights into local hotels every year. People come from all over the world to our premises in Gloucestershire for tuition; specialist gun fitting appointments, to purchase guns and to shoot at local estates.”

For the region’s rugby, football and cricket clubs, it’s not all matchday revenue and replica kit sales.

Sports clubs and organisations across the county are diversifying, innovating to ensure their businesses are a 365-day-a-year operation.

Clubs are still building on the economic impact of the 2015 World Cup, which brought almost 500,000 rugby fans to the UK, including hundreds to Gloucester.

“These visitors bring with them significant incremental spending to the host economy, from purchasing tickets to travel costs, accommodation expense, match day entertainment and in visiting other local tourist attractions,” said a spokesman for the EY report The Economic Impact of Rugby World Cup 2015.

International visitors were expected to contribute up to £869 million in direct expenditure while investment in infrastructure was credited to reach £85m.

In total, estimates put the economic value to the UK at £2.2bn.

When Gloucester Rugby CEO Stephen Vaughan arrived at the club following the London Olympics, he immediately put into place a series of cash generators from cashless entry to loyalty cards and memberships replacing season tickets.

But while financial success is inextricably linked to performance on the pitch, 16 days of rugby a year is not enough to sustain the club.

And so Kingsholm’s conference business is booming, boasting clients including Gloucestershire Police and the NHS. Business breakfasts draw professionals from right across the region.

And weddings and proms, comedy nights and concerts also pump money into the region’s economy - a 30,000-strong audience for Little Mix and Tom Jones in the 2016/17 financial year contributed to Kingsholm’s most successful commercial year, despite posting a £1.197m loss in the period.

Media Manager Duncan Wood said: “We welcomed about 225,000 fans to our home games last season. With us participating in the Heineken Champions Cup this season, we’re expect that to increase this year.

“And we have in excess of 6,000 Club Members, which doesn’t include Corporate Club Members.”

To put that into perspective, its local rivals Worcester posted an £8.1m loss in the same period.

At Worcestershire County Cricket Club, a stone’s throw from the Warriors’ Sixways ground, competition is fierce.

Along with the Warriors, the University of Worcester’s Arena is just along the river with Worcester Rowing Club also nearby.

The club benefited from a £10m expansion completed in 2014, including a 120-bedroom Premier Inn which is a draw for guests from around the UK.

Indeed, part of Worcester City’s Tourism Plan 2017-22 focuses on the city’s sports clubs and the contribution they make to the £160m annually brought in by tourism - though not many events can compete with the 2014 Tour of Britain, which brought in £1m to the Worcestershire economy in just one day.

The club’s T20 and four-day games attract supporters from right across the country, who stay in the city’s 4,000 hotel beds and spend in the restaurants, pubs and clubs.

Last spring, the club converted its 1865 lounge into Foley’s Restaurant, designed to attract business people to breakfast meetings and young mums for coffee thanks to its children’s play area as well as supporters.

“Foley’s coffee house and eatery has been a massive success,” said a spokesman for the club.

“The local food produce has been immensely popular as have its ability to cater for young children via its play area while parents relax and enjoy a drink or a bite to eat with free parking.”

Such is its success, it is now open at weekends.

Oxford United FC attracts around 7,500 fans to each home game and, in the year to June 2017, posted a profit of £649,984 - the first time for six years it has been in the black - thanks to the sale of key players to West Bromwich Albion and Bristol City.

In February, Cheltenham Town Football Club declared a consolidated profit of £50,000 for the past two years, a figure Chairman Paul Baker described as “very positive”.

It has this summer announced a new, three-year partnership with Cheltenham-based plumbing, heating and electrical contractors Shackleton Wintle & Lane.

Average attendance at the Johnny Rocks Stadium is 3,172.

Oxford United FC

Oxford United started in 1893 as an amateur club called Headington, later to become Headington United.

By 1949, the club had been elected to the Southern League and became a semi-professional unit - one of the first to install floodlights.

In 1960, to appeal to the city and increase national recognition, the club’s name was changed to Oxford United.

The glory years came in the 80s, when the club made Division One, the top flight of English football, for the first time in its history.

And in April 1986, more than 90,000 fans watched Oxford United lift the Milk Cup after defeating Queens Park Rangers at Wembley.

Promotion to League One came at the end of the 2015/16 season and the club has played at Wembley for two out of the past three seasons, watched by 30,000 fans.

Its fiercest rivals are Swindon Town.

“We’re in quite a unique position for a football club,” says lifelong fan and Communications Manager Chris Williams.

“We’ve got a huge catchment area, unlike the Manchester or London clubs which have others in their vicinity. Ours stretches from Banbury to Thame, Didcot to Wantage, all along the A34.”

Average attendance at the 12,500-capacity Kassam Stadium last season averaged 7,500 a game, out of which 4,500 were season ticket holders, and Chris is hoping to grow that, particularly among the under-18s demographic, to which significant matchday discounts are offered.

Last season, the club - whose celebrity fans include Richard Branson and Tim Henman - finished 16th out of 24.

“Of course the biggest driver for attendance is success,” he says.

“And we’re in really good shape for the new season.”

Ian Coley Sporting

Turnover is £6m and estimates suggest the business ploughs £10m into the Gloucestershire economy.

Twenty full-time members of staff are joined by two permanent part-timers along with numerous contractors.

Local companies, including vehicle suppliers, waste disposal contractors, alarm companies, buildings, printers, caterers and cleaners are employed by the business.

And shooting school guests put more than 500 bed nights into local hotels and B&Bs.

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