Olympics to boost sports economy

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The London Olympics will be the driving force behind a substantial growth in the UK’s ‘sporting economy’ over the next three years, Sheffield academics have predicted.

Sheffield Hallam University’s Sports Industry Research Centre - SIRC - said the £20.7 billion sport-related industry is likely to buck gloomy economic trends in other sectors.

It said the biggest winner will be the sports clothing sector, which will rise by 15 per cent to £5 billion in 2015. And another big growth area is predicted to be the sports gambling industry, which will rise by six per cent to £3.2 billion by 2015.

The predictions have been made by the SIRC in its annual General Sport Expenditure Trends essay.

It says the Olympic Games, together with investment in the health and fitness sector, will be responsible for driving long-term economic growth.

The essay said: “The combination of the 2012 London Olympics and positive GDP growth will boost the sports economy in a trajectory higher than the corresponding economic growth.”

It said: “The strongest commercial forces in the long-term growth of the sport market are the sport clothing and footwear and boating sectors, forecasted to grow during the 2011-15 period, in volume, by 15 per cent and 13 per cent respectively.

“Both of them are likely to benefit from the 2012 London Olympic Games.”

Professor Simon Shibli, co-head of the SIRC, said: “The sport industry continues to be resilient, outstripping the economy as a whole during boom times and contracting less during leaner times.”

Professor Chris Gratton, also from the SIRC, added: “Over the last 20 years the sport industry has continued to take a greater and greater share of national economic activity. The hosting of the 2012 Olympics will only accelerate this long-term trend.”