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Sport and Recreation Alliance Sports Summit

June 5th 2014


Charlie Macey, 5 June 2014


So what can we learn from the recent Sport and Recreation Alliance Conference? The SRA certainly debated some of the most immediate issues facing the National Governing Bodies: how sport can sustain and grow the commercial success of the Olympic Games; the impact of match fixing on the reputation and integrity of sport with the general public; and how major sporting events can help achieve public policy objectives and growth its commercial base.

From what we heard, we think there are a number of key questions that need debating and answering:

  • How will the sector help Ministers and Shadow Minsters formulate an inspiring strategic sports policy going into the 2015 Election?
  • How will governing bodies plan for the long-term success of their sport and balance their commercial and consumer priorities?
  • What does the Government and the sector want to achieve in the next decade after the current Decade of Sport finishes in 2019?
  • Is money really corrupting the game and if so, how will the International Federations and national Governments work together to combat issues like match fixing to ensure sport maintains its spirit of fair play.

It is never easy to keep the momentum going after a conference but here at the Sports Think Tank we want to help the sector do this: to use the wisdom shared at the conference to meet the challenges posed. By further investigating, researching and bringing new ideas from other disciplines we want to support the sector to create sustainable solutions that balance the myriad of stakeholders in the sporting landscape and wider. In doing so we want the sector to mature and ensure the future enjoyment of sport at all levels is in safe hands.

The Sport and Recreation Alliance's Sport Summit provided a useful insight into the world of sport, with many of the leading sporting figures in the country speaking on a number of the most relevant sporting issues today. Chaired by Andy Reed, the Sports and Recreation Alliance is the collective representative network for national governing bodies across the UK which campaigns for and promotes the issues affecting its members.

Clive Efford, the shadow sports minister, presented Labour's vision for sport should it be successful in the 2015 general election. He was particularly keen to highlight its plan to tackle the grassroots funding issues that local clubs are facing in an era of financial constraint and indeed to combat physical inactivity. He said that the cost of elevated body mass index (BMI) to the UK economy would be £49.9 billion by 2050. His solution was a radical overhaul of our own cultural attitudes to what it means to be active in Britain.

Ed Warner (Chair of UK Athletics) and Mark Given (Head of Brand Sainsbury's) illustrated the benefits of sponsorship partnerships within sport. The presentation was broadly based on the mutual benefits for large corporations and national governing bodies both for the long term and the major sporting events in the UK. They highlighted the 2012 Paralympics being particularly successful in assisting projecting the corporate brand but also to alleviate the image of athletics across the country. They hope to emulate this success when the Olympic Stadium hosts the 2017 World Athletics Championships.

A panel session titled 'The fight against match fixing and the integrity of sport and recreation' underlined the key concerns regarding the corrupt practice within the betting industry, most notably in the Asian markets. Rick Parry, the former Premier League Chief Executive and Chairman of the DCMS Sports Betting Integrity Panel, was joined by leading voices from the FA, Ladbrokes and a law firm to debate the extent of the issue. The debate revolved around the extent to which betting should be criminalised and be enforced by the law authorities but more importantly it highlighted the contrast between the extent to which the European and Asian markets legislate their markets.

Nigel Wood, the CEO of the Rugby Football League and the Rugby League World Cup 2013, spoke about the benefits of hosting a major sporting event in the UK. Most notably, the extent to which volunteers and spectators were introduced Rugby League for the first time was a success. Nicky Roche, the Chef Executive at the Tour de France 2014 Ltd which coordinates the 3 stages in the United Kingdom, emphasised the effect that an event the size of the race can have on motivating individuals to take up the sport.

The Sports Think Tank would like to thank the Sports and Recreation Alliance for hosting such a successful event and are looking forward to attending the next annual Sport Summit in 2015.