Research by Alliance Fund, the sport investment fund, has shown that both the UK Sports Facilities sector and the Sports Club sector have bounced back from the impact of the pandemic that saw a 35% and 24% respective annual decline in market size.
Alliance Fund analysed the health of the Sports Facility sector and the Sports Club sector, which includes clubs at professional, semi-professional and amateaur level, based on market size by revenue and how the size of each sector has changed in recent years.
The research shows that both sectors suffered greatly due to the impact of the pandemic. In 2021, the size of the Sports Facilities sector fell to just over £3.9bn, a huge 35% year on year reduction versus 2020 and the smallest market size seen in the last decade.
The Sports Club sector also saw a notable decline, with total market size falling by -24% between 2020 and 2021 to £11.445bn, the third lowest annual market size seen in the last decade with the exception of 2013 and 2014.
However, with normality returning in 2022, both sectors have seen a considerable return to form, albeit they remain some way off their pre-pandemic pace.
In 2022, the size Sports Facilities sector was estimated to have hit £5.298bn, a 35% uplift versus the sector low seen in 2021. However, the sector’s current market size still sits some -13% below that of the pre-pandemic peak seen in 2019.
The Sports Club sector has also seen improvement, with market size increasing by 19% between 2021 and 2022 to £13.574bn, although again, it remains -9.4% below its 2020 high of almost £15bn.
Both sectors are expected to grow further by 2025, with the Sports Facilities sector forecast to increase by a further 5.1% to £5.57bn, while the Sports Club sector is predicted to increase by a further 9.5% to £14.861bn.
Despite this expected growth, both sectors would still sit below their pre-pandemic peaks where market size is concerned come 2025.
CEO of Alliance Fund, Iain Crawford said, “We’re a nation of sport lovers and both the Sports club and Sports Facilities sectors are incredibly important in facilitating this love at all levels, whether it be amateaur, semi-pro or the top flight.
So it’s great to see that both sectors are bouncing back from the unprecedented impact of the pandemic that caused such immediate and severe damage.
However, despite a sharp return to form, we’re yet to see a full return to fitness across both sectors and it could be some time before they return to their pre-pandemic glory days. We recently launched our dedicated sports fund to help organisations still struggling to overcome the pandemic and we’ve already seen strong interest, with our first round in aid of a top flight English football club launching in recent weeks.
But with the warmer weather and longer days now returning, it’s time to get out there, get active and do your bit to support your local sports club or facility, as they really are vital when it comes to the wellbeing of so many of us across the nation.”