UK risks being stuck in sporting slow lane, says industry expert

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Tuesday 31 March 2015

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The UK's sporting health is facing serious risks if the government does not do more to boost investment and put in place long term plans to preserve its competitive advantages, according to an industry expert.

Writing in The Conversation, Simon Chadwick – professor of sport business strategy at Coventry University – says the UK is "trundling along... in the slow lane of this sporting super highway" behind the likes of the US, China, Qatar and Brazil.

Professor Chadwick said:

Each of these countries is spending heavily on sport as a means of achieving both domestic and international goals. Sport nowadays is not only about big business, but also about global politics, strategic influence, social well-being, and economic performance.

Chadwick highlights the UK's thriving motorsport sector – which has produced world champion drivers and is home to many of Formula 1's top teams and engineers – and the success of the Premier League as outstanding achievements, but said that their longer term health should not be taken for granted.

Citing a recent speech by Sajid Javid MP, secretary of state for culture, media a sport, Chadwick said:

Very worryingly... there was no mention of how the UK government will help preserve the competitive advantage its motorsport industry currently holds, of how it will follow through on its desire for greater fan democracy in football, or what the UK's strategy will be in bidding for global sporting mega-events.

The UK obviously doesn't possess the wealth from natural resources that some of the emerging global sporting powerhouses have, and the country should not expect conspicuous sporting consumption on the scale of Azerbaijan or Qatar. But this is no excuse for a government doing nothing.

According to Chadwick, state intervention in other countries is creating a "sporting arms race" in which the UK is in danger of being left behind.

While some commentators decry the emergence of something akin to a 21st century sporting arms race, the reality is that many countries have realised how powerful sport is. Indeed, just as Silicon Valley is synonymous with IT and Hollywood with films, so Beijing, Doha and Rio are fast becoming the contemporary faces of global sport.

If Sajid Javid's vision really is the extent of the UK government's ambitions for sport, then he might as well walk away now from the dying body of the country's sporting heritage.

For further information, please contact Alex Roache, external press and media relations officer, Coventry University, on +44 (0)24 7765 5050 or email


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Professor Simon Chadwick's comments were originally published in The Conversation. Read his original article.