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Research LibrarySport & Economics

The Economic Importance of Sport in Scotland 1998-2016

By 2 June 2020No Comments
Published: 2017


This report presents an evaluation of the economic importance of sport in Scotland from 1998 to 2016, summarising the key indicators of consumer expenditure, Gross Value Added (GVA) and employment. It investigates the increasing economic impact of the sport industry, and how sport is likely to contribute to and benefit from stronger economic results in Scotland as a whole. The study was commissioned by SportScotland and conducted by the Sport Industry Research Centre (SIRC) at Sheffield Hallam University.


The SIRC model of economic impact assessment uses economic variables from official statistics as its basic input. The sport economy is disaggregated into seven sectors by the National Income Accounting (NIA) methodology framework: 1) consumers, 2) commercial sport, 3) commercial non-sport, 4) voluntary, 5) local government, 6) central government, and 7) outside the area sector. Income and expenditure accounts are drawn for each sector, which are then used to derive estimates for the following three economic impact indicators: sport-related consumer expenditure, sport-related value added, and sport-related employment.

Key Findings

Consumer expenditure on sport-related goods and services in Scotland in 2016 was £2,699m, or 3.0% of total consumers’ expenditure. Since 1998, sport-related expenditure has grown both in absolute terms and as a proportion of overall expenditure in Scotland, from 2.2% to 3.0%. Sport-related value added to the Scottish economy in 2016 was £2,749m, or 2.1% of total GVA in Scotland, growing significantly from 1.5% in 1998. To put this into context, sport had greater economic importance (in terms of GVA) in 2016 than the sectors of food and beverage services, wholesale and retail vehicles, accommodation, telecommunications, agriculture, rental and leasing, pharmaceuticals, travel services and textiles. Employment in sport was 64,800 in 2016, or 2.7% of all employment in Scotland, growing from 1.6% in 1998.


The results of this study demonstrates the importance of sport to the Scottish economy, and how its relative importance has continued to increase over the last two decades. Sport-related employment has continued to grow at a faster rate than overall employment growth in Scotland, underlining the important role of sport in generating and sustaining jobs and output. Public health bodies and organisations can provide this as a source for promoting policy investment in sport for economic reasons in addition to the benefits it provides for health and the community.