Federation Research Emphasises Real Value of Sport

The Federation of irish Sport has launched new research which reveals that for every €100 invested by Government in sport, the Exchequer gets back as much as €195 through taxes on sports-supported expenditures and incomes.

The research has been produced in partnership with Investec and its timing is good ahead of next week’s Budget.

The research partnership represents the first phase of a larger body of research aimed at evaluating the economic value and impact of sport to the Irish economy, government and volunteering, as well as its health and social benefits.

Key findings from the report include:

Employment: Sport contributes approximately 1.4% of gross added value in Ireland. It directly employs 39,500 people, accounting for 1.7% of the workforce. This is a greater number than the total number of primary school teachers in Ireland.

Household expenditure: Sport accounts for 2.7% of total consumer expenditure. This equates to an average of €30 per household per week, putting it on a par with clothing and footwear, and alcohol and tobacco.

Volunteering: The economic value of sports volunteering is approximately €1.1 billion per year, should the average industrial wage be applied to this unpaid work.

Sports Tourism: Sports tourism generates €500 million per annum, and more in years whereby Ireland hosts major international sports events.


The potential for inbound and outbound sports tourism will be the subject of of our December Sport for Business Members Round Table. If you would like to be part of the discussion on the morning of Wednesday, December 11th, please contact us today to express your interest.


Government funding: State investment in sports has not kept pace with the improvement in the public finances during the economic recovery. Central Government expenditure on sports and recreation is lower than 2009 despite a 77% increase in tax revenues during this period. This is at odds with the beneficial impact of sports investment on the public purse.

Government return: The State may recoup approximately €195 in tax revenue for every €100 it spends on sports-related goods and services. An active sports-related economic policy can also help counter unemployment.

Health costs: In addition to a positive revenue impact on the public finances, increased investment in sport could reduce public health expenditure. An estimated 62% of the population are overweight or obese. This is believed to cost the State over €1 billion annually. Separate research estimates that there are 4,000 preventable deaths in Ireland each year due to physical inactivity.

Creating a strong base of evidence for the positive impact of sport is a crucial step in persuading government investment when there are so many strong competing needs.

Those of us who inherently understand the societal good that sport delivers in so many ways can sometimes be frustrated at the seeming indifference of public policy.

That changed for the better here last year with the publication of the National Sports Policy, the Sports leadership Group for which met in Dublin yesterday.

This comprehensive ten-year plan is aimed at getting more people participating in sport and physical activity.

Within this, the Government has pledged to double sports funding from €111 million per year to €220 million per year over a ten-year period, including an 11% increase in capital funding in the 2019 Budget.

In light of the publication of the National Sports Policy, the Federation of Irish Sport made a Budgetary Submission in August this year asking that the Government again deliver on its commitment to increasing investment in current sports funding.

Budget Analysis

In our Sport for Business Analysis section next Tuesday we will look at what the submission has asked for, before then reporting on what Minister O’Donoghue, a former Minister for Sport has delivered.

“Sport is central to the Irish story,” said Mary O’Connor, CEO of the Federation of Irish Sport.

“It’s also an essential contributor to the Exchequer, social inclusivity and participation, health, and tourism. Critically, as our research shows, investing in sport makes economic sense.”

“The last significant body of economic research undertaken in Ireland was the Indecon Report published by the Irish Sports Council in 2010.”

“Thankfully, nearly a decade later, the Irish economy and our public finances are in a far healthier place. Tax receipts are up 77 percent on ten years ago and the general economic sentiment is cautiously confident, despite Brexit and other international challenges.”

“However, as our research demonstrates, Government investment in sport has not kept pace with growing tax revenues. The National Sports Policy 2018 – 2027 signalled a very positive step forward in demonstrating the Government’s renewed commitment, and critically, the €2.5 million increase in core funding in Budget 2019 represented the first budgetary increase in a decade.”

“While this increase was a relatively small sum of the money in the overall Budget spend, it had a hugely positive impact on the Irish sports community.”

“Our single biggest ask ahead of next week’s Budget is that it provides for further investment in people and programmes. We believe it is essential that Budget 2020 takes the second step on the road to meeting the National Sports Policy’s very laudable goal of doubling sport funding over the ten-year life of the policy.”

“Sport needs this to happen on a year-on-year basis if it is to meet the challenging participation targets set out in the National Sports Policy.”

“The value and significant contribution of sport to Irish society comes across very clearly in this research,” added Minister of State for Sport, Brendan Griffin.

“The Government is acutely conscious of the importance of sport and we have spelt that out very clearly in the 10-year National Sports Policy that was launched last year. We have committed to increasing sports investment over the next decade and we will progressively deliver on that commitment.

Download a copy of The Federation of Irish Sport’s ‘An Assessment of the Economic Benefits of Sport in Ireland’ report by clicking on the image below:

Image credit: Matt Browne, Sportsfile

Similar Articles