The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) is driving for the sports and physical activity sector to have an important role in the government’s Industrial Strategy post-Brexit, according to its head of sport, Andrew Honeyman.
Speaking at 'The Future of Leisure'*, on 31 January, Honeyman said the DCMS’ Sports Business Council – launched last year – has raised the question over whether the sector should have its own sector-specific deal in the strategy.
“We have a half an eye on what happens post-Brexit,” Honeyman said. “And we’re starting to have discussions in the [Sports Business] Council and consider the role that the sport and physical activity sector can play.
“Marshalling those arguments [regarding sport] into the debate would be of huge value and we feel that there are potentially some interesting outcomes in the future.”
Honeyman said the sector could play a “crucial role” in solving some of the challenges outlined in the Industrial Strategy.
Launched in November 2017, the strategy is at the heart of the government’s plans to buttress the UK economy ahead of the fallout from Brexit, which has been widely predicted to stunt economic growth.
The strategy sets out four “Grand Challenges” for the UK economy to overcome, in order for it to prosper in a post-Brexit landscape.
These are growing the artificial intelligence and data-driven economy; clean growth; future of mobility; and an ageing society.
“While the Industrial Strategy is being driven by the Department for Business, we feel that – on the last two challenges in particular – the sports and physical activity sector has a huge amount to contribute,” Honeyman added.
“When it comes to future mobility, for example, it’s all about our future transport infrastructure – getting people cycling and walking.
“In relation to an ageing society, we can help with getting people active and keeping them active – which is crucial if we are going to manage that ageing society in the future.”
The Sports Business Council was set up as part of the government's Sporting Future strategy, with the aim of bringing government and leading sports figures from the public and private sector together to “ensure the sports economy continues to grow and prosper”.
It has been tasked with supporting growth for the sector and improving access to finance as well as developing skills.
Among its stated goals is also to help the sector utilise the UK's reputation as a global sporting power.