The performance of local authority sports facilities in England during a period of recession and austerity

RAMCHANDANI, Girish, SHIBLI, Simon and KUNG, Shia Ping (2018). The performance of local authority sports facilities in England during a period of recession and austerity. International Journal of Sport Policy and Politics, 10 (1), 95-111.

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This paper examines how public sport facilities in England, which are dependent on subsidy from local authorities, have performed during a period of recession and austerity. Using data derived from Sport England's National Benchmarking Service (NBS), we track the changes in a series of key operational performance measures to investigate how local authority sports centres have fared between 2005/06 and 2015/16. Four dimensions of performance are analysed, namely: access; finance; utilisation; and, customer satisfaction. The study includes 1,116 sports centres in the time frame under review. Our results show that the overall financial efficiency of English public sport facilities has improved significantly in the face of a reduction in local authority expenditure on sport and leisure services. There appears to be a business model in the sector that includes outsourcing management and raising activity charges, which has been accompanied by higher levels of customer satisfaction with price-related service attributes and with the overall experience of using a facility. A possible explanation for these findings might be an improved quality of provision and greater customer orientation. At the same time, there appears to be a diminished focus on social inclusion objectives. We therefore conclude that promoting access to public sport facilities for hard-to-reach or disadvantaged groups has been compromised in exchange for the pursuit of financial stability. A key challenge is how to achieve market development whereby new and targeted customers are attracted to these existing facilities.

Item Type: Article
Research Institute, Centre or Group: Sport Industry Research Centre
Departments: Health and Well-being > Department of Sport
Identification Number:
Depositing User: Girish Ramchandani
Date Deposited: 08 Dec 2017 11:43
Last Modified: 09 Jan 2019 12:00

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