The sports facilities construction market in the UK was worth an estimated £1.5 billion in 2017 having grown substantially in the past year. Between 2011 and 2015, output across the sports sector fell year on year, with the exception of a slight increase due to the Olympics Legacy construction activity, but in 2016 and 2017 the sector returned to growth, underpinned by increased levels of activity in the professional sports sector. In 2018, output is expected to increase significantly.
Over the 2014-2016 period, the professional sports sector accounted for around a third of total contractors output in overall sports construction, and is estimated to have improved in 2016 and 2017, driven by renewed growth in stadium construction output, mainly for a few Premier League and EFL Championship clubs.
The education segment typically accounts for around 30% of total contractors output. This is partly because the UK’s education sports estate is extremely large with schools accounting for a substantial proportion of the total numbers of swimming pools, sports halls and pitches UK-wide. There were marked increases in output in the schools sector in 2015 and 2016, where there has been an overall increase in average project values although the number of projects has remained relatively static.
Leisure and sports centre construction also accounts for around third of output, despite growth having been constrained slightly by cuts to local authority budgets. In 2016 and 2017 there appears to have been some improvement compared to previous years. Over the medium term, construction output in the sports sector is likely to decrease due to ongoing pressures on local authority budgets and the ‘Brexit’ factor.
For 2018, we expect total contractors output to increase by around 9.5%, the main reason for this being the first year of the £800m re-development of Tottenham Hotspur’s White Hart Lane stadium. Beyond 2018 it is very difficult to forecast annual output levels reflecting the fact that several recent major proposals have been overturned. However, there should be a substantial increase in output over the period 2019-2020 should re-development of Chelsea FCs and Everton stadiums start next year, which seems likely.
While the White Hart Lane, Stamford Bridge and Everton developments are ‘flagship’ schemes, there are also a significant number of other reasonably high-value football stadium projects that should sustain growth over the medium term. However, flat or declining levels of output in the leisure centre, semi-professional & recreational sports clubs sectors will have some constraint on overall growth rates, and we also expect growth to be modest for educational sports facilities, as schools upgrade following conversion to academy status.
This article is based on data from AMA Research’s ‘Construction in the Sports Sector Report – UK 2017-2021 Analysis‘ containing insight, statistics and forecasts on the UK’s sport construction sector up until 2021.