8 Things To Take Away From The Philip Lee Sport Report

We break down the key points to take away from the freshly released Philip Lee Report into the state of Irish sport. 


1. What is the Philip Lee Report? 

The report was compiled through Amárach research who were commissioned by Philip Lee, a Law firm from Dublin. The report covers four main topics:

– Levels of interest and participation in sport.

– Sport-related commitments and spending, from gym membership to club membership and gives unique insights into the economic impact of sport.

– The changing landscape of sport sponsorship and advertising, including the brands who are gaining most from their investments.

– The role of government in promoting, supporting and participating in the exciting future ahead for Irish sport.


2. Sport is a pretty big deal in Ireland

84% of adults are interested in sport and exercise. That’s 2.8 million people. Woman seem to be slightly less interested with a still large 80% of women declaring themselves interested. 16-24 year olds are very interested indeed with 87% of the that age range delcaring themselves to be interested in sports and exercise.

38% of men say they watch sport on TV at least four or more times a week. Meanwhile only 10% of woman say the same thing. The average viewer spends 108 minutes a week watching sport. We aren’t a nation of ‘couch potatoes’ though, 2.3 million adults say they attend professional or amateur sporting events. Admittedly people attend in person far less regularly than they tune in on TV with 4 in 10 adults attending events at least  once a month.


3. We like to work out

2.6 million adults in Ireland take part in exercise other than team sports such as going to the gym, cycling, running etc. There is little variation between gender, income groups or age with the majority exercising two or more times per week.

Interestingly, men spend more time than women working out while older people spend more time than younger people.  If you live in Leinster and not in Dublin, you’re likely to spend 166 minutes a week exercising, the most of any region. The average adult spends two and a half hours a week working out.

Of the team sports, Soccer enjoys the largest participation rate. 13% of adults play it while 7% play Gaelic Football, 5% play Rugby and 4% play Hurling.


4. Sport is big, big business in Ireland

850,000 adults are members of a gym. Interestingly, of those who weren’t members over half used to be, that’s 900,000 people. 64% of those who no longer have a membership said it was because they couldn’t afford it any more.

We tend to make the most of our memberships too. 53% go 2-3 times a week. Gym addicts who go every day of the week account for 2%.

The average gym membership when paying annually is €330, for monthly subscribers it’s €45 per month. When one adds up all the various pricing structures and average expenditure, Adults spend a combined total of €435 million on gym membership each year.

of course, we aren’t all gym-heads. 30% of those who participate in sports are members of a sports club. Men are more likely to be members than woman (43% of active men vs 16% of active women).

The GAA dominates membership of clubs. It has 35% of all active adults as registered members, Golf is in second with 24%, Soccer has 21% and Rugby  gets 12%.

Sports club members spend a combined €255 million on membership every year. Sports fans meanwhile spend an average of €340 per annum on attending various matches, heats and finals.

Fans spend €200 million annually on their team’s jerseys and memorabilia. Adults who actively participate in sport spend €450 on sports gear alone.

The Irish will spend a combined total of €2.4 billion on all things sport each year. Sounds like a lot but it only accounts for 3% of total expenditure.


5. We think we have a gambling problem, but we still gamble anyway

Nearly half of all Irish adults place bets on Sports either regularly or irregularly. That’s 1.6 million people betting each year. 15% of Irish adults place bets at least once a week. That works out at €200 year spent on bets by gamblers on average. In total, Irish adults lump €320 million on sports betting each year.

Going in to a bookies is still the most popular way of gambling with 60% doing so. Through a desktop or computer accounts for 36%. Use of smartphones lags considerably behind with 17% using an app to place a bet.

We like to gamble, but seem to recognise we may have a problem:

“Nearly half of all adults over 18 agree that ‘Ireland has a cultural gambling problem around sporting events’. Only one in four disagrees. Despite significant behavioural differences between the sexes and age groups, there is remarkable consistency when it comes to agreement about the existence of a problem.” – Philip Lee Sport Report


6. Sponsors spend a lot of money, but it seems to work

Sponsors fork out about €100 million a year on sponsorship of sport in total. It’s alot but it seems to work. In the GAA the recall rate of official sponsors is good with 4 out of 5 fans able to recall at least one sponsor. For football fans they associate Gaelic Football with Supervalu, Guinness for Hurling fans, Heineken for Rugby fans and Barclays for Soccer fans.

A combined 61% either agreed or strongly agreed it was OK for a Sports organisation take alcohol sponsorship in order to survive. Interestingly there is a lot of opposition to the GAA and Sky Sports TV deal. 48% are against it while 37% are in favour. Of those that support the deal, 7 out of 10 see it is a way to promote the game abroad.



7. People feel the Government should be doing more

Nearly half of Adults feel the Government doesn’t do enough to promote sports. Despite years of cut backs since the recession, two thirds of adults think that government funding of sport should be increased.

In fact, many believe the Government should spend more on sports and prioritise it over other infrastructure projects. Consequently, 3 out of 4 Adults would be in favour of a Government bid to host the 2023 Rugby World Cup.


8. We are worried about our kids

62% of Irish adults believe that children are doing less exercise compared to the past. The primary reasons for this are atributed to Video games, gadgets and television. Changing attitudes to child safety have negatively impacted the health of Irish children. 45% of people believe it’s bad that kids can;t run in playgrounds while 64% see it as a negative impact on a child’s health if they are dropped to school.



Sean Curtin, Pundit Arena


Featured image by Mike Fleming via Flickr Free for Commercial Use 

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Author: The PA Team

This article was written by a member of The PA Team.