Government Policy & the Business of Sport in Northern Ireland

Dr Damian Gallagher (Ulster), Dr Ann Pegoraro (Laurentian University, Canada), Prof Audrey Gilmore (Ulster) and Mr Ryan Bell (Ulster) The principal aim of this presentation is to highlight a current gap in the government policy of Northern Ireland in relation to the business of sport.  It seeks to stimulate debate and aid understanding of how greater attention to this additional strategic priority at a local-domestic level has the potential to realise self-sustaining economic benefits – beyond the existing £867 million per annum that sport in Northern Ireland currently generates. As government spending faces increasing pressures and monies to government departments are being reduced, it is imperative that greater attention is paid by sports teams and bodies to developing their own self-sustaining revenue streams.  However, with limited resources, and much of the existing government funding dependent on fulfilling the 3 existing strategic priorities of Participation, Performance and Places, it is difficult to envisage how the local domestic sports teams and bodies in Northern Ireland will develop the alternative revenue streams that will help them become less reliant on government funding. Social media (SM) provides opportunities that are crucial for the survival of many sports teams and bodies. SM use by sport organisations has been recognised to be largely driven by two key factors: the relatively inexpensive cost of SM when compared to traditional marketing tools and the ability to connect with millions of fans with ease. SM is a unique marketing communications tool that sport organisations can use to attempt to overcome the challenges related to budgets, media coverage, and fan interaction all while providing the means to increase the key revenues of match day and non-match day revenues and realising the activation needs of sponsors. This presentation reports the findings of an investigation into the social media activities of football clubs within the Northern Irish Football League, highlighting the findings of a multimethod study that employed a netnography study, in-depth interviews with key sector informants and a wide ranging fan survey (n=1049).  It provides support for growing calls that greater attention be paid to the strategic development of local domestic sports teams and bodies via the increased prioritisation of the business of sport at a policy level. This seminar took place on 30th May 2018 Download: Policy Briefing Presentation