Some have written in to ask why I missed out the Tour de France from my list of English sporting events that have managed to project themselves onto the world stage and create jobs and profit for England. The clue is in the name . It is difficult to claim the Tour de France as a great traditional English event.
I understand that many Yorkshire supporters have come out to line the route and enjoy the cycle competition. Good luck to them. I cannot , however, see that this is a great business triumph. As I understand it all the viewing along the route is free, so there is no ticket revenue. The UK has doubtless paid a substantial sum to the French promoters of the race to have it here. Councils have spent substantial tax revenues on providing viewing hubs with toilets, large screen tvs and entertainments to provide this free to spectators. They have also spent a lot on road closures, safety inspections and signs. It will be a heavily loss making popular event, offering free entertainment to many. Anytime a Council or government wants to provide free or subsidised entertainment it is likely to be popular with those who go.
My last blog was about developing an English brand and projecting in on the world stage in ways which bring in revenue to this country, rather than requiring payments out. One of the interesting issues surrounding Test cricket is the economics of matches at the differing English venues. Selling large numbers of tickets at quite high prices is usually easy at Lord’s and the Oval. Last year Durham was granted an Ashes test, and failed to sell all the seats, requiring help with paying the bills of holding the event. This year it was surprising to see how many empty seats there were even on the first day at Headingley, an old centre of popular enthusiasm for high class cricket. Thoughts on how one of our traditional games could boost its revenues in the north would be interesting.
Henley and Wimbledon show it is possible to specialise on a single location and gain a great worldwide reputation for a particular sporting event. Soccer and Grand Prix show how sports with a strong UK early development can easily become huge worldwide brands. The UK has in these cases to battle to stay in the top league and to gain its good share of the revenue.
The UK has been most successful in recent years at hosting teams of engineers and car developers for the whole Grand Prix circuit. It has not been so good at developing Silverstone into the best state of the art world circuit, in the way that Lord’s and Wimbledon are icons of their modern sports with great technology and facilities.
In soccer England and Wales has one of the richest and best followed leagues in the world, with huge tv and related revenues. Its national team has other problems, and punches below the weight of the Premier League in world football.