Dr Dan Parnell



October 2015

Call for Papers: Sport management issues in an era of austerity

Sport management issues in an era of austerity
Guest Editors

Dr. Daniel Parnell, Professor Karl Spracklen, and Dr. Peter Millward.
The austerity measures ushered across Europe and Worldwide are not just worthless newsheadlines, meaningless figures on balance sheets, pointless social media notifications, or cuts toabstract places that exist ‘somewhere’. Rather cuts on public spending imposed by suchmeasures have unintended consequences on real people and places. The long-term interaction between sport and politics is well documented. An example of this is the United Kingdom (UK). An example of this is the United Kingdom (UK): The UK was governed for 13 years by theLabour Party. ‘New’ Labour, champions of the ‘third way’, ‘governance’ and ‘partnership’, whoinvested heavily in public services and reforms. By 2010, the British and global economy was indisarray, arising from a financial crisis that first emerged in 2008. Since May 2010, the UK hashad a Conservative–Liberal Democrat coalition government, which has made significantattempts to tackle the economic downturn. 
Ultimately, via the Comprehensive Spending Review 2010, an outlined £81 billion worth of cuts across government departments by 2014/15 was delivered. Interestingly, a quarter of this was targeted at the welfare budget (which has beenexpanded further). Ultimately, an era has come to an end where sport has been supported andapplauded, partly because of the financial crisis and partly because of a change in ideology. The consequences of this include wide-scale closure of leisure services, the transferal of physical resources to private or voluntary sectors, reorganization and reduction of local authority sport development units.The purpose of this short UK example and insight is to pick out some of the pertinent (but notexhaustive) issues to the special issue: Sport management issues in an era of austerity. The aimof the special issue is to explore the consequence of these types of changes for sport, in doing so,we hope to (a) highlight the current state-of-play within sport development across European andInternational contexts, (b) to highlight some of theoretical, practical and policy implicationsrelated to sport management and (c) highlight future considerations for policy makers, appliedresearchers and practitioners.Possible topics include (but are not limited to):
• Changes in responsibility shifting from local authority to private enterprise,
• Staffing changes towards the use of volunteers,
• The role and servicing needs of volunteers and coaching staff,
• Reduced funding for elite sport and impacts on sport policy,
• National Governing Body strategies to deal with funding reductions,
• Reduced funding for grassroots sport and its impact on lifelong participation,
• The current state of school sport,
• The emergence of social enterprise.Please contact Dr. Dan Parnell via email if you have any questions:
Journal and Submission Guidelines
 The European Sport Management Quarterly (ESMQ) is the official journal of the EuropeanAssociation for Sport Management. It publishes articles that contribute to our understanding ofhow sport organizations are structured, managed and operated. Founded by the European Association for Sport Management, the Journal sets out to enhance our understanding of the roleof sport management and sport bodies in social life and the way social, political and economicforces and practices affect these organizations. The European Sport Management Quarterly has been accepted into Thomson’s Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI) and received an ImpactFactor of 0.638 (for 2013) in 2014. It has been constantly ranked among the leading journals inthe field of sport management, e.g. Australian Business Deans Council journal rating “B”,Shilbury & Rentschler (2007) “B”, Woratschek, Schafmeister, & Schymetzki (2009) “B”.Manuscripts must conform to ESMQ guidelines: Articles must be submitted in English and follow the guidelines of the Publication Manual of theAmerican Psychological Association (6th edition). The abstract should not exceed 150 wordsand the paper should not exceed either 8.000 words or 30 pages in length (including references).
Special Issue Timelines
November 30th 2015 the strict deadline for submissions of manuscripts to the ESMQScholarOne Manuscripts site:
February 2017 – publication of special issue as European Sport Management Quarterly (17,1).

Understanding Football as a Vehicle for Enhancing Social Inclusion: Using an Intervention Mapping Framework

By Daniel Parnell, Andy Pringle, Paul Widdop, Stephen Zwolinsky

Link to the research is here.


This article outlines a partnership between an academic institute and a third sector organisation attached to a professional football club in the United Kingdom. The partnership concerns a sport for development intervention. The purpose of the article is to outline the development of applied monitoring and evaluation and the application of intervention mapping for an intervention to tackle anti-social behaviour through a football-based social inclusion project for children and young people. This case supports the development of third sector-university partnerships and the use of intervention mapping to meet shared objectives in relation to articulating the impact of interventions to funders and for research outputs.


community; evaluation; football; research partnership; social inclusion

Social Exclusion and Austerity Policies in England: The Role of Sports in a New Area of Social Polarisation and Inequality?

By Mike Collins, Rein Haudenhuyse

Link to the research is here.


Poverty still counts as the core of social exclusion from sport and many other domains of people’s lives. In the first part of this paper, we shortly describe the recent poverty trends in England, and identify groups that are more at-risk of being poor and socially excluded. We then focus on the relationship between poverty, social exclusion and leisure/sports participation, and describe a case study that addresses young people’s social exclusion through the use of sports (i.e., Positive Futures). Although further analysis is warranted, it would seem that growing structural inequalities (including sport participation)—with their concomitant effects on health and quality of life—are further widened and deepened by the policy measures taken by the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition in the UK. In addition, within a climate of austerity, sport-based social inclusion schemes are likely to become wholly inadequate in the face of exclusionary forces such schemes envision to combat.

Sport and Arts – Important settings for health improvement

We recently had a letter published in Perspective in Public Health on sports and arts.

Dear Editor,

Davies’ paper in Perspectives in Public Health reports that arts settings were more effective than sports settings for promoting anti-smoking messages.1 While appreciating the reported differences, we can see that synergies exist between the two settings. Importantly, like the arts settings, sporting settings vary considerably in size and type, and this is also true when considering their application for health improvement. For instance, consider three levels of sporting settings for delivering health improvement interventions. First, international programmes, such as the European Healthy Stadia Network which aims to improve the health of fans and supporters through a range of interventions …

The link to the research is here. 

Pringle, A., Curran, K., Zwolinsky, S. & Parnell, D. Sport and Arts- Important Settings for Health Improvement. Perspectives in Public Health. 2015.

The community network: an Aboriginal community football club bringing people together. Who or what is making the assists to score social goals?

Here is a letter myself and Professor Kevin Hylton recently had published exploring the role of football in promoting health in Aboriginal communities.

Link to the research is here.


Providing pragmatic interventions (through sport) to tackle social issues in hard-to-reach communities, including those in Aboriginal and black minority ethnic (BME) communities, this study highlights how a community football club was able to deliver positive outcomes for racism, discrimination and health. The article compares findings geographically originating from Australia with those in the UK. The program highlighted herein does not have the so-called ‘power’ and backing of a brand (of a professional football club) to rely on, and the appealing factor is football alone; football in its purest sense: the activity. We call upon those strategically placed in funding and commissioning roles to draw on the evidence base to support non-professional football (and sport and recreation) clubs to deliver on the health agenda. Adding further conclusions that this mechanism and context of delivery can support positive social and health changes, but requires further examination.

The role of sport in tackling mental health

mental health day

The role of sport in tackling mental health

Saturday, October 10th was World Mental Health Day. To help mark the occasion, our contributors Dr Dan Parnell, Dr Simon Rosenbaum, Dr Kathryn Curran and Dr Brendon Stubbs consider the growing interest in the potential role that community sport may play in promoting positive mental health among both people experiencing mental disorders and the general population.

The problem

Poor mental health is a common and costly public health problem accounting for the leading cause of years lived with disability worldwide (Whiteford et al., 2013). One quarter of the UK population will experience one or more of the broad collection of mental disorders throughout their lifetime. This ranges from the common mental disorders (depression and anxiety disorders) to the severe and persistent mental illnesses (schizophrenia, bipolar affective disorder).

The cost

One in four adults and one in 10 children are likely to experience a mental health problem in any given year. This costs an estimated £22.5billion per year in the UK alone (McCrone, 2008). Therefore, it is of immense importance that greater support and services are established for people experiencing poor mental health.

Mental and physical health

Mental health conditions such as depression are consistently among the top five most commonly managed conditions in general practice (Cooke, Valenti, Glasziou, & Britt, 2012). However, these conditions do not just impact negatively upon quality of life, there is irrefutable evidence demonstrating the strong association between mental disorders and poor physical health including obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease (Maube Vancampfort et al, 2015).

Getting people active

Getting people with mental disorders physically active has been shown to provide both protective and treatment effects (Rosenbaum, Tiedemann, Sherrington, Curtis, & Ward, 2014), which has resulted in many researchers and practitioners calling for physical activity to be included within integrated care for people with mental health disorders. The universal barriers to participation in physical activity faced by the general population are also experienced by people with mental health disorders, often to a greater extent and as such, programmes targeting this population can often struggle to attract, engage and retain their intended auidence. This is where professional sports clubs and community sport programmes may prove valauble (Parnell & Curran, 2015).

Sport as a vehicle for mental health

Sports participation can have a positive impact on the physical health, wellbeing and social integration among people with mental illness and offers a unique opportunity to engage this population in physical activity (Soundy et al 2015). When it comes to making physical activity palpable and consumable for those with mental health disoders, community sports organisations have a real opportunity. Whilst currently there is a paucity of research, the community programmes attached to professional football have proven successful in working in this area. Below are two case studies:

1. ‘It’s a Goal’ – This intervention involved the delivery of community mental health services within the confines of the ‘football club’. The programme was for men aged 18 to 35 years of age and used football as a metaphor within activities to help the men with mental health disorders. The programme which was viewed innovative due to making mental health services accessible within the football stadia delivered improved self-esteem, aided inclusion and helped address the subject of suicide (Pringle & Sayers, 2004).

2. ‘Imagine Your Goals’ – The ‘Imagine your goals’ programme involved the delivery of physical activity sessions specifically targeted at participants with mental health conditions. The sessions were delivered by 16 English Premier League football clubs, in conjunction with England’s Time to Change programme, which aims to reduce mental health-related stigma and discrimination. Results indicated significant improvements in personal skills and in individual skills for participants, who also reported that the programme had supported socialising and health and fitness (Henderson, O’Hara, Thornicroft, & Webber, 2014).

Moving forward

Community sport and professional sport clubs appear to offer an attractive, non-stigmatising location detached from main stream mental health services to deliver physical activity. Sport, or football in particular, may offer a unique opportunity to attract and engage participants with mental health disorders where they are not viewed as a ‘patient’.


As the financial burden of mental health weighs on the purse strings of the Treasury, those in policy-making, commissioning, research and practitioner roles should consider how sport can support positive health outcomes. However, as recent research by Lansley and Parnell (2015) has highlighted, these programmes should be adequately resourced both financially and practically to ensure effective delivery for those experiencing mental health disorders.

In summary, sport participation enables a non-stigmatising and enjoyable way for people with mental health conditions to engage in physical activity and experience health benefits and feel included in society. Provisional results although sparse are promising, but now is the time for people with mental health conditions to be offered the opportunity to stand up, be counted and score goals.

Click here to read the World Health Organisation paper for the World Federation of Mental Health.

About the authors

Dr Dan Parnell is a Senior Lecturer and active researcher in Business Management at Manchester Metropolitan University. His research interests cover the sport and leisure sectors within the UK and he works globally on a number of projects, in particular the social role of sport. Contact or follow @parnell_daniel on Twitter.

Dr Simon Rosenbaum is an exercise physiologist and Post-Doctoral Research Fellow at the University of New South Wales, Australia. Simon has an interest in the role of exercise in improving both the physical and mental health of people experiencing mental illness.

Dr Kathryn Curran is a Senior Lecturer in Physical Activity, Exercise and Health at Leeds Beckett University. Kathryn’s research focuses on investigating the effectiveness of community physical activity and health interventions primarily with socially disadvantaged groups. Contact or follow @kathryn_curran on Twitter.

Dr Brendon Stubbs is Head of Physiotherapy at the South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation trust and research physiotherapist at the Institute of psychiatry, Kings College London. Brendon engages in research around physical health issues in people with mental illness and the value to exercise to improve health outcomes in this group.

Picture: Players taking part in a football tournament at Richard Dunn’s Sports Centre as part of World Mental Health Day (Bradford Telegraph & Argus)

Article published on Connect Sport here. 

Resilience and the Homeless World Cup


As the dust settles on the 2015 Homeless World Cup in Amsterdam, our contributors Dr Dan Parnell, Dr Kathryn Curran and Nicolás Miranda consider the impact of the event.

“We are already champions for just being here. The result is not important. Because we have overcome problems much worse than losing a football match.”

Horacio Garcia, the captain of Team Argentina is talking about his experiences and reflections at the most recent Homeless World Cup, staged in Amsterdam. He explains the comparisons between wins and losses in life and in football.

“When you lose in life, you have to fight so hard to be able to pick yourself up for the next day, and that’s worth much more than just winning or losing a game.”

We were fortunate enough to spend time at the Homeless World Cup in Amsterdam, and it is apparent that there are many more stories and philosophies similar to Horacio’s which echo the resounding resilience of the players. They are abundant, compelling and powerful.


This notion of resilience can be defined as an individual’s ability to cope with adverse events in life, and having the ability to overcome his or her difficulties. In football, the term ‘bouncebackability’ has been coined – but maybe there is more to it than just bouncing back.

In 2014 the Indonesia team arrived at the Homeless World Cup with only eight players, selected from the streets of different parts of the nation, but who were all HIV positive. It was a similar situation for them this year. For what, to many, could be a reason for hopelessness and despair, for them is a reason to reinvent themselves constantly and nurture their hope on the small triumphs that they witness each day.

Yudah Purnama was one of the best goalkeepers of this year´s World Cup in Amsterdam, leading his team to first place in their category. However you could see him smiling after every goal scored against him. When asked why he did this, he explained: “Many times in my life, joy is scarce – that is why. If I can find happiness on other people`s achievements, that means I will also find a little bit of joy for myself.”

He left the pitch proud and strong after each win but more importantly, regardless what the final score showed, he walked away happier and taller than before.

The best female player of the 2015 Homeless World Cup, wasn´t Brazilian, Dutch or Argentinian player; she was the India captain, Reena Panchal.


Reena joined the street football team from her neighbourhood without telling her family, because she knew she would not have their permission. After being selected for the national team, she had to talk to them and, after much discussion, she finally got their blessing, albeit with the following advice: “She is a girl. If something happens to her, it will be an insult to all of the family.”

Girls from the slums in India have little or no chance of development; their goal is to help their families get enough food and shelter until the next week.

However in Amsterdam, Reena enjoyed every game. She cheered her adversaries and danced with her team-mates. She scored 15 goals in total and was selected as the best female player.

When asked about her plans for when she returned home, she replied: “I want to make everyone proud of my strength. So that people can realise that I overcame my circumstances and I made it. I want to create a team of my own and help others play for India and for themselves too.”

Life stories of strength, effort and courage demonstrate that when living in adverse situations, adaptive flexibility becomes an integral part of people’s coping mechanisms and ultimately, their way of living.

Resilience is the stuff that allows people like Reena and Yudah to be knocked down by life and come back stronger than ever. Failure could overcome and drain the resolve of these people, they could throw the towel in, but somehow they find a way to rise again. From our experience within the Homeless World Cup, this extends beyond keeping a positive attitude, being optimistic, managing emotions and using failure to develop.


Nicolás Miranda supported the organisation and management of the Homeless World Cup 2014 in Chile. Since then he has joined the English Homeless FA in their ambitious endeavours with people experiencing homelessness in the UK.

Reflecting on his time with the organisation, he said: “I have seen how resilience for Homeless World Cup players can be achieved under four principles:

  1. a) observing life as a continuum: they are experiencing homelessness, yet homelessness does not define them.
  2. b) having a sense of perspective: the situations they come across can be perceived as defeats and setbacks, or as empowering challenges, and this is dependent solely on their individual viewpoint from which they analyse their life events.
  3. c) moving forward: they are able to use their inner voice to help them keep pushing forward under the toughest of moments.
  4. d) social support: networks of social support provide the necessary feedback as well as a different perception of failures versus achievements. This feedback that their peers and supporters can offer, often serves as an encouraging boost that helps them continue moving forward after difficult situations.”

Dr Kathryn Curran is leading an innovative research project exploring the Public Health impact of the English Homeless FA programme and the Homeless World Cup.


Kathryn revealed: “Homeless men are amongst the most excluded groups in society and consistently identify stigma, discrimination and exclusion as major barriers to health and quality of life. The Homeless World Cup was established in 2001 as a tool to energise homeless people to change their lives. Through this, resilience has emerged during the initial observations as a contributing factor to behaviour change.”

It is worth framing homelessness in its current context in Britain. Dr Dan Parnell said: “Homelessness is a major national and local issue. We have observed the result of the unstable economic climate and subsequent policy measures that have reduced funding for key serves.

“Indeed, for those experiencing homelessness austerity measures have not simply been meaningless changes to a spreadsheet in Westminster, it has been real, observable and experienced.

“Those people experiencing homelessness are facing further inequalities, as a result of the withdrawal of funding for those charities and public sector services at the forefront of providing care and support.”

So as the Homeless World Cup ends, as attendees return to their home countries, the journey continues for the participants. They will continue their match, striving for their personal success, but now knowing they are not alone. They will be with their experiences and with their team, who – in their words – are their family.

About the authors

Dr Dan Parnell is a Senior Lecturer and active researcher in Business Management at Manchester Metropolitan University. His research interests cover the sport and leisure sectors within the UK and he works globally on a number of projects, in particular the social role of sport. Contact or follow @parnell_daniel on Twitter.

Dr Kathryn Curran is a Senior Lecturer in Physical Activity, Exercise and Health at Leeds Beckett University. Kathryn’s research focuses on investigating the effectiveness of community physical activity and health interventions primarily with socially disadvantaged groups. Contact or follow @kathryn_curran on Twitter.

Nicolas Miranda is a Physiotherapist and Sport Scientist from Chile. He has worked with the Homeless World Cup Foundation managing healthcare delivery for the 2014 World Cup and with the English Homeless FA overseeing health and wellbeing management and workshop delivery throughout the World Cup in Amsterdam. Contact

Click here for more information on the Homeless World Cup. 

Click here for more information on the Homeless FA.

Article was published on Connect Sport here.

Austerity and sport for health

By Dr Dan Parnell and Dr Paul Widdop

Austerity has impacted upon the real life experiences of communities. Sport and recreation has not been immune from austerity.


Against a volume of evidence citing the rising number of food-banks, homelessness, an increasing inequalities gap and the privatisation of the National Health Service it is hard to place sport in the austerity debate. Yet investment in sport for social agendas has evidence of producing a social return, which is not always recognised.

Sport encompasses physical activity and the relationship between the two has long since established the awareness of the health costs of inactivity (WHO, 2010). The World Health Organisation estimates that physical inactivity is the 4th leading risk factor for global mortality, responsible for 6% of deaths globally. That is 3.2 million deaths per year. Including 2.6 million in low-and-middle-income countries. In 2012, ‘The Lancet’ medical journal, noted that the impact of inactivity on mortality could be greater still – 5.3 million deaths per year – rivalling tobacco for causes of death.

Promoting physical activity is not just key, but critical in tackling Public Health issues. A challenge for physical activity researchers and policy makers is reducing inactivity levels within hard to reach communities and in a format that is attractive to fit the consumption needs of local people. Ultimately, sport for health has a role in Public Health in making physical activity more amenable, desirable and attractive to many, including those on the margins.

An insight into the sport and leisure industry

Public Sector provision for sport and leisure has changed and in some cases disappeared since the introduction of austerity driven policy measures.

A report by King for the Association of Public Service Excellence [] pre-empted these reductions in services and highlighted that certain parts of England are being disproportionally affected (APSE, 2010). Austerity has contributed to a fragmented landscape of provision.

Much of the report predictions for 2015; including, falling revenue budgets, staff cuts, increased charges, reduced opening hours, facility closures and reduced commitments to parks and pitches utilized for organised and casual participation; have become a reality. A clear example of this is the fight to ‘Keep Park Road Baths Open’ [].

In a localised context, Liverpool (UK), which is home to some of the most deprived communities in Britain, evidences high levels of obesity and decreasing fitness levels amongst children across the city. Despite this, its Local Authority service provision for swimming has been severely threatened. Both the Everton Park Sports Centre (within the deprived L5 area) and the Dingle areas Park Road swimming baths were threatened with closure. Further, radical changes to opening times have been imposed on the Austin Rawlinson centre in Speke.


The reported rationale for closures were related to high operating and maintenance costs, which contributed to the budgetary deficit of £7.3 million in the year 2013/2014. Whilst local councillors have looked for options such as community transfer, the swimming pools remain open and under Local Authority management.

This was due to the campaigners who fought the council at every step, yet the safety of the site remains unclear. Whilst the council have committed to the short term future of the site, opening hours have been reduced and key services have been moved to other sites – all contributing to a more subtle withdrawal by the council and lesser services for local (and severely deprived) communities.

Furthermore, what may happen in communities that have a less cohesive network structure that facilitates mobilisation is that they could ultimately lose essential services in sport and leisure which as noted elsewhere impacts upon society and community social capital.

Austerity is real, observable and experienced

Whilst the rolling back of the state will impact Local Authority leisure centres across England and potentially other parts of the UK, the impact of reduced opportunities for communities, families, people and children to participate in sport and physical activity is not certain. What is clear, observable and experienced is that the consequence of austerity has a real impact on real people, across communities.

Is austerity influencing sports participation?

Participation figures for sport and physical activity across Local Authorities in England shows a significant decrease during a period of austerity (2008-2013). Using a pooled logistic regression model of two waves of the Active People Survey, Widdop et al (forthcoming) found that evidence clearly suggests a statistically significant difference in participation in sport for women, younger people and non-white individuals between 2008 and 2013.

In simple terms, there is clear statistical evidence that women participation rates in sport were significantly lower in 2013 than 2008 – a similar pattern is found for both young people aged 14-29 and non-white individuals. This is a worrying development as during this time period we have had major sporting Mega Events happening across Britain, with a participation legacy in place, a legacy that has been systematically challenged by austerity measures. Local Authorities are bracing themselves for more austerity constraints placed upon them, and with sport not being part of core services, it is likely to face further cuts.

Sports which rely heavily on local authority provision especially in grassroots delivery are particularly susceptible to a change in funding structures and support. Indeed, football is such a sport that is mainly dependent on Local Authority provision. Yet, it is this time of year, that football managers, coaches, players and officials dread, as many matches will no-doubt be called off due to poor weather conditions and unplayable surfaces.

Local Authorities are core providers to grassroots sports, through pitch maintenance, development, facilities and upkeep.

Local authorities are experiencing many problems relating to the current economic climate [] and ultimately they have had tightened their spending [], which impacts frontline services and the experiences of people playing.


A result of this is reduced investment in grassroots sports provision and/or increases in pitch fees and the cost of facility hire. This coupled with the closure of sport and leisure facilities will undoubtedly impact upon the opportunities for sport and physical activity, especially football []. Whilst it is difficult to measure the impact this has on society, it will certainly have a negative impact on social capital, belonging, and well-being, detaching communities from each other, and increasing social tensions.

So why is sport important?


So we return to the question set out at the start of the blog, why are we interested in sport for health? Without sport and physical activity we can expect to see an increase in lifestyle related diseases, especially those within our deprived communities. This will have huge impacts on Public Health, none more recognisable to those in government than the financial one. Some politicians could still stand to gain from this, as the privatisation of the NHS will benefit from more people needing support, especially as we know the financial costs inactivity can create.

Whilst, we might struggle to ‘make the case’ for sport, we do know the cost of inactivity, currently standing at £940million per year, with a serious risk of increasing. It has never been more important to invest in sport, leisure and physical activity. An approach that is both preventative and low-cost.

Perhaps it is time for government, LA and those in Public Health to get serious about the current state of Local Authority sport provision, which is slowly but alarmingly disappearing. As it does, we can expect to lose the subsequent physical activity opportunities and gain the consequences of extended inactivity.

Changing the policy story

Underlying all such policy initiatives relating to sport, recreation and health is that the costs of increasing revenue to support young people will prove an excellent investment compared to the scale of future health costs.

The consequence of cutting funding for Local Authority sport and leisure may be one of the major false economies of our time. The debate should not be about how much it will cost today but how much it will cost if no action is taken.

A fundamental paradigm shift is needed in terms of how sport and recreation provision in local authority areas is played out.

Post originally published here:


Sport and leisure, and by its very nature physical activity, has been a key element of Local Authorities (LAs). Some would say, it is now a part of our cultural heritage. Certainly, for me, LA provision allowed for access to football (social inclusion projects) and extra curricular sport based provision (under the guise of ‘8-15s’ years provision – which included the formidable “wet, wild and wobbly” attraction at the Oval leisure centre, on the Wirral!). Call me a romanticist, but I do not want to lose this provision and others, some of who will need them more than me, to miss out. As its stands LA sport and leisure is in dire straits and the status quo remains for 2015.

How do LA’s currently look? Ultimately, they have changed significantly over the past 5 years. In response, to the comprehensive spending review in (2010), the financial stability of LA’s have weakened. More so, in a report by Dr Neil King for the Association of Public Service Excellence, it was highlighted that certain parts of England are disproportionally affected [PD1] (APSE, 2010 [PD2] ). As a result this has created a landscape of fragmented provision.

To add further to this socio-political circumstance, King (APSE, 2010) reports results from his survey looking forward towards 2015. In doing so, he anticipates several impacts of sport and leisure; including, falling revenue budgets, staff cuts, increased charges, reduced opening hours, facility closures and reduced commitments to parks and pitches utilized for organized and casual participation. We are now seeing these predictions turn reality.

A clear example of this is the fight to “Keep Park Road Baths Open” [PD3] within inner city Liverpool (North West region of England). The current situation within Liverpool and LA areas has been discussed recently (Parnell, Millward and Spracklen, 2015). As has the potential associated negative impacts of these LA cuts on the NHS and Public Health, notably the potential for increased lifestyle related diseases (Parnell, 2014 [PD4] ). Whilst the future management of Park Road Baths remains uncertain, we can expect to see further cases across the UK and expect a number of consequences, especially for health within our local communities.

Why is health important? Well, one prediction for 2015 [that is a bookmakers cert] will be the steady increase in lifestyle related diseases! This has huge impacts for Public Health, none more recognisable to those in government than the financial one. The link between physical activity and health is clear and something we must begin to use (check out this insight into the Human Capital Model by Bailey et al., 2012 [PD5] ).

Whilst, we might struggle to ‘make the case’ for sport and leisure, we do know the cost of inactivity. At £940million per year (BHF, 2014 [PD6] ), which is at a serious risk of increasing. It has never been more important to invest in sport, leisure and physical activity. An approach that is both preventative and low-cost. A no-brainer for commissioners and those government policy makers – right?

It is time for government, LA and those in Public Health to get serious about the current state of LA sport and leisure, which is ultimately disappearing. As it does, we can expect to loose the subsequent physical activity opportunities and gain the consequences inactivity. Consequences that will no doubt prove that cutting funding for LA sport and leisure services is one of the major false economies [PD7] of our time.

Dr Dan Parnell is a senior lecturer in Sport Business Management at Leeds Beckett University and is an active researcher across the sport and leisure sectors in the UK and Europe with interests in the social role of sport. These opinions are expressly his and not those of his employer. twitter: @parnell_daniel personal profile: Academiaedu:








Blog at

Up ↑