Sector Overview

The UK has unrivalled experience and expertise in the sports economy, with its companies leading the way both at home and overseas. UK companies have a reputation for creative and ingenious solutions that respect tradition and leave a sporting and cultural legacy.

UK is the home to many modern sports and owns world-class sporting events such as Premier League, Formula One, Wimbledon, World Snooker Tournament, Royal Ascot, and Clipper Race.

The sports business sector is growing in economic importance. The sports sector itself contributes over 37 billion pounds to the UK economy and employs more than 1.2 million people. British events in sports like tennis, golf, horseracing and equestrianism are well-known for attracting the highest audiences in their respective sectors.

1.9 billion

Sports governance and consumption have been successful in UK`s social ecosystem. In 2018, the live attendance of sporting events is up to 74.5m people and the tickets revenue is about 1.9 billion pounds.

37.3 billion

The GVA of sports industry in 2016 reached 37.3 billion pounds which accounts for 2.1% of UK's total GVA.


The sports related employment is about 1.2m, 3.7% of total UK's total employment. UK's sports exporting is growing steadily and 66% of exports are sports services.

British sports content/IP is considered to be the creation, development and ownership of sports leagues, events, clubs, teams and atheltes. The UK is home of the world's most recognised and valuable sports content/IP. The UK's sports content/IP are intangible assets that attract spectators and viewers, encourage participation, generate consumer expenditure on sports goods and support the provision of sports services.

Fundamental sports services

Sports services are fundamental to the sports industry and drive the value of the industry through the development, operation and commercialisation of sports content/IP, infrastructure and other aspects of the sports industry.

Three Premier League Clubs are invested by Chinese

Three Premier League Clubs are invested by Chinese, which are Man City FC, Wolves FC, and Southampton FC. Manchester based City Football Group also invested in a low-level Sichuan professional club which aim to promote to Chinese Super League.


Supported by a world-leading infrastructure, football's global appeal showcases a compelling spectacle of talent and passion, and the UK's globally-renowned expertise in football continues to act as an attractive asset.
Since its inception in 1992, the Premier League has led the way in redefining the sporting and fan experience, becoming one of the leading global sports brands and the undisputed leading football brand globally. Not only are more fans than ever watching in fantastic stadiums, it is one of the UK's most recognised brands, supporting more than 100,000 jobs. 800,000 tourists attended a match in2019 and the Premier League is broadcast to 730 million homes in 185 countries.

Major events service

From stadium design and broadcasting to technological innovation, branding, and communications, the UK has proven expertise and a pedigree in every aspect of sports development and the staging of major sporting events.

Many of Formula 1's constructors are based in the UK

Many of Formula 1's constructors are based in the UK, further emphasising the strength of the country's world-class talent, innovation, and creativity as it drives one of the globe's most watched sports. Motorsport as a whole is popular in China, with the Formula 1 Shanghai Grand Prix and other types of racing thriving there.

The UK has a comprehensive supply chain of the sailing industry, covering event IP, training, equipment manufacturing, and services

  1. Event IP: As one of the longest-running and largest regattas in the world, Cowes Week has been held since 1826. It attracts 800 to 1,000 boats and about 8,000 competitors every year. Clipper Race has been introduced to China for more than 15 years, which has promoted the cultivation of Chinese sailing talent.
  2. Training and Certification: The training and certification system of the Royal Yachting Association (RYA) has an international influence. There are more than 2,400 RYA-certified training centers around the world, of which 600 are located in 58 countries outside the UK.
  3. Manufacturing and Service Sector: With its innovative design concept and manufacturing technology in sailboats and yachts, the UK has created Sunseeker and other famous sailboats and yacht brands, as well as three world-class professional sailing clothing brands, including Musto. In addition, UK companies also provide global partners with services such as navigation systems, yacht leasing, and finance.


UK has Five big sporting events which are well known in China. F1, World Snooker Tournament, Clipper Race have landed China for more than 15 years. Premier League and Wimbledon have been broadcasted in China and attracted millions of fans to watch. At same time, cycling and other outdoor events are trying to enter China market.

Sports Infrastructure

AFL won three football training projects in Kunming, Dalian, and Shandong Rizhao in past four years. Populous won the Beijing 2022 Ice Ribbon. Arup, Zaha Hadid, Buro Happold and Pattern also won football projects in China.

Football training include collaboration of Liverpool FC with Kunming, Cardiff City with Beijing Chaoyang and Stoke City with international school in Shanghai. Royal Yachting Association provides sailing course and certificate. British Horse Society introduced equestrian training and certificate system to China.

Speak to us

Contact our expert team in China to learn more about how DIT can support your business.