What Affect Has the Lack of Sport Had on the Irish Economy? – TheLiberal.ie – Our News, Your Views

What Affect Has the Lack of Sport Had on the Irish Economy?

There have been many industries affected by the COVID-19 pandemic in Ireland but perhaps one of the sectors to go really feel the strain has been sport. Playing and watching sport has a significant role in the Irish economy, so what affect has the lack of sport had on the economy in Ireland?

COVID-19 has caused many of the daily activities we took for granted to cease in Ireland over the past year, including sport. Not only did recreational sport become unavailable but professional sport, including the top leagues and tournaments in Ireland, was forced to stop. The virus arrived in Ireland in February 2020 and it did not take long for many of the leading sports leagues in the country to be suspended.

The Football Association of Ireland, Gaelic Athletic Association, and Irish Rugby Football Union all announced they were suspending their leagues. Into June and some fans were allowed to attend professional sporting events but this soon changed in August and spectators were banned. Continuing into December and another wave of the virus saw all sport, other than the professional level, stop completely. On New Year’s Eve, all leisure centres, gyms, swimming pools, golf and tennis clubs were told to close to the public.

Restrictions have since changed and at the time of writing, elite-level senior GAA matches have been allowed plus outdoor sports facilities have opened. However, there is significant uncertainty surrounded the future of sport in Ireland and this has had a direct impact on the economy.

No business can operate and make a profit when they are being forced to close their doors to the public. The Irish government has stepped in to help with their Sports Capital Grant funding and that is sure to help sports related businesses but it may be too late for some.

It is difficult to assess the Irish sports economy accurately as it covers several aspects but a look at employment figures shows how a lack of sport has had an impact on people’s jobs. Before COVID-19, there were just over 31,000 people employed in sports and recreation activities. By the second quarter of 2020, this had dropped to 26,000 people and many of those were being supported by government wage schemes.

The gambling industry is now a major player in sport and it also saw a drop in the number of people employed, going from 8,400 people at the end of 2019 to 6,500 people employed by the end of the second quarter of 2020. Betting shops continue to close as more and more people switch to online betting sites instead. So, thousands of jobs have been put at risk due to the lack of sport. The more people out of work means more people being forced to claim benefits and no longer adding anything to the economy through no fault of their own.

It is worth remembering that if a professional sports club or league collapses, it is not just the players who will lose their jobs. Coaches, medical staff, caterers, groundsmen and women, stewards, and clerical staff will all lose their jobs and that would be a disaster for the economy.

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