Grant Thornton agrees UK Athletics partnership deal

13 November 2015

Grant Thornton and UK Athletics have joined forces to strengthen each other’s teams. Grant Thornton will second a number of its staff into UK Athletics’ teams to help the organisation prepare for the 2017 World Athletics Championships in London, while experts from UK Athletics in sports team dynamics will strengthen the performance of leadership within Grant Thornton.

UK Athletics (UKA) was founded in 1999 and succeeded the British Athletics Federation. The organisation is made up of four member organisations, each stemming from the UK’s four constituent countries: England Athletics, Scottish Athletics, Welsh Athletics, and Athletics Northern Ireland. The organisation’s goal is to further the cause of Athletics within the UK and abroad, as well as governance of athletics events; athletes; their development; and athletics officials.

Grant Thornton signs UK Athletics sponsorship deal

Grant Thornton UK’s vision is to improve the UK’s economy through unlocking potential for growth in dynamic organisations and supporting excellence through their expertise. At the same time, the consulting firm is also looking for experts from other fields to support the unlocking of potential within their team dynamics. The UKA, whose world class people support some of the top performing athletics competitors and teams in the world, are looking for fresh business related ideas to support the creation of their events. To support each other, the two organisations joined together in a five year alliance.

Grant Thornton, over the coming two years in the run up to the 2017 World Athletics Championships in London, will support the UKA in review and practice process in preparation for the event. The firms will second some of its people to the organising team, “challenging them to learn quickly in a short-term project environment and then bring those learnings back into the business.” So far, a number of secondment posts have already been taken up by Grant Thornton specialists, and more will join teams at the UKA when they become available. Grant Thornton will further support the UKA through enhancements to its leadership and coaching programme, focus particularly on the trust and culture necessary for high performance.

On the other side, the UKA’s elite athletics coaches will impart their knowledge and best practice for teams to Grant Thornton’s leaders, thereby instilling new ways of working that “ignites patterns of behaviour supporting growth and development.” Further guidance will be provided to develop an event programme before and during the games for the firm’s people, clients and other stakeholders.

Kylie Roberts and Niels de Vos

“We believe that insights into world-class coaching will help us on our journey to becoming a high-performance coaching organisation. We have a vision to create a shared enterprise way of working and to do that our leaders need to be exceptional coaches and enablers,” comments Kylie Roberts, Director of Leadership Development at Grant Thornton UK. “We are partnering with UKA to work with us on coaching excellence and likewise we work with them to create high performing teams and a high performing organisation that can excel in a volatile, uncertain, ambiguous and complex world.”

Niels de Vos, CEO of UK Athletics, adds: “Our partnership with Grant Thornton is an exciting development that brings together business excellence and sporting excellence. A feature of great leaders in business and coaches in sport is the constant desire to learn and improve, this partnership will allow both sides to capture and share knowledge, in order to nurture and develop high performing individuals and teams.”


Despite industry disruption televised sport still draws audiences

24 April 2019

Despite the disruption wrought on most areas of traditional broadcasting by streaming challengers, sports remains a major draw for audiences of television networks. This is particularly true of viewers who bet money on sporting events, with those that have skin in the game considerably more likely to follow the event on a television screen.

Arguably the true opiate of the masses, for centuries organised sports have been a major draw for hordes of fanatical spectators, from the grand coliseums of Ancient Rome to the more understated greens of local cricket grounds. The advent of television in the 20th century took this to a new level, allowing for widespread visual access to major sporting events, and sowing the seeds of a multi-billion industry in the process. Yet while watching sport remains a key pastime for many, changing consumer preferences and new technologies are affecting the traditional sport distribution channel of TV.

To better understand trends in the sporting broadcast market, Deloitte recently released an article titled ‘Does TV Sports have a Future?’ as part of its wider ‘Technology, Media, and Telecommunications Predictions 2019’ report into telecommunications trends. The conclusions in the piece are based on the firm’s own survey of 1,062 US-based respondents.

More men than women watch sport

Traditional television has in recent years begun to lose out to streaming and on demand services, resulting in a generation that is watching considerably less television. The shift in consumer sentiment has caused traditional TV companies consternation as well as shifts in business models. The average Millennial now watches 42% fewer minutes per week of TV in 2018 than they did in 2010. Yet not all areas of the traditional television market have been as hard hit by the shift, and sport is one of them. This contradicts previous studies which may have suggested that Millennials were abandoning ‘old’ media for their sport viewing.

One reason for this could well be sports betting, which means that many of the people watching the event are keen to see how their punt is faring, in play. According to Deloitte, 78% of male sport viewers, and 64% of their female counterparts would be more likely to tune in to a live event if they had bet on it.

The study found that sport gambling remains a key fixture in the gambling industry as a whole in the UK. In the United Kingdom in 2017, sports betting had £14 billion in turnover. In the four Nordic countries, meanwhile legal gambling of all kinds was an approximate €6 billion industry in 2015. In the US, meanwhile, the industry as a whole is worth around a quarter of a trillion dollars – with sports betting figuring at around 40% of that total. The industry is projected to see growth of 9% over the coming three years.

Betting on sports is associated with watching sports on TV for more than five hours on a typical weekday

However, while the gambling industry does indeed seem to have some impact on television engagement, it would be dangerous to overstate this as a positive, and such a conclusion might also put the cart before the horse. Deloitte’s study found that ‘super-superfans’ – those who watched more than five hours on a typical weekday – were more likely to gamble than average viewers.

Of those who watch more than five hours of sport per day, only 4% do not bet. Of those, 2% do not currently bet, or have never bet, respectively. Again, it could be asserted that these people are engaging with televised sport, and thus keeping the advertising-based industry afloat, due to the betting they participate in. However, it could equally be argued that they are exhibiting compulsive behaviour in spending such a large amount of time viewing sport in the first place – behaviour which would leave them as easy prey for gambling firms, who can now milk them for profit.

But where is all this set to lead? According author Duncan Stewart, the potential profitability of this model means it is likely to be exported from the UK in the coming years.

Steward concluded, “As a thought experiment, one can imagine a 30-year-old American man in the year 2025… watching a football game on the TV set, smartphone in hand. He can bet on the match at any point, modify his wager, buy back a losing wager, bet on the outcome of individual plays or individual stats such as the number of passing yards by the quarterback—all in real time, and all tailored to him. Ads could be served that are customised for him, informed by his betting and attention, and watching would have to be 100% live. The broadcaster or betting site could not only charge more for ads seen by such an involved viewer, but even have a share in (or own outright) the profits from the betting/video stream … at margins much higher than the usual for TV broadcasting. To an American, this sounds like science fiction, but in the United Kingdom, these solutions (or variations of them) are available today.”