It is less than two weeks since the All Blacks made history by retaining the title of World Champions and already life seems to have gone back to normal. As a keen rugby fan, I thoroughly enjoyed the 6 weeks of highly entertaining rugby. Well, apart from the gloom and misery of England’s early exit. There was quite a bit of talk about the cost of Rugby World Cup (RWC) 2015 and the impact an early England exit would have on the economy and it got me thinking about numbers again. For me, it’s like counting sheep.
Before the tournament even kicked off, analysts EY were predicting that RWC 2015 would attract more international visitors than any previous Rugby World Cup. These visitors would bring significant incremental spending to our economy, an expected contribution of £869m from the purchase of tickets, travel, accommodation, match day entertainment and visiting other local tourist attractions. In addition, the added exposure to a global market should also provide opportunities to attract future tourists and businesses alike. In total, RWC 2015 was expected to deliver up to £2.2 billion in output to our economy, translating into an additional £982m of value added to GDP. If that is true, that is a huge a benefit.
Now that the competition is over, there is a lot of evidence rugby’s eighth World Cup has taken the sport to new heights commercially; never before have as many as 2.4m tickets been sold for the event, (97% of all those available), with a world-record attendance of 89,000 at Wembley for Ireland’s match against Romania. With half a million overseas fans, 1.5m visitors to fan zones, and unprecedented global TV audiences.
But there was some very bad news for rugby fans. Whilst the tournament was the best-selling in Rugby World Cup history – it has now also been named the most expensive sporting event ever. The average cost of a ticket for the event was more than £100 with the average England ticket costing a staggering £167.5. That is a serious dent in anyones wallet.
Interestingly, a recent Mail on Sunday investigation found that the average price for last year’s football World Cup cost £94.4 per seat, while tickets for the 2012 Olympics cost £87.5 per seat. Yet this high cost did not put off rugby fans from purchasing more tickets than ever before. Perhaps World Rugby had more confidence than we did, of our desire to go to the games, whatever the cost.
But what of the overall cost of England’s humiliating early exit. According to some new research, England’s failure to make it past the pool stages could cost the UK stock market £3bn, thanks to negative investor sentiment. On top of that, with none of the home nations making the semi-finals, collectively, this failure will have affected domestic TV audiences, pub sales, advertising revenue, and the return on investment for sponsors.
An essay published by the London Business School looked into the impact of sporting results on the financial markets. The research looked at the effect of an international sporting defeat and how it affects investor mood and therefore can show up on the stock market. The study found that for football the elimination from a major competition leads to the market going down by 0.5% the next day, and for rugby it’s 0.15%. This might not seem like much but putting this in to perspective, 0.15% applied to the UK stock market means £3bn wiped off the market in a single day.
At least now I am starting to understand why my husband gets so worked up about sport and so depressed when England lose. Perhaps there is an accountant in him after all!!
On a final note, I think we should be proud of the way, as hosts, we delivered yet another fantastic, highly succesful sporting event. In the years to come, Englands World Cup looks set to be remembered as a huge boost to the game, even if it forever holds painful memories for its hosts. Japan 2019 will have a lot to live up to.