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Sport club memberships: trickle-down effect

How we examined whether changes in sports club membership can be attributed to the trickle-down effect

The purpose of this research was to examine whether changes in sports club membership can be attributed to the so-called trickle-down effect. 

Often sport policy is justified on the grounds of: achieving international sporting success in important events; a home advantage effect of hosting events on home soil; and a role model effect whereby successful athletes have a positive impact on general sports participation rates. These comprise the trickle-down effect that effectively link elite and grassroots sport through inspiration.

Construction of a data set that combined sport membership in 33 sports with variables such as hosting events, athletes as role models, sporting success, population size and internet use. 

A dynamic panel data analysis was used to examine if there is a causal relationship between membership and the three elements of the trickle down effect. Panel regressions were estimated using the Arellano-Bond (AB) and the System-Generalised Method of Moments (System-GMM) of Blundell and Bond (BB) estimators.

The research established a causal, although limited, link between sports membership and the trickle down effect. The results show that the trickle-down effect can last for a total of three to four years with sports club membership being influenced by:

  • the current year's home events;
  • last year’s sporting success;
  • home events from two years ago, and
  • Sports Personality of the Year results from three years ago.

The report was presented to UK Sport and was praised for its methodological rigour and its application to sports policy.

Funding partners


About this project

Explore the people, research centres and partner organisations behind this project.

Get in touch

Contact SPARC to discuss facilities, partnerships, doctoral research and more

Contact us

Publications

Castelanos-Garcia, P., Downward, P., Kokolakakis, T., Shibli, S. & Bringham, J.,  Membership of English sport clubs: A dynamic panel data analysis of the trickle-down effect. International Journal of Sport Policy and Politics (2020).

Research team

Themistocles Kokolakakis

Dr Themis Kokolakakis

Reader

Themis Kokolakakis' profile
Simon Shibli

Professor Simon Shibli

Professor of Sport Management 

Simon Shibli's profile

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