Some time ago we decided to have a blog category ‘Entertainment and Sport’, since these are significant sectors of the UK economy. But we’d be the first to admit that it has been hard to find items to blog about from this sector, largely because the management aspects of operating entertainment and sports venues are not reported. But clearly there are OM issues such as managing the venue infrastructure, capacity management, customer service, queue management, and winning customers.
This issue of order winners (OW) in sport has just surfaced due to an article on the BBC Business website that discusses the future development of rugby. It will become a high profile sport in 2015 and 2016 due to the fact that England is hosting the Rugby World Cup and in the following year rugby sevens will be played as an Olympic sport in Rio de Janiero. This highlights the concept that there are two levels of OW in sport. In the first instance, each operator – ie sports club – is in competition for fans with the other clubs that play that sport. But as the BBC article demonstrates, the sport itself is also competing against other sports in order to develop its fan base.
With regards a club’s OWs, two stand out. The first is proximity – in most cases fans support the club that they were closest to or taken to when growing up, or to where they are now living. The second is success – fans will be attracted to supporting clubs that are winning their league or trophies. For a club the latter is not just important in attracting spectators through the gates, but also commercial sponsorship.
What is even more interesting, as discussed in the BBC article, is how the sport’s governing body also has to develop OWs in order to attract more followers of the sport in general. Clearly in rugby’s case, being involved with two major events helps to raise the profile, but the RFU can also do other things. One interesting ‘operational’ action is to modify the rules under which the game is played. And rugby has been doing this for years – adapting the rules with regards who has possession after the ball is kicked in to touch, how a line out may be taken, how scrums may be formed and so on. Such rule changes are taken with two things in mind – the safety of the players (which in a contact sport like rugby is very important) and making the sport more exciting to watch (usually achieved by speeding up the play). Another interesting OW is the idea of supporting the involvement of people playing the sport at an amateur level, on the assumption that they will become fans of the sport for life. Hence the RFU’s plans to invest in amateur clubs in the lead up to the Rugby World Cup.