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MO FARAH TOOK THE CROWN AS 2017 SPORTS PERSONALITY OF THE YEAR LAST NIGHT, BEATING FAVOURITES ANTHONY JOSHUA AND LEWIS HAMILTON
The surprise announcement raises the question; who was truly the most influential sportsperson of 2017? Sports marketing agency Exposure has conducted research to answer this question.
Jamie Vardy and Sam Warburton are the most influential figures in UK sport, says new study
Only 50% of the top 20 is composed of active sportspeople
Inclusion of social media influencers shows changing face of UK sport
20% of the top 10 is female
New research has revealed the top twenty most influential Brits when it comes to encouraging people to attend, play, watch or engage with sport in the UK. Joint top of the list are Leicester City footballer Jamie Vardy and Welsh Rugby Union star Sam Warburton.
The research, carried out by creative communications agency Exposure, showed that rugby influencers and those involved in athletics and swimming are as well-represented as high profile footballers. As well as current sportspeople, the list includes Olympic gold medallist Dame Jessica Ennis (No.7) and former players and TV commentators like Gary Lineker (No.10) – and the heads of major sporting bodies such as the FA and the RFU.
Other major influencers are YouTube channel Copa90 (No.11), fitness coach and author Joe Wicks (No.12) and social media personality Spencer FC (No.13). Only half the top 20 is composed of sportspeople active in their field, showing the surprising diversity of people that are able to effectively influence how the British public engage with sport in this country.
The research employed a unique analysis tool to identify the 250 biggest names in UK sport and examine each person’s online influence through social media platforms like Twitter, offline influence such as appearances in books, newspapers and on TV and their personal ‘brand value’ based upon their current level of public interest, recent scandals and any charity initiatives that they are involved in.
The Top 20 most influential figures in UK sport:
|Dame Jessica||Ennis||Athletics commentator||7|
|Dame Katherine||Grainger||Chair, UK Sport||9|
|Gary||Lineker||BBC Sports presenter||10|
|Joe||Wicks||Social media influencer||12|
|Ian||Ritchie||Rugby – CEO of RFU||15|
|Baroness||Grey-Thompson||Member of the House of Lords, Board Member of London Legacy Development Corporation||18|
|Martin||Glenn||Football – CEO of FA||20|
The research demonstrates how influencers come from a wide range of sports, including rugby, swimming and golf, and not just the usual suspects like football.
There are people from the world of sport that wield an extraordinary level of influence and they aren’t necessarily the big names that sponsors automatically seek out. Organisation heads like Dame Katherine Grainger (No.9) and Ian Ritchie (No.15) also rank highly, due to their ability to affect every aspect of sporting life from grassroots development to international play. TV presenters and commentators are still the recognisable face of UK sport to those who watch sport on TV.
Andy Jephson, head of sport & culture at Exposure, comments: “Some of the ‘traditional’ big names of UK sport have been surpassed by players who fans have a closer connection to. From Jamie Vardy’s rise from the lower leagues to the emergence of young British stars like Marcus Rashford, our research suggests that football fans are looking for players who are authentic and real.”
While sportspeople dominate the top 20, the power of social media has changed the parameters of influence in UK Sport. Andy Jephson commented: “It’s incredible to see Joe Wicks, Spencer FC (Spencer Owen) and Copa90 in the top 20 as it is evidence of the democratisation of sport, where there are now opportunities for people outside of the establishment to get involved in the sports that they love.”
There are also signs that women’s sport is becoming more influential in the UK. The fact that only 15% of the top 20 is comprised of women might on first glance appear to reinforce traditional gender imbalances in sport. Women represent 20% of the top 10 and 250 most influential people in UK sport – when viewed in context of the scale of men’s sport and how established it is, this figure can be seen as evidence that the influence of women upon UK sport is growing.
Exposure used its unique scoring system to find the UK’s most influential figures in sports, focusing on those who can influence people to participate/engage with sports – whether that be through attending games, watching games at home or in the pub, buying merchandise, following their every move online, or participating in the sport itself.
The research factored in each person’s online influence, offline influence and their brand value (i.e. is there public interest in them, any recent scandals, are they ambassadors of a charity or perhaps have their own charity etc.). The extensive list analysed over 250 people involved in UK sports including athletes, presenters, journalists, social media influencers and publications.
More detail on the research:
The research included more than 2,000 individual measurements split into three equally-weighted categories, including:
Online: Presence; frequency and quality of content; number of followers; engagement; and objectives of their social media channels.
Offline: Ability to affect the laws; number of people currently participating in their sport; increase or decrease in people participating in their sport; appearance in offline channels such as books and TV; and how often the sport is covered in mainstream media.
Brand Strength: Whether they are international, national or local champions in their sport; recent performance compared to expectations; public interest in them increasing or decreasing; involvement with charitable causes, be it face of a campaign or spokesperson for change in their own sport; recent involvement in any scandals, both personal and professional; and if they are considered inspirational or ground-breaking in their area.