Simon Johnson

Sport & Leisure

Understand the unique challenges faced by the sports and leisure industry in the UK and how Simon Johnson can help improve business performance in this sector.

How Simon Johnson can Add Value to the Sport and Leisure Industry

Simon Johnson has had a career of over 25 years at the top of the Sports and Leisure Industries. He has a deep understanding of the Sports and Leisure Industries and how to address the challenges that they face.

Simon Johnson is an experienced NED and Chair. He is currently Chair of the Rugby Football League, and a number of related businesses, including the International Rugby League Ltd and Super League Ltd. He is also Chair of Sports Information Services, a leading supplier of betting services and content to the betting industry. He brings value, clarity of thought, vision and leadership to the roles that he has.

In his wide ranging experience, Simon has been an NED of Swim England, when it was known as the Amateur Swimming Association. He was Interim Chief Executive of Business in Sport & Leisure, a lobbying association which promoted the sports and leisure industries. He has been Company Secretary and Director of Business Affairs at The FA, and held senior legal and business affairs positions in the FA Premier League and the ITV Network Centre.

Simon has a deep understanding of the challenges and opportunities in the sports and leisure industry, an aptitude for providing value in businesses by focussing on the importance of their business within the Leisure sector for the UK economy. And his expertise in managing complex stakeholder relationships has enabled him to allow businesses to grow with the support of their stakeholders.

Challenges and Opportunities in the Sport and Leisure Industry

Many sports and leisure industries are struggling to attract and retain staff. With a reliance on casual and seasonal workers, and with a high proportion of unqualified employees, the sector faces stiff competition from other industries. This in turn makes the staging and monetisation of events harder to achieve, adding further complications to the economy. Sport and leisure in the UK also remains particularly vulnerable to regulatory intervention and change. Few sectors are subject to such regular changes in regulation, which tend to have a restrictive, rather than enabling, effect.

Licensing issues and regulatory red tape in particular have a restrictive effect on growth in the industry. This is especially true for restaurants, pubs, night clubs, betting companies, and gaming businesses.

Despite this, the sports and leisure sector remains a major contributor to the achievement of key Government economic growth objectives, and is also an extremely large employer in terms of numbers. Furthermore, it has the unique ability to make a significant social as well as economic impact.

Few other industries are as capable of providing jobs and flexible, career development opportunities than the sports and leisure sector. It has a strong female workforce, with the majority of the Leisure workforce being female and nearly half of management positions held by women. It attracts a large proportion of part time and flexible workers, with nearly half of employees in the Sport & Leisure Industry on part time or flexible contracts. And the Leisure Industry offers attractive career options for both skilled and unskilled workers, with few barriers to career progression and advancement. In addition, it is one of the few industries that is genuinely spread around the country, in all regions.

The leisure industry in particular is capable of being a powerful provider of apprenticeships and training programmes. This represents a unique opportunity for an economy that is trying to level up across all areas of the country and should definitely not be overlooked.

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