Ten quite interesting things about UK sports fans

On the day the UK goes to the polls in various local and national elections, here’s a look at the political leaning of the country’s sports fans, plus a few other insights that I found interesting. 

#1 F1 fans are the most conservative

Actually it’s neck and neck between F1 and golf – 33% of both vote Conservative, but golf fans are marginally more likely to vote Labour and (23.1% vs. 22.4%) so we’ll give the blue rosette to F1. 

Football fans are the only group more likely to vote Labour than Conservative, and tennis is the most evenly split, as well as having the highest share of Lib Dem voters at 7.7%. 

#2 Golf fans have the most money

Golf fans are (perhaps unsurprisingly) the most affluent. 4.5% have a household income of £125k or more vs. 2.8% of football fans. They are almost twice as likely as the average UK person to have this level of income. 19% of golf fans have an income of £60-100k, vs. 15.6% of football fans.

At the other end of the scale, 6.6% of football fans have a household income of £10k or less vs. 5% of golf fans. 

But, across the board, sports fans are significantly more likely than the average UK person to have a household income of over £60k.

#3 Cricket has the oldest fan base

Cricket has the highest percentage of older fans. 24.2% are aged 55-64 vs 15.7% of football fans. 

Conversely, just 15.5% of cricket fans are 16-24 compared with 20.8% of football fans. It’s not hard to see what the ECB is trying to do with The Hundred. 

#4 Tennis is the most gender equal sport

Tennis has the highest percentage of female fans: 48.4% are female vs. just 24% for golf. This must be partly the Wimbledon effect but it’s also likely a result of tennis being the most equal sport in terms of visibility and prize money. 

#5 All sports are struggling to engage LGBT+ audiences

All sports have a big opportunity to engage LGBT+ audiences more effectively, with all of them under-indexing for gay and bisexual fans, with tennis and rugby performing the best. 

#6 Rugby has the least diverse fan base

Rugby, golf and F1 are the least diverse sports, with 88.8% of rugby fans being white. Cricket performs well amongst Asian communities, as does football and tennis (which over-indexes among all non-white audiences). 

#7 Football and rugby fans are NOT the biggest drinkers

The image of the beer-swilling football fan seems to be a bit overplayed: golf, cricket, rugby and F1 fans are all more likely to be regular drinkers. It’s a close run thing, but golf just pips rugby for having the most regular drinkers (although alcohol sponsors will be relieved to know that fans of all sports do over-index as regular or semi-regular drinkers). 

Cricket fans are the most likely to abstain altogether.

#8 Golf fans drive BMWs and Audis

Golf fans are, indeed, the most likely to own/have owned an Audi, but even more likely to go for BMW, significantly over-indexing for both brands. 

Mind you, football fans also like expensive motors – they are most likely to over-index for Tesla, Lexus, Porsche, Mercedes-Benz, Audi and BMW. 

#9 Cricket fans are the least adventurous

Only 34% of cricket fans describe themselves as ‘adventurous’, and 48.5% are ‘traditional’. A reflection of the older fan base, perhaps and another reason why new ideas like The Hundred tend to meet some resistance. 

#10 Not enough sports fans believe in equal rights for all 

Disappointingly (but not surprising given the issues we know about with online abuse), 25-30% of fans of each sport don’t believe that all people should have equal rights, with golf and football lagging behind. The saying goes that sport reflects society, and this looks to be the case, although fans of cricket, rugby, tennis and F1 are slightly more tolerant than the UK as a whole. 

On a slightly more positive note, fans of all sports are slightly more likely to believe that immigration is good for the country (although the figure is less than 45% in each case).

If you’d like to take a deep dive into your fan base or target audience and how they engage with sport, drop me a line

All data from Global Web Index. UK 16-64s with internet access. Waves Q1-4 2020.

Fans = people who follow/attend/watch/have an interest in or play each sport.

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