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Will England’s World Cup success cost the economy?

England is in a state of euphoria after its football team won a tournament knockout game for the first time in 12 years. Dispatching a Colombian side hell bent on disrupting England’s newfound ability to actually pass the ball, Gareth Southgate’s men have won the hearts of the nation. After years of passionless, mundane football that achieved not even a modicum of success, England have finally moved on from lumping the ball up to a target man, and look set to go deep into this summer’s World Cup.

But this success comes at a cost. Sickies are up, work productivity is down, and this can be costly to businesses and the economy alike. So even if England does win the World Cup, it could be a bittersweet victory.

Increased sickies see the workforce depleted

An estimated five million fans ‘pulled a sickie’ after England’s Tuesday night victory over Colombia, with a study by Centropy PR finding that 16% of those questioned were thinking of calling in ill if England won. This could be extremely damaging for the economy.

Considering all of England’s first three fixtures fell before work days, and potential semi-final and final fixtures will do the same, it may have actually been better if England had crashed out earlier in the tournament. Well, at least for those who value finance above football. Businesses can be thankful that their quarter-final tie is on a Saturday afternoon.

Loss of productivity could hit the economy hard

 The loss of productivity caused by the World Cup could be highly detrimental for the economy. Prior to the tournament, bookmakers William Hill conducted an in-depth analysis into how hard World Cup slacking could potentially hit the economy. Taking data from our GDP and workforce, they worked out that by the end of the quarter final stage, there would be a £918.8 million productivity loss if all five games attracted a 20% viewership. This cost would rise to £1.38 billion should viewership reach 30%.

Should England see off Sweden and set up a semi-final encounter with either Croatia or Russia, this total could reach up to £1.2 billion. Go even further, and reach a final for the first time since 1966, and the numbers are worrying. This could cost the economy a staggering £3.2 billion in lost productivity.

It’s not all doom and gloom

 However, whilst a loss of productivity would be detrimental to the economy, the World Cup could actually end up causing economic growth. The Centre for Retail Research predicts that overall spending throughout the tournament’s duration will rise to £2.7bn if England reaches the final, with the World Cup already causing a sales boost in things like alcohol and electronic items. Experts believe that when England play well in a World Cup, the population is happier and more willing to fork out on non-essential items. People are also more inclined to host barbecues and parties during the tournament, so splash out more on groceries than usual.

The population is also more likely to spend money in the pub. In fact, during England’s last 16 game against Colombia, an estimated six million extra beers were bought. This boosted the economy to the tune of £18 million, and England’s quarter final game versus Sweden is expected to encourage home fans to splurge on eight million extra beers. According to the The British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA), the game’s 3pm Saturday kick off is “perfect for Great British pubs to host the game.” With the potential of two more games following Saturday’s tie, and even post victory celebrations should England win the World Cup, more money could flow right back into the economy.

While England’s World Cup run will set the economy back in terms of work productivity, the increased spending in light of the team’s strong performance should offset this.

Elliot Preece

Elliot is the Editor at ABCMoney. He manages a team that writes and contributes to many leading publications across a number of industries.

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