Sports Influencers (SP.IN), an organisation that aims to define and drive sport and policy in the North of England, has launched in Manchester.
The not-for-profit outfit has been developed by former Manchester United relationship director Luisa d’Aprano and Piers Martin, a Manchester Metropolitan University lecturer who used to be chief executive of British Fencing.
The pair, with support from Manchester City Council, want to bring sports influencers together during a number of high profile events featuring big name panellists.
Their aim is to ensure that sport – which according to Manchester City Council brought an estimated economic impact of £92m to Manchester alone between 2002 and 2013 – becomes a credible and meaningful element to the Northern Powerhouse debate.
Piers said he also wants to create ‘one voice’ that collectively shouts about sport’s importance from grassroots through to elite level.
“We’ve been talking launching SP.IN for around 18 months,” said Piers. “Manchester and the north west is a hotbed for international sport, for national governing bodies and experience and talent – but we don’t think enough is being done when it comes to leadership.”
He added: “We have the Northern Powerhouse for engineering, academia, innovation and science and technology, but there’s has never really been any of that leadership for sport. Maybe that’s because sport has just put its head down and got on with it ever since the Northern Powerhouse became a concept around three years ago.
“The bottom line is that more can be done. There are individuals talking about sport but we need one voice, a stronger voice for Manchester and indeed the region in Whitehall and Westminster and internationally.”
The first SP.IN event, debating the value of the Northern Powerhouse for Sport, will be taking place on Monday, April 24 at the National Football Museum.
The panel will include Ed Cox of IPPR North, Yvonne Harrison, CEO of Greater Sport, three to four big names from the world of sport and will be hosted by Jonathan Legard, BBC sport journalist and commentator.
Luisa d’Aprano said SP.IN conferences, panels, Q&As and informal socials will connect sports influencers, professional services and commercial brands who are based across the North of England.
She said: “These debates – which will take place in iconic and relevant venues across the region – will inform research to show how sport does influence from tourism, to employment, to the health agenda.
“As people that work in the sporting arena on the commercial and performance sectors, we spend a lot of time attending different events as there are lots of groups and membership schemes available across the whole of the UK.
“Making it relevant and time well spent is what is so critical to all of us when our days are so stretched. Sport has a very macro effect from the global commercial economy down to the day to day of people’s lives and well-being.”
Piers also said that a whole plethora of sporting federations are now headquartered in the North West including British Cycling, Squash, Paralympic Swimming and Taekwondo.
He added: “With any sporting or sports related event a big topic is legacy and SP.IN is no different. We plan to create the impact to bring a single voice to this region to show the influence of sports and their different contributions to the local economy, and its status as a key destination for events becoming a global region of its own.”