Google+ Running in Cork, Ireland: Latest stats from Athletics Ireland shows membership growth stalling

Saturday, June 09, 2018

Latest stats from Athletics Ireland shows membership growth stalling

For the first few months of any year, membership stats don't mean a whole lot as clubs are trying to get members to renew. After April or May however, the bulk of the membership for the year is in and some trends can be spotted.

Athletics Ireland have just released their stats for their membership at the end of May 2018 and they show several main points...

1) Growth in club membership seems to have stalled.

2) Continuing drop in the number of younger adults (aged under 35 yrs)

3) Drop in juvenile membership

4) Continued growth in the number of recreational runners aged 35+.

National membership stalling ......The chart below shows how the membership for Athletics Ireland has stopped growing....

The numbers for the end of May 2018 are actually slightly lower than May of 2017. This is the first decline in national membership for many years and suggests that the year end figure for 2018 should be around 60,000. Based on previous growth rates, Athletics Ireland had set a target of 70,000 members by the year 2020 which now looks increasingly unlikely.

Continued decline in adults aged under 35... The number of seniors (adults aged under 35) continues to drop and has been like this for a number of years.

Drop in Juvenile membership... The big change this year is the drop in juvenile membership...

One of the success stories for Athletics Ireland over the last decade has been how clubs all over the country have signed up thousands of children to become members. The latest stats however suggest that this growth has now stopped.

Considering how dramatic the change is, I was wondering if there was an error in the figures. I examined the figures for the end of April and they show the same halt in growth. It is also reflected in the Cork figures so it is probably a real effect.

Continued growth in Masters membership..... The one positive figure for Athletics Ireland though is that the number of masters (adults aged 35 and above) continues to grow...

This growth is coming from the various clubs around the country starting up with various couch to 5k programmes and the like and would be classed under the term 'recreational runners'.

Over the last decade or more, the profile of the adult membership of Athletics Ireland has been changing as more recreational runners have become members of clubs. At the end of May 2015, 77.9% of all adults in Athletics Ireland were aged 35 and above. At the end of May 2018, that had increased to 83.5%.

Declines in Cork also...... The membership stats for clubs in Cork follows pretty much the national picture with membership dropping 2.1% in 12 months.

Juvenile membership in Cork drops by almost 10% in the last 12 months...

Senior membership of Cork clubs (adults aged under 35) drops 5.6% in 12 months and follows a long term trend...

The numbers of older adult members (aged 35 and over) follows the national trend with continued growth...

Of the 14 largest clubs in Cork in terms of adult membership, 8 have dropped in the last 12 months while 6 have increased. This would suggest that the growth in the number of recreational runners is coming from small regional clubs popping up with associated couch to 5k programmes.

In conclusion...... Going on the these stats, 2018 may well be the high water mark for Athletics Ireland in terms of membership. It seems as if they will have in the region of 60,000 members at the end of the year and the challenge from then on will probably be to retain that figure rather than growing any further.

Athletics Ireland decided recently to increase their membership fee by €3 to cover coaching initiatives. With costs increasing and membership stalling, another increase in membership fees might be on the cards in the next year or two.

In comparison to other sports, the adult membership of Athletics Ireland seems a bit askew. The primary focus of Athletics Ireland will always be on athletics and of course, track and field events are at the core of this. Despite this, the vast majority of the adult members are recreational runners and truth be told, probably have little or no interest in athletics. Could the same be said of adult members of the GAA, IRFU or the FAI?

No comments: