10 ways to save on sport How to save money on sports and sporting events

10 June 2011

A row of bikes

Save money on a bike by using salary sacrifice

With summer upon us interest in sporting events and sports in general is growing, making it a good time to look for ways to save on all things sport.

UK consumers are estimated to spend more than £6 billion participating in some kind of sporting activity, with an additional £1.3 billion being spent on sports equipment, according to research by Mintel. So, if you or your children are bitten by the sporting bug what can you do to keep costs down? Here are 10 tips for saving money on sports. 

1. Think carefully before joining a gym

Thousands of people join a gym each year but many soon give up, even though they may have signed up to pay anything from £25 to £100 a month, for a minimum of 12 months. You'd save money by using a local authority leisure centre's gym, which you can invariably use on a pay-as-you-go basis.

2. Use local community facilities

Hiring a tennis court can cost as much as £10 per hour, but families and children can make use of free tennis courts at schools and clubs that have signed up to the Tennis For Free scheme. 

For football, there is always the park for a kick-around, but if you are more competitive you could join a local 11-a-side team. Information on teams in your area can be found via The Football Association. Swimmers can also make savings by using council-run sports centres, where you can expect to pay around £4 a go. 

3. On your bike

Cyclists, or would-be cyclists, can save money by taking advantage of the Cycle 2 Work salary sacrifice scheme. If your employer has signed up to the scheme, they pay for your bike and you repay them in monthly instalments that are taken straight from your gross salary. You don't pay any VAT, meaning that a bike purchased for £850 would offer a saving of up to £379.

4. Discount sites

You can save money on sports venues by using discount websites. These can be general sites, such as Vouchercodes.co.uk, where you can get money off access to leisure facilities, gym memberships and sports equipment and clothing. Sport specific are also worth looking at, while golfers can find information on local courses that are offering discounts at www.teetimes.co.uk or two-for-one rounds at www.greenfree.co.uk. 

5. Supermarket sports for kids

Some supermarkets run schemes that give children the change to use sports facilities for free during the summer holidays. The Asda Sporting Chance initiative offers a range of sporting activities at venues around the UK, while Tesco runs The FA Tesco Skills Programme for children interested in football.

6. Armchair sports fans

Watching sport on TV is cheaper than visiting the venues where it's played - but even then it's important to shop around for the best deals, as most top sporting events and popular sports, such as football and boxing will be hidden behind a subscription barrier. 

You can compare options via Digital Choices. It's also worth remembering that some sports events are available on terrestrial TV. These include the FA Cup Final and the Olympic Games.

7. Cheap live sports

It's possible to see top sporting events live and for less than you'd think. If you don't mind queuing it's possible to get daily ground tickets for £20 before 5pm and £14 after 5pm. You can also queue for half-price returned tickets for centre court and court number one at Wimbledon once you're inside. 

Horse racing fans can also get cheap deals by visiting www.gototheraces.com. Meanwhile, cricket lovers can see live matches at surprisingly low prices by going direct to the grounds' own sites. For instance, you can get tickets for Middlesex versus Surrey at Lords from £5.

8. Travelling to events

Just getting to events can be expensive. Where possible use public transport (and buy train tickets in advance to get the best deals), as parking a car near to a venue can prove expensive and with fuel prices so high the inevitable heavy traffic could soon drain your tank. You can read about how to find cheap train tickets in our online guide.

If you have to drive, consider car sharing, with each passenger chipping in a few pounds to cover fuel costs.

9. Cheap food and drink

If you are going to a sporting event, chances are you'll get hungry or thirsty at some point. But the cost of eating at a sporting venue can be high, even for takeaway burgers and soft drinks. Take some food and drink (in plastic bottles) with you to cut the cost of your day out.  

10. Travel insurance

If you are into skiing, or enjoy other potentially dangerous sports such as white water rafting while on holiday, it's important to get a travel insurance policy that will cover these pursuits - and bear in mind that not all policies will do so as standard. You may have to pay a little more up-front for this extra cover, but you'd save a fortune if something disastrous happened and you required expensive medical care and repatriation. 

Check out Which? Travel insurance guide for more on the importance of travel cover.

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