Threat of no-deal Brexit concerns R&A chief, golf leaders before Open Championship

Threat of no-deal Brexit concerns R&A chief, golf leaders before Open Championship

Euro Tour

Threat of no-deal Brexit concerns R&A chief, golf leaders before Open Championship

By

ST ANDREWS, Scotland – The threat of a no-deal Brexit could affect this year’s Open Championship at Royal Portrush, according to R&A chief executive Martin Slumbers.

The United Kingdom is due to leave the European Union on March 29. British Prime Minister Theresa May is still trying to strike a deal with Europe to make a smooth exit from the EU. A no-deal Brexit is the last thing Slumbers wants with the Open Championship returning to Northern Ireland for the first time since 1951.

“Like every business, and I think about The Open as a business, we have a lack of certainty about the rules,” Slumbers said. “The law which we are operating under post‑March 29 has caused us significant concern. In hindsight, would I be wanting to do Portrush in the year that we are potentially leaving the European Union without a deal? No. We as a management team have spent a lot of time looking at contingencies.”

A no-deal Brexit could potentially see the return of a hard border on the island of Ireland, something Slumbers could do without.

“The future of the border is our number one concern. We’ve got over 2,000 containers to get across the Irish Sea.

“The problem is we don’t know whether to reschedule to bring all our containers in through Dublin, whether to move them through Belfast, whether to ship them out of the UK now. That’s the biggest concern, and there are other aspects that make Brexit potentially very complex.”

Slumbers isn’t the only golf CEO watching the Brexit negotiations with more than passing interest. European Tour chief executive Keith Pelley is also concerned about the United Kingdom leaving the EU with no deal.

“When we talk about Brexit it always comes back to how it will affect foreign exchange rates, and how it would affect prize money,” Pelley said. “That’s the crux for the European Tour.”

Meanwhile, a no deal Brexit could force British golf companies to establish European offices, according to Philip Morley, chairman of the British Golf Industry Association.

“Companies might have to look to third-party solutions to set up distributions centers in Europe,” Morley said. “Larger companies will have the resources, but smaller companies might struggle because of the cost involved in setting up European subsidiary offices.

“If you look at the potential impact, there will be a probable rise in cost and an impact on consumers.”

Morely said there is no panic within the British golf industry, and Slumbers feels the same way about the game’s oldest championship. A no deal Brexit will not detract from the Open Championship’s return to Royal Portrush.

“It will be a success commercially, The Open,” Slumbers vowed. “I believe big‑time sport needs big‑time crowds. We’re certainly going to get that this July.”

Latest

More Golfweek
Home