R&A Chief Executive reveals no-deal Brexit concerns over Open at Portrush

Published:

R&A Chief Executive Martin Slumbers has revealed that Brexit has caused him 'significant concerns' over staging the 147th Open Championship at Royal Portrush 

Martin Slumbers has revealed that the implications of a no-deal Brexit have caused him 'significant concerns' about staging the 147th Open Championship at Royal Portrush in July, and that they have 'spent a lot of time looking at contingencies'. 

The Open was confirmed to be returning to the Northern Ireland course eight months before the referendum, and will be staged for the first time since 1951 from 18-21 July.

> Royal Liverpool to host the Open Championship in 2022

Speaking to reporters, the R&A's Chief Executive outlined his concerns but confirmed that it won't effect the staging of the sold-out tournament, even though he admitted he'll "be quite pleased when it's over."

"Like every business, and I think about the Open as such, the lack of certainty about the rules, the law in which we are operating under post-March 29 has caused us significant concern," Slumbers said.

"In hindsight would I be wanting to do Portrush in the year that we would be potentially leaving the European Union without a deal? No.

"We are concerned that we start building in April," Slumbers added to BBC Sport. "What will be the situation? Will there be any border or not? We need some certainty. we need to know what rules we need to comply with.

"We have developed multiple contingency plans. We've advanced some, deferred others, but like every business we're trying to work contingency plans into an uncertain environment."

Part of the complexity Slumbers is referring to is logistical, about how to bring a lot of 'stuff across the sea'. 

"We as a management team have spent a lot of time looking at contingencies and what we need to do. The future of the border is the number one concern. We have over 2000 containers (some from as far afield as the Middle East) to get across the Irish Sea and we start building on 2 April.

"We have engagement with ministers and Parliament but the concern is all around certainty. If you know the rules you're playing by then you can play, you optimise what you've got.

"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.

"It doesn't threaten the staging, we will make it happen. It's just more complex than we anticipated. For the insiders it's a bit harder but for everyone outside it won't impact at all, they won't notice.

"We are fully sold out for the championship days and 70 percent of the spectators are Irish. I think it will be very noisy and pretty exciting, especially if a few Irish players start to really perform."