Whether Wimbledon or the Premier League, British sport could change fundamentally as a result of Brexit. But how sustainable will the already existing effects of leaving the EU be for athletes?
There is already a lot going on on the transfer market. Many football players from all over the world are transferred at the last minute, and the wealthy British clubs are also happy to get new staff on so-called “Deadline Day”. That alone creates a lot of media hype for Great Britain’s most successful sports marketing product, the Premier League.
But all of this will be overshadowed this year. Because the Brexit made the now ending winter transfer window the penultimate, in which players from the EU area can switch to the motherland of football without restrictions.
Important area, little clarity
As of 2018, the British government is assuming 581,000 jobs in the sports sector, of which around 21,000 are occupied by EU citizens (3.6 percent).The British sports umbrella organization “Sports and Recreatione Alliance”, which represents over 300 sports associations throughout the United Kingdom, is even assuming up to a million jobs. She estimates that British sport alone generates an annual turnover of 37 billion pounds sterling (44 billion euros). The betting sector is not taken into account directly, as fans and players can still use services like Ladbrokes Australia.
Dr. Borja Garcia, sports scientist at Loughborough University, believes Brexit will raise the barriers to entry for many EU citizens who want to work in sports. Many could be discouraged from even hiring on the island. Garcia believes that government funding for sport could instead concentrate more on the top segment, i.e. on the area in which the most prestige can be reaped.
Brexit souvenirs such as the traditional “tea towels” are on offer, and the now third edition of the 50 pence commemorative coin on the occasion of the long-awaited exit from the EU will soon be in circulation, but has a plan for how Britain’s sport should continue the Conservative government in London has not yet worked out. “There is no clarity. As far as I know, there are no rules specific to the sports industry,” explains Simon Chadwick, Professor of Sports Marketing at the University of Salford, Manchester.
There is a gap between top and amateur sport
“I think that Brexit has no effect on the promotion of top-class sport, such as support for the Olympic Games,” says Garcia. “As we saw in London in 2012 and in Rio in 2016, medal successes are very useful and welcome as a soft show of force. The government apparently wants to portray the country as a new superpower, and further successes would add to this narrative.”
But the investments, according to Garcia, are not being made at the amateur and youth level. Due to the sale of school sports fields and cuts to local facilities in recent years, participation in sports has not increased as much as it was forecast before the 2012 Olympic Games. On the other hand, while the top English football clubs, at least in part, are in the money, this is certainly not the case at the lower levels, i.e. amateur and youth clubs. But the base is already being hit much harder than the top by the restrictions on the movement of people and goods.