Sportxit: What the Brexit means for Britain’s sporting stars


So Brexit it is. The announcement on early Friday morning (UK time) confirming a victory for the ‘Leave’ campaign is set to have wide-ranging ramifications for sport in Britain and British sporting stars abroad.
Securing a victory with over 17 million votes the ‘Leave’ campaign parties were popping the champagne but the dramatic referendum result offers no such reason to celebrate for athletes, and sporting officials alike.


The first major implications appears financial for winners of the marquee sporting events this summer in the UK with Wimbledon and the Open Championship of golf prizemoney copping a hit after each currency volatility after the vote. During the fluctuations in the early hours after the result was confirmed journalist Ben Rothenberg noted the value of Wimbledon’s prize-money lost 10% in a short period. Given the winners of each of the men’s and women’s titles get £2 million that is a not insignificant amount.
The Open (Golf) Championship prizemoney will also take a hit with the 3% rise on the £1.15 million won last year by Zach Johnson possibly getting swallowed up by the conversion and currency drop.


Given it’s scale football is the first sport which will be most impacted by the 52% of the voters who elected to ‘Leave’ the European Union but it may take some time for clubs to gain clarity on the when any changes will be implemented.


The UK Telegraph unpicked the scenario in the lead-up to the vote and has gone on to detail the fallout which mainly focuses on budding European players and their ability to join an EPL club. Current star of Euro 2016 Dimitri Payet, for example, didn’t meet the required minimum percentage of international caps standard before joining West Ham meaning Payet, and one hundred other current players, would not have been able to make their moves had these rules been in place.


This could cause a rush on European mainland talent in the coming two seasons with clubs looking to take advantage of the change before it kicks in, which is predicted to be two years.


Scouting across nations other than Europe may take a sharper eye and this could benefit nations like Australia and New Zealand. However it is not just the competition and impacts on footballers looking to play in England which will be impacted by the move away from the status quo.


There are not a large swathe of British players overseas but Welsh star Gareth Bale could be impacted by the ruling. It would be likely any changes would not be retrospective in the various football leagues across Europe but should Bale transfer from Real Madrid, admittedly unlikely, he would likely be treated as a non-EU foreigner. Currently La Liga allows for one of the maximum three non-EU places but Bale could be eligible for an exemption after five years in which he can apply for Spanish citizenship. Should he transfer to say Barcelona he could gain that exemption in the summer of 2017/18. Given this is when any change could kick in this may suit the former Southampton star.


In addition to football the impact of athletes working in UK under the Kolpak ruling was also outlined in the Telegraph with County Cricket set to be the most impacted.


Most deals for major events in the UK such as next year’s World Athletics titles and ongoing competitions such as the agreement to play NFL games have been agreed recently, and extended in the case of the NFL. so those deals wouldn’t be impacted too much but an insular view may not be looked upon favourably by organisations looking to ink future deals.


Your Premier League club should start searching the French lower leagues for the next Dimitiri Payet and sign them up soon but this could inflate the prices. The argument about clubs promoting local players through their academies and scouting networks within the UK may come into sharper focus. Meanwhile if you see Novak Djokovic should he claim a fourth crown at SW19 shout him a punnet of strawberries and cream.

About Hamish Neal

Born in Lower Hutt New Zealand Hamish is forever wedded to all things All Black, All Whites, Tall Blacks and more. Writing more nowadays in his 'spare time' (what is that anyway?) but still with a passion for broadcasting. Has worked in various sports development roles in England, Northern Ireland and Australia.


  1. Maybe it’s me, but I just can’t see what difference it’s going to make Hamish. Wimbledon, the British Open and the Premier League are as much about prestige as the money. You watch the golfers & tennis players drop out of Rio on the slightest pretext. They’ve play the majors in the UK in the face of a bubonic plague outbreak. A drop in the prize money is only relative.

    Personally I feel, that once the Broughhaha has died down, and the threat of losing 80% of their financial sector doesn’t happen, things will be back to normal amongst The Dark Satanic Mills. If you want a real global economic collapse, try the implosion of the Chinese banking sector.

    Bedsides, it hasn’t happened yet. Watch everyone get around the table and nut out a few of the underlying problems that triggered the Leave Vote. (You saying we should send Pauline of Ipswich over as an observer Wrap? – Ed) What I’m saying Ed is that a United Europe is to everyone’s advantage, and calmer, wiser, more pragmatic heads will see this. This is only the opening bounce of what promises to be a grinding contest.

  2. Stone Cold Steve Baker says

    Interesting food for thought Hammer.

    I agree with The Wrap: The Open and Wimbledon have – for the time being anyway – far too much cachet and prestige to suffer. Without trying to have too big an each-way bet here though, you are right when you say that the diminished prize money would have a Rafa Nadal or Serena Williams with a 50/50 injury concern leading into the tournament erring on the side of caution and bailing, but others yet to crack a Grand Slam will still walk over hot coals to play in a final on Centre Court, or the Sunday round at St Andrews.

    Cynical me, however, feels that no matter the legal implications of Brexit, there’s too much money and vested interests involved in the EPL to allow it to flounder. As much as I reckon it would be hilarious to see the scenario you’ve outlined come to fruition. I’d expect the F.A to make a swathe of labour law ‘exceptions’ that maintains the status quo.

    I like where your head’s at though son. Bravo!

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