Brexit could increase equipment costs and limit sports funding

Leaving the European Union could increase the cost of sports equipment and limit access to sports funding for British organisations, according to Sport and Recreation Alliance chief executive Emma Boggis. 

Boggis said that while it was difficult to quantify what a vote to leave would look like, she explained that potential tariffs on imports from the EU could increase the cost of goods, which could have a knock-on effect for participation in physical activity. 

“Grassroots sport could be impacted on by the absence of any formally negotiated free-trade agreements,” she told Sports Management. “We could see some form of tariffs on EU goods exported to the UK and vice versa, which would be expected to make goods including sportswear or sports equipment more costly than they are now. 

“With the focus on driving participation, particularly amongst minority communities, the increase in costs could prove to be particularly unhelpful.” 

Boggis added: “In addition, the UK would find it much more difficult to access EU funding streams designed to support sport, principally ERASMUS+ but also the EU Structural Funds.” 

ERASMUS+ – the European Union programme for education, training, youth and sport – offers study placements and grant funding, while universities, public bodies and national governing bodies can apply for Structural Funds for sporting and physical activity provision. 

Elite sport may also be affected, with “complex entry requirements” potentially applied to EU nationals seeking to play or coach in the UK. 

Sports Think Tank director Andy Reed said that while the EU impact on sport “will not be a defining issue” in the referendum debate, the Think Tank will “start to set out the implications of leaving or remaining”. 

“We would welcome input from academics, lawyers and others interested in European sport matters. In recent years, the EU has started to take an increasing interest in sport and physical activity and a number of initiatives have been created,” he said. 

“Our national governing bodies work at a European level as do many sports bodies of course. Issues like the freedom of movement have had big implications on football of course,” added Reed. “We will keep this debate lively and informative right up to polling day.” 

Last week, prime minister David Cameron confirmed that Britain will vote on its membership of the EU on 23 June 2016.


First published 26 February 2016, Written by Matthew Campelli