Feb 28th, 2019
Is Brexit threatening this year's Open Championship?
Will 2,000 containers be blocked by hard border?
R&A chief executive Martin Slumbers has voiced concerns about this year's Open due to the uncertainty surrounding Britian's proposed exit from the European Union. Slumbers insists the organisers would "make it happen" but admitted he would be happy when the sold-out event was over.
The decision to bring the event to Portrush was announced in October 2015, eight months before the referendum to leave the European Union.
Since then, there has been uncertainty surrounding the backstop to retain an open border on the island of Ireland, which is causing concern for golf's governing body.
"We are concerned that we start building in April," Slumbers told BBC Sport on Tuesday. "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."
"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 have over 2,000 containers, some from as far afield as the Middle East, to get across the Irish Sea and we start building on 2 April.
"The problem is we don't know whether to reschedule to bring all our containers in through Dublin (Republic of Ireland), whether to move them through Belfast (Northern Ireland), 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."
Yesterday Slumbers backtracked somewhat and attempted to get ahead of the curve by declaring the Portrush Open will be "one of the great sporting events".
"There is no doubt in my mind that it is going be an historic occasion," said Slumbers of the 18-21 July event.
"We are determined to deliver an outstanding Championship at Royal Portrush and stage the biggest ever sporting event ever to be held on the island of Ireland. It is a privilege to be bringing The Open back to Royal Portrush for the first time since 1951 and we are all looking forward to it very much. We are working with our partners and the local agencies in Northern Ireland to stage a fantastic Championship of which everyone will be proud."
Let's hope so.
And Another Thing...