Slumbers Raises Brexit Concerns for Portrush Open
Martin Slumbers, the chief executive of the R&A, has admitted that had his organisation known the outcome of the Brexit vote they would probably not have awarded this year's Open Championship to Royal Portrush. Hours later, however, he was forced to backtrack, insisting what we all already know, namely that it is destined to become one of the best tuornaments the R&A has ever staged.
The decision to award the tournament to Northern Ireland for only the second time in its storied history, was made in 2015 - some time before the country voted on the EU referendum.
Speaking to BBC Sport, 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. The future of the Irish border is the top concern. We have over 2,000 containers, some coming from as far afield as the Middle East, to get across the Irish Sea and we start building on April 2.
“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. We are concerned that we start building in April. 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.
It was clearly pointed out to Slumbers that he may have put his foot in it, because he wasted little time in issuing a further statement that saw him making a major U-turn. "There is no doubt in my mind that it is going be an historic occasion. 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."
Get inspired for this year's Open at Portrush by catching up with early coverage by clicking here, or listen to Golfshake Ambassador Andrew Picken describe the experience of playing there on our special Northern Ireland Podcast.
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