Last week the UK spoke, and an exit of the European Union is definitely on the cards. While much focus for Sport has been around the professional game, we wanted to explore some of the possible implications for the amateur game and what impact might lay ahead.
Let’s start with the Sport England Strategy and funding, only released back in May and focused largely on getting the nation ‘active’ with 7 investment streams to meet the strategy running through to 2021.
On a top level, there is no doubt that Sport England and its funding/strategy will be affected in the long run. As the Government settles, and changes tact, cuts in the funding of any national programme is likely. With funding committed and secured to seven core investment streams lets watch this space. With pressures on the NHS to implement preventative measures for overall health, the two areas are intrinsically linked, and so of course things could easily swing the other way. 1 in 6 deaths in England are currently caused by inactivity so the pressure is on.
Another concern area is the Erasmus+ funding programme run by the European Union. The initiative offers grants to sport organisations who need assistance with projects. In addition, sporting bodies, universities and public bodies are free to apply for EU structural funding so a possible impact on sport in education.
It’s important to note that these funding programmes are not exclusive to EU members, but it’s safe to assume that states remaining in the EU will take priority. With the potential for additional funding streams to be created by the Government through leaving the EU, the jury is definitely still out!
What about the volunteers?
We all know how reliant amateur sport is on volunteers and funding through grants and other sources. Should any existing funding streams be cut off and not re-engineered, all sports could be in the danger zone. Sport England have pledged to invest £30m into a new volunteering strategy which will help local sport to attract and benefit from a wider range of volunteers.
This is definitely an area where a clear argument exists dependent on which side of the fence you sit. The truth is, it will be wholly reliant upon the deals brokered by the UK Government in our exit strategy.
Much has been said around premier league players and them being on the wrong side of possible new Brexit immigration rules, however the likelihood is it will not change drastically.
Could we be brave in saying that changes to European immigration into the UK could have a positive impact on UK Sport? As potential less players join the UK, we will be pushed into measures focused on growing our homegrown talent and national pool. Last weeks England defeat must call us to question this.
What about equipment?
The UK will be free to strike its own deals with countries across the EU when it comes to the import of sports equipment and wear. At the moment, the UK imports the majority of its Sportswear from the EU, and of course prices and tariffs could be applied. With participation levels on the downturn, an increase in the cost of amateur sport will exacerbate the problem. Formal trade agreements will be absolutely crucial.
Much of Sport England’s funding streams focus on getting hard to reach groups such as the disabled, women and families into Sport as well as investing in teachers and family activity. Getting people into sport is a behavioural change that’s not straightforward and requires time, commitment and investment. Digital expectations to support accessing sport is also high and expensive. With Government seats shaky, who will drive this forwards. Potentially, every area previously discussed could have an impact on this.
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