Hamlins’ partner Matthew Pryke interviewed in Sport Business on the implications of Brexit on sports industry

Sports Sponsorship Insider talked to Matthew Pryke, partner at Hamlins and an expert on intellectual property law and commercial matters, particularly in the media, sports, entertainment and creative industries, about Brexit’s likely impact on the sport industry.

SSI: What are the immediate implications of the Brexit vote on the sports industry?

MP: As the “shock” of Brexit subsides, the immediate implications are starting to become clear for business and particularly the sports industry. While initially much of the focus has been on potential player transfer restriction, now business opportunities, laws, regulations and growth are at the forefront of the minds of advertising professionals and sports marketers.

Sir Martin Sorrell, the WPP boss, suggested the advertising industry will be subject to a difficult period which will require a “stiff upper lip”. There is no doubt a period of instability or uncertainty has the potential to create slow decision making, deter activity and ultimately impact on available budgets for brands advertising in the sports industry. However for an industry as progressive and fast moving as sport there is inevitably a desire to continue to strive forward regardless.

SSI: How will Brexit affect the UK sports industry’s work with international partners?

MP: Brands and their marketing teams increasingly want pan-European or global strategies which have an integrated and joined up approach. Also with the increased use of online and the ability for digital to transcend borders, most campaigns are not based around geographical locations or countries.  Therefore, it would appear Brexit does appear to be a step in the wrong direction.

Also the appeal to brands of British sports is often routed in a desire to create an association with a UK sport or team which is often a diverse and international collection of the world’s best sportsmen and women. On this basis any failure by sports in the UK to continue to connect with these values of global and international brands could be a real own goal.

SSI: How will Brexit affect the UK sports industry’s employment of international talent?

MP: There is no doubt the UK sport industry is highly developed, with the ability to currently attract top international talent. Therefore, whilst any change is unlikely to happen overnight, there will likely be concerns from the sports industry as to the increasing regulation and costs associated with continuing to attract the best personnel against a backdrop of diminishing freedom of movement.  Whether this will ultimately lead to businesses looking to relocate to alternative territories is, at this stage, unknown.  However, the very possibility of this will be of concern to the sports industry and UK economy more generally.

SSI: Are there upsides that could help mitigate these factors?

MP: The outlook may not be as bad as first perceived. In particular, the immediate and likely consequence of a weaker pound may actually boost international investment into the UK sport industry rather than inhibit it. In particular, this increases the attractiveness for foreign investors who can purchase rights and services for at least 10 per cent less than would have been the case just some weeks ago.

This real saving seems likely to grow in the short to medium term. This increase in value for money coupled with the global and deep-rooted appeal of sports and sports people would suggest the attractiveness of sporting propositions and engaging with UK sports marketing agencies to effectively utilise and activate these propositions will not be significantly affected.  In this sense, sport is one of the greatest exports of the UK and seems likely to continue to be so for many years to come.

The interview was first published in Sport Business.

Read the full interview here: Brexit and Sport: Interview with Matthew Pryke, partner at Hamlins law firm