Martin Slumbers changes course on Portrush 'concerns'

Martin Slumbers On Portrush

Just 24 hours after revealing that Brexit was causing him “significant concerns” ahead of The Open's return to Royal Portrush this summer, R&A chief executive Martin Slumbers has rolled back those comments.

On Tuesday, he told selected members of the golf media that concerns surrounding a possible no-deal Brexit had given the organisation headaches ahead of its flagship championship being played in Northern Ireland in July.

He 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.

"It doesn't threaten the staging, we will make it happen. It's just more complex than we anticipated.”

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The decision to take The Open to Royal Portrush this year was made in October 2015 – eight months before the UK referendum to leave the European Union took place.

Uncertainty over a backstop to retain an open border on Ireland has been one of the central points of negotiation in the UK’s exit from the EU, which Slumbers said has posed logistical issues for the R&A this year.

“We need some certainty,” he added. “We need to know what rules we need to comply with.”

Portrush Claret Jug

However, Slumbers appears to have backed down on his concerns today.

"There is no doubt in my mind that it is going be an historic occasion," he said.

"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.

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"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."

The 2019 Open takes place at Royal Portrush from July 18-21.

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