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The consequences of Brexit for British sport

   School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences

About the Project

Loughborough University is a top-ten rated university in England for research intensity (REF, 2014) and an outstanding 66% of the work of Loughborough’s academic staff who were eligible to be submitted to the REF was judged as ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’, compared to a national average figure of 43%.

In choosing Loughborough for your research, you’ll work alongside academics who are leaders in their field. You will benefit from comprehensive support and guidance from our Doctoral College, including tailored careers advice, to help you succeed in your research and future career. Find out more.


Full-time: 3 years

Part-time: 6 years

Start dates: July 2022, October 2022

The United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union on a referendum on 23 June 2016. After years of negotiation, the United Kingdom effectively left the European Union and ended the transition period on 30 January 2021. Five years after the referendum and a year after the complete separation from the European Union, the practical consequences of Brexit start to be felt across the country, population and economic sectors.

Whereas much attention, political debate and academic research has been focused on the macroeconomic impact of Brexit on the economy, and on issues such as trade, distribution chains, fisheries, automotive industry, foreign policy, citizen rights or even health care, research and analysis of the consequences of Brexit for sport is extremely scarce.

Most of the existing academic work on Brexit and sport has been written in the period between the referendum and the effective exit from the European Union, in attempts to analyse and forecast the areas where Brexit could most affect the sport industry. In that respect, the academic debate has been mainly legal, with a focus in most of the available literature on the consequences of the end of freedom of movement for professional team sport and other regulated professions such as coaches, or ski instructors.

Given the nature of the Brexit process, there is a gap in the literature to research the impact of Brexit on sport and the adaptation of the sport industry to the new reality of Brexit. Indeed, this project will fill a two-fold gap. On the one hand it will contribute to research on political sciences, enhancing our understanding of Brexit through the addition of another case socioeconomic sector (i.e. sport); on the other hand, it will fill a gap in the literature on sport management and policy developing our understanding of the adaptations of British sport to Brexit.

Thus, the aim of this project is to explore the consequences of Brexit for UK sport and the way in which UK sport organisations have lived through and adapted to the Brexit process. The objectives are (1) to analyse the perceived consequences of Brexit for athletes/participants, sport clubs, and sport federations, (2) to assess the changes and transformations induced by Brexit in order to adapt to the new legal structures, and (3) to discuss the role of sport in the UK’s post-Brexit sociopolitical context.

The project will adopt a qualitative research design, through thematic analysis of of official documents and social media, semi-structured interviews and focus groups. The use of an online questionnaire will also be considered, specially in relation to exploring the perceptions of athletes/participants.

This PhD project will contribute to the on-going and world-leading research on sport, policy and politics within the “Sport, Business and Society” research theme in the School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences, world number one in Sport Studies in the QS ranking. The successful candidate will also have direct access to the vibrant research community of the Association for the Study of Sport and the European Union (Sport&EU), an outlet for dissemination, networking and feedback that will contribute to the student’s development.


Primary supervisor: Dr Borja García García


Our entry requirements are listed using standard UK undergraduate degree classifications i.e. first-class honours, upper second-class honours and lower second-class honours.

Entry requirements for United Kingdom

An Undergraduate Honours degree with a minimum classification of a 2.1, or equivalent, in Sport Management, Social Sciences of Sport, Political Sciences, European Studies, International Relations, International Business Management, or Law. A post graduate degree in the areas of sport policy and politics, political sciences, European studies, or similar would be an advantage.

English language requirements

Applicants must meet the minimum English language requirements. Further details are available on the International website.

Find out more about research degree funding


All applications should be made online. Under programme name, select 'Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences'. Please quote the advertised reference number SSEHS/BG/2 in your application. To avoid delays in processing your application please ensure that you submit the minimum supporting documents.

Apply now

Funding Notes

UK FEE: £4,500 - Full-time degree per annum
INTERNATIONAL FEE: £24,100 - Full-time degree per annum
Tuition fees cover the cost of your teaching, assessment and operating University facilities such as the library, IT equipment and other support services. University fees and charges can be paid in advance and there are several methods of payment, including online payments and payment by instalment. Fees are reviewed annually and are likely to increase to take into account inflationary pressures.

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