The United Kingdom’s decision to leave the European Union won’t have an immediate impact on the NFL and NBA’s business efforts in the region. But any lingering economic weakness brought on by Friday’s shocking referendum result could affect the long-term expansion strategy of the United States’ most globally-minded professional sports leagues.
About 52% of the referendum’s participants voted to leave the European Union in a result that shocked the political establishment and shook global markets. The Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged more than 500 points in response to the decision, while the British pound’s value plummeted to its lowest level since 1985. British Prime Minister David Cameron, who opposes Brexit, resigned from his post after the vote, effective in October.
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The NBA and the NFL have each identified international expansion as a key element of their efforts to build revenue and develop their fan bases. The NFL will play three regular-season games in London in 2016, with plans to expand its U.K. series to at least five games per season across three stadiums by 2018. NFL officials have identified London as a potential home for a new franchise at some point in the future.
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The NFL declined on what Brexit will mean for the league’s plans in the United Kingdom. But the three regular-season games remain in place for the 2016 NFL season, and most of the ticket sales, sponsorships deals and licensing agreements for those games are already in place.
NBA officials declined to comment on Brexit’s potential implications. But the league played its sixth-ever regular season game in London last season and has aggressively expanded into other international markets, including Africa and China. Officials have yet to confirm if the NBA will return to the United Kingdom for the 2016-17 season, but Brexit won’t affect plans for future games in the region