With the English Premier League being one of the countries leading draws, with players and viewers alike from across the globe having shown their love for the competition over a number of years. However, with so many questions still remaining unanswered regarding Brexit, just how will the decision to leave the EU impact the so-called “Best League in the World”?
The prospect of a No Deal Brexit looks to be increasingly likely, so let’s take a look at the potential effects that this could have upon football in the UK.
Premier League Squads
One of the benefits of the UK being part of the European Union has been the free movement of people. However, with an estimated 40% of players in the Premier League being non-UK nations, this could potentially have a significant effect on the number of foreign players in the league. Many companies now depend on foreign labour, however perhaps none more so than the Premier League, with a variety of new barriers potentially being put up should the UK leave the EU without a deal to speak of.
At present, non-EU players are required to obtain a work permit in order to play in the UK, which takes into account such factors as their transfer fee, international appearances and potential salary. However, according to research carried out by FiveThirtyFive, more than 50% of the EU players that have completed moves to the Premier League since 1992 would not have qualified for such permits based on the potential new rules, including the likes of N’Golo Kante and Cesc Fabregas. So, will footballers be handed preferential treatment in this area? This is just one question that clubs are nervously awaiting the answer for.
With English teams regularly making it to the latter stages of UEFA club competitions, not only could their progress in such tournaments be effected by the requirement for more home-grown players within their squads, but there could also be implications surrounding travel for both clubs and fans.
The departure of the UK from the European Union would also mean changes to historic laws, which includes the famous Bosman ruling. This law was formed back in 1995, allowing players to move between clubs at the end of their contract, without a fee being required. Any No Deal Brexit could potentially scupper such a ruling. Elsewhere, some have argued in the past that players have had an unfair advantage when it comes to moving to the UK due to the freedom movement, with a new immigration system potentially levelling the playing field in this regard. We have long seen players from South America move to culturally similar European countries including Portugal, before making their move to the Premier League. Changes to laws here could also see players move directly to the UK instead.
In the event of foreign players being forced to depart our shores, they would most likely be replaced by home-grown youngsters. Statistic show that over 300 players plying their trade in the Premier League, Championship and Scottish Premiership would fail to meet work permit criteria, meaning that greater opportunities for youngsters could well surface, something that many in the game have been calling for over the last decade. With England’s youngsters having won both the Under-20 and Under-17 World Cup’s in 2017, those involved could be introduced to first-team football at a much younger age, with the Premier League potentially introducing requirements based on the number of English players that must be involved in a matchday squad.
Other European Leagues
The Premier League has long been the envy of top-flight leagues from countries including Spain, Italy and Germany due to their financial dominance, however Brexit could well have a major effect on this. During the 90’s, Serie A was the major force in European football, with the majority of leading players eyeing moves to Italy. However, former relative minnows including Bournemouth and Wolves are now able to compete with some of the leading names in European football when it comes to transfers, largely due to huge television deals found in the UK. Although, with Brexit potentially seeing some major international names departing for pastures new, broadcasters could well choose to go elsewhere too.
While football may well feel like the be all and end all for academy players, there is an overwhelming sense that education should play a more significant role in their development.