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Brexit Under The Microscope – How Does It Affect English Football And The Premier League

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After the world woke up to the reality of Britain exiting from the European Union on Friday, the media has been abuzz with its impact on growth, trade and investment, jobs, immigration, etc. But one area which hasn’t received that much attention till now is football and in particular the English Premier League. Football, considered Britain’s national sport, pastime and obsession, will face significant consequences once England signs the Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty. Football governing bodies generally like to keep out of political discussion.

However Last October, in a speech, Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore said, “I believe we, in the UK, must be in Europe from a business perspective. I believe in the free movement of goods, but when it comes to services, we must be entitled, especially in the audio-visual world, to territorialism.” Negotiations regarding the exit will take a few years before Britain decided to cut all ties with the European Union. Membership of the EU has nothing to do with UEFA, which means England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland can all take part in European competition, both at club and international level.

Brexit will affect the free movement of European players and their participation in English football. In other words, unlike players from non-EU countries, players from EU member states do not need work permits to play and reside in Britain. In the case of a player with a non-EU passport, to qualify for a work permit, he should have played in 75% of his national side’s competitive games over two years. This could significantly affect the way clubs access the European player market once Brexit kicks in for real, especially accessing young players from countries like France, Spain or Portugal, as some clubs have done in the past. This would all mean that the so-called “best league in the world” would no longer be in a position to attract, if not, access some of the best European footballing talent.

Analysis of squads in the first two tiers in England and the Scottish Premiership has revealed a total of 332 players would fail to meet the current standards. The list of players potentially at risk of losing the right to play in Britain includes two of the undoubted stars of the Premier League season: Leicester City’s N’Golo Kante, Manchester United’s Anthony Martial and West Ham’s Dimitri Payet.

With the value of Pound decreasing swiftly after the Brexit vote, player valuation will rise significantly. Which might not affect the bigger club but the smaller down the table will bear serious consequences for it. This will have a huge impact as now bigger clubs will raid smaller club for home grown players, while these smaller clubs will be forced to go down to the Championship in order to pick up players.

So for the next two years, which is the time it will take for Britain to exit the EU formally, there won’t be any drastic changes. But a period of uncertainty has begun. Reports have already started emerging that the Football Association could lobby with the UK government to tweak the work permit rules to ensure that English clubs continue to attract top talent from Europe.