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Will Boris Johnson's Brexit kill the Premier League?

Saturday 14th December 2019
If Brexit is intended to keep foreigners from taking British jobs, should Premier League fans worry about transfer implications?
If Brexit is intended to keep foreigners from taking British jobs, should Premier League fans worry about transfer implications?

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Boris Johnson won the United Kingdom’s general election on Thursday by campaigning on a promise to “Get Brexit Done.” He achieved such a large majority that the former mayor of London can afford to take his time keeping the promise rather than pulling out of the European Union as soon as possible. Remainers' last hope is Boris' propensity for dishonesty and breaking promises works in their favour for once. They shouldn’t count on it.

Even if Johnson takes the time to fashion a smoother transition and negotiate favourable trade deals, the UK is leaving the EU. Europeans living and working in Britain should be concerned. So should Brits in the opposite situation. Changes are coming. Refugees and immigrants within the UK must also worry. Every demographic, including whites working at lower-income jobs, will find themselves with fewer resources than in the past as the Tory majority revels in slashing funding to all social services, be it housing, education, healthcare or policing. What they once legislated behind the scenes, conservatives can now do in the open.

One group who needn’t worry about cuts to their favourite programme is football fans. The Premier League will continue to invest in premium talent from Europe and around the globe. The Home Office will continue to issue visas for those players. Consequently, European clubs won’t curtail the recent trend of welcoming young British players to foreign leagues.

Clubs at lower levels may find it more difficult to acquire foreign talent. That will only please English fans who still believe, despite the Three Lions' recent success, that the influx of Spanish, Italian, French, Portuguese, German, Brazilian, Argentinian, African and Asian talent denies opportunities to young English players. Supporters at clubs in the Premier League and Championship aren’t likely to notice any change in transfer business, however.

It’s easy to be confident in this assessment. While the election centred on Brexit which, in turn, centred on immigration and the threat to English culture, racism was a lesser factor in Leavers’ decisions than economics. Tories didn’t campaign on the notion there were too many mosques or curry takeaways in the UK. They pandered to the fear that Muslims, Asians, Africans, Poles, Romanians and all manner of immigrants were a] bleeding dry welfare systems meant to help British citizens and b] if they were educated and here to work, stealing jobs. It was about money.

While the European Union takes an aggressive stance on consumer protection and workers’ rights, it allows for the free movement of people. The twin policies combine to make life easier for workers who can go where conditions are optimal and difficult for employers who profit less by paying the freight.

Conservatives, being pro-business, prefer to ease protections and regulations while restricting the freedom of workforces from outside the UK and within. Labour supporters are correct in saying those who voted Tory did so at the eventual cost of personal liberty. Those who voted Tory don’t care. Conservatism means preserving the way things are, not insuring room for new growth and possibilities.

That said, footballers’ movements are already restricted by their contracts. They don’t show up willy-nilly, then hit the JobCentre when they can’t get a trial at their dream club. They arrive because the club wants them. Moreover, said club will house and feed them, look after all their medical expenses and pay a handsome wage that will trickle down to local businesses. A Tory Home Office won’t interfere in Premier League business interests. Rather, it will grant visas largely as requested.

So, if you’re worried the likes of Sergio Aguero, Bernardo Silva, Kevin de Bruyne, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette, Paul Pogba, Mo Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino will all be rounded up and deported this summer, take a deep breath. If you’re concerned Premier League clubs will be legislated out of the running for burgeoning talents such as Kai Havertz, Lautaro Martinez and Kylian Mbappe, relax. Brexit is coming but, for top-flight football, it will be business as usual.

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Martin Palazzotto

The former editor of World Football Columns, Martin authored the short story collection strange bOUnce. He appeared in several other blogs which no longer exist. Old, he likes to bring out defunct. If outdated sport and pop-cultural references intrude on his meanderings for It's Round and It's White, don't be alarmed. He's harmless.

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