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What Brexit could mean for football

Tuesday 31st January 2017
A hard Brexit is looming ominously on the horizon and with the politicians in Westminster voting on whether to pass Theresa May's plan to leave the EU this week some serious issues are being thrown up. The most pressing and serious of which is simple and clear for all to see: What will a post-Brexit Premier League look like?

The Premier League has always had an influx of foreign exports, many of which from Europe. A look back at great teams of old confirms this: Cristiano Ronaldo, N'Golo Kante, Dimitri Payet and Cesc Fabregas have all come from within the EU to play their football in England. Thanks to EU and EEA visa permit rules, they have all been granted work in this country with minimal hassle as EU residents do not require work permits to work in other EU countries. However, should we leave the EEA this may all change.  Many believe a hard Brexit will lead to EU citizens requiring working visas to work in Britain, and with current FA visa rules this would mean none of the above mentioned players would receive a work permit.
The work permit rules currently in force by FIFA and The FA state that a player from a top 10 ranking international country must have played in 45% of the countries senior national games in the past two years. This rises to 55% for 11th-20th ranked teams and 65% for teams outside the world's top 20. The list of talent I mentioned above would all have failed these checks and therefore not been granted visas without the EU.

The movement and transfer of youth players would also be affected. Current FIFA rules allow players between the ages of 16-18 to move freely between EU and EEA countries without requiring visas. Hector Bellerin and Cesc Fabregas are examples of beneficiaries of this scheme, however in a post-Brexit Britain this movement of youth players would not be allowed by FIFA, meaning Premier League teams would not be able to bring foreign nationals into their academies.

The ramifications these visa rules have on football clubs are massive. It would mean that the Premier League could only realistically purchase established international players. This may sound like a great idea, but the same rules also apply to lower league clubs. International players are, obviously, more expensive and demand greater wages, something which not all clubs will be able to afford. Whilst the quality of the Premier League would most probably increase due to there being a greater number of established internationals, the development of youth would drop dramatically, meaning teams will be forced to buy players every season to survive.

With the Premier League being such a lucrative league, you are probably asking yourself what is the problem with this? Well, the rapidly decreasing value of the pound may have something to say about that. With the pound at its lowest rate against the Euro and the US Dollar in recent history, teams will have to spend more money on bringing foreign transfers to their club.

With Brexit undoubtedly happening in the very near future, voting to leave the EU may have had a catastrophic effect on football in Britain. Unless the FA change their rules on work permits, clubs will not be able to bring in the next Cristiano Ronaldo. This could spell the end for the Premier League being seen as one of the world's strongest leagues.
Stephen Parkinson
23 year old Football fan, player and referee. Specialising in the Bundesliga since having lived in Leipzig for 2 years.

Total articles: 14

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