5 Ways BREXIT Can Affect EPL Negatively
May. 24, 2019
For clarity, it makes sense to start by explaining what Brexit is. Brexit is the term used to describe the withdrawal of UK from the EU. It is a portmanteau of the words 'British' and 'exit'.
The question of EU membership was put before the British people in a referendum, which was held in June 2016. A narrow majority of 51.9 per cent were in favour of leaving the union.
Interestingly, while the term became widely used in the lead up to the vote in 2015 and 2016, its origins actually stretch back as far as 2012, according to the Oxford English Dictionary.
It will come as no surprise to learn that all 20 Premier League clubs were against Brexit back in 2016. What this makes clear is that Brexit, if achieved, will definitely affect the Premier League negatively.
While we don't really know exactly how Brexit will affect the Premier League yet, there are a couple of potential scenarios that are likely to emerge, which gives us a clearer picture of what would probably happen.
DECREASE IN FOREIGN PLAYERS
One consequence that will come with Brexit will be that there will be a reduction in the number of foreign players. The English Football Association have proposed a policy which sets the maximum number of foreign players at 12, as opposed to the 17 that are currently permitted.
There is a desire to increase the number of English players in the Premier League, even though the national team enjoyed their most successful run in an international tournament since 1990 during the 2018 World Cup, which fell under the current foreign player regulations.
In 1992, 70 percent of players in the Premier League were homegrown, whilst in 2019 that figure has dropped right down to 33 percent. Now, there are obvious concerns over players who are already playing in the league, but measures are in place to protect those who are in a similar position to Paul Pogba at Manchester United, who signed for the club at 16 years old. Players won't count as foreigners if they have played and been trained at a British club for at least three seasons prior to turning 21.
DIFFICULTY IN SIGNING FOREIGN PLAYERS
Brexit would make signing foreign players more difficult, and this in turn decreases the value of the league.
As far as the Premier League is concerned, the chief matter of concern is how immigration will be dealt with after Brexit is finalised, with the free movement of people being a crucial aspect of the modern game in Europe.
For Premier League clubs, particularly those at the top end, dealing in the transfer market is a key consideration in the pursuit of success, but any restrictions on the free movement of people arising from Brexit would inevitably create problems.
Furthermore, leaving the EU means clubs in the UK will subsequently find it much more difficult to recruit European players under the age of 18 for their academies. FIFA's regulations on the protection of minors allow for the international transfer of footballers between the ages of 16 and 18 if they are moving between clubs that are both based in the territory of the EU. By the time Brexit is complete the UK will no longer be within the EU's territory, which would, for example, prohibit the next Cesc Fabregas from joining Arsenal from Barcelona.
After Brexit, it is possible that footballers from EU countries - Germany, France or Spain, say - who are wanted by the likes of Manchester United or Arsenal may be treated in the same way as non-EU or (European Economic Area (EEA) footballers currently are.
WORK PERMIT ACQUISITION
More players will now have to go through the rigorous process of obtaining work permit to play in the Premier League. With only non-EU players having to obtain work permit at the moment, the execution of Brexit will mean every EU player will now have to go through same process.
That means they will have to satisfy certain criteria or receive an exemption in order obtain a work permit, which would then allow them to work in the UK as employees of a football club.
Back in 2016, the BBC established that 332 players in the Premier League, Championship and Scottish Premiership would not satisfy these requirements.
BACKROOM STAFF TRANSFER
Of course, footballers are not the only individuals who would fall under this umbrella. The past two decades have witnessed an influx of coaches from Europe into the Premier League and currently, of the 20 clubs, 14 currently have a non-British coach at the helm - Pep Guardiola at Manchester City, Jurgen Klopp at Liverpool and Unai Emery at Arsenal, to name a few.
As well as coaches and players, the football industry has long utilised the labour and expertise of EU workers at all levels. These individuals will also be faced with the same restrictions.
REDUCED FINANCIAL POWER
As well as the long-term effects of not being able to freely recruit the best footballers from around Europe, Premier League clubs will also have to contend with financial drawbacks due to Brexit.
Indeed, the initial tremors caused by the UK's vote to leave the EU have already been affecting clubs according to Burnley chairman Mike Garlick, who has noted that the diminishing value of the pound against the euro making it more difficult for British clubs to sign players in a competitive market.
Garlick said, per the BBC, that Brexit "threatens to make the widening inequality gap in our top division even worse".
A lucrative injection of television money has helped to ensure that its clubs have been able to lure the best talent along the way, thus giving rise to the perception of it being the best league in the world.
For example, the interest in Tottenham Hotspur in South Korea would likely decrease if Son Heung-min wasn't at the club, and this would then lessen the television demand in that region.
However, that image could well become tarnished should the British government deliver a 'hard Brexit' or no deal at all, which would create a relatively stifled environment - based on the aforementioned pillars of restricted movement and reduced financial clout.