Brexit – From a football perspective.
On the 26th of June 2016 citizens of the United Kingdom voted in a national referendum to leave the European Union in an unprecedented event. With no divorce settlement agreed as to date the UK looks to be heading towards a hard no-deal exit under the rather passive Boris Johnson’s government. But how will a hard exit no deal Brexit affect English football? Will football clubs still be able to sign foreign players, managers and coaches? Undoubtedly yes. However, European players and backroom staff from within the EU territories will have to obtain a work permit issued by the UK Home Office. The process maybe the same or differ slightly from those players, managers and coaches of non EU countries. Requirements such as a minimum number of international caps at U21 and senior level as is the case with non EU nationals may well be applied. The country of origin and their standings in the FIFA rankings table could also be a consideration for clubs in the future when looking for new signings, as this could be a requirement for a players work permit. Players from a top-10 ranked FIFA nation should have played 30 percent of internationals over the last 2 years in order to meet the requirement for a work permit. For those player of 11-20 place in FIFA standings are required to have played in 45 percent of internationals during the past 2 years. Discussions between the Premier League, FA and UK Home Office have taken place yet no official assurances have been confirmed under Johnson’s government. Even in the event of a no deal hard exit, it is unlikely to significantly impact clubs wanting to acquire top players from within the EU as they already well rehearsed in acquiring and obtaining permits for non EU players. Though, for clubs with an operating model similar to Chelsea, prior to the transfer ban, who buy young players and then loan them out across Europe then sell them on for an increased profit a couple of years later, then, Brexit is a spanner in the works. Essentially, this operating model will no longer be possible as young players would not meet the minimum requirements to obtain a valid work permit as it currently stands. It will be interesting to see how clubs react to the Brexit aftermath during the January transfer window. Expect gilts and glamour and a few safe bets. Even one or two high profile players leaving for below market values. How will players from the UK playing abroad be affected? Again, similar to EU and non EU players playing in the UK. Nothing has been confirmed at this point but it is expected all UK football players playing football abroad will have to apply for a work permit or be granted a grace of stay for a set period of time. Valuation of young British talent Of course, this is a given. The price of young promising British talent has always been inflated and is expected to increase still as a knock on effect of Brexit. Players that do not require working permits are expected to see their valuations increase. The same may well happen in regards to academy players and highly regarded prospects. We may well see a strategic change in the way English football clubs operate and conduct their transfer business, prioritising the development of home-grown players over expensive acquisitions. This could also act an a deterrent for foreign clubs looking to purchase young talent from the UK with high valuations. British Coaches and Managers The general sentiment from the remainers camp is that Brexit in all it glory could be the start of a new era for British football. Brexit will undoubtably provide more opportunities for British players, coaches, backroom staff and managers as a knock on effect. The FA has acknowledged this and recommended the minimum number of British players in a squad should be between 10-12 British players. More playing time may be handed to British talent further down the line. The real implications of Brexit on English football are expected to appear after 2-3 years of the UK’s exit from the EU. Diminishing value of the Pound Let’s not forget Poch’s interview during August 2018, where he suggested the reason for Tottenhams lack of summer spending that year was due to a 30% devaluation of the pound and increased costs of the new stadium. The diminishing value of the pound against the Euro is growing concern for all owners of Premier League football clubs. Some might argue this has been one of the decisive factors for Mike Ashley at Newcastle amongst other things, seeking the fast sale of Newcastle. 400 million in 2016 is worth almost 30% less today. Reverse this the other way around and foreign chairman will be looking upon English clubs for a discounted bargain. More so now than ever, English football clubs may look an attractive investment opportunity for sports crazed billionaires. Again, the January transfer window will be a key indicator as to how English football clubs are reacting. Will the lavish spending sprees continue and will it be feasible? Champions League and Europa Cup Will Brexit ultimately affect the UK’s ability to attract top sporting events? Will fans from the EU need visa’s to attend top flight European Cup competition games in the UK after the grace period? These are all questions which have no doughtily been discussed behind closed doors. Will be interesting to see how this is approached by UEFA and the organisers of other large sporting events.
The English Premier League is truly a global brand. The UK government will be keen to ensure the brand is able to attract and produce the best players from around the globe and remain the leading revenue generating league throughout the world. The grey areas surrounding EU players, coaches and managers will undoubtedly be resolved favourably ensuring the Premier League and British football are able to remain a leading competitive European football league and footballing power. As with any weakness, opportunity presents itself. UK football players, coaches and managers will receive more opportunities. An overhaul to the current coaching badge system doesn’t seem to way off the mark either. And could we be about to see our first bitcoin transaction.