Bigger fees, no more Bosmans and more English kids: What #Brexit means for football

Will Britain leaving the EU lead to big changes for football in the UK? Not necessarily…

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The country woke up to the landmark EU referendum results on Friday morning, and social media has been awash with discussion on what will now happen.

Will the new status of European players mean that they will have to apply for work permits as non-EU players do? Will there be new dynamics in play regarding the transfer market and paying of wages?

FourFourTwo spoke with sports lawyer Daniel Geey (who has already written about the impact of Brexit on football) to get a better understanding on the future of football in the UK. Here he tells us why it might take up to two years for any real change…

On the future of football in the UK and players from the EU, he explained that:

  • Little change immediately
  • It could take up to two years for major changes: when Brexit is finalised and procedures put in place for dealing with players from the European Union
  • Likely to be a tiered approach for workers from the EU to be able to work in the UK in future 

He told us: "Anyone suggesting that the Work Permit situation with non-EU players will be the same [for EU players] is guessing. And it's unlikely, simply because if you take Switzerland or Norway as examples, regardless of whether they're inside or outside the EEA (European Economic Area), the same point applies: if those countries want tariff-free access to the free market then it's extremely likely there will be strong concessions to allow free movement for workers wanting to be in the UK. And that will manifest in elite sportsmen."

"There's likely to be a tiered approach or halfway house," said Daniel, explaining how legislation for enabling EU players to play in the Premier League might be resolved in the future compared to existing work permits.

There are changes afoot but the full reality is unlikely to be known for a couple of seasons

As explained, things aren't likely to change much overnight but slowly over the next few years. To get an idea of what this might mean in real terms, we've pulled together some of the best explanations we've found online to give you an idea of what might or might not happen, and the possible knock-on consequences to the changes in the laws. 

Currency affairs

FourFourTwo contributor Rory Smith gave his thoughts on wages rising for European players who make their wage calculations in Euros rather than sterling. With the pound falling against the Euro (and other currencies), they may seek to renegotiate...

Those currency shifts could also have big effects on clubs' spending power. If the pound falls before you go on a European holiday, you get less spending power; now imagine that instead of buying a lager and an Eiffel Tower ashtray, you're trying to buy Paul Pogba. Salford University's football-friendly Professor Simon Chadwick warned that "Clubs could suddenly find players are much more expensive because the pound is worth less."

"Our sport for several decades has been underpinned by European Union legislation," said Prof Chadwick. "We're going to have to think about new rules and new ways of doing things through a period of uncertainty and instability, and that could last anything up to 10 years."

Furthermore, Chadwick warns that one of football's chief cost-cutters could also go out of the window: "In theory the Bosman Ruling will no longer apply as we are no longer members of the European Union."

Homegrown players

If imports are going to become more expensive, homegrown products will get more enticing - an economic point noted to the Press Association's Matt Slater by the FA chairman Greg Dyke.

"If it increases the number of English players, that is to be welcomed," said Dyke, although he wasn't certain that would be the case. "It would be a shame if some of the great European players can't come here but I don't think that will happen. Whether the total number reduces will depend on the terms of the exit.” 

Meanwhile, youth football account Youth Hawk has pointed out to one definite change: that UK clubs can no longer sign players from the EU under the age of 18, as happened previously. (Some European clubs might well welcome this...)

A Liverpool youth academy account has pointed out that the big clubs might not be able to lure as many young talents to the league.

And this was supported by ESPN's Dale Johnson

A fluid situation

But will there be knock-on effects for over-18 European players brought by clubs in the future? The Associated Press's Rob Harris says it will be limited… as long as the UK joins the European Economic Area, which is by no means certain.

And if the UK doesn't become part of the EEA (ie, signs up to trade with Europe on fixed terms but remaining outside the EU) then special measures are likely to be taken (as already happens with players signed from beyond the EU; negotiated by the Home Office), as explained by Daniel at the top of the page…

You'll notice that a lot of these quotes contain the words "if", "could" and "might". Clearly this is a very uncertain situation. The only thing we can advise is that you keep an eye on FourFourTwo every day for the next couple of years...

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