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What Brexit could mean for English Premier League

There appears to be no end in sight to the Brexit theatre. The United Kingdom should exit the European Union on October 31 but the latest developments mean further delay is possible.

EPL Players. PHOTO: Green Left

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson claims to be optimistic a withdrawal agreement between London and Brussels can still be reached while insisting a no deal exit, despite parliament legislating against it, remains an option.

Meanwhile, football clubs in England and Scotland are looking on, wondering what happens next.

The Premier League, in consultation with England’s lower leagues and the Scottish league organisation, said: “Brexit should not be used to weaken playing squads in British football, nor to harm clubs’ ability to sign international players.”

But a no deal Brexit could have negative consequences for British teams in the transfer market.

Which rules currently exist for non-British players?

All players from EU countries have the unrestricted right to work in Britain. Players from outside the EU, however, must meet strict criteria to be signed. A player coming to the Premier League needs the approval of the Football Association (FA). Youth players from inside the EU can move freely from 16-years-old while the transfers of youths from outside the EU are heavily regulated by world governing body FIFA.

How does the FA decide to approve incoming players?

To agree to a transfer of a non-EU player and recommend a work permit, the player – generally – must be an established international. The FA considers the world ranking of a players country to decide what ratio of appearances is required so an Ivory Coast (outside the top 50 in the world) international must play nearly constantly for his country while a player for World Cup winners France may have to meet lower criteria.

What could change with Brexit?

If London and Brussels don’t agree with a withdrawal agreement, the same restrictions currently applied to non-EU players could be imposed on those from inside the bloc. That would make it especially difficult for smaller and/or lower league clubs to sign foreign players. It would also make it harder to attract the best foreign youths to the country.

Could the FA not accommodate the clubs?

It could but has so far indicated little interest in doing as the FA believes Brexit offers a chance to boost the English national team. FA president Greg Clarke has expressed the hope that potential restrictions would mean only world-class foreigners come to play in England and excluding journeyman pros would increase the opportunity for young English talents to play.

What consequences would Brexit have for British players abroad?

After Brexit British players would not find it easy to move to an EU country before the age of 18. Jadon Sancho, who moved to Borussia Dortmund aged 17 for example, would not have been able to do so post-Brexit. In the worst case, players like Sancho could lose their right to work in the EU following a no deal Brexit.

What do the managers make of Brexit?

They are largely sceptical. Liverpool boss Juergen Klopp believes Brexit to be a mistake. “History has always shown that when we stay together we can sort out problems,” he told the Guardian newspaper. “When we split then we start fighting.” In contrast, Neil Warnock of Cardiff City, relegated from the Premier League last season, said: “I can’t wait to get out. To hell with the rest of the world.”

Source: DPA International

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