The news that Britain will leave the European Union has caused shockwaves across the world, and the sporting world is certainly not an exception.
Britain had been expected to remain in the EU, but the historic referendum that involved almost three-quarters of the population saw 52% of people vote in favor of a ‘Brexit’.
— RT (@RT_com) June 24, 2016
Britain’s decision to leave the EU could have severe implications for sport in the country, particularly with regards to the freedom of movement principle that allows sports people from the EU to ply their trade in the UK without needing a work permit.
This is especially significant in relation to the Premier League.
Using the current criteria for non-EU players, which requires them to have played a certain percentage of their national team’s matches, more than 100 Premier League players would have failed to gain a work permit, including the likes of Dimitri Payet and Anthony Martial.
— NBCSN (@NBCSN) June 24, 2016
However, supporters of the ‘Leave’ campaign have argued the move will offer greater opportunities for home-grown players.
The BBC’s Europe correspondent, Chris Morris, believes Britain’s withdrawal from the EU will have a bigger impact further down the scale.
“At the moment any footballer from an EU country has the right to work in Britain, so they can play football for any team in the UK,” he said.
“If you’re not from the EU you need to get a work permit and your club needs to prove you’re an established international. If we left then someone like [French Leicester City player] N’Golo Kante would not get a permit to work here.
— Omar Momani (@omomani) June 24, 2016
“Don’t forget though, the clubs are so rich they’ll probably spend more money bringing established stars from further overseas.”
Investment banker Keith Harris, who worked on the sale of numerous football clubs including Chelsea and Manchester City, said he was shocked by the news.
“There are four players that we can reflect on and the impact they had on their clubs last year, who may not have been able to come in,” said Harris.
“Kante, who had a huge impact at Leicester, [Anthony] Martial at Manchester United, [Romelu] Lukaku at Everton and [Dimitri] Payet at West Ham.
“I wonder how attractive the Premier League would have been and how well those clubs would have done without those specific players, and that’s the kind of thing we are now speculating about.”
Harris admitted Britain leaving the EU could make English clubs more attractive to potential overseas investors.
“If you’re thinking of buying an asset in this country, then it’s just cost a foreign investor overnight about 10 percent less and that’s attractive if they have confidence in the long-term future,” added Harris.
“We all knew an ‘out’ vote would take two years to unravel.
“Gravity is a strong force in financial markets so when there is a shock, markets fall very steeply and take a while to climb back and that’s what we’re going to be seeing now.
“We’re going to be treading water.”
Britain is expected to have plenty of time to prepare for its exit from the EU, with 2019 or 2020 believed to be the actual date it will sever ties.
Younger European players are likely to be more difficult to attract, while the issues over work permits in general will need to be addressed.
While Premier League clubs are largely protected at the moment thanks to their new broadcast deal which kicks in at the start of next season, clubs lower down the scale could struggle to field the same level of talent they enjoy under the current set-up.
Despite this, Brexit supporters say the move will allow more home-grown talent to flourish, which will help improve the standard of the national teams. (RT)