Whichever way you position your political compass, Britain’s vote to leave the European Union is set to have a stark impact on life in the UK, including the much-endeared Premier League. It could mean we bid farewell to some of the league’s most exciting talents.
There are a lot of factors involved in attempting to decipher how Brexit will affect football in the UK, but one of the prevalent issues is likely to be the Freedom of Movement Principle, which allows players from the EU to ply their trade in the UK without requiring the work permit that the majority of non-EU citizens require.
This principle is particularly significant with relation to the Premier League. Considering the current criteria in place for non-EU players (which requires players to have played in a certain percentage of their national team’s matches), more than 100 Premier League players would have been turned away from British shores, failing to receive a work permit.
This list include players such as Dimitri Payet, N’Golo Kante and Anthony Martial, none of whom were established internationals when they joined the Premier League last summer.
Undoubtedly, the Premier League has reaped the rewards of European talents such as Payet and Kante and to lose player’s of their calibre would be nothing but detrimental for the United Kingdom. South American footballers such as Diego Costa and Philippe Coutinho have also bypassed the work permit process by gaining European citizenship before coming to England, this will no longer be possible.
“It is unlikely in football for instance that European nationals will have the same freedom as they have now.”
Maria Patsalos, Sports Immigration Expert
The likelihood is that Premier League clubs will be now be limited to hiring higher-calibre players from EU countries. If the access to these players is limited, this will only increase their transfer values and wages – meaning that the Premier League may miss out on undiscovered European talents, such as Kante, Payet and Martial – a great shame for the English game.
As with any debate, there’s always a perceived positive to any negative. The counter argument is that the Leave vote will enhance English football, curbing the number of foreign footballers in the top leagues and allowing for a rise in homegrown talent. A rise in British footballers has been a pipe dream of various FA figures over the years, but was made impossible by EU law. Every cloud…
In the short term, the Premier League may suffer from not being able to lure European talents to British shores with ease, but many will argue that in the long term, this will lead to a stronger contingent of homegrown talents rising through the ranks. Only time will tell if the Premier League landscape has been changed for the better.