Impact of Brexit on English Football
Brexit, the word came into existence in early months of 2016 when Britain firstly announced its exit from EU. The statement quickly spread a turbulent wave in the whole world especially to the other members of EU. At that time, none was able to understand what was happening and why Britain is having this exit. Numerous meeting and press conferences took place in no time, but nobody could get any clear idea about the upcoming consequences of this exit by the UK. Everyone was waiting to know how the UK will vote for this exit. 51.9% of votes were in favor of Brexit and rest 48.1 % votes went against it. EU nationals knew that it was going to be a big change for them, especially the players who play football. The players knew that the UK’s exit from EU may originate lots of changes in the system they are part of.
Now, after one year of Brexit’s referendum, the UK has finally invoked Article 50 of Lisbon treaty on 29th of March, 2017 leaving most of the premier league clubs in fear of its impact. Following are the parameters which may get affected and impact the English football big way:
1) Freedom of Movement: In accordance with four fundamentals of freedom by the EU, it is the right of the citizens to move freely among the member states for the purpose of employment. Now as Britain has left EU, it will not at all be easy for the EU nationals to enter the UK. This kind of restriction on citizens will clearly impact the citizens to work, especially those who play football. These football players will not be able to work with the UK football clubs that easily as it was before Brexit. Unless the UK government gets into some agreement with an individual member state of EU considering “Freedom of Movement”, the EU citizens have to face uncertainty. Such an uncertainty among the players is going to have a bad impact on their game and career. It was because of Freedom of Moment only that these players were able to work for various clubs of EU without any work permit. After Brexit, things are never going to be the same. The players have to get a work visa to work with football clubs in the UK and it won’t be that easy.
2) Work Permit: The second major impact which Brexit may create for the English football players is the requirement of a work permit to enter and work in the UK. The players who were working with various football clubs in the UK without any Visa issues will now have to obtain work permit before entering the UK. The complex part is that there is a set criterion to have a work permit. Similar issues will be faced by non-EU players, who will apply to FA for a governing body endorsement before a work permit can be issued to them by their Home office. Considering this impact, the Premier League clubs have urged Britain’s government to find out some protective measures from being impacted by Brexit. They want the UK government to provide an exemption of work visa to the footballers so that they can freely play for their respective clubs in Britain. Otherwise, it will be difficult for the football clubs in the UK to hire the players from Europe. Therefore, it is extremely necessary for Britain to preserve its 44-year relationship with EU.
3) Devaluation of Currency: Since June 2016, when Brexit was proposed, the value of British Pound is certainly decreasing against Dollar. This devaluation of the UK’s currency is definitely going to affect the life of football players who are playing for the UK football clubs as they will earn less in comparison to post Brixit earnings. Moreover, it will be easy for Non the UK clubs to pick football players easily from the UK as they will have to pay less salary to those players who understand pounds. Moreover, this devaluation of the UK’s currency will remain uncertain unless there are some bilateral agreements signed between the two parties, the UK and other left members of EU. Therefore, this downfall of a pound is surely going to affect the lives of footballers playing in Premier League. They may have to face financial losses and many other changes in their life. For few of them, it can also be tough to continue their career as a footballer which can be a big issue for them to resolve.
4) The tension between the FA and the Premier League: Due to Brexit, there is a sense of uncertainty surrounding the potential implications of football law. Those who are leading the football clubs in the UK are also tensed and uncertain about how they are doing to operate after Brexit. According to the record charts of Premier League, the highest percentage of goals scored by EU nationals in the Premier League is of Chelsea and it’s 76 percent. That means the Blues will suffer the most post Brexit. Moreover, 74 percent of the players from Chelsea are either an EU national or they hold a second EU nationality. It will become extremely tough for Chelsea to easily operate because of Brexit. As per the football authorities in the UK, there can be restrictions on Bosman transfers, which will restrict the UK clubs to hire EU players to play for their club in Premier League. Even FA is planning to create some new opportunities for the young players of England, who want to play in England. Whereas, the Premier League clubs are focusing on their player squads to face and survive the upcoming competitions.
5) GBE: It stands for “Governing body endorsement”. According to FA’s work permit criteria, now the Non-EU/EEA footballers will have to receive GBE from their respective sports governing body to get a work visa and play for the respective clubs. Those players who have participated in the minimum percentage of senior competitive international matches for their national teams in two years duration before they have applied for a work visa, do qualify for GBE. In case any player doesn’t qualify for GBE, then that player will be evaluated on points based system. These points are given on the basis of the amount of transfer fee paid by that player and the basic salary offered to the player as compared to other players in a league. These points are also awarded on the basis of that player’s performance while playing for his previous club. At the end, the player who qualifies for this points based system gets the visa and those players who cannot qualify, they do not get a work permit for play for respective football clubs.
Length of Issue of GBE:
Governing Body Endorsements should be issued for a period appropriate to the period of
approval for sponsorship or the tier under which the application is being made, that is:
As a Sponsor – Tier 2 or Tier 5 – for 4 years.
Migrant Tier 2 Sport
Initial application – length of contract or up to three years maximum, whichever is the
Extension application – length of contract or up to two years maximum, whichever is
the shorter period.
Migrant Tier 5 sporting – length of contract or up to 12 months, whichever is the
shorter period. No in-country extensions are possible.
If stated in their governing body endorsement requirements, governing bodies may endorse an individual player for a shorter period than the employment contract, for example, a season. If this is the case, the individual player must be made aware that their certificate of sponsorship and consequently entry clearance or leave to remain will be limited to the length of the endorsement and will not be for the length of the contract.
6) Opportunity for young English Players: Along with other negative vibes, Brexit has also created an opportunity for young English players who were yet unable to be the part of the first team. The authorities from FA want to see the world class Premier League where the world class players will be playing and not the average international players. They are going to give a chance to the domestic players who do have the potential to compete with international players. Then, Premier League will be a platform for them to showcase the talent they have by playing football along with top notch footballers. The authorities have addressed that they are not trying to be in a fight with Premier League by calling these youngsters. Rather they are finding a sensible way round that works for all, the players, the governments, Premier League, and FA. It will neither be an open door policy for any player to come and play in Premier League, nor it will be straight no to the foreigners. It will just be the best display of football for all of us. In March 2017, it has been announced by EFL that there will be an increase in the number of home-grown players on team sheets from six to seven from the upcoming season. Also, they had put forward an agreement which says that at least one club developed player will be added to each team for any EFL league from the 2018-19 campaign.
Taking a closer look at the above-mentioned points, anyone can figure out that Brexit is definitely going to have an impact on English Football, if not much then at least some. The players have to face lots of new situations which they may find tough to resolve but, there is always a solution to the problem. Let’s hope that the government of the UK and FA, and EU collectively find something effective for the citizens and especially the footballers from both sides.