12/07/2016

The people have decided, we’re leaving the EU.

At the moment we are in ‘time added on’, waiting for the final whistle.

Political and economic uncertainty makes it difficult to predict the result.

What we do know is that many Brexit issues will impact on football, as with many other industries.

With so many EU players in the Premier League, the potential restriction on freedom of movement is top of the list, as highlighted in our previous blog “The EU red card?”.

Negotiation of access to the EU free market is likely to result in a quid pro quo on freedom of movement and the rights of EU citizens currently in the UK.

Many EU players will be advised (preferably before Article 50 is invoked) to seek protection under the current Home Office regulations, enabling them to retain a right of permanent residence by applying for a registration certificate, provided they can show they have lived in the UK for a continuous period of five years. It is highly unlikely that this particular legislation would be revoked retrospectively.

A similar ‘naturalisation’ route leading to ‘indefinite leave to remain’ and ultimately British citizenship is available to non-EU players who are able to establish residency for five years. We may see a rush of applications from players in this category.

The existing regime for obtaining a work visa as a non-EU player is likely to continue and apply to EU players after Brexit. This is akin to a points-based system whereby the player, inter alia, must be an elite player who is internationally established at the highest level. EU players not in this category, of which there are many, may well be at risk in the future.

As a future non-EU nation certain FIFA Regulations which exist in order to comply with EU law will not apply to the UK. The current FIFA Regulation (Article 19) restricts players under 18 from moving internationally. EU/EEA players between 16 and 18 are excepted from this and have the right to move between EU/EEA member states, giving a distinct advantage to other top EU leagues to sign the very best young players at 16, ahead of the Premier League, although this disadvantage would be removed should the UK be part of the EEA.

There is no doubt that the expected restrictions on freedom of movement will lead to fewer overseas players in the Premier League which could affect the standard of play relative to the rest of Europe and ultimately the Premier League’s global appeal and commercial value.

Despite the Iceland result, we must as they say, ‘take the positives’ and hope that with a reduction in the number of overseas players our homegrown young talent will be given more opportunity to flourish

There will be many other Brexit issues affecting football and other sports as we move forward so expect more from our sports blog!

For further information please contact Tim Bailey at Beswicks Sports on 01782 205000 or tim.bailey@beswicks.com