On Thursday 23rd June 2016 the British public took part in a referendum to decide whether it would ‘Remain’ or ‘Leave’ the European Union. As results filtered in, it became apparent that it had been determined, by way of democracy, that The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland will be leaving the EU.
These are very uncertain times and at the time of writing it is still a relative unknown what the future holds politically, socially and economically. The Panenka looks at what this could mean for the English Premier League.
The referendum turnout was 71.8%, with more than 30 million people voting. It was the highest turnout in a UK-wide vote since the 1992 general election. At the final count, the ‘Remain’ campaign was defeated in the depths of time added-on by 48.1% to 51.9%. The vote also led Prime Minister David Cameron to announce his plans to step down.
There are undoubtedly going to be huge ramifications for the Eurozone when this promise to act on the public will is carried out, even though it may take up to three years for the effects to be felt. Businesses particularly, in terms of trade and labor, will surely be some of the most affected.
What about oor football clubs? What will this mean for them? The Premier League is unlikely to go untouched by the earth shattering news and has issued a statement that said that it cannot comment on what the future will hold for one of the biggest and most successful brands in the world.
“The Premier League is a hugely successful sporting competition that has strong domestic and global appeal. This will continue to be the case regardless of the referendum result,” said a Premier League statement.
“Given the uncertain nature of what the political and regulatory landscape might by following the ‘Leave’ vote, there is little point in second guessing the implications until there is greater clarity. Clearly, we will work with the government and other bodies whatever the outcome of any process,” the statement continued.
The UK’s membership to the EU is undoubtedly a positive on both side’s of the English channel. In football terms, the free movement of labor within the European market place has meant that players can easily be transferred to and from Britain to any EU member without the need for lengthily visa applications and red tape.
The chairman of the FA, Richard Scudamore, clearly saw the benefit to English football of membership to the EU on. He campaigned on behalf of the losing ‘remain’ side of the referendum.
“The main reason we have concluded that remain is best is because of our outlook,” Scudamore said. “We are a global export. We look outwards. We are open to the world and do business with the world. Really, when it comes down to it you’ve just got to decide are we better being open? Are we better acting like we want to play our part in the world and be worldly citizens or do we want to send a signal to the world that says actually we’re kind of pulling the drawbridge up here. We’re going to take control of our own destiny.
“Well, that doesn’t seem to sit very well when you travel the world like we do being welcomed because of the fact that we are open for business, open for discussion, and open for cooperation. There is an openness about the Premier League which I think it would be completely incongruous if we were to take the opposite position.”
In the aftermath of the ‘Leave’ decision the news has sent exchange rates into flux, stock markets haywire and shrouded nearly the entire economic landscape of the world in a sad and depressing state of uncertainty.
Against the dollar, the pound sterling fell to its lowest point since 1985 as the referendum result wrought such havoc on world markets that it depreciated the UK’s currency significantly.
The Premier League remains an attractive prospect for potential foreign owners purely because of the amount of money it generates. A weaker pound could result in the growth of foreign ownership that has been witnessed over the past decade to continue.
In terms of buying players from top divisions such as La Liga in Spain or the Bundesliga however, a weaker currency is very bad news indeed. The British pound has decreased so dramatically in value that a potential £60 million transfer from Real Madrid to the ELP would increase to £67 million. On top of the increased transfer fees, contracts will cost Premier League clubs more if they are negotiated in euros.
This fact will offset the potential of the expected bumper television revenue received by clubs this year. Furthermore, a weak pound only strengthens the position of European heavyweights like Bayern Munich and Barcelona when dealing in the transfer market as they have a) a stronger currency and b) a greater ease of importing player from the Eurozone.
When it comes to the movement of players from Europe to the English Premier League, it could now mean that theoretically players from outside Great Britain would have to apply for a work permit to do so. Just like current non-EU or European Economic Area (EEA) players have to.
The restrictions for non-EU nationalized players state that they must have been played a certain amount of games for the national team over a specific period. The amount of game-time needed for a foreign player to qualify for a work permit is dependent on the FIFA ranking of the country they belong to.
The numbers below show the new work permit laws passed in March 2015 by the FA with regards to the FIFA ranking of the players nation and the percentage of games they must play to gain the work permit.
FIFA 1-10: 30% and above.
FIFA 11-20: 45% and above.
FIFA 21-30: 60% and above.
FIFA 31-50: 75% and above.
Without the UK’s membership to the EU, last season’s signings such as N’Golo Kante of champions Leicester City and West Ham’s Dimitri Payet would not have been possible given these restrictions due to their lack of appearances for Euro 2016’s France.
Article 19 of the FIFA rulebook prohibits the transfers of players under 18-years-old. This rule however does not apply to transfers made within the European market place. Brexit could also spell the end of clubs buying youngsters from mainland Europe. In the future moves like Arsene Wenger’s famed shrewdness for players like Cesc Fabregas and Hector Bellerin will not be possible.
These types of changes are still theoretical and will take some time to be implemented while an exit strategy is ironed out between UK and EU politicians. Two full seasons will probably have passed before the Brexit really starts to affect the beautiful game.