Why Brexit Could Mean BigSixit For Football !
Friday, 22nd Mar 2019 10:07
There has been speculation about how Brexit could affect the English game, the worrying thing is that it could actually make the Big Six clubs stronger and the rest of us far weaker, read of for why !
When there is an issue in football the Football Association has a tried and tested way of dealing with things and that usually seems to be sit back and do nothing and that seems to be the case at the moment in terms of how Brexit could affect football in this country.
In fairness to the FA it could be said that it actually does not need to change anything, there are clear rules in place with regard to signing foreign players and the criteria for those who at the moment are classed as non EU players to get a work permit is agreed with the home office.
In simple terms at present as we are in the EU all players from countries who are also members have freedom of movement so are able to play in this country freely, those who are not from the EU however have to satisfy the criteria laid down which is in simple terms judged by the number of appearances they have made for their country at full international level.
If they fail to satisfy this qualification then they are automatically refused a permit initially although the club can then appeal and put forward why they feel the player should be registered and this is then decided on other criteria than International caps alone.
I won't bore you with the full details, but you can view how these things are worked out using the link below
So when we come out of the EU why will this mean that the BIG clubs will get bigger and the rest of us suffer ?
The answer is that it could well stem the tide of players that play for Premier League clubs from the EU to a drastic level as suddenly they will have to all meet the above criteria for a work permit.
Now this won't affect the Big Six, they are paying big money for players who will satisfy the international criteria for a work permit, nothing for them will essentially change other than they will have to get this permit for all their foreign signings now and not just those who are not from the EU.
But for the rest of us in the Premier league and especially lower down the scale in the Championship it could have drastic consequences.
English club squads are full of EU players who would not have been able to have been signed if the non EU criteria was applied, perhaps Jan Bednarek would be a good example at Saints and would not be at the club now, Mario Lemina would have been borderline. We would not have been able to sign Romeu as he would not have satisfied the criteria even though he was at Chelsea
At Saints we seem to have been preparing for Brexit, we have a much bigger UK core in our squad than most, we have only 8 players who are not from the UK or Ireland whereas for instance Brighton have 20, many of them were astute signings like Pascal Gross and was player of the year last year for the Seagulls, highly unlikely he would have met the criteria having come from a team just relegated from the Bundesliga and with no International caps and no participation in major tournaments like the Champions League and a fee of £3 million.
A look at most clubs squads outside of the Big Six would show similar to Brighton's, plenty of EU players who would not have met the criteria if we were not in the EU.
Then there is the question of players who have joined club's academies etc, would we have been able to take Jan Valery, would Chelsea for instance have been able to sign youngsters like Oriel Romeu or Nathan Ake, the answer is no.
So as I said the truth about Brexit for football is that it will not affect the big clubs but will drastically affect the rest of us, although here at Southampton we may be better set up to cope than most.
There will be fewer EU players in this country and it could psuh up transfer values for average players as with transfer fee paid part of the criteria some clubs would be prepared and able to stump up a few more million in order to land someone they rate.
The worry for the Premier League is that the gulf in standards between the Big Six and the rest of us, a gulf that is widening every year will start to get bigger and bigger and lead to a league that is no longer competitive with just the haves and the have nots as cannon fodder.
So when we pull out of the EU there will be a big gap to plug from many clubs in their future transfer policies, they will have to concentrate on the development of UK players and this is where we have a head start.
So why is the FA sitting back and not raising this more ?
The answer is that they probably see it as a an advantage, their priority is not the Premier League, it is the game as a whole with particular focus on the England International team.
They will feel that with clubs having to rely on English players being developed and a lot less on EU players who are of a decent standard but not top knotch, that this can only help the England team as we will hopefully see a better standard coming through and more English players at the top level.
This remains to be seen if it will be the case, as I say nothing will change in the Big Six and that to be blunt is where most of the England squad comes from, as long as England managers prefer to pick Chelsea players who have never started a Premier League game and may never do so, rather than those at lesser clubs who have worked hard to prove themselves at that level, then the England team will have a problem that will not be solved by less foreigners in the Premier League.
So football is coming up to a crossroads and it s hard to see anything positive coming out of Brexit for football unless you are a fan of a Big Six club !
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