After a turbulent week following the Brexit vote, let’s have a look at how Britain’s departure from the EU might affect the Premier League.
The markets will be all over the place for some time to come, and almost every aspect of British life will be affected in some way. If the British economic picture remains uncertain then the public may be reluctant to spend on something they might consider frivolous.
This means that for now, Brexit will affect the Premier League, potentially impacting everything from match attendance and merchandise purchases to daily operations and sponsorship.
The first thing that happened was that the British Pound immediately lost value on Friday morning. And with a lot of uncertainty ahead it could drop even more in the coming weeks.
This means that, post-Brexit if a Premier League team is buying a player valued in any currency other than Sterling, they’ll be paying more than they would have done before. A week after the Brexit, a Premier League club would now pay £35m for a deal that would have cost £30m before.
On the flip-side English-based players will be cheaper for teams from around Europe. Unfortunately for them, the price inflation brought on by new Premier League TV deals would counter the benefits of a weak pound.
Most experts expect the pound to recover eventually, so this upshot of the Brexit on Premier League clubs may not last for more than a few months.
Freedom of movement for European players isn’t down to the EU’s Schengen Agreement; rather it’s guaranteed by the European Economic Area (EEA).
Right now players from outside the EEA have to qualify for a work permit. This involves playing in at least 30% of international matches the two years before the transfer.
Players that arrive who aren’t internationals are assessed independently to see whether they’d improve English domestic football.
It looks unlikely at this point, but if Britain were to leave the EEA then players from countries like Germany and France would be subject to the kind of criteria mentioned above. So someone like N’Golo Kanté who joined Leicester from Caen last season to little fanfare would probably not qualify for a work permit if Britain leaves the EEA.
But there’s little danger of this actually happening. Even if Britain does leave the EEA – something that won’t happen for several years anyway – it would be in most people’s interest to negotiate some sort of trade agreement for European footballers.
Looking far into the future there are measures that the Football Association could implement that aren’t allowed now because of EU labour laws.
One post-Brexit change that could affect the Premier League is player quotas. These are controversial, but some people see restrictions on the number of foreign players as being a route to improving the home nations’ international sides. Whether there’s any merit to the idea remains to be seen.
The other change could be salary caps. Premier League clubs would probably support this kind of measure to ensure good financial governance. It might help avoid wages spiralling out of control at a time when there’s so much investment in the English top tier.
Now that the dust is starting to settle the truth is: Probably not a lot. In the long term Britain will get access to the common market, which is good news for Premier League football teams.
In the short term, yes, the Brexit will disrupt the UK economy and the weakened pound will have an impact on the Premier League. But the huge TV deals signed in 2014 don’t expire until 2019, which should help to insulate England’s top clubs from the worst of the market trouble ahead.
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