Bobby from Berwick-on-Tweed starts his day in a sea-side resto-bar in Mallorca with the last page first. He’s a football fan. He flew in last night, and he’s already had a tiff with Senor Berehens at the local news-stand for not keeping a copy of his favourite tabloid, and it isn’t even 9am.
He sifts through the column inches of the tabloid he borrows from Bill from Barnstable at the next table, but not before both of them agree that the food here is terrible, loud enough for others in the proximity to roll their eyes.
Bobby is a hopeful lad. He’s looking forward to next season – his club was on the verge of a signing a sensation from Spain – but now it’s not. Visibly annoyed he squints hard to see the figure that’s been quoted by the selling club – and deems it outrageous declaring expletives under his breath, something to do with foreign clubs holding his for ransom. “Ungrateful bastirds. What can ye do, eh? Ta think we invented the bloody game!” bellows Bill, lending his vocal support half-way across the bar.
Bill and Bob voted out. Bob and Bill don’t have a clue.
You will, once you’re done with this.
Brexit’s effect on Deportation
“More than 100 Premier League players would be affected with Aston Villa, Newcastle United and Watford facing losing 11 players from their squads”.
Scaremongering sells, and if Brexit proves anything, is that stigma appeals to the mass, the mass being apathetic towards forming an educated opinion. Tabloids thrive on such anti-intellectualism and ultimately, perpetuate and validate existing fear. While what the BBC among others reported stands to reason in theory, but in practice, it’s a different matter all together.
On contrary to popular opinion, the alarm, for the time being, is unfounded. The time-frame, according to leading British political commentators, for wholesale policy changes to occur may take well over two years to re-negotiate and amend, never mind implement. EU and Non-EU based players playing in the Premier League won’t suddenly be deported as part of a retroactive process, at the risk of further straining bi-lateral relations, with footballers progressively been given statuses as national treasures and global-conglomerate figureheads.
Try telling Chelsea a few years ago that Michael Essien would need to have been deported, owing to scrupulous documentation that saw one of the longest-running transfer saga in modern football history. Roman Abramovich, the oligarch-owner of the club, who still incidentally is Vladimir Putin’s most profligate lobbyist; and then-sponsors Samsung, who rake in revenue over a trillion every year, nine years in a row, and contribute undisclosed campaign contributions to the Presidential candidates of the most powerful nation in the world – would not let a rubber stamp from the ‘Exceptions Panel’ of the British Home Office be a deterrent.
Debunking Bureaucracy and Free Movement
Misgovernment is a thoroughly methodical process and something the British have perfected over 500 years of practice in bureaucracy.
As mentioned earlier, any wholesale policy changes would require more than two-years to take any form of tangibility, never mind culpability. Any interim policy, in the meantime, will be one of most diplomacy. The best thing to do, is nothing.
The merits of the claims of the leavers are hard to judge because nobody can be sure what relationship a departing Britain would have with the EU. To get a feel for the negotiating dynamic, imagine a divorce demanded unilaterally by one partner, the terms of which are fixed unilaterally by the other. It is a process that is likely to be protracted.
A decision to leave will be seen by many as a hostile and destabilising act for a union that is already in deep trouble. Voters across Europe are disillusioned with Brussels. Populist parties in France, the Netherlands, Italy and elsewhere are watching the Brexit debate closely.
– The Economist
Long-drawn uncertainty over Britain’s new dynamics with the EU will discourage investment, but it helps to remember, that in terms of foreign direct investment, Britain remains the biggest net recipient in the EU. And it’s a two-way street. While Brexit will be seen by posterity as the singlemost self-inflicted financial blow in free-market, it gives Britain bargaining chips that they can’t historically do without.
How is this important? Britain’s objective is to waiver trade tariffs, and on the forefront of that issue will be the subject of free-movement of EU-based workers. Britian will now proceed to selectively cut incentivised deals with EU members they deem worthy, thereby putting themselves in a position where the Empire will have to make the fewest concessions.
It won’t be the first time foreign policy would dictate free movement of players in sports. In the multi-million dollar cricket league franchise, Indian Premier League, Sri Lankan cricketers and officials were disallowed participation due to differences between the two nations. What this means for the English Premier League, is that, handpicked EU-based players will get precedence in recruitment over others, depending on their nationality.
A tiered player immigration approach is likely. Member countries of the EU, “the good apples” like Germany and France, depending on newly-reformed trade privileges with the UK, post-Brexit will see their players enjoy more liberal movement. While players of countries that UK may feel is not of much bilateral benefits, will see them go through more stringent mechanics for work-permits.
There are certain check-boxes already in place that measure the validity of immigration of a non-EU player to the UK, aimed at guaranteeing that whoever comes in is of a certain standard. For instance, the criteria of recent international caps as a benchmark for quality, for a high-grade work VISA to be issued. That criteria might now apply across the board for every other country in the EU – something which wasn’t the case before Brexit.
Wonderkids and what could have beens
One of the more immediate effects of Brexit will wind the Football Manager fraternity with all the unapologetic-brazenness of Miley Cyrus’ infamous hit single, Wrecking Ball – no more nondescript wonderkids, for you lot!
The moment UK opted out of the EU, it had certain privileges revoked – the magic carpet that the Premier League flew on has been pulled from underneath them. (Aladin’s magic carpet, a dark-skinned themed analogy, seems appropriate under the current political climate.)
As per article 19 of the Regulation and Transfer of players, the following is thereby illegal:
- The transfer of under-18 players from EU nations to non-EU nations and vice versa.
- Free movement of under-18 players to UK, leveraging European passports citing lineage, from South America, North America, Asia, Africa, Oceania.
- Signing of EU players aged 16, for little or no compensation, between the time-frame of their junior contracts expiring and the parent club offering terms of a professional contract. (Read: Cesc Fabregas from Barcelona to Arsenal).
There will be exceptions, for instance:
- The family of the player is allowed to move to UK if residing in close proximity of the border.
- The player residing outside the UK is of British lineage or is born within the borders by the lottery of birth, and opts to revert nationality between the age of 16 to 18 to Northern Irish, Scottish, Welsh or English respectively.
- Family of the player (a guardian, or parents) is required to move for work to the UK.
To sum it up:
- There will be no further hoodwinking by English clubs generating leeway by producing distant European relatives for under-18 South American/African players, etc.
- The strict handicaps that applied for under-18 South American players and such, will now apply for EU-based player as well.
- This change of trend will see the Premier League clubs give more precedence in raiding prospects from within their borders.
This is a double-edged sword, make no mistake. While it may mean certain clubs like Arsenal are at an inconvenience, who under Arsene Wenger, has had a long history of plundering prospects – it will also mean that the British youth will get more preference and consequently more game-time. This could thereby lead to raising the level of the UK-based young’uns, as clubs afford more patience and them getting to play alongside the best in the land.
A blessing in disguise, perhaps, for the British national teams, and definitely a great cause of relief for all the European clubs over the years who have felt hard done by the Premier League looting their best talents.
Is the Bosman still on, lads?
It should be. It’s a fundamental rule of the free-market that a player, when at the end of his contract will be allowed to talk to teams that court him, subjective of the player’s nationality, and the new terms UK would have with the player’s home nation. To re-iterate, realisation of those new terms is at least a few years away.
Strictly domestic free-transfers, like Danny Ings to Liverpool, would be largely unaffected, and the modus operandi will remain the same. Parent clubs will still be entitled for compensation fee set by a independent domestic tribunal of the concerned league, if the player the club is losing is under the age of 24.
Catch-22 of the Homegrown Rule
The home-grown rule, more popularly known as the 6+5 may rise from its bullet-riddled grave in the UK, after being shot down on multiple occasions by free-market legislative, citing it being a direct impediment of the fundamental free-movement rules the Union safeguards.
6+5 denotes that, at the beginning of each match, each club must field at least six players eligible to play for the national team of the home nation of the club.
The objective of this rule is to:
- Restore the national identity of football clubs who have increasingly resorted to fielding foreign players in their squad
- Elevate the benchmark of quality of homegrown players and youngsters
- Re-write the predictable narrative of world football, which sees familiar nationalities take center stage as protagonists in club and international competitions
Although, 6+5 may sound unassumingly-harmless, the consequences of this is too far-reaching to be imagined; and at this point of time, in practice is wildly far-fetched. If FA have the clout, it may however be implemented gradually in the years to come and it will undoubtedly result in a steady exodus of foreign players, and compromise UK-based clubs’ ability to compete in the highest levels of European club competitions: initially, before the talent vacuum is filled by prospective homegrown prospects – something that may very well take well over a half-a-decade to compensate.
Furthermore, this could backfire in the short-term, as bigger clubs in the Premier League would unceasingly be poaching talents from the lesser ones, which would perhaps create a massive disparity in quality. Not affording the likes of Southampton, West Ham, Crewe Alexandrias’ academies and scouting teams enough time to recuperate resulting them moving down the rungs in terms of ascendancy and progress.
But is that really any different to what happens around Europe? In Spain with Barcelona, Atletico and Real; in Germany with Bayern and Borussia; in Italy with Juventus and Roma, etc.
This may be a risk too big to be taken for the time being, but put into perspective, the lack of identity England suffers on the international stage, this could be a exigent measure worth implementing – but only if tempered with steely prudence.
Pound for Pound?
Fears about the current account, Britain’s credit rating and Brexit have been drivers of the pound’s recent fall, but the longer-term effects of Brexit are also likely to be adverse. Most independant studies suggest that economic growth would suffer
– The Economist
The Pound is plummeting consequently, it will have to spend more to buy the Euro. That means more money coming in for the middle men, exaggerated transfer fees, and a possible marked increase on tariffs levied per EU-based transfer and taxes on player wages. In other words, more overhead charges for English clubs than ever before. All these deterrents lead to a likely change of strategy for the big and small clubs alike.
More impetus would be given at looking for internal solutions, revamping local scouting networks, and promoting talent from inside the youth system. All of these point to the Premier League, at least in terms of recruitment, turning perhaps more modest and methodical.
All things considered, Brexit may actually prove to be The Premier League’s best enemy.
As I write this, England have been handed a humbling by Iceland in the European Championships twenty-sixteen, losing 2-1, in another exit (two, in a matter of half-a-week) which will forever be deemed as their most confounding national embarrassment (or so one can hope).
To put this result into context: the Falklands War of the eighties, was the last time something as embarrassing happened to England. Located in the South Atlantic, Argentina had long claimed the English-owned Falklands as part of its territory. England, a nation clearly not used to irregularities, witnessed, on 2nd of April, 1982, Argentine forces landing in the Falklands, capturing the UK-garrisoned islands in a matter of just two days. The revolution was televised.
In strictly sporting terms, it wasn’t their first footballing faux pas: Entering their first-ever World Cup as favourites, in the June of 1950, England’s squad in Brazil had Stanley Matthews, Tom Finney and Billy Wright strutting around. But Walter Winterbottom’s side were shocked in Belo Horizonte as they were beaten by the USA 1-0, by Joe Gaetjens’ strike, and a collective effort of an amatuer team consisting of a postman, a librarian, a zoo-keeper, an accountant, a couple of dentists, a sergeant, an AA counsellor, funeral director and a few semi-pros, pulling off the biggest upset in the history of the sport at the time.
Don’t know why England fans are infuriated or a least bit surprised after the Iceland result. The Premier League gives those concerned a slanted view of benchmarks, it makes them believe that English players actually are as good as their foreign counterparts. Sure, some have talent, and in the right environment, they shine; but put the same talent together in a team and give them a white shirt to wear and they look like lost sheep.
I could go on for hours, but I am Welsh… Tra-la!
– David H. Hughes, Royal Mail, retired, Proud Welshman.
P.S. Maybe, just maybe, the FA should revisit the idea of a unified Great Britain team, and accept Joe Allen as their Lord and Saviour.