Will Brexit Reduce the Number of Foreign Players in the Premier League?

Britain was always against a pan-European community. Although it was part of the European Union, it refused to adopt the Euro as its official currency, and it always had its share of euro-skeptics maintaining anti-European rhetoric. Ultimately, a referendum was organized to decide whether it should stay a part of the community or leave.

The people have spoken – in one of the most controversial public consultations in history, the UK decided it was time to go. And then, it started to rain with gloomy predictions about how Brexit will cause food and medicine shortages, will leave the local economy without a workforce, about how Brexit will cause upheaval in the gambling industry, horse racing, and most importantly, football.

Now, the deadline for the UK leaving the EU is drawing closer, with a little more than a month left before the event. This is the best time to recount all the bad things that may happen to the leading football leagues of the UK if the country leaves the EU without a deal on October 31.

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The free movement of talent

The Football Association has proposed a policy that would limit the number of foreign players in the local clubs to 12 (instead of 17 before). The Premier League itself tried to reduce its reliance on foreign talent and increase the number of local players among its teams’ ranks. After all, the number of foreign players in the Premier League has grown significantly over the last two decades, from just around 30% in the early 1990s to almost 70% today.

Brexit comes in handy for the FA to increase the number of local players at English clubs. The Premier League does not agree, though, citing a lack of evidence for these new rules to actually boost the chances of the National Team to do better abroad.

The Guardian did an in-depth analysis of how these new rules would impact English football, showing that pretty much every club in the richest football league in the world would be affected.

A level playing field?

Paradoxically, Brexit may be beneficial to the Premier League clubs’ scouting abroad. Until now, the players in the European Union were advantaged by the free movement of athletes between the EU’s countries. Under the new immigration rules, players from within the EU will be subject to the same procedures their international counterparts. Thus, more players will be able to join Premier League clubs directly from African and South American countries, for example.

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Bleeding talent

The Premier League has some of the most well-off clubs in Europe today, and these clubs don’t shy away from spending fabulous amounts on talented players – just this year, Arsenal spent £72 million on Ivorian player Nicolas Pépé, and Manchester City spent almost £90 million on Rodri and João Cancelo. One of the long-term effects of a no-deal Brexit may be the weakening of the Premier League’s position in European football, allowing other leagues to take its place.

Let’s not forget that, before the Premier League became the most-followed and richest football league on the planet, it was Italy’s Serie A that was in the same situation. This may be a time when the Premier League has to clear the stage and allow another league to steal the spotlight.

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