As the Brexit vs. Europhiles debates continue to erupt, there is a burning question that needs to be asked and answered honestly and intelligently. To what extent can Brexit harm British Football?
The Europhiles are adamant that Brexit would hurt the game in Britain. Even the English Premier League currently longest serving manager, Arsene Wenger, has added to the debate. He claims that EU stars could be refused work permits required to play in the UK if Britain leaves the European Union. West Ham United CEO, Karen Brady, goes even further and states that "Leaving the EU would hurt our leagues, create uncertainty for European transfers and be a step back for the next generation of footballers".
The Brexit camp has dismissed this as outright scaremongering. Supporters of Brexit have also pointed out that many other non-EU players are already playing in the UK.
Whichever side of the debate you may lean towards, one fact remains. Current EU players in the UK is unlikely to be affected. This according to Sports immigration lawyer Maria Patsalos. She further added that the Football Association needs to take urgent action to reform their current immigration position. There is significant concerns that failure to do so could have future implications for attracting world class football players to the UK.
There is also another trail of thought too. Many football supporters have always had concerns about the number of average foreign players, at the expense of homegrown players, in the British game. They also state this as one of the key reasons for the recent run of poor championship performances by the national team. Others could justifiably argue that if homegrown players are good enough they will always be picked up, even if initially by a lower league club.
In conclusion, both the Brexit and Europhiles camps have valid argues as to the extent to which Britain leaving the European Union can affect British Football. In the context of the national teams (England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland), Brexit can benefit the game for maximum nurturing of future homegrown talents that may have otherwise been lost. Perhaps it may even enhance these national teams chances in future International competitions. Nevertheless, there is also the counter-argument that if things were so bad then we would not have had 3 national teams (England, Wales and Northern Ireland) qualifying for the Euro 2016 championship at the expense of a footballing giant like Holland. Remember too, Scotland only narrowly missed the Euro 2016 competition by a last minute goal during their qualification campaign.
Where the national leagues are concerned, the English leagues are the only ones with any real financial and international prominence. This is in no way disrespecting the leagues of the other home nations, but only the English Premier League would have the financial magnet to pull a player such as Messi or Ronaldo to it. This fact is perhaps the most powerful feather in the Brexit cap, because Brexit would not have any impact on world-class players coming to the Premier League. Moreover, no right-thinking authority, whether institutional, political, or legal, would want to prevent world-class players such as the above mentioned applying their trade in the UK. On the other hand, Brexit may affect financially poorer clubs from getting great EU bargains. But Brexit supports are likely to say that such clubs should refocus their strategies to harness the use of more home grown players all of which can only benefit the national game as a whole.
Sources and Related Stories
What would happen to foreign footballers if Britain leaves the EU? Even Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has waded into the EU referendum debate by claiming that foreign football stars could barred from Britain.
Reality Check: How might Brexit affect the Premier League? At the moment, EU players have the freedom to participate in British football, while non-EU players have to have a work permit in order to play in the Premier League. What's the potential Brexit impact on the British game?
A vote in favour of Brexit could have serious implications for English football. British football has in recent years witnessed a massive influx of players from the EU.
Immigration politics and the growth of foreign populations in the United Kingdom are central issues to this debate, so it's worth taking a look at how its outcome could affect the Premier League.