Why even the Premier League should worry about Brexit | CNBC Sports

Talk of Brexit has dominated the news cycle for what seems like an eternity But surely Premier League soccer fans have been able to take a break from all the politics and infighting just so they can follow the teams they love, right? No, it seems even soccer is caught in the middle of this giant political divorce

Even before the Premier League was formed back in 1992, foreign players have been lighting up football stadiums across England for decades Iconic players throughout the 1990s and 2000s assisted their teams with winning league titles, including Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo at Manchester United, France’s Thierry Henry at Arsenal and Argentina’s Sergio Aguero at Manchester City With their help, the Premier League soon established itself as the pinnacle of football leagues Let’s go back to the very first weekend of Premier League fixtures in August 1992 Players from 13 non-U

K nations were on the pitch And of the 273 players from the 22 original teams, 199 were eligible to play for England Fast forward that to figures from August 2018 Only 86 of 279 players qualified as English, with the remaining 193 originating from 55 different nations

A total of 110 non-UK countries have had players play in the Premier League, with France flying its flag as the most represented with 206 players Players have come from as far and wide as the Faroe Islands and the Seychelles And Chelsea holds the international crown, using 157 players from outside the U

K So, it’s easy to see then how the Premier League became reliant on foreign imports And with over two-thirds of current Premier League players hailing from outside of the UK, Brexit will most certainly usher in changes

Let’s look at an example North London club Arsenal used 28 players during the 2018/2019 season More than 70% of those players, 20 to be exact, are from outside the UK But most of them – 80% – are from inside the European Union

So with EU nationals making up much of Arsenal’s squad, what happens to those players? To work out what could take place, let’s look at the current rules, pre-Brexit Right now, EU nationals over the age of 18 can be transferred freely between teams to play professionally in Britain This is because of the EU right to freedom of movement Players from outside the union, however, they need a work permit Currently, non-EU players have to meet certain criteria before they can join a Premier League club

Now, if the Premier League, the English Football Association and the British government can't come up with a post-Brexit deal, the FA has warned European players that they'll have to meet those same requirements Every non-EU player has to successfully apply for a Governing Body Endorsement, or GBE, from the FA before the UK Home Office will even consider issuing that work permit In order to qualify for that, the player must be “internationally established at the highest level

” That means they have to have played a number of competitive games for their national teams in the last two years But how many games depends on the ranking of their national teams For the top 10 teams in the Fifa rankings, it’s at least 30% of games 11 to 20 on Fifa rankings, it rises to 45% 21 to 30, it jumps to 60%

And for teams ranked between 31 to 50 by Fifa, it's at least 75% Let’s assume that criteria had applied to EU nationals Arsenal may have struggled to sign one of its biggest ever signings, Alexandre Lacazette Lacazette, who cost Arsenal $65 million dollars in 2017, had only been capped 11 times for France at that time That falls short of the FA’s requirements to automatically qualify for a GBE

That means Arsenal would’ve had to appeal to something called the Exceptions Panel, where he would have probably edged through due to his large transfer fee and wages Meaning while it wouldn’t have meant a no go It definitely would have meant a lot more work And it's not just the current generation of players that may be affected by Brexit Premier League clubs may also lose access to EU players between the ages of 16 and 18 as well

While Fifa’s Article 19 prevents players under the age of 18 from being transferred from one country to another, transfers within the European Union are allowed That means Spaniards like Hector Bellerin and Cesc Fabregas were able to join Arsenal when they were 16 But this would pose a problem post-Brexit It’s estimated 20 percent of players in Premier League academies are non-British To add another hurdle, the Football Association has also proposed cutting the number of non-homegrown players allowed in each squad down from 17 to 13

The Premier League has pushed back on that But overall, it’s estimated that more than 150 EU Premier League players would soon find it tough to get visas, if freedom of movement was restricted There’s always the possibility of a special exemption deal for footballers, that would give them the same treatment as entertainers and musicians But if EU players are not exempt from the rules currently applied to players from outside the EU, the Football Association may be inundated with appeals as clubs fight to hold onto their star players Hi guys, Adam here

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