Arsene Wenger admits Brexit will see Premier League suffer long-term consequences
The Arsenal boss spoke of how wages and transfer fees could take a hit and discussed the rules for free movement of players in Europe
Britain’s exit from the European Union, aka Brexit, has captured the attention of the continent and the world. The referendum saw the consequences that were predicted with the Prime Minister resigning and the political landscape in England in utter turmoil with uncertainty the driving factor.
Among all the brouhaha, the Premier League could also suffer the consequences of the Brexit. In a nutshell, it could prove to be even more difficult to sign players from outside the United Kingdom. Even transfer fees and wages could take a hit after the fall of the pound.
France Football spoke to Arsene Wenger and discussed Brexit at length and the ramifications it could bring to the Premier League. The Arsenal manager holds a degree in Economics and is considered one of the greatest champions of the ‘Moneyball’ philosophy with which he kept the north London club competitive despite the financial burden of moving to a new stadium without external financial help that is prevalent in the league today.
And he, too, is worried.
“It worries me, it shocks me too,” Wenger admitted when questioned about the referendum’s results. “Nobody knows how exactly this is going to translate into a practical plan.”
On the fall of the pound, Wenger said it was expected and that he had spoken to many financial experts. “Not a single one of them knows exactly where we are headed,” Wenger said.
The Premier League itself is one of the best-marketed leagues in the world and has an audience in the billions. The increase in viewership has seen television deals skyrocket and a new record £5.1 billion television deal made it possible for all 20 clubs to spend as much as European heavyweights did every transfer window – both in terms of transfer fees and player wages.
But with the Brexit, Wenger explained that wages could come down in the future. “The players will see their wages come down a bit and the competition with Germany, for example, will be stronger,” Wenger explained. “But that was one of the risks of the job and that worries me less. England still has a good amount of financial resources.
He also spoke of how even players at Real Madrid and Barcelona would want to move to the Premier League but that was now uncertain because of the referendum. “Brexit is a spanner in the works. It will have consequences, not in the very short term, but in the long term, yes.
“The big English clubs have the means to keep hold of their biggest assets,” he continued. “The most important thing lies elsewhere. Currently, the league is seen as the most attractive one and that image could disappear.”
Footballers should not get special privileges if Britain leaves EU: Wenger
Brexit would see a number of players require work permits to ply their trade in the Premier League. Without the guarantee of free movement which currently exists between countries in the EU, signing players now requires a lot more paperwork and gets tougher depending on the countries they are from, the number of internatioanl matches they have played and the FIFA rankings.
Theories were put on the table suggesting that footballers would be exempt from these rules allowing for free movement. But Wenger, who has filed for a number of work permits to bring footballers to Arsenal, was vehemently against such a privilege.
“To claim that football should be afforded even more privileges that do not apply to other activities when football is already very privileged,” Wenger said. “A lot of jobs are international. Why should we prioritise football?
“When a rule exists, it should apply to all professions. Otherwise, there will always be demands that are made,” he concluded.