Premier League could "suffer the consequences" of Brexit, says Wenger
REUTERS - Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said he was worried about the future of the Premier League and the damage it could suffer as Britain prepared to face the consequences of leaving the European Union (EU).
"The way in which England will leave the European Union will dictate the future of the Premier League," Wenger told British media.
"If the league becomes less attractive, the broadcasters will offer less money for the rights, club revenues will decrease and the Premier League will suffer the consequences. There lies the problem."
Last month's vote by Britons to leave the EU has left the world's fifth-biggest economy facing deep uncertainty about its growth prospects and its attractiveness to investors.
Despite the Premier League's 5.14-billion-pound ($6.72-billion) domestic television rights deal set to kick in from August, Wenger feared that broadcasters would offer less money in the longer term as a result of Brexit.
"We thought that one day the best players from Real and Barca would say: 'I also want to go to England because everyone is over there.' All of that is now uncertain and Brexit is a spanner in the works... not in the very short term, but in the long term, yes," Wenger said.
"The players will see their wages come down a bit and the competition with Germany, for example, will be stronger," added the Frenchman, who has an economics degree.
"But that was one of the risks of the job and that worries me less. England still has a good amount of financial resources. There is a margin in terms of the money that will come in again this year."
Wenger believes the English clubs' spending during the close season will be affected after the pound fell to its lowest level in more than 30 years following the vote.
He dismissed a suggestion that footballers should be given exemption from any freedom of movement restrictions within Europe if they were introduced.
"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," the 66-year-old Wenger said.
($1 = 0.7650 pounds)
(Reporting by Shravanth Vijayakumar in Bengaluru)