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Brexit: What it is and how it will affect English Premier League

With Brexit, it looks to me that the Sun has set on the British Empire & EPL.

N'Golo Kante
Leicester City wouldn’t have been able to sign N’Golo Kante if Britain had exited a year earlier

European economic, social and political unity was dealt a severe blow this morning as results emerged that 52% of the British electorate had decided to vote “Leave” in an in-or-out referendum held yesterday. This in short means that Great Britain will no longer be a part of the ambitious project called the European Union which began post the Second World War with the objective of having a united Europe. The campaign advocating for Britain’s exit from the European body has been referred to as “Brexit”; a term similar to the one that was used a year back as another European country, Greece, sought an exit from the organization.

Such a move will have a huge impact on global markets and the British economy. Already the Pound Sterling has dipped in value along with the Indian Rupee and the Japanese Yen. The move is also bound to change strategies and induce boardroom discussions in major corporate houses across the world especially the ones having their headquarters in London.

It is also worthwhile for us to understand how such a step influences one of the most glamorous, exciting and economically viable products that Britain has developed in the recent past; the English Premier League.

One of the major reasons contributing to the popularity of the English Premier League is the presence of young talents from across the globe especially Europe, who delight us with their skills and abilities and later on become superstars. What Brexit does is that it stifles the ability of English clubs to sign such young talented players. Article 19 of the Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players bans the transfer of minors except in the case when players in the age group of 16 to 18 move within the European Union.

Hence, under such circumstances, English clubs will no longer be able to sign prodigies like Cesc Fabregas who moved from FC Barcelona to Arsenal at the age of 16 and Adnan Januzaj who came from Belgium to Old Trafford before he turned 18. With Britain withdrawing from the organization, signing such players will no longer be possible.

Also issues pertaining to work permits crop up. It will become extremely difficult to sign a player from a lower ranked nation. As per the rules, for a player to be signed from a lower ranked nation, he would have to play 45-75% of the country’s matches in the last two years prior to the submission of the application. With this regulation in place, Leicester City could not have signed N’Golo Kante and West Ham United Dmitri Payet, both of whom have not been regulars for the French national side over the past two years.

Newcastle France
Newcastle has seen a huge influx of French players in recent seasons

This would make it extremely difficult for clubs like West Ham, Leicester and rivals Newcastle and Sunderland who have for long been dependent on players coming in from countries in Europe. With signing players severely restricted, limits could be imposed on the number of foreigners playing for a team, something which was prevalent back in the early 90s.

Players currently on long term contracts do not stand to lose much as these contracts were signed long before Brexit happened. So they are safe for now.  It will be difficult for players of different nationalities to settle down in Britain post retirement. They would have to leave the nation and return to their homeland.  

This was all about the players. What about the overall product? What happens to advertisements, sponsorships, investment etc.?

Britain’s exit will hurt its free trading status with the rest of the countries of the continent. Higher tariffs could be imposed on products leading to a decline in profits. This is going to hurt multinational companies with British operations and could eventually lead to a flight from the nation. If other companies follow suit, there could be immense trouble for the English Premier League.

Clubs are dependent on a number of such companies for sponsorships and with them leaving Britain, investing in British clubs might no longer be an economically attractive option. For many firms, entry into Britain and more importantly into the English Premier League was seen as a gateway to a single large market with the market being the whole of Europe. With new regulations in place, such a line of thought is expected to break down. Advertisements, sponsorships, and investments are most likely to decline.

But the beauty of English football is that it has always managed to pick itself up post a disaster and get back to work. The disaster at Hillsborough was not just an infrastructural issue. A lot was wrong in British football back then and all that culminated at Hillsborough. The good thing here is that Brexit is not a disaster as far as the English Premier League is considered.

It could well turn out to be a good thing. More local players could be groomed and that could lead to an improved performance for the national side. The nation could find another Sir Bobby Charlton who would well bring England their second World Cup. But Brexit is sure to have financial implications and the FA along with the top executives of the English Premier League will have to put in mechanisms to counter that. In a show of unity, all Premier League sides had recently stated that they would like Britain to remain in the EU. With their wishes not being granted, it will be interesting to see how they react.

To conclude, it is important to focus on another aspect. A major issue behind this Brexit campaign has been the influx of people from abroad especially the Middle East and Eastern Europe.

The British have been unhappy with these people for taking away their jobs amongst other things. With Brexit, Britain will once again patrol her own borders and the refugees from war torn countries are unlikely to be let in. However players from foreign countries will be allowed to come in and play for different clubs (albeit with a few restrictions), earn money and generate profits for the club owners. So while the British are reluctant to provide help to the needy, they have absolutely no qualms in helping the already privileged.

With Brexit, it looks to me that the Sun has set on the British Empire.

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