Piotr Przyborowski, University of York
Premier League clubs cannot complain about the lack of money. They earn and spend tons of pounds on new, renowned players from all over the world. Including, the biggest European stars. Nevertheless, they may soon need to combat another problem. Brexit is coming and it would undoubtedly leave a significant mark also, on British football.
It is by far the richest league on this planet. Eight out of twenty richest teams in the world are English. According to the Deloitte report, in 2017/2018 campaign Premier League clubs generated 4.8 billion pounds revenue. However, even that amount of money would not help English clubs with Brexit. Therefore, with Boris Johnson (who denies revealing his club preferences) is only a matter of time.
The European Union
Being a part of European Union provides its members with the freedom of movement for workers. That is why in 2013 all of the paperwork connected with a 42 million pounds move of Mesut Özil from Real Madrid to Arsenal was done within hours, during the transfer deadline day. With Brexit on, this would not be possible.
Player transfers without an EU passport were affected by complex English bureaucracy. In 2004, Chelsea bought ‘Alex’ the Brazilian centre back. However, as he was not a regular starter for his national team at that time, he did not receive permission to work in the UK. A defender eventually spent three years on a loan in Dutch side PSV Eindhoven, before he could finally play for “The Blues”.
The problems are always the same and are related to either work permit restrictions or Visa. Players outside the European Union need a Governing Body Endorsement from the Football Association (FA). This is based on the fee of the transfer, salary for the player or the number of international caps. That is why a plethora of well-known international players have problems in joining the Premier League. If the UK leaves the EU with no deal, this can further impact the transfers of European players.
The FA still see a chance in Brexit, for getting more home-grown players in the Premier League teams. It is no secret that currently, the best top tier clubs consist of mainly foreign footballers. In the starting lineups of the last UEFA Champions League final, Liverpool and Tottenham had only seven English players combined. Pep Guardiola, the manager of the league, title holders and Manchester City in the final of the FA Cup decided to start with just two homegrown players on pitch.
When Premier League was established in 1992, English players started 70% of the games. In 2017-2018 it was only 33%. The plan of the Football Association is then simply, to push the clubs to include more local players in their 25-player squads. Currently, the maximum number of non-homegrown players is 18. The FA’s proposal assumes that the exacerbation of this limit should be to 12. In the previous season, more than half of the Premier League clubs did not meet those requirements.
The Turkish system
Limits connected to foreign players are common in international football. Recently, Polish ‘Ekstraklasa’ clubs could only have two players on pitch without an EU nationality. This summer, changes have been made, implementing a new rule which requires each and every team to have at least one Polish player, under 21 in their squad. For many years Turkish clubs have been alluring renowned, but aged players with their Bosporus money. Turkish Football Federations (TFF) introduced a law which dramatically decreased the number of foreign players in local clubs. There was a time when only six international footballers could play simultaneously in one team. In the past decade, the limit changed several times. TFF now allows international players to start the lineup. But, in total each club can only have 14 international players in their 28-people squad. Notwithstanding, the result is still the same– the level of Turkish football is still decreasing with the national team, competing only in one major tournament since their big success and semi-final during Euro 2008.
Turkey proves that the limits will not make the English national team better. Moreover, Brexit may have a detrimental impact on British football. Finally, this huge chaos appears when football, at least to some extent, is coming home. “The Three Lions” in Russia were very close to the World Cup final. The youth system is probably the best in the world, not only because of the money invested in their academies, but also the hard work of foreign coaches. Their players were the key element of the recent successes: England team won in 2017 the Under-17 and Under-20 World Cups, and the Under-19 European Championships.
If the homegrown footballer is good enough, he will get a spot in the first eleven like, Trent Alexander- Arnold in Liverpool and he will quickly become a national star. But even if one player is a wonderkid in a young team, he may not necessarily be ready yet for a senior debut. So, if the FA is pleased with the progress of the young English players, there is no need to artificially fix it. Particularly, When the Premier League clubs holds so much power according to their financial status. They soon may have another big problem. Because, not only football, but also Brexit is coming home.