EU Referendum: 7 ‘Noticeable’ Implications Of #BrexitVote On Football, Sport In UK
The United Kingdom (UK) has made a highly momentous decision in history, opting to leave the European Union (EU) – Brexit – a vote that will have ramifications on all sectors of the country; plunging the nation into uncertain political, financial and social terrain, with sport too facing an unclear future.
While sport will be affected by the impact of Brexit, calculating the consequences on football, rugby, cricket, tennis among others, will basically go down to guesswork.
We take a look at some of the implications of Brexit on sport in the UK.
- Football: Freedom Of Movement/Work Permits
Voting to leave the European Union could now have an impact on the freedom of movement principle that allows sportsmen and women from the EU to work in the UK without the need for a complicated work permit process.
Non-EU citizens, on the other hand, usually have to meet Home Office registration criteria. Football players in particular have to play a specific number of matches for their national sides in order to qualify for a move to the Premier League.
If this rule was also applied to players from EU countries, more than 100 Premier League players would have failed to gain a work permit. Extend this to the top two divisions in England and Scotland, and this rises to something like 400.
Anthony Martial, the £38m Manchester United striker, West Ham’s Dimitri Payet and Leicester’s N’Golo Kante, all of whom are relatively new to the France side would almost certainly have been refused entry if not for EU-specific regulations.
If Britain had never been in the EU and these rules had always been in place, we would never have seen Cristiano Ronaldo or Thierry Henry come to the Premier League so young.
- Football: Transfer of Young Players
In addition to this, Premier League clubs are now in danger of missing out on talented teenage players from Europe.
Article 19 of the FIFA Regulations, concerning the Status and Transfer of Players, permits the ‘transfers of minors between the age of 16 and 18 within the EU or EEA [European Economic Area].’
It means with Britain outside the EEA that leading Premier League academies such as Chelsea and Manchester City, who like to import up-and-coming players from European clubs, would find it harder to do so.
- Football: A Fall In Transfer Fees
The falling value of the pound against the Euro could have a knock-on effect on transfer fees, at least in the short term.
For example, the 40m Euro offer made by West Ham for Marseille’s Michy Batshuayi has already risen from £31m last week to £34m now before of the falling pound against the Euro.
- Football: Players Quotas
Brexit will pose a huge headache for certain Spanish clubs, with La Liga rules allowing a maximum of three non-EU players in their squad.
At Real Madrid, with Welshman Gareth Bale now classed as a non-EU player as well as James Rodriguez of Colombia and Brazilian duo Danilo and Casemiro, they will exceed this quota.
With the Bernabeu club reportedly set to offer Bale, twice a Champions League winner during his three years there, a ‘contract for life’, one of the others will have to go.
- Rugby And Cricket: Kolpak Agreement
Apart from football, we could see the end of the Cotonou Agreement and the Kolpak Ruling in 2003 that allows players from Africa, Caribbean and the Pacific Group of States (ACP) enjoy the same rights as players from the EU.
This ruling has enabled many players from South Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific Islands have come over to the UK to play in the domestic leagues.
Some have then gone on to play for the England teams – South African-born players such as Kevin Pietersen and Andrew Strauss in cricket and Samoa-born Manu Tuilagi in rugby, for example.
Brexit will render the Kolpak agreement void in the UK, complicating the signing of such players and potentially weakening the cosmopolitan nature of the leagues.
- Tennis: Wimbledon Prize Money
Wimbledon gets underway next week but Brexit is already having a significant effect on the prize money on offer to the players.
Because the culmulative £28.1m prize fund is given in sterling, this would be worth less to an overseas winner if the pound continues to fall against foreign currencies.
Both the men’s and women’s singles champions will earn £2m this year. This is an increase of 6.4 per cent on 2015, but the rise is almost certain to be negated by the falling value of the pound.
- Golf: The Ryder Cup
Given the many talented golfers that come from the British Isles, will Brexit have implications for the European Ryder Cup team in the future?
The next Ryder Cup is set to take place at Hazeltine in September, but the European Tour insist there will be no change to tradition.
A spokesperson for The European Tour said: ‘The criteria for being European in Ryder Cup terms is a geographical one (ie from countries who make up the Continent of Europe) not a political or economic one (ie from countries who make up the EU). Therefore the result of the UK referendum has no bearing in Ryder Cup qualification terms.
‘In terms of the flag flown to represent the European Ryder Cup team, we consider that the blue and gold flag of Europe represents the continent of Europe and, as a broad symbol of Europe as a whole, we therefore plan to continue to use it.’