ON October 31, a lot of things can suddenly change. For those of you living under a rock until now, that is the new date that the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland will cut its ties to the European Union.
The consequences of the UK leaving the EU depend on whether the government can or cannot reach a deal with Europe. Ideally, there shouldn’t be too many – except, of course, in the case of a “hard BREXIT” with no deal between the two. As you might expect, there will be consequences that go beyond tariffs, free movement, and the Premier League. The Scottish Premiership will also feel the effects of the UK leaving the EU on its own skin.
Players from the European Union can currently join Scottish Premiership teams with little to no restrictions, while those coming from outside of the EU need to have a certain percentage of appearances with their local teams before being able to join the roster of a Scottish team (and there are other restrictions in place as well, like work permits and such).
In the case of a hard BREXIT, the same rules will apply to EU-based players, too, making it harder for them to join a team. This can put a strain on local teams, especially if they aspire to become one of the world’s most valuable football clubs.
Last year, out of the more than 160 foreign players at Scottish teams, there were 58 from the European Union, their home countries ranging from Ireland and Portugal to Belgium and Bulgaria. For these players, the teams would have to obtain work permits for them to continue to play in the Scottish Premiership. When it comes to new players, though, things could be much more complex – leading to a serious delay or even the blocking of transfers from the European Union entirely.
This, along with the proposed regulations that would favour “home-grown” players instead of “imported” ones could have serious – negative – effects on the state of football across Great Britain. Given all the revenue football generates in the UK, the biggest leagues have tried to convince the authorities to allow their trade to be exempt from the requirement of the work permit but the results are still to be seen.
If they fail, the effects would be devastating for the Premier League. Right now, more than half of all players in the Premier League teams are from outside of the UK. Each one of them would require a work permit in order to be able to extend their contracts with their clubs – and there is always the possibility for them not to get one, considering the pretty harsh rules governing this area.
And there would be no under-18 players coming from abroad either – FIFA currently has an exception for the underage players’ movement within the European Economic Area (EU + other member states) but this will no longer cover the UK after a hard BREXIT.
Unless a good deal is reached, BREXIT can seriously affect British football – Scottish football as well.