The unexpected victory of “Leave” in the British referendum on membership in the European Union, in addition to having a strong political impact, will also create numerous consequences in the sporting sector, in particular in the world of English and European professional football.
Those effects, mainly related to the massive presence of foreign players in the Premier League championship, represent today the most serious risk. Because of Brexit, in fact, players from England, Scotland and Northern Ireland will lose community member status, with very little material effect on the departing market, but very significant for the English teams who will no longer benefit from the free movement of EU players.
The stringent rules that, to date have only addressed the membership of professional players from countries outside the European Union may, therefore have to be applied to Community players whose engagement would be allowed only in compliance with the complex mechanism related to attendance of the athlete for the past two years in the referring national team.
The dynamics of the football market, could also be affected, collaterally but substantially, by the economic weight of the clubs. The numerous restrictions on the engagement of foreign players, resulting in a significant decrease in the quality of the Premier League, could create a vicious cycle, which in light of the lower purchasing power of the fans due to the devaluation of the pound, will depress the considerable amount of revenue produced by sports rights.
That this legal regime would apply to Community athletes remains only a hypothesis, as British authorities may even choose to maintain the current rules.
What we can say for certain is that Brexit will have a negative effect on the movement of young talent from the EU, in particular with respect to the applicability of article 19 of the FIFA Regulation. This provision places a ban on international transfers of players under 18 years, except for those players, between 16-18 years, transferred within the European Union. If no change in the law is implemented, the English teams will be unable to recruit young players, who might one day be champions.
If protection measures are not implemented it could be expected a more “closed” Premier League championship, which would attract less investments, and fewer foreign players, who have in recent years become ever more important in English football.
From the perspective of the football industry, leaving European Union will be a losing solution that the British Government will be obliged to mitigate by adopting a policy that is not excessively eurosceptic, but is, on the contrary, oriented in favour of confirming the principle of free movement of players.
You can consult and/or download the full version of the Brexit dossier here.