Possible Effects of Brexit on English – and World- Football

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by ANTHONY J. MERCED

OP-ED: Great Britain have decided to exit the European Union. Brexit, as it’s been dubbed, is upon us.

So why are we talking about it on a soccer focused site?

Well, that decision will have numerous impacts on economics and social issues in the United Kingdom that will almost certainly fall on their most popular sporting export — the English Premier League.

Immigration Shifts Puts Over 400 Players at Risk and Could Boost Homegrown Talent

English football has seen a surge over the last five years like they’ve never had before. Finally penetrating the American market through a lucrative NBC Sports deal, the EPL has built its fame and fortune on the back of stellar players, many of which are not English themselves. Brexit throws into question their status with work permits and could see the value of the league drop dramatically just weeks before the start of the 2016-2017.

Over 400 international players are in the English Football Association and depending on the how work permits are structured under new agreements, those players may no longer be eligible to play based on negotiations between each European nation. This would also open the door to address an issue that many in England have raised as a concern — the development of English talent. Should players no longer be permitted to work, expect an influx of homegrown talent to fill out rosters, something many have sought over the years.

The Fall of the British Pound May Scare Future Investors

The Premier League has recently seen an influx of foreign owners with major money players from Asia, other parts of Europe and the United States buying up major clubs over the past decade. Should the economy take the predicted dip that many are expecting, investment in teams moving forward could also dip and potentially force sales of clubs at much lower prices than they were purchased.

Many of these factors depend on elements out of the control of ownership and could very well be a detractor on future investors. American money in particular has shown continued interest in teams and broadcasting rights that could be thrown into chaos should major names leave clubs and revenue fall dramatically due to the fall of the British pound.

Whether or not football will show that it can rise above these economic factors and live within a bubble remains to be seen. Many times we’ve seen teams and specifically money push back showing little affect. However, the volatile situation culturally, especially in regards to immigration, could be too much for foreign investors and push for a major exodus in the near future.

Brexit Could Affect Other Nations with Strong Football Associations

Many are predicting that Brexit could be a chain reaction where other nations could see similar uprising, furthering the rift among European nations. Political voices within Scotland and France have begun to make noises about similar movements in their own nations.

France, Germany and Spain are known to have the other more solvent and successful leagues in Europe. In the short term, they will feel the effect on the potential talent pool. A large number of players may be looking for new homes and money originally specified for the English game could find itself in other leagues. Currently, the German Bundesliga has made a strong push with a recent Fox Sports deal and serves to benefit most from an English league fall from grace.

Overall, there is little that can be predicted considering the vast insecurity that Brexit has placed on the global market. Sports are neutral but at the same time affected heavily by the economics of the nation. We stand at a historic moment and the beautiful game may not be able to escape the tidal wave that may follow in the coming months.