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Analysis: Brexit Has The Potential To Change Football More Than You Think

Politics in the United Kingdom is shambolic right now, to say the least. Following last week’s referendum, 52% of the British public voted to leave the European Union, in a process known as ‘Brexit’.

Since then, the Prime Minister has resigned, the leader of the opposition, Jeremy Corbyn, has been under pressure to do the same, and the pound dropped to its lowest rate for 31 years.

For us Brits, it’s confusing enough. For those outside the UK, it must be bewildering. And, given that Arsenal are a club with multicultural fans living across the globe, it may be worthwhile to explain just how this recent political vote will affect English football, the Premier League, and Arsenal Football Club.

LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 02: Alex Iwobi (L) of Arsenal celebrates scoring his team's second goal with his team mate Hector Bellerin (R) during the Barclays Premier League match between Arsenal and Watford at Emirates Stadium on April 2, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

First, current rules state that, if a player outside the EU is to transfer to a British club, then that player must have played a specific percentage of games for their national side if they are to be granted a transfer without needing a work permit.

Therefore, since the UK has left the European Union (or will do a few years down the line), this will now apply to all players living outside of the UK.

Applying this logic, players like Cristiano Ronaldo and Thierry Henry would not have met regulations for being granted a work permit, as they hadn’t played enough games for their national teams. After Britain leaves the EU, these kinds of players won’t be able to transfer as easily and will be subject to the gruelling process of gaining a work permit which could scupper moves entirely.

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 04: Thierry Henry of Arsenal celebrates after scoring Arsenal's seventh goal of the match during the Barclays Premier League match between Arsenal and Blackburn Rovers at Emirates Stadium on February 4, 2012 in London, England.

Looking more short term, some football finance experts are saying Brexit will force Premier League managers to aggressively spend before these new regulations come into play.

When the next Prime Minister triggers the process of leaving the European Union, it will be two years before this actually happens – giving Premier League clubs two seasons to import European footballing talent before it becomes much more difficult to do so.

Also, given the weakening pound, it will cost Premier League clubs much more to purchase players from Europe during the current transfer window, so expect to see some hugely-inflated transfer costs in the coming months.

For Arsenal fans, this is good and bad. In the immediate term, Arsene Wenger will know that he must act fast to sign some of the players he has been scouting over the last few seasons. However, given the falling strength of the UK currency, coupled with Wenger’s reluctance to spend big, we could see his stubbornness get the better of him once more.

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 13: Arsene Wenger manager of Arsenal looks on prior to the Barclays Premier League match between Aston Villa and Arsenal at Villa Park on December 13, 2015 in Birmingham, England. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

And another possible change that applies to Wenger’s transfer policies is the effect of buying players under the age of 18.

Under current FIFA regulations, players aged 16 and 17 are allowed free movement between teams in the European Union without being subject to work permit allocation. This rule allowed some famously shrewd Wenger signings such as Cesc Fabregas and Hector Bellerin, who have both become Spanish internationals thanks to the Frenchman’s keen eye for youth players. Similar to Henry’s transfer, these kinds of moves may not continue to happen once Britain leaves the EU.

A final point to make, however, does not regard Arsenal, but instead the English national team.

NICE, FRANCE - JUNE 27: Iceland players celebrate while England players show dejection after the UEFA EURO 2016 round of 16 match between England and Iceland at Allianz Riviera Stadium on June 27, 2016 in Nice, France. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

After another disappointing tournament campaign resulted in expulsion at the hands of underdogs Iceland, some have argued Brexit may help the national team in future competitions.

Given the stricter rules previously discussed in this article, some say that a post-Brexit footballing nation may be forced to look closer to home for their talent, rather than abroad. This could lead to increased spending in grassroots football in Britain and perhaps more long-term success for the national sides.

Ironically though, the one thing that is clear is that everything is so very unclear. No one knows what regulations the British government will put in place in terms of football once they leave the European Union. They may be similar to what is already in place, or they may be drastically different. Hopefully though, this article has given you an insight into how Brexit and football affect each other much more than you may have first imagined, while potentially checking off a few question marks.

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Author: The PA Team

This article was written by a member of The PA Team.