Britain reacts to the EU referendum results.

Possible transfer implications for England following Brexit referendum

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In addition to the widespread economic, political, and historical consequences of the United Kingdom's decision to separate from the European Union, the vote to leave could also have severe long-term implications for the game of football in England. 

The landmark referendum that took place on June 23, has sent shock waves across the continent, as well as the rest of the world, and its effects are already apparent in the game.

Despite an expected two-year transition period for Brexit to genuinely take effect, a state of uncertainty has enveloped the financial markets of the world, which has spread to the football transfer market as well. 


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Here are four implications Brexit could have on transfer dealings in football and also how it could effect the game in general.

Disadvantage Against Other European Nations

European football clubs could purchase players from other nations in the continent starting at the age of 16, as per rules set forth by FIFA.

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As a result of UK's exit from the EU, English clubs will not be able to buy players from other nations in the Union until the player is of the age of 18, since they would now be considered international players. 

That places British clubs at a slight disadvantage to their EU counterparts, who will have the opportunity to snap up promising players at a younger age. Buying a player at the age of 18 would, therefore, be more expensive than it would if the player was 16-years-old. 

Teams that will be affected the most are the weaker teams in the league, who thrive on bringing in players from across the continent at a young age and at a cheaper price, as opposed to bigger clubs who can afford to spend a little extra to buy the more experienced players.

Arsenal v Wolverhampton Wanderers

Nurturing young European talent is often the backbone of several English teams, which could now be crippled. 

Considering that European players constitute a large part of Premier League teams, the above rule could seriously hurt the ability of clubs, especially weaker clubs, to purchase players at a young age. 

Better for British Players

Currently, a massive amount of players from the EU ply their trade in the Premier League, several of them having joined before the age of 18.

The lack of younger international players in English clubs, as a consequence of the referendum, will allow academy level British players to come through the ranks quicker, and gain first team experience from an early age. 

Manchester United v Crystal Palace - The Emirates FA Cup Final

Not only will young British prospects break through to senior level faster, but also be in a stronger position to contest for places in the first team with international players when they reach the age of 18.

This enhanced development of English talent will likely ensure a much better crop of players entering the national team, whereby improving the chances of teams such as England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland in major international competitions. 

More Complicated Work Permit Process

With a vote to leave the EU, more than a 200 players in the UK now fall in the category of players that do not meet work permit rules to play in the Premier League. These players are now considered international players as opposed to EU players. 

As a part of the Union, English clubs were not subject to the above regulations when bringing in players from countries across Europe. 

Leicester City v Everton - Premier League

For an international player to join a Premier League club, he must have featured for an allotted number of games for his country, as per Britain's work permit rules. 

For top-10 ranked national teams, their players need to have featured in 30% of the games within the two years before the application for the work permit. 

As the ranks increase, the rule becomes more and more stringent, as players from countries ranked 31-50 are required to have played in 75% of games for their nation. 

The reason for relatively relaxed provisions for higher ranked teams is to ensure that quality players make it through to the top leagues in Europe. Also, due to the greater competition present in top ranked sides, the rule is slightly more flexible for them. 

Under the current rule, well established players such as Dimitri Payet, N'Golo Kante, and Anthony Martial would fail to meet the criteria, in addition to hundreds of others. 

Manchester United v Crystal Palace - The Emirates FA Cup Final

Former Premier League players such as Cristiano Ronaldo and Thierry Henry would not have been signed by Manchester United and Arsenal respectively, since they had not made enough international appearances at the time of their transfer. 

It is unlikely that the current players under scrutiny would be forced to vacate their place in their respective teams, as the rule did not apply at the time of their arrival, but this situation provides a glimpse of the existing confusion and uncertainty in the game. 

Higher Transfer Costs

Players that satisfy the above work permit requirement are those that have featured regularly for their national teams and are understandably, more experienced and well-trained talents.

As a direct result of the regulations, English clubs could be forced to look for more established players from across Europe, and other continents, which would automatically result in a higher price tag for the player. 


Brexit has seen a drastic fall in the value of the Pound currency, which has been reflected in a hike in prices of potential transfer targets being pursued by English clubs, as seen by Michy Batshuayi's overnight increase in value from £31 million to £34 million. 

Similarly, Manchester United and Chelsea may now have to pay £30m more for Juventus star Paul Pogba.

These are just some of the dilemmas the FA and the European football governing body would have to face. However, these institutions are expected to work closely in the next two years to forge together plans to soften the blow suffered by the leave vote. 

There are possibilities of exceptions that could be made regarding the under-18 as well as the work permit rule, since Britain would still represent Europe as far as football is concerned, if not in political terms. 

But for the time being, uncertainty is set to loom over the future of football in the UK and the EU. 

How do YOU think the Brexit will effect English football? Get involved in the debate in the comment section below!

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Thierry Henry
Paul Pogba
Manchester United
West Ham United
Premier League
Cristiano Ronaldo
Francesc Fabregas

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