May famously said ‘Brexit means Brexit’ but what does that mean for British football?

 

Currently, all footballers from the EU are allowed to play in the UK without the need of a work permit due to the free movement of peoples, according to the workers’ principle. This means clubs are able to scout and pick up as many of Europe’s hottest prospects as they please and install them into their set-up, providing great competition for British-born players in the academy. Chelsea’s extremely successful and talented academy is already home to nine young budding stars plucked from the grasp of European academies, from the likes of Ajax and Anderlecht.

The story is very different however when it comes to players from non-EU countries. Getting a work permit is no easy task, thanks to the recent tightening of rules by the FA in order to provide more opportunities to home-grown talent. In short, only players who have played a certain percentage of games for their national team, based on their rankings over two years (one year for players 21 and under) will be granted a work permit. As well as those who are deemed to make a significant contribution to the development of football.

Official FIFA Ranking Required % of international matches played in the past 2 years
FIFA 1-10 30% and above
FIFA 11-20 45% and above
FIFA 21-30 60% and above
FIFA 31-50 75% and above

When the time comes and the UK is no longer in the European Union no-one is entirely sure what is going to happen. It may be the case that all players from abroad will be judged under these criteria and the only players who will be granted work permits are those already established on the world stage. Meaning that, players like Martial, Kante, Bellerin and Azpilicueta would not be eligible. The same goes with more than 100 current Premier League players.

Cesc Fabregas was brought over to the Premier League at just 16 from the Barcelona Academy by Arsene Wenger, and he’s since become a superstar in world football. Players like this will no longer get the chance to flourish in the Premier League with the other European leagues essentially getting first pick of them.

This is bad news for managers and great news for young British players. As it gets harder to bring in foreign talent it creates a pathway for them into the first team that the FA wants. The more British players that get games and get experience at the highest level, the hope is the greater our national team does. We’ve seen the likes of Renato Sanches and Joshua Kimmich set the stage alight against some of the world’s very best players in the Champions League and this summer’s European championships. Something the FA is trying to emulate.

In a season that saw Harry Kane finish top scorer, the rise of Jamie Vardy who finished as second top scorer and of course the breakthrough of Marcus Rashford, the talent is quite clearly there; it just needs to be nurtured.

Football Manager 2017 has now made all the headlines with the decision to include three Brexit scenarios making the game more realistic and more challenging than ever. It attempts to predict the future of the UK and help give us an idea of what football will look like life after Brexit.

All in all, Brexit is encouraging for the future of British football, as more British players will be able to break into the first team and gain the valuable experience needed to grow as footballers. And who knows, one day they may make us proud on the international stage.