On Thursday, the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union, a massive decision that will have ripple affects across the world.
What sports fans want to know, however, is how Brexit could affect the Premier League. The answer? There could be an impact, but not a big one.
Richard Scudamore, the Premier League executive chairman, appeared on BBC Radio 5 Live last week and said he supported the United Kingdom staying the EU. Additionally, he said the Premier League hoped the UK would stay in because the league is all about openness, and that’s what the EU promotes.
Here’s Scudamore’s full quote via NBC Sports and BBC Radio 5:
“The main reason we have concluded that remain is best is because of our outlook,” Scudamore said. “We are a global export. We look outwards. We are open to the world and do business with the world. Really, when it comes down to it you’ve just got to decide are we better being open? Are we better acting like we want to play our part in the world and be worldly citizens or do we want to send a signal to the world that says actually we’re kind of pulling the drawbridge up here. We’re going to take control of our own destiny.
“Well, that doesn’t seem to sit very well when you travel the world like we do being welcomed because of the fact that we are open for business, open for discussion, and open for cooperation. There is an openness about the Premier League which I think it would be completely incongruous if we were to take the opposite position.”
However, since Scudamore spoke the UK has decided to leave the EU. As a result, the Premiere League issued the following statement Friday.
“The Premier League is a hugely successful sporting competition that has strong domestic and global appeal. This will continue to be the case regardless of the referendum result.
“Given the uncertain nature of what the political and regulatory landscape might by following the ‘Leave’ vote, there is little point in second guessing the implications until there is greater clarity. Clearly, we will work with the government and other bodies whatever the outcome of any process.”
One of the biggest issues the Brexit creates, if it can be called an issue at all, is players born outside Great Britain who play in the Premier League must apply for a work permit to do so, just like non-EU and European Economic Area players have to do. In short, Bastian Schweinsteiger now has to apply for the same forms to play for Manchester United that Clint Dempsey had to in order to play for Fulham as recently as 2014.
What makes this more confusing is the Premiere League has guidelines for players from non-EU countries.The UK has guidelines for non-EU players too.
If a non-EU player is from a country ranked in FIFA’s top 10, the player must have played in at least 30% of their national team games over the past two years just to apply for a work permit to play professional in the United Kingdom. Additionally, after the top 10, the lower the ranking the higher percentage of games the player must have played in.
As of March 2015, here was the breakdown of ranking and percentage needed to play:
FIFA 1-10: 30% and above
FIFA 11-20: 45% and above
FIFA 21-30: 60% and above
FIFA 31-50: 75% and above
During this past Premier League season, 432 European Union players were registered in the Premier League. While they will most likely be able to remain in the UK after the vote, new players will probably have to go through the work permit process.
Overall, the whole transfer and free agency system just got a lot more complicated with the Premier League. However, it is the Premier League and it will continue to attract top talent no matter how long the permit applications are.