BRISTOL: The effect on British football

As the vote to decide whether or not the UK leaves the European Union draws ever closer, one criminally overlooked topic in the EU referendum is the effect that leaving could have on British football.

Should the people of the UK vote to leave, there could be a multitude of consequences for domestic football. Hundreds of players from countries in the EU playing in England’s top four divisions could end up needing work permits, with many inevitably losing their eligibility to play. In the Premier League alone, over 400 players across the league would be at risk if Brexit goes through.

Guy Price, former Chief Executive of Bristol City Football Club, offered his thoughts on whether the UK voting to leave would have a negative impact on British football, saying, “It depends on how you look at it, two thirds of professional footballers from the EU in England’s top divisions don’t currently need work permits but that would obviously change.”

Price continued, “Recruitment policies would have to be altered at football clubs across the UK. Whether it would be positive or negative is difficult to see.

“A negative is that it would most likely affect commercial side of Premier League.” Possible reasons for this include less foreign investment in clubs and the league itself from companies within the EU.

However, Price, a senior partner at Bristol-based sports agency, Green and Gold LLP, joins a list of people including former Arsenal and England defender Sol Campbell in saying that leaving the EU could breathe new life into the England national team as well as the Northern Irish, Scottish and Welsh national teams.

He said, “Leaving the EU could provide a bigger window for young English talent to get more of an opportunity in the first team. This could, in the long run, benefit the England team, or any national side within the UK as potential national team players will have garnered more first team experience.”

Cameron Cooper

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