English Premier League club owners are requesting that the government work to ensure that their teams are not put at a competitive disadvantage with the country’s upcoming departure from the European Union.
Brexit will end free movement to the country from the rest of the EU, and it’s not yet clear if players will be included in immigration exemptions. If they aren’t, Premier League clubs could start having difficulty when it comes to signing European players.
“We’d expect them to be included (in exemptions), but we have to wait and see,” Stoke owner Peter Coates said after a recent meeting of club owners, according to a report from AP. “In Europe, we can get free movement and that will change, or may change, I don’t know. We don’t know.”
West Ham co-chairman David Gold was more pointed (with helpful American translation from AP):
“The Premier League is the greatest league the world has ever known. It’s a fantastic advert for Britain, for England. I know people talk about the wealth that’s there, but these guys (players) are on huge salaries and all the tax is going into the exchequer (treasury). Why would you stifle that? Why would you want that to change? It’s a great advert. The Premier League goes around the world and it’s ever expanding. I don’t see a government doing something potty (daft) to disturb that. I don’t know about free movement but the structure would be that the best players would receive work permits.”
The English Football Association pushed for harsher visa requirements from players outside Europe a few years ago, but not being able to easily sign players from within Europe is an obvious step further—and one that would put clubs at a clear disadvantage in UEFA competition.