So the great British public has spoken and the UK are currently poised to leave the European Union in 2018. Whether or not this will actually happen is one thing, with the possibility of further talks with the EU, second referendums, etc, all possibilities. In the meantime though the question remains of how this will affect us going forwards.
And more specifically, how will it affect football? No, more specifically, how will it impact Everton?
The Current Situation
As a member state of the EU, football gets a lot of benefits. The EU can provide grants for grass roots football for example and subsidise many elements of the general infrastructure. They, though, have nothing to do with UEFA – we haven’t voted to leave Europe after all. Champions League, European Championships, etc, will continue as normal.
Freedom of movement is also well defined within Europe in that if you hold an EU passport you pretty much have a free pass into England to play for any club you like. Look at the popularity of players from Belgium for example. There are some very good players in that side but also some very average ones that have filtered through to play for British teams.
What If We Do Leave The EU
Assuming we do leave (I would maybe have my money on a second referendum next year) there will be a number of changes that will be undertaken .
If the UK decide that their new visa system insists on players having played a certain percentage for their country wherever they are from then those international caps will be like pure gold. Essentially it won’t matter where you are from outside of the UK, you’ll need to go through that process. Remember the issues we had with Kanchelskis before that was confirmed, and he’d come from Manchester United. Alex Nyarko (god bless him) was signed on a four-year deal on a 3-year visa as it was all we could get! And then he was sent back home and we had to pay him for another year!!
Imagine a world where a top striker becomes available in Spain and wants to move to England. If he has the number of caps required his value will be huge. The money will spiral even more out of control for these players. In the meantime, English player values will also spin out of control for those who are ‘above average’ as clubs decide to get them in as opposed to worrying about cap quotas for their players when re-negotiating deals. And this is of course without the FA having their own rules in place about the number of foreign players you can have in your match day squad as has been recently discussed.
How Will This Impact Everton?
Well historically this would have given Everton a huge number of issues. The players that we have bought such as Lukaku or even James McCarthy went through very easily due to their country’s EU membership. Looking forwards, they will have to apply for a visa to come and play in the UK. We have been essentially buying young, enthusiastic players that didn’t at the time of purchase have a rich international playing background.
This means that Everton will be playing in a very rich pool for a small number of quality players. Imagine how much money John Stones and Ross Barkley will be worth now! Imagine how much they’ll be insisting they earn in their contracts!
Now, Everton seem to now be minted which is a bonus, but we’ll be competing with a lot of other clubs with money and we might now have to build a new stadium using more expensive non-European labour and materials. Expect this Summer’s strategy to now change to look to tie down some of our better players to long-term contracts (5-10 year contracts for young talent even?) as well as buying a few headline players.
On the plus side, I don’t know anyone who doesn’t want to see more home-grown players playing in English football. Even the Championship and lower divisions are full of very average European players who are (sorry to say) taking the places of those who deserve more of a chance. Could this be the making of British football? Will the quality of the football go up or down?
Essentially we don’t know how it will all work and it might take a while to sort out the finer details. It might get very messy in the meantime too. For more details look here as there are some quotes from the football legal world that support these theories.