The British people have spoken and, by a slim majority (so close the TV umpire/third umpire would have ruled ‘not out’ using the hawkeye system) have chosen to say arrivederci, au revoir, adios, auf wiedersehen and good bye in 23 other languages to the European Union. An economic and political union for sure, but for many Europeans a common sense of identity, enabling past “indiscretions” to be moved on from and a vision of the future based on a common cultural identity… and no more wars! Some are hoping it is just round one, but my guess is this is game, set and match. So, what does this mean for sport, with an emphasis on British sport.

Football players from the EU have had the freedom to play in the lucrative EPL (around 100ish) and including the first and second division of English and Scottish football there are more than 400 EU players. Will Brexit result in EU players being treated like non-EU players? In this case, to be eligible for a work permit, the player must have played a percentage of games for their national team, the lower ranked the team, the higher percentage of games required. Will this have a positive affect on the chances for South American, Asian and African players? Will it have an impact on the quality of the EPL and/or sponsorship value and all the follow-on affects?

One benefit of the current EU rule is that academy / age-group level players from Europe have ready access to the EPL academy programmes. If this was gone, what impact would it have on the development of football in European countries?

Will there be a short-term impact on EPL teams signing EU players given all the current uncertainty?
But, then this would presumambly mean more British players in British football. Will this provide long term benefit to both grassroots and international British football? Will it improve English and Scottish international football, certainly England could do with some help?

The Kolpak agreement is an EU agreement that allows The African, Carribean and Pacific Group of States (http://www.acp.int/content/secretariat-acp) to enjoy the same access previlieges as EU players do to EU professional sport. Regardless of any immigration laws, the UK would no longer be a party to this agreement. What impact on English cricket, think Strauss and Petersen? Perhaps NZ and Oz will get a few more? Impact on West Indies cricket, they need all the help in test cricket they can get and access to English county cricket is hugely beneficial? Samoan, Fijian and Tongan rugby? Perhaps NZ and Australian Rugby can now stand up and take some responsibility!?

What impact does the falling value of the pound have on the attractiveness of transfer fees and prize money(Tennis, Golf etc.)? At the top end the numbers are silly money anyway, but what about the bottom, will it be material?

The European Golf Tour says it is OK to have British players in the Ryder Cup team (they would hardly say no to McIlroy anyway, would they!), but playing under the EU Flag minus one star, a bit odd? Maybe a chance for a new European flag for when we include Britain (NZ might have a spare one or two examples to try)? Not to mention the European Tour is based in Surrey, a problem for the future?

Will Andy Murray still be happy to play under British Tennis (Lawn Tennis Association) given the Scottish position on the vote? Rory McIlroy plays under Northern Ireland anyway, so safe for now… or will it just become Ireland in the near future? Sinn Fein seem to think so.

Is there a good deal to be had buying into an EPL team today – price has probably dropped, but realistically the brands are still powerful?

How safe are the Gibraltar-based bookmakers? Spain is already making a noise.

Beckham v. Botham, beauty versus the Beef, youth v. age, bending v. bashing. Perhaps, instead of a second referendum, we just put the two of them in the ring and let them go 10 rounds, who would win?

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One thought on “Brexit – good or bad for sport (focus on England, Britain, UK)?

  1. First things first, I’m a Scot in Scotland who voted to remain.

    Interestingly enough some of these points regarding access to players for football clubs were raised by people in the remain campaign before the referendum had taken place, it’s a bit scary to think that people base their political decisions on how it would affect their football club.

    Aside from the obvious political ramifications of the vote your article raises some good points with regards to the grassroots of sports, will this stop football clubs signing mediocre players as a quick fix and make them focus on youth development which can only be a good thing for our national team, I would like to think so and watching the Euopean Championships just now show how Iceland is a great example of what can be achieved with a focused program in a country that has a pretty poor domestic league. Obviously the Scottish league is the poor relation (very poor – Oliver Twist levels here) to the English league but could we see a return of the days where English clubs have Scottish players at their core, think Man Utd, Liverpool, Everton)…..maybe wishful thinking as money will talk, I’m sure the EPL will get some sort of special dispensation from the government to get their players in.

    For the oval ball game, raises some questions about the ‘project player’ system being used by Edinburgh and Glasgow rugby, inviting a player to play for them and then after a few years having them eligible for Scotland. Usually it’s Southern Hemisphere countries but the occasional EU player such as Scottish Dutchman Tim Visser also pops up. These players have on the whole improved our team but would losing them free up space for young scots to shine? I would like to think it would and we could slowly build a team from home born players, again maybe wishful thinking as if we had the players they would already be fighting for a place.

    I fear that for rugby and football we could be looking at a closed shop with sub standard players getting a game leading to our clubs sides failing in competitions, not that their trophy shelves are groaning with trophies, in turn affecting national team and their prospects.

    In short term I don’t think much will change but medium term will lead to drop in quality and options but maybe long term it will result in better players without the need to rely on expensive imports. Although there is still a lot of uncertainties and anything could happen in the coming months and years.

    I’d also like to add the caveat to this response that how our national football and rugby team performs is pretty low down on my priorities for what this decision means for us in the UK and Scotland but goes to show how this vote affects all areas of our lives.

    Like

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