EU Footballers: Would Brexit Ruin Premier League?

♠ Posted by Emmanuel in , at 4/18/2016 10:32:00 AM
Coach Wenger [hearts] the EU: Like his European players, he would find it much harder to work in the UK if it left the EU.
I am likely preaching to the converted here, but consider this somewhat surprising voice in favor of the UK remaining in the EU. While many different people, places and things have waxed and waned in terms of popularity in the UK, you can pretty much be certain that football remains at the forefront of its people's attentions. As IPE types ponder more economically relevant questions such as the effects of Brexit on UK trade with the single market, longtime French Arsenal FC coach Arsene Wenger now questions the effects of Brexit on Premier League football.

You see, many (continental) European stars playing for English teams would lose their freedoms of movement to the UK as part of the EU should the UK vote to leave. Hence, they would need to get work permits just like all other players from outside the EU at the current time. This uncertainty is  factoring into club decisions on whom to recruit for the upcoming season as Wenger describes:
Wenger’s transfer policy could potentially be further influenced by the UK’s vote on leaving the European Union, with the implications Brexit would have on football still unclear. “It raises many questions,” he said. “Will the European players be considered as they are now? For example, if England votes for Brexit, will the French be considered like South Americans players [who require work permits]? That would completely re-question the influx of foreign players.

“Will England go that way? If they did, that would leave the Premier League with some questions.”
The pro-EU brigade has taken that statement as a vote in favor of remaining. Can you imagine a Premier League--by some measures the world's most difficult--hindering the influx of the world's best players? Many may instead choose to work on the continent.
West Ham chief executive Karren Brady, a Britain Stronger In Europe board member, has previously warned that exiting the EU risks leaving clubs without "emerging talents" on their books. James McGrory, chief campaign spokesman for Stronger In, said: "Arsene Wenger has been at the forefront of bringing the best players from around Europe to play in Premier League, which has helped to make it the envy of the rest of the world.

"Our stadiums are packed every week with fans who want to watch the likes of Dimitri Payet, N'Golo Kante and Arsenal's own Hector Bellerin. As Wenger says, leaving the EU risks supporters missing out on seeing emerging talents from Europe coming to play at their clubs. "Leading figures in football are clear - leaving the EU would disfigure the beautiful game in this country."
Of course, Brexit wouldn't mean that (continental) European players cannot play in the Premier League. It's just that the hassles associated with dealing with immigration regimes non-Europeans face would represent a huge change for them. Even Arsene Wenger's' work status would likely be at stake here as a Frenchman working in the UK for, what, two decades already? After all, he is, at the end of the day, an EU resident plying his trade in the UK.