Brexit, the Premier League and Visa implications for your favourite club

How Britain's EU referendum could change the Premier League as we know it

As the Brexit result occupies most of the headlines, many sports fans are wondering how the UK's decision to leave the EU will affect the Premier League and their favourite football club.

The biggest change could come by way of attaining visas for players who are not established international footballers. You can not get a visa for a non-EU player unless you are already internationally established, make a significant contribution to the development of football in the UK, and do so without affecting any homegrown talent.

According to Soccerex, The FA will grant an endorsement if:

  • the player is from a FIFA top 10 ranked nation and has played at least 30% of their international first team games in the two years prior to applying for their Tier 2 visa (work permit);
  • the player is from a nation ranked 11-20 and has played in 45% of their international games; 
  • the player is from nations ranked 21-30 and has played in 60% of their international games; or
  • the player is from nations ranked 31-50 and has played in 75% of their international games.

According to Transfermarkt, there are currently 388 foreign players plying their trade in the Premier League out of 595. That is over 75% of players who would have to go through the rigmarole of attaining a visa. When you consider the fact that very few of those players are elite internationals based on the FA's understanding of what that means, they would either have to change their rules drastically or simply rebuild the Premier League with homegrown talent.

A commision by FA's Greg Dyke outlined an "ambitious but realistic" target to increase the number of English players in the Premier League to 45% by the year 2022. This might be an enforced reality if the current visa measures remain in place and could deprive the Premier League of players such as Simon Mignolet, Cesar Azpilicueta, Diego Costa, David de Gea, Anthony Martial and Samir Nasri - all of whom have not played enough games for their international team as per the rules above.

Richard Scudamore, the Premier League's executive chairman had sided with the Remain voters stating, "I believe we, in the UK, must be in Europe from a business perspective. I believe in the free movement of goods, but when it comes to services, we must be entitled, especially in the audio-visual world, to territorialism."

That would suggest that Scudamore believes there is a chance they will fight their corner to be allowed to issue visas as they see fit. It remains to be seen just how willing the government would be to listen to Scudamore's pitch as to how to enforce and monitor this.

The other issue, which has been ever-present, is the value of the pound in relation to the euro and how costly, or inexpensive it might become to travel to games. While remaining in a somewhat stable and predictable state for most of the year, the pound sterling could prove volatile and will effect Premier League football fans who enjoy travelling to England and Scotland on a regular basis.

This, of course, will also have an impact on the price of players and how feasible accumulating top talent is for the "smaller clubs" in the Premier League meaning a further divide between the have's and have-not's in football.

Travelling to games

It is estimated that in excess of 150,000 Irish football fans travel to Britain in any given season to watch games from Newcastle to Southampton and from Manchester to Hull. Many of those fans travel on the day and return later that same day or early the following morning and the question now arises as to how difficult it might become for these fans to do so with minimum hassle.

While it seems unlikely that the UK will impose a hard border, it is simply too early to rule it out and it could become more inconvenient for Irish match-day travelers going to watch their football teams in England, Scotland and Wales if passport control is intensified.

In summary, nothing is entirely clear yet and it could take a number of years before anything is decided on fully regarding Brexit and when it will officially occur. As speculation swirls, the league has come out ensuring fans that whatever the result in the referendum, the Premier League will remain strong. 

In a statement recently released, they said: "The Premier League is a hugely successful sporting competition that has strong domestic and global appeal. This will continue to be the case regardless of the referedun result