"I'm very nervous for all the players": Top UK lawyers warn Brexit impact on Premier League could hit Burnley FC

Burnley FC's Turf Moor.
Burnley FC's Turf Moor.
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While heading down to the Turf on the weekend may represent a chance to get away from it all and enjoy an afternoon at the football, it appears nothing is exempt from the impact of Brexit, with one of the UK's top lawyers speaking out about the impact that leaving the EU will have on the Premier League.


Admitting that while it is exceptionally hard to predict what the Premier League and the UK's famously affluent transfer market will look like post-Brexit as a result of the British government's current inability to strike a deal with the EU, Maria Patsalos, partner at London and New York-based law firm Mishcon de Reya has said that there is a range of potential outcomes.

Commenting on what could happen to a transfer market which has seen an estimated £3.3bn spent over the past four windows once Britain leaves the EU, Maria said alterations to right-to-work permits and freedom of movement for young professionals means that change is afoot, explaining: “The uncertainty of Brexit means nothing is set in stone.

"Firstly, all European nationals post-Brexit will have to meet the current work permit rules produced by the FA; alternatively, and perhaps less likely, European nationals will receive more lenient treatment when it comes to visa requirements," she added. "The FA, the Government and the Premier League would need to come to a brand-new arrangement which is currently the most likely option.

"The Premier League are likely to want to scrap the FA rules completely and open the market," Maria added. "While the FA are open to considering this, English football's governing body are pushing to change the non-home-grown rules - currently, each club is entitled to have up to 17 non-home-grown players and the FA would like to reduce to this to 13.”

With 337 of the Premier League's 500 players hailing from beyond the UK's borders (67.4% of the league's players), Brexit is likely to impact the number of foreign nationals coming to England's top clubs. What is more - as Daniel Geey, author of Done Deal: An Insider's Guide to Football Contracts, Multi-Million Pound Transfers and Premier League Big Business points out - the case is far from clear for the division's current crop of players.

"If we go with no-deal, everybody requires a work permit except for UK players," Daniel, one of the UK's most respected sports lawyers, told the Totally Football Show. "What happens for any non-UK player that is signing a contract extension post the end of March? I think they'd need a work permit and they may not get one. That's not even just for new players coming in, there's no clarity whatsoever at the moment and that makes me feel very nervous for all the players."

Warning that there is a strong possibility that Brexit may affect the transfer of players under the age of 18, Maria herself went on to point out that while, currently, all EEA nationals are exempt from a FIFA rule which prevents the transfer of Under 18s, come March of this year, that exemption would vanish, having a major impact on summer spending plans for British clubs looking to snap up the best a brightest talent from overseas.

"It’s unclear if Premier League clubs will be weaker after leaving the EU as it’s dependent on what rules will be in place post-Brexit," Maria said. "But the lack of younger players will definitely give EEA clubs a competitive edge over clubs in the UK.

"The new rules might also prevent young English talent from playing abroad," she added, with the likes of Jadon Sancho having already impressed after moving away from the UK to further his footballing career. "Just as UK clubs won’t be able to attract European players in the same way, the same will apply to European clubs looking to secure English talent.

"We are hoping that whatever the new rules formed post-Brexit, they will be reciprocal.”