Football Media Watch: Brexit – the blinkers are on

NATIONAL League club Boreham Wood scored a PR own goal this week with their somewhat bold message to Britain’s MPs, urging them to “do your duty” and vote down Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal. The bizarre release, coming just days after Cardiff manager Neil Warnock made clear his views on the European Union, calls on the country to adopt the spirit of Winston Churchill. “We can take whatever obstacles, red tape and barriers that Europe wishes to throw at us and overcome. So we implore our MPs, please do your job – vote down this deal and please stop scaremongering us all about a NO DEAL.”

Boreham Wood’s release, which had no names attached, adds: “We must not let the failing Euro super powers bully us – sorry Germany and Mrs Merkel, sorry President Macron and the French franchise. We’ll leave you guys to get on with solving your own problems with the growing and repulsive far right and the destructive left wing yellow vests. It’s now time for Europe to let our Great British democracy sail off and if we fail, then we fail.”

Boreham Wood, incidentally, have a Dane, a Frenchman and a Guyanan international in their ranks at the moment. Arsenal Ladies and Watford reserves both use the club for games.

Meanwhile, Forbes outlines a number of issues the Premier League faces in the aftermath of Brexit. “Needless to say, the level of upheaval and instability that could potentially result from a no-deal Brexit is untold….The existing laws concerning immigration by skilled migrants to Britain tend to centre around how much money the migrant makes, but there are a range of other hurdles for non-EU footballers that would theoretically come into effect should the UK leave without a deal.” According to FiveThirtyEight, over half of EU players transferred into the Premier since 1992 would not have qualified for a work permit at the time of their transfers.

On the other hand, Forbes reports that the Premier could become even more international. It could be argued that players from the EU have received an unfair advantage in moving to the UK. Currently, work permit rules make it more likely that a player from Brazil, for example, would move to an intermediary EU country such as Portugal, which has different work permit laws. Should all foreign players, regardless of EU or non-EU origin, be subject to the same work permit tests, then perhaps more would move directly to the Premier League than South America?

Economically, Brexit could change the face of European football, resulting a loss of competitiveness for the Premier. Should the legions of foreign players leave the UK under Brexit-enforced conditions, it is perfectly feasible that broadcasters will also look elsewhere. Leagues such as Italy and Spain, will be watching with a keen eye, said Forbes. “The falling value of the pound against the euro could see players eschew the Premier and stay within the Eurozone. A pound was worth € 1.26 the day before the referendum, but is now hovering around € 1.1, with the trend going in one direction.” Forbes added: “Factor in the increased difficulty of getting work permits, the unstable political situation and loss of glamour and the Premier League could find itself in real difficulty.”

Not that Neil Warnock will care too much. His comments, reported in the Independent, underline the deep divisions within the UK regarding the calamity awaiting the nation. Asked about Brexit, he said: “I can’t wait to get out of it, if I’m honest. I think we’ll be far better out of the bloody thing. In every aspect. Football-wise as well, absolutely. To hell with the rest of the world.” As the Indy cautioned, Warnock’s reaction might raise eyebrows at Cardiff, both in the boardroom and dressing room. Cardiff City are owned by Malaysian businessman, Vincent Tan and the squad includes players from Canada, Denmark, Gabon, Iceland, Ivory Coast, the Philippines, Ireland and Spain. As a city, Cardiff voted to stay in the EU.

Photo: Matt Brown via Flickr CC-BY-2.0

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