Competition
  • Premier League

Brexit

Will UK's EU departure wreak havoc in British sport?

Foreign players in the Premier League could find their futures uncertain. Cricket, rugby and NFL are also affected.

Brexit: el deporte británico tiembla con la salida de la UE
BEN STANSALL AFP

Cowboys-Redskins Live

European stars such as West Ham's Dimitri Payet would not have had the opportunity to play in the Premier League without the Bosman ruling

Britain has spoken: Yes to Brexit. The United Kingdom will now begin with its process of abandoning the European Union, and although it won’t happen immediately, the consequences will be important and far-reaching, not just politically and economically, but also in the world of sport.

Bosman ruling

Firstly, repercussions will reverberate throughout the English Premier League, with Brexit likely causing the biggest regulatory change in the relationship of players with their clubs since the Bosman ruling (a 1995 European Court of Justice decision concerning freedom of movement of workers). Without this EU law, two-thirds of European stars in England would not meet automatic non-EU visa criteria and therefore could be forced to leave. European stars that have emerged recently, such as Payet, Kanté or Martial would not have had the opportunity to make their names in the English top-flight without EU legislation, neither would Cristiano Ronaldo back in his day.

Cricket and rugby

Brexit won’t only impact football, either. Cricket and rugby have also benefited from the Community acquis for more than a decade, allowing teams to sign players from non-EU countries. The Cotonou Agreement and the Kolpak Ruling have seen sportsmen from South Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific islands arrive in the UK’s domestic leagues.

NFL

The future presence of foreign athletes is not the only concern in the UK, as the Daily Telegraph reported recently. "The NFL sees London as a gateway to Europe. If the UK leaves, I think it will reconsider the deal," specialist sports lawyer Maria Patsalos told the paper.

Currently, the NFL has an agreement to play two games per season until 2020 in Wembley, and a separate deal to play games at Tottenham’s White Hart Lane, as well as plans to stage a match at Twickenham.