Brexit has significantly changed how the British football clubs will sign foreign players. How does it exactly affect the transfer window…?
Early on, it was clear that new Brexit regulations will impact a sport that involves the transfer of international players for multi-million-pound fees. It is a costly business.
Just in the last January transfer window, many English clubs spent over £200 million on players arriving from all over the globe.
However, with the United Kingdom leaving the European Union, English clubs will no longer have access to the single labour market and freedom of movement.
What impact will it have on sport’s future and its next generation of players?
WHAT ARE THE NEW RULES?
With Britain leaving the European Union, the Football Association (FA) has stated that new laws ban clubs from signing international players under the age of 18.
Post-Brexit Britain no longer has access to the FIFA Exemption. This law allows football clubs in the European Economic Area (EEA) to transfer players under 18. Now, English clubs can only sign up to three international players under 21 per transfer window as stated by The FA.
Clubs will be able to sign only six foreign players per campaign for the foreseeable future whereas before they could have a maximum of 17. Also, these players can only make the move if they meet the points-based threshold set to manage the transfer market.
Last December, the FA published Governing Body Endorsement (GBE), which lists criteria to apply for the UK work visa. The points system focuses on a player’s FIFA ranking and the number of international appearances.
It seems this system may restrict young foreign players’ opportunities to play at the UK club if they do not have a required number of international appearances.
A player from a Top Ten-ranked country would be able to sign for an English club only if he has played in half of their nation’s matches in the last two years.
Also, free movement restrictions could affect experienced and well-seasoned foreign players hoping to play for the English leagues.
EU players over the age of 18 may now require to obtain a work permit provided by GBE. Potentially it might force them to avoid playing in England and continue their careers in Europe’s top leagues.
In addition, an Exceptions Panel will be assessing foreign player’s applications and decide whether they can continue playing for the English club.
THE BREXIT EFFECT ON YOUTH FOOTBALL
British football club managers may have to rethink their approach to youth development and how they sign young players.
Over the past few years, many top English clubs have been able to sign under 18-year-old international players to their academy to collect the most talented youth. This strategy has been an essential element in the Premier League’s growth to being one of the world’s best competitions.
However, the new regulations could set a massive change in the talent selection system. It is rumoured the FA is working on a proposal to amend the homegrown rule in English football.
The homegrown rule states that Premier League clubs can have no more than 17 foreign players in their squad. This rule was created to develop and to promote young British players.
Now, this number could be reduced to 13 foreign players in the squad. The top English league clubs may dispute this rule.
PROMISING SIGNS FOR ENGLAND’S YOUTH?
The tighter regulations on player transfers may seem like a disadvantage to the British football leagues. However, there is a shining light of hope for the future.
According to research from Business Insider in 2017, English players have an astonishingly low 0.012% chance of making it from the youth academy to representing their club on a professional league level. That is roughly only 180 out of 1.5 million youngsters.
With clubs now being prevented from signing foreign players under 18, the top British leagues may rely on local talent to fill their squad. There have been glimpses of this method during the 2020-21 season. Several young English prospects have become key figures within their respected clubs.
22-year-old Mason Mount has become one of Chelsea’s hottest properties after 12 years in the Chelsea Academy.
20-year-old Manchester City midfielder Phil Foden has become one of the most talked-about English players in the country.
As many top English clubs have been able to improve their squad with new international arrivals, it could now be time for them to put their faith in their homegrown talent.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR AFC BOURNEMOUTH?
Despite their position as a Championship club, Bournemouth have had their share of big-money international transfers over the past few years.
The Cherries have bought quality international players in recent seasons. Jefferson Lerma and Arnaut Danjama for a combined £41 million, for example. However, with the FA’s new rules, Bournemouth may need to focus on signing British talent rather than look for players abroad.
Whilst this rule would’ve prevented the signings of first-team players like Philip Billing, Diego Rico, and Lerma, the Cherries would still be able to buy exciting young English players as they have in the past.
Bournemouth have quietly purchased some top British prospects. Dominic Solanke, Lewis Cook, David Brooks, and Lloyd Kelly, to name a few. Signings that would’ve met the new transfer laws set. This may be a good sign for manager Jason Tindall. His club should still be able to bring in players suited to his style of play under the new restricted transfer rules.
Although the Cherries haven’t been linked with much transfer news this season, they may be in a better position than most to take advantage of their already-positive transfer system.