DWF logo


DWF logo

            Brexit: impact on the premier league

            With the imminent EU referendum on 23 June 2016, the impacts on both European and English football have been widely discussed. The result of the referendum will likely have serious consequences on British football, particularly the Premier League, and could shape the future of Britain’s role in football globally.

            Date: 22/06/2016

            Work permit regulations

            The current EU regulations state that players from member countries do not need work permits to play for British clubs, thus providing players from the EU with free movement across European clubs. If as a result of the referendum Britain were to leave the EU, there are many players who would fail to meet the current criteria for non EU work permits. Currently, there are over 300 players in Britain’s top leagues (including the Premier League and Scottish Premier League) that would not reach the necessary requirements. This could result in a mass purge of players unable to meet the criteria, leaving English clubs at a serious disadvantage.

            That said it is highly unlikely that footballers who are already playing for English clubs would immediately be deported. We would expect the players to be able to continue playing for their respective clubs until their contracts expire.

            Even then, upon the termination of such contracts, the implications are unknown and heavily depend on what type of relationship Britain would build with Europe in the result of Britain voting to leave.

            International stars such as David de Gea and Mezut Ozil should not be at risk due to their status as regular players for their countries. It is those players on the fringe of international football who could potentially face difficulties in either staying at or joining a British club.

            Britain would of course be keen to ensure that they are able to retain and attract the best talent, so it would be interesting to see what gets put into place.

            Article 19 exception

            Article 19 of FIFA’s Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players restricts players under the age of 18 from moving freely. Although this hinders the ease of transferring and signing new, young talent, the exceptions states that players between the age of 16 and 18 may move freely if they are within the EU or EEA (European Economic Area.)

            Therefore, if Britain left the EU, this could prevent them from recruiting European players younger than 18 and British clubs would not be able to acquire young talent whilst they are still at a rather low cost.

            Additionally, this could limit the amount of time in which players can become classed as “home-grown.” In both the Champions League and Europa League, at least four players per team of 25 must be “club-trained” (meaning they have spent three seasons at the club between the ages of 15 and 21.)


            • In the event of Brexit, new work permit regulations are likely to be introduced for European players, meaning that many high-class players may find it hard to reach the criteria for work permits.
            • If the Article 19 exception no longer applies to British clubs, English clubs will struggle to reach requirements for “home-grown” footballers.
            • There may be a knock on effect of British clubs losing the interest of high class players, who could be concerned about the restrictions on British clubs being able to import new talent.
            • Like so much else with the EU referendum, there is currently a fair degree of uncertainty in respect of exactly what will happen with British football and EU players if Britain opts for Brexit.

            If you have any queries, please do not hesitate to contact us.

            We use cookies to give you the best user experience on our website. Please let us know if you accept our use of cookies.

            Manage cookies

            Your Privacy

            When you visit any web site, it may store or retrieve information on your browser, mostly in the form of cookies. We mainly use this information to ensure the site works as you expect it to, and to learn how we can improve the experience in the future. The information does not usually directly identify you, but it can give you a more personalised web experience.
            Because we respect your right to privacy, you can choose not to allow some types of cookies. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change permissions. However, blocking some types of cookies may prevent certain site functionality from working as expected

            Functional cookies


            These cookies let you use the website and are required for the website to function as expected.

            These cookies are required

            Tracking cookies

            Anonymous cookies that help us understand the performance of our website and how we can improve the website experience for our users. Some of these may be set by third parties we trust, such as Google Analytics.

            They may also be used to personalise your experience on our website by remembering your preferences and settings.

            Marketing cookies

            These cookies are used to improve and personalise your experience with our brands. We may use these cookies to show adverts for our products, or measure the performance of our adverts.