Guido thought the pro-EU scaremongers were scraping the barrel yesterday when they claimed British wildlife would suffer should Britain leave the EU. That was until Tory peer Karren Brady came out today with the idea that leaving the EU would nobble English football, leaving top Premier League clubs unable to sign the best talent from the continent. Lady Brady, the vice chairman of Dave’s second team West Ham, reckons:
“For clubs, free movement plays a big role in transfers and players’ contracts. Players from the EU can sign for UK clubs without needing a visa or special work permit, making it quicker and easier to secure top talent from across Europe to come and play in our leagues… Leaving the EU could have a big impact on foreign players, as independent analysis has shown that two-thirds of European stars in England would not meet automatic non-EU visa criteria and therefore might be forced to leave”.
Something doesn’t add up here.
Hundreds of non-EU players have been easily signed by Premier clubs with no fuss at all. With only a handful of exceptions, non-EU players have been granted fast-track work permits by the Home Office. For example: Arsenal signed Kolo Touré from Ivorian club ASEC Mimosas, West Ham signed Carlos Tevez from Brazilian side Corinthians, and Dwight Yorke signed for Aston Villa having previously only played in his native Trinidad and Tobago. None of these players came from Europe or were even playing for sides in Europe when they joined the Premier League.
Let’s indulge the barmy fantasy that Brexit might force “two-thirds of European stars in England” to pack their kit-bag and jog on to sunnier climes. It would never happen, but what if it did?
65% of Premier League players currently come from outside of England, with this proportion even higher in the top sides. An exodus of foreign players would mean clubs would be forced to promote English talent. This is something Greg Dyke has been pushing for throughout his tenure as FA Chairman, lamenting that “home-grown heroes are fast becoming an endangered species, particularly among the Premier League’s top clubs”. So according to Brady, Brexit would make Premier League nurture homegrown talent, great news for young English players and even better for the future of the national team. In Lady Brady’s post-Brexit scenario, it’s not too far-fetched to see how a revitalised England could win the World Cup….