Hey Dave: What does Brexit have to do with Premier League transfers?

PSG’s Neymar, center, reacts after scoring his side’s third goal during a Group H Champions League soccer match between Manchester United and Paris Saint Germain at the Old Trafford stadium in Manchester, England, Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2020. Photo by Dave Thompson/AP Photo.

The transfer window in the Premier League has been open to basically any professional player, whether they were 15 years old or 40 years old, to move from one club to another. However, with the United Kingdom’s soon-to-be departure from the European Union, otherwise known as Brexit, at the end of the month, the way clubs can recruit younger players, as well as transfers from any player from the E.U., could have a drastic impact. 

While there’s been numerous talks about Brexit’s impact on the Premier League a while back, the topic came back into the spotlight after the English Football Association confirmed on Tuesday that their Governing Body Endorsement  proposal was approved by the government’s Home Office department. This means that the upcoming January transfer window will be the first to no longer allow soccer clubs to sign any player below the age of 18. The FA also confirmed that the approval means clubs will only be allowed to sign three players from outside the United Kingdom between the ages of 18-21, as well as six total signings in any transfer window. 

So, how will the transfers of players from the European Union work? According to the FA’s website on the matter, it appears that the GBE will be issued to players based on a variety of factors. Some of these include: the number of international appearances the player made, the “quality” of the club (i.e. the league the club is in, its position in said league and its performance in their respective competitions) and their club appearances, based on their minutes played across all competitions their club is in. It should be noted that the GBE will be based on a points system, meaning that the more points you have based on the FA’s requirements, you’ll be automatically given a GBE. Those who fall a bit short on their points could be granted a GBE after a decision by an Exceptions Panel. 

A lot of information, I know. I’ll admit that it took me a couple of readings to fully understand the new guidelines for future transfers. I will say this however: I’m kind of split on this decision. On one hand, I think this is great in terms of the massive opportunity for homegrown players to emerge. If there’s anything that makes fans prouder about their club than anything else, aside from trophies, is seeing a player that went through their club’s youth academy progress up to the senior team. Additionally, this new set of rules seems to fall into place with other requirements in the league, like England’s ‘Homegrown Player Rule.’ On the other hand, however, this basically defeats the purpose of scouting players outside the U.K. before the age of 18. 

Sure, you can make the argument that scouting such players until they’re able to make a move to England could be a good thing as they would have more time to develop their skills and truly show their capabilities. However, almost every country, let alone clubs, have completely different styles of playing. To me, it’s best to get a youngster that appears to have massive potential before they adapt to their club’s playstyle. That way, you can put them through an English club’s academy and have them play their style of soccer, and they’ll be impactful when they make their debut on the senior team. 

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