Sports world hopes for level play­ing field af­ter Brexit

The Borneo Post - - SPORT -

LON­DON: With the fate of Brexit shrouded in un­cer­tainty, Bri­tain’s sport­ing world is in­creas­ingly con­cerned about the im­pact for play­ers, fans and in­vestors.

New re­stric­tions on im­mi­gra­tion from the EU af­ter Brexit is a par­tic­u­lar is­sue for foot­ball, although some see this as a pos­i­tive for Bri­tish play­ers.

Ac­cess to top Euro­pean tal­ent such as Chelsea’s Bel­gian play­maker Eden Haz­ard is par­tic­u­larly im­por­tant for the Premier League, the world’s most lu­cra­tive do­mes­tic foot­ball league.

The Premier League said ear­lier it has had “pos­i­tive dis­cus­sions with gov­ern­ment about the im­por­tance of ac­cess to Euro­pean play­ers for our clubs, and the many cul­tural and eco­nomic ben­e­fits a glob­ally pop­u­lar Premier League brings to the UK”.

Just like in Bri­tain as a whole, how­ever, foot­ball team own­ers are di­vided on the pros and cons.

Steve Lans­down, the bil­lion­aire owner of se­cond-tier side Bris­tol City, was one of the most high­pro­file busi­ness fig­ures to sup­port ex­it­ing the EU and be­lieves foot­ball can ben­e­fit.

“Fewer peo­ple from abroad will come in,” he told AFP.

“Clubs will be more se­lec­tive and the prospec­tive play­ers from abroad will have to pass a test.

“It will give more op­por­tu­nity to English play­ers to come through.”

Phil Gar­lick, chair­man of Premier League side Burn­ley, in­stead has warned Brexit could be “hugely dam­ag­ing” to English foot­ball and sup­ports a se­cond ref­er­en­dum.

“End­ing free­dom of move­ment will make it much more dif­fi­cult for teams to at­tract the right tal­ent, if the gov­ern­ment brings in more re­stric­tive con­di­tions for work visas for play­ers from Europe,” he has said.

Though less re­liant on for­eign play­ers, rugby is also fol­low­ing the po­lit­i­cal wran­gling closely be­cause of the po­ten­tial im­pli­ca­tions for Euro­pean tour­na­ments.

The first ma­jor test will come on March 29, 2019, the day Bri­tain is due to exit the Euro­pean Union.

It is also the day when the quar­ter-fi­nals of Euro­pean club rugby’s com­pe­ti­tions get un­der­way, which could mean travel chaos for teams and sup­port­ers alike.

For the mo­ment, the com­pe­ti­tion’s or­gan­is­ers, Switzer­land-based Euro­pean Pro­fes­sional Club Rugby (EPCR), told AFP “they are closely mon­i­tor­ing the terms of the United King­dom’s exit from the Euro­pean Union.”

— AFP photo

File photo shows Fer­rari’s Ger­man driver Se­bas­tian Vet­tel leads at the first corner dur­ing the Bri­tish For­mula One Grand Prix at the Sil­ver­stone mo­tor rac­ing cir­cuit in Sil­ver­stone, cen­tral Eng­land. Re­nault’s Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor Marcin Bud­kowski said there could be a rocky road ahead, again be­cause of the changes to im­mi­gra­tion rules. “Po­ten­tially yes it could be a prob­lem,” he told AFP. “We em­ploy dif­fer­ent na­tion­al­i­ties”.

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