Written by Darryl Rigby, Immigration Advice Service
The United Kingdom formally exited the European Union on January 1st 2021, ending a near-50-year alliance that had previously made trading goods with the rest of the continent much more straight-forward
Throughout the ‘Leave’ vs ‘Remain’ debate, much of the arguments centred around the economy, and in particular the impact leaving the EU would have on the trade of goods.
Unbeknown to the vast majority of football fans, along with food items, electrical goods and clothing, “the trade of goods” would also include the purchase and sale of professional footballers, resulting in some big changes to the rules and regulations on transfers since the UK’s withdrawal last month.
Under new laws agreed by the government and the FA, players purchased from other European countries will now need a work permit. This permit is similar to the one required for non-European players, and the approval process works on a points-based system.
Any player looking to receive a work permit must now gain a GBE (Governing Body Endorsement). When deciding whether or not to grant a GBE, a panel will take into consideration a number of factors, including senior/youth international performances, club appearances and the quality of the selling club.
In addition to the work permit requirements, U-18 international transfers are now banned completely, so it’s clear with this new, post-Brexit legislation now in place, many transfers that were previously allowed will no longer be permitted.
Interestingly, this includes a few of the game’s most memorable transfers including one of Arsenal’s most important signings in recent memory, so to give us an idea of the impact these new rules could have on the sport, let’s take a look at some of the biggest deals that would never have gone through under the new rules.
What better place to start than with the Spanish magician Cesc Fabregas? As you may well remember, Cesc joined from Barcelona in 2003 at the tender, young age of 16, which would prove to be one of the shrewdest pieces of business our club ever did.
A star pupil at Barca’s famed La Masia academy, Fabregas was poached by then-manager Arsene Wenger who saw bags of potential in the youngster, and after a few seasons the Spaniard was a regular in the first team, helping to plug the gaping hole in the middle of the park caused by Patrick Viera’s untimely departure.
Using his superb vision and technical wizardry to pierce holes in Premier League defences, Fabregas established himself as one of the most accomplished players in the English top flight, before eventually returning to his boyhood club in search of more silverware in 2011.
Had the current rules been in lace back then, Cesc would likely never have stepped foot on the field at Highbury or the Emirates, and us Arsenal fans would have missed out on witnessing the rise of one of the club’s true all-time greats.
Paul Pogba re-signed for Manchester United for a fee of £86m back in 2016. The eye-watering price tag raised more than a few eyebrows as United were shelling out a then-world record fee for a player they allowed to leave for just £800,000 only four seasons earlier.
Pogba had risen through the ranks of United’s academy after the 20-time English champions scooped him up as a 16-year-old while playing for French outfit Le Havre.
Pogba’s signing was later the subject of a protracted legal dispute as Le Havre accused United of bribing the France international and breaking a contract they had in place with the player. After some legal tussling, United were cleared of any wrongdoing and Pogba was free to join Man U.
During his initial spell with United, Pogba failed to make much of an impact, but during his second spell he’s become a regular in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s first team. Since his return to English football, his form’s been inconsistent, and while we’re yet to see Pogba put together the kind of consistency he manages for the France national side, on occasion the World Cup winner’s shown glimpses of the magic he’s capable of making him an asset to the Premier League.
More recently, Manchester City academy product Jadon Sancho swapped life in the North West for a chance to prove himself in Germany with a transfer to Bundesliga giants Borussia Dortmund.
After making the move across Europe at the age of 17, the move couldn’t have gone much better with the young English prodigy quickly cementing himself as one of German football’s most exciting players. Using his dazzling close control and electrifying pace, Sancho has wowed fans in Germany since his arrival at Signal Iduna Park, notching an impressive 44 goals in all competitions.
Following three successful seasons in the Dortmund first team, Sancho was wanted by Manchester United, but after negotiations dragged on throughout the summer the two clubs were unable to strike a deal with the Red Devils unwilling to pay the reported £120m fee.
With this one, Germany’s gain was England’s loss, and with the current rules in place it’s unlikely the Premier League would’ve lost one of the country’s hottest young talents. Perhaps United can finally agree a fee this summer and we’ll get to see Sancho plying his trade on these shores at long last.
Joining Sancho in Dortmund, Jude Bellingham decided his immediate future should also lie in Germany, as the youngster became the latest wonderkid to sign for the Bundesliga club.
With the likes of Arsenal, Chelsea and United all interested in signing the promising youngster, Bellingham instead opted for a move abroad – a move that would have been banned had it not come six months ago, as the new rules would have meant the 17-year-old’s transfer was not permitted.
Lucky for Dortmund they got the transfer over the line, as Bellingham has shown immense promise and has all the attributes to become another superstar and an absolute steal for the £15m the German side paid Birmingham City.
New rules around transfers are set to seriously shake things up for British clubs, new rules and regulation changing the way British clubs do business moving forward. The hope is this will lead to the cultivation of better homegrown talent and perhaps it’s what England and the other nations which make up the United Kingdom need to finally bring some international success to these shores.
One thing’s for sure, though: we can kiss goodbye to seeing some of Europe’s most electrifying young talent with these new rules putting an end to U-18 international transfers.
- Congratulations Arsene: welcome to the hall of fame
- How will the final league table look? Our laptop computer reports
- If Arsenal go on like this, what will the final table look like?
- Only a handful of teams can win the league: but nothing has changed.
- The set of predictions that tell us exactly how the final table will look