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What does UK’s exit from EU mean for the Premier League?

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On Friday morning it was announced that the United Kingdom has voted to leave the European Union.

A referendum was called and 51.9 percent of citizens across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland who voted decided to leave the EU after 43 years. Now, let’s not delve into politics too much here. We shall leave that to the good folks at NBC News.

However, the main question many of you will be asking if you’re visiting this page is simple: how does this impact the Premier League?

The answer in short is not much but there would still be an impact.

Premier League executive chairman Richard Scudamore spoke on BBC Radio 5 Live last week about Brexit and he supported the UK remaining in the EU as the PL is all about openness.

“The main reason we have concluded that remain is best is because of our outlook,” Scudamore said. “We are a global export. We look outwards. We are open to the world and do business with the world. Really, when it comes down to it you’ve just got to decide are we better being open? Are we better acting like we want to play our part in the world and be worldly citizens or do we want to send a signal to the world that says actually we’re kind of pulling the drawbridge up here. We’re going to take control of our own destiny.

“Well, that doesn’t seem to sit very well when you travel the world like we do being welcomed because of the fact that we are open for business, open for discussion, and open for cooperation. There is an openness about the Premier League which I think it would be completely incongruous if we were to take the opposite position.”

Now the UK has decided to leave, the PL and other leading organizations within it faces changes.

The PL has released a statement on Friday following the EU referendum result.

“The Premier League is a hugely successful sporting competition that has strong domestic and global appeal. This will continue to be the case regardless of the referendum result.

“Given the uncertain nature of what the political and regulatory landscape might by following the ‘Leave’ vote, there is little point in second guessing the implications until there is greater clarity. Clearly, we will work with the government and other bodies whatever the outcome of any process.”

When it comes to the movement of players from Europe to the PL, it would now mean that theoretically players from outside Great Britain would have to apply for a work permit to do so. Just like current non-EU or European Economic Area (EEA) players have to.

SUNDERLAND,UNITED KINGDOM - OCTOBER 3: Dimitri Payet of West Ham United during the Barclays Premier League match between Sunderland and West Ham United at the Stadium of Light on October 3, 2015 in Sunderland United Kingdom ,(Photo by Steve Welsh/Getty Images)
(Photo by Steve Welsh/Getty Images)

Of course, there are certain guidelines players from non-EU countries have to meet to play in the PL (such as play in a certain amount of national team games over a certain time period which you can find here via the English Football Association) to keep a certain standard of play.

For example a non-EU player from a nation ranked inside FIFA’s top 10 has to have played at least 30 percent of national team games in the two years prior to applying for a work permit to be able to play professionally in the UK. The lower ranked his national team, the higher percentage of games he has to play. The likes of N'Golo Kante, Dimitri Payet and Anthony Martial, who all arrived in the PL last summer, would not have been able to gain a work permit to play in the UK if it wasn’t for their EU passport.

The numbers below show the new work permit laws passed in March 2015 by the FA with regards to the FIFA ranking of the players nation and the percentage of games he must play to gain the work permit.

FIFA 1-10: 30% and above
FIFA 11-20: 45% and above
FIFA 21-30: 60% and above
FIFA 31-50: 75% and above

Last season 432 EU players were registered in the PL and although they will all likely be able to remain in the UK after this landmark vote, it is believed any new players from Europe will have to go through the work permit process. However, it has been calculated by the BBC that up to 100 players in the PL do not meet the current work permit guidelines (plus another 332 if you count the English Championship and Scottish Championship) and therefore could be ineligible to play in the UK when the exit from the EU is complete.

That’s unless the English FA, who work with the British Home Office to set the parameters for work permits, alters some of the rules. The FA could, of course, also just be slightly less lenient if a player from Europe doesn’t quite meet the standard set out above and gain them entry via an appeal anyway. In non-EU countries such as Norway and Switzerland, work permit laws are relaxed to allow players to move in and out freely. Will we now see PL teams stockpiling players from the EU or the EEA ahead of the UK’s eventual exit? Probably not.

One spin off for PL teams could well be that they are now forced to only buy players from the top FIFA nations who can get work permits easily, with gems such as Kante and Payet unable to gain entry to work in the UK. That would mean transfer fees would rise for most, if not all, PL clubs. Another impact is said to be agents and players already asking PL clubs to pay them in Euros instead of British Pounds as the value sterling has plummeted since the decision to leave the UK was announced.

Conversely, that could make PL teams more enticing for overseas investors, especially from the U.S. With Swansea City currently undergoing a buyout from an American ownership group, the huge fall in the value of sterling could see them recoup plenty of cash for doing absolutely nothing. If the pound remains weak against the dollar then now could be the prime time for American investors interested in buying a PL club to pounce.

Arsenal v Barcelona - UEFA Champions League

Another area which could be impacted is youth players moving freely within the EU when aged 16-18. Under FIFA rules, no players can cross borders under the age of the 18 but in the EU that was not the case. In the past the likes of Cesc Fabregas and Hector Bellerin joined Arsenal from Barcelona under the age of 18, while Manchester United signed Adnan Januzaj and Timothy Fosu-Mensah in similar circumstances.

Labor laws between the EU and the UK will become very complicated going forward and politicians believe the UK’s full exit from the EU may not be rubber-stamped for at least two years and probably a lot longer than that. Of course, bilateral trade agreements with individual EU countries could also be set up by the UK to help ease the red-tape for EU citizens looking to work in the UK in the future.

In short, this will be a long process but it will certainly have an impact on the ability of European players moving to the UK in the future.

Transfer Rumor Wrap: Liverpool rejects Barca bid for Coutinho, Roma offer for Mahrez turned down

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Liverpool isn’t planning on cashing in on one of the Premier League’s stars this summer.

Jurgen Klopp and Co. gave Barcelona a resolute “no” after Barcelona submitted a transfer bid of more than $93 million for Philippe Coutinho. Coutinho signed a new five-year contract with the club in January.

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“The main thing I think about is how we can make the next step with the players we had last season,” Klopp told reporters in Hong Kong earlier this week. “The good news is that actually we didn’t lose – and we will not lose – a player we want to keep this summer. That’s the best news actually and then we’ll see who can bring into the squad.”

Coutinho signed for Liverpool in 2013 but had a breakout year in 2015-2016, earning the PFA Young Player of the Year. Last year Coutinho became an even more consistent goal-scorer and playmaker, scoring 13 goals with seven assists in 34 Premier League appearances.

Keeping Coutinho is of supreme importance for Liverpool, which is back in the UEFA Champions League for the first time since the 2014-2015 season.

(more…)

La Liga releases schedule: First El Clasico coming in December

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It’s Christmas in July for fans of La Liga Friday as the Spanish league published its schedule for the upcoming season.

Defending champions Real Madrid travel to Deportivo La Caruña on August 20, the opening match of the season while its rival Barcelona hosts Real Betis.

As it’s La Liga, the first date most fans searched for was the first El Clasico of the season, and the biennial battles between Real Madrid and Barcelona will take place on December 20 and May 6, with Real Madrid hosting the first match.

The first match comes just ahead of the Spanish winter break, while the second match comes at a busy period at the end of the season, where both teams will be hoping to still be competing in the UEFA Champions League.

Other interesting matches to keep an eye on in the first few weeks of the season include Real Madrid hosting Valencia in week two, the Barcelona derby between Barca and Espanyol in week three and Atletico Madrid taking on Sevilla in week six.

Here’s a look at this year’s La Liga schedule.

Conte: Costa “situation was very clear” in January

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At this point, there is no doubt Diego Costa‘s future lies away from London and Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte broke his silence on the Brazilian-born Spain international striker, saying he’s been ready to move on from Costa since January, when Costa and Conte had a disagreement following a big-money offer from Chinese club Tianjin Quanjian during the winter transfer window.

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“I don’t like to talk about players who are not here but the only thing I can tell you [is that] in January, the Costa situation was very clear, for the club for him and his agent,” Conte told reporters Friday. “For me the situation is closed.”

It’s an amazing turn of events after Costa scored 20 Premier League goals in Chelsea’s title-winning 2016-2017 season, including 14 goals through the end of December. But after falling out with Jose Mourinho a year earlier, the same issue happened again under Conte, with Costa proving much less effective down the stretch.

But Conte and Costa were able to put their differences aside on the field, photographed multiple times hugging after wins, as well as after winning the title.

Costa is reportedly now agitating for a move back to his former club Atletico Madrid, but the Spanish club’s transfer ban until the next window complicates matters. In a World Cup year, would Costa be willing to sit out half a season just to leave Chelsea?

If Costa’s time in the Premier League is up, he’ll go down as one of the league’s best pound-for-pound goalscorers. He scored 52 goals in 89 Premier League appearances, with seven more cup goals in his three-year spell at Chelsea.

And if he is gone, defenders across the Premier League will sure be happy to wave goodbye.

Sparta Prague signs France midfielder Rio Mavuba

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PRAGUE (AP) Sparta Prague says it has signed France midfielder Rio Mavuba to a three-year contract.

The 33-year-old Mavuba comes from French club Lille, which he joined in 2008. Before that, he played for Bordeaux and Spanish club Villarreal.

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Mavuba was on the France team at the 2014 World Cup.

He is the 10th player signed by Sparta after Italian coach Andrea Stramaccioni took charge in May.