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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.

Ranking the Ballon d’Or finalists

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The Ballon d’Or finalists for 2019 were announced by France Football on Monday, and there has been plenty of discussion not only about players included in the shortlist or those that missed out, but who deserves to win the highest award in the game.

So, who does?

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With seven players from Liverpool, five from Man City and the usual suspects in Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi all nominated, some stars left out include Harry Kane, Neymar and N’Golo Kante to name a few.

Below we rank the finalists, 30-1, in terms of who we think are the best players.

Feel free to do the same in the comments section below.


30. Karim Benzema (Real Madrid)
29. Hugo Lloris (Tottenham)
28. Joao Felix (Atletico Madrid)
27. Marquinhos (PSG)
26. Donny van de Beek (Ajax)
25. Heung-Min Son (Tottenham)
24. Marc-Andre ter Stegen (Barcelona)
23. Riyad Mahrez (Man City)
22. Georginio Wijnaldum (Liverpool)
21. Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich)
20. Antoine Griezmann (Barcelona)
19. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Arsenal)
18. Sergio Aguero (Man City)
17. Dusan Tadic (Ajax)
16. Kalidou Koulibaly (Napoli)
15. Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool)
14. Kevin De Bruyne (Man City)
13. Mohamed Salah (Liverpool)
12. Matthijs de Ligt (Juventus)
11. Bernardo Silva (Man City)
10. Alisson (Liverpool)
9. Roberto Firmino (Liverpool)
8. Eden Hazard (Real Madrid)
7. Frenkie De Jong (Barcelona)
6. Kylian Mbappe (PSG)
5. Raheem Sterling (Man City)
4. Sadio Mane (Liverpool)
3. Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus)
2. Lionel Messi (Barcelona)
1. Virgil Van Dijk (Liverpool)

Xhaka slams “bulls***” criticism of Arsenal

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Arsenal have been targets for a lot of criticism recently.

Granit Xhaka is usually at the center of it.

The Gunners captain came out all guns blazing after they lost 1-0 at Sheffield United on Monday, as he addressed Patrice Evra‘s comments that Arsenal are “babies” and always will be due to their mentality.

“We have to stop about mental [strength] bulls*** like this. For me, it is the same whether you play home or away – you have to win and show big character and a good game and not to always find the same excuse,” Xhaka said. “A lot of people they speak too much. It is not the first time he has spoken something about us. I have a lot of respect for him as he was a great player but you have to be careful what you say. But it is not only him – a lot of people speak a lot of bulls*** about us. It’s always the same.

“For me it is strange as they were in the same situation as us, they were players as well. Sometimes it is good and sometimes it is not always good but every week they speak bulls*** like this every week. I tell you the honest truth, I’m not interested in what people say and speak. We have to speak in our group to improve things and work hard and not listen to these people.”

Xhaka and Arsenal have only lost twice this season, 3-1 at Liverpool and 1-0 at Sheffield United.

But aside from being fifth in the table and two points outside the top four, pressure is being placed on Unai Emery and his squad as they’ve narrowly beaten Bournemouth, Burnley, Newcastle and Aston Villa so far. Their performances aren’t instilling confidence in anyone that they can seriously push for a top four finish this season.

Has much changed under Emery in the past 15 months? Nope. This is pretty much the same Arsenal team making the same old mistakes and looking vulnerable away from home. Nothing new here. Sure, some new players have arrived, but David Luiz, Pepe and Sokratis have all been hit and miss so far and it has been left to Matteo Guendouzi and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to try and rescue the Gunners each and every week.

Emery was supposed to change their style of play, develop them into a stronger team defensively and improve their chances of challenging for trophies once again.

None of that has happened, and it doesn’t look closer to happening. That is why the critics are circling around the Gunners. Monday was the perfect opportunity to prove their mentality had changed and they are a stronger, more balanced team under Emery. They aren’t and something drastic will have to change for them if Emery is going to win over the fans, and pundits, once again.

Ronaldo not ready for retirement: ‘Age is just a number’

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Cristiano Ronaldo reassured Juventus supporters and his legions of fans worldwide that at 34 he’s not ready for retirement yet.

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“Age is just a number. It does not mean that at 34, 35, 36 you are at the end of your career,” Ronaldo said at a news conference ahead of Juventus’ Champions League match against Lokomotiv Moscow on Tuesday. “I can show that with my performances, how I play, the way I play, the way I still feel good, sharp, thinking about the game, more mature. This makes the difference.”

In the second season of a four-year deal at Juventus, Ronaldo had sparked concern among his fans when he said in an interview published a few weeks ago that he was starting to enjoy seeing himself “outside of football, so who knows what will happen in the next year or two?”

Ronaldo recently scored his 700th goal as a professional while on international duty with Portugal and has been nominated for a record sixth Ballon d’Or award – which would break his tie of five with Lionel Messi.

But Ronaldo said he’s more interested in winning a treble with Juventus.

“We want to win Serie A, we want to win the Cup, the Champions League,” he said. “Juventus should think big. … We are going to try to win all the trophies, we know it will be difficult, especially the league and the Champions League, but I think it is possible. Everything is possible.

“In terms of individual, I have nothing to say as this is individual. It is not the most important thing,” Ronaldo added. “The most important is the collective awards. If you win the collective awards you have more chance to win the individual awards. … The Golden Ball is for me in second place.”

While retirement may not be on Ronaldo’s mind yet, family time is a big part of his life now.

“To win games, to score goals, to enjoy myself, to arrive home and see my kids happy and say, `Congratulations daddy for scoring a goal.’ That makes me happy,” he said. “This is my motivation to come to train, for the games, to entertain people and the fans with my passion.”

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Andrew Dampf on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/AndrewDampf

Carragher apologizes to Evra over Suarez t-shirts

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Jamie Carragher has apologized to Patrice Evra after Liverpool wore t-shirts in support of Luis Suarez in 2011.

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The day after Suarez was banned for eight games by the English Football Association, who found him guilty of racially abusing Evra, Liverpool’s players put on t-shirts with Suarez on the front and back during their warm up in a Premier League game against Wigan Athletic.

Carragher and Evra were both analysts for our partners at Sky Sports in the UK on Monday Night Football for the clash between Sheffield United and Arsenal, and discussed the current problems with racism in the game.

“There is no doubt we made a massive mistake; that was obvious,” Carragher said.

Liverpool’s former vice-captain asked Evra how he felt regarding the situation with Suarez, and the former Man United, Juventus and Monaco left back revealed his disgust at the way the situation was handled.

“When I saw it I was like, this is ridiculous. This is unbelievable,” Evra said. You put your own club in danger when you do those things. You always have to support your player because he is from your team but this was after the ban. If it was before and we were waiting for the sanction, I would understand. What message do you send to the world? Supporting someone being banned because he used some racist words.”

Click play on the video above for the full discussion between Carragher and Evra.