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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.

Key issues ahead of Premier League restart

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The 2019-20 Premier League season will restart on June 17, the league confirmed Thursday, but there are still plenty of issues to sort out ahead of the resumption.

‘Project Restart’ still has a little way to go, but we now have a date.

[ STREAM: Every PL match live ]

The Premier League held in-depth meetings with all 20 clubs and, among other matters, June 17 emerged as the date games will return. Due to the coronavirus pandemic the Premier League season was suspended on March 13 with 92 games remaining.

As per the agreement, the two games in hand, Man City v. Arsenal and Aston Villa v. Sheffield United, will be played on June 17 so all teams are on 29 games played when then the rest of the games resume on June 19-21.

VIDEO: Premier League highlights

Premier League chief executive Richard Masters confirmed the restart date of June 17, as long as everything goes as planned with a return to contact training and COVID-19 tests among Premier League staff and players.

There is still plenty to sort out though, so here’s a look at the key questions and issues which remain between now and the Premier League restart on June 17.


Will teams play games at home stadiums?

Some reports state that Liverpool will play home games at a neutral venue due to concerns from police about fans congregating outside Anfield considering their impending title victory. Other high-profile games such as Tottenham against Arsenal may not be played at home stadiums either as reports state that neutral stadiums such as Wembley may be used to host some of the higher profile matches. Simply put, the only thing we know about stadiums is that they will be empty for all of the remaining 92 games of the season.


What happens if there is a second wave of COVID-19 in the UK or within Premier League clubs?

The key part of Richard Masters’ statement was the first few sentences: “Today we have provisionally agreed to resume the Premier League on Wednesday 17 June. But this date cannot be confirmed until we have met all the safety requirements needed, as the health and welfare of all participants and supporters is our priority.” The Premier League have to first and foremost make sure there is no rise in the number of COVID-19 positive tests among its players and staff.

Staff and players are all tested twice per week and 60 tests will be available to each club. So far, out of 2,752 tests from three batches, there have been 12 positive COVID-19 tests. If those numbers stay that way, or fall, the Premier League will be in good shape to return, as planned, on June 17. If they rise, the date will have to be pushed back. There can be no room for complacency from clubs and players over safety protocols during the next three weeks and beyond. That said, the situation in the UK has been the worst in Europe in terms of the death toll and if a second spike arrives in England, the plan for the Premier League restart would be put in jeopardy.


If the season is delayed further and the games cannot be finished, then what?

It has been reported, but not confirmed, that clubs agreed that an unweighted points-per-game model will be used to decide the final table if the season is curtailed. That means that the average number of points teams have won during their games played so far will be calculated in accordance with their remaining games to play. The Premier League have admitted they will have to come to a curtailment plan just in case the situation worsens in the UK or within their clubs.


Using five substitutes per game?

This is something the Premier League can do as the IFAB rules allow it and have been modified during the pandemic. Clubs will be able to use five substitutes per game, up from three, but subs can only be used in specified windows such as half time so the flow of the game isn’t disrupted. This has worked well in the Bundesliga and it is expected it will also work well in the Premier League, especially with so many games being played in a six-week period.


What about players out of contract?

This is something the Premier League clubs have already agreed on. With most player contracts running until June 30, we now know that the 2019-20 season will run beyond that date. Up until June 23, clubs and players can agree to extend the contracts until the end of the 2019-20 season as a short-term measure. However, players and club do not have to do this so some players may be out of contract and free to move on from July 1.

Spadafora: Coppa Italia, Serie A can return June 13

Serie A return
Photo by Daniele Badolato - Juventus FC/Juventus FC via Getty Images
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Italian football can return June 13 with the second legs of the Coppa Italia semifinals and perhaps the final, followed by Serie A the next weekend.

Italian sports minister Vincenzo Spadafora made the announcement Thursday, bringing calcio back to a country that’s been ravaged by the coronavirus.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

In addition to stringent testing protocols and quarantine for club members who test positive, Serie A has plans in place for another wave of the coronavirus should it rear its ugly head. From Football-Italia.com:

“The FIGC also assured me that the Plan B (play-offs and play-outs) and Plan C (using the existing table) can be adopted in case of suspension. It is not up to me as Minister to decide, as that will be done by the FIGC. In the light of all those events, we can today say that the season can resume from June 20.”

Spadafora said he was hopeful the entire Coppa Italia could be completed before June 20, which would be a heavy burden on two of the following semifinalists: AC Milan, Inter Milan, Juventus, and Napoli.

The winners could face three matches inside of eight or nine days.

Napoli leads Inter after one leg in Milan, while Milan and Juve drew 1-1 at the San Siro.

Juve had its four Coppa run broken by Lazio last season. The Old Lady leads Lazio by one point in the race for a ninth-consecutive scudetto.

MLS announces return voluntary small group training

MLS return
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Major League Soccer’s long road to returning from the coronavirus pause has hit another mile marker with the return of voluntary outdoor small group training.

The full team training moratorium remains in place through at least June 1.

MLS made the announcement Thursday and there are several stipulations given the size of our country and the variables in how it’s governed at the state and local level.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

The voluntary sessions will be held “in compliance with detailed health and safety protocols that were created in consultation with medical and infectious disease experts.”

Perhaps most notably:

The sessions must not conflict with local public health official or government policies and provide the ability for players to step up their training while maintaining physical distancing protocols.

The league has been under a mandatory training moratorium since the league suspended its season on March 12.

MLS is also making sure to cover every base imaginable, healthwise and legal, by making public and transparent its demands of its clubs.

It’s been a busy break for MLS, which has canceled three major events but also taken hold of the boys youth soccer landscape.

Premier League schedule, how to watch

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The 2019-20 Premier League season will restart on June 17, the league confirmed on Thursday, and here is how you can watch every single game live on TV and online in the USA.

[ STREAM: Every PL match live ]

‘Project Restart’ is all systems go.

The Premier League held in-depth meetings with all 20 clubs and, among other matters, June 17 emerged as the date games will return. Due to the coronavirus pandemic the Premier League season was suspended on March 13 with 92 games remaining.

[ MORE: Reaction to return ]

As per the agreement, the two games in hand, Man City v. Arsenal and Aston Villa v. Sheffield United, will be played on June 17 so all teams are on 29 games played when then the rest of the games resume on June 19-21.

VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

It is believed that the clubs want the Premier League season to be finished by August 1, so clubs can then focus on the FA Cup and European action in the Europa League and Champions League, while the 2020-21 season can then resume in early September.

Below is how the new weekend and midweek schedule for the Premier League games in June and July will look, with specific games.

Click on the link above to watch every single Premier League game live in the USA across our platforms here at NBC Sports.

Weekend match schedule
Friday: 3 p.m. ET
Saturday: 7:30 a.m., ET, 10 a.m. ET, 12:30 p.m. ET, 3 p.m. ET
Sunday: 7 a.m. ET, 9 a.m. ET, 11:30 a.m. ET, 2 p.m. ET
Monday: 3 p.m. ET

Midweek match schedule
Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday 1 p.m. ET and 3 p.m. ET