One aspect of Brexit that isn’t talked about often is how the UK’s changing relationship with the EU will affect the future of European footballers in the country. We already looked at how the immigration rules will change on PBLink, and reported that after the UK leaves the EU, Europeans will likely have to apply for a new immigration status. This is because freedom of movement, which allows European players to play in English leagues without a visa, will end. For the Premier League this could be a huge blow, as many of its teams are filled with European players. There are five Polish players currently in the Premier League: Łukasz Fabiański (West Ham), Artur Boruc (Bournemouth), Marcin Bulka (Chelsea), Jan Bednarek (Southampton), and Mateusz Hewelt (Everton) – and Brexit could have a big impact on their future.
The biggest impact will be the potential obstacles that clubs will have to overcome in order to employ players from the EU. While clubs already buy players from across the world, the European market is the most important to Premier League clubs due to the ease in which they can transfer players from it. When Brexit happens, the extra bureaucracy and money involved in buying players from Europe will make Premier League clubs, especially those outside the top six, think twice about investing in European players. This will make the employment of talented players from Poland less likely.
The good news, according to Sky Sports, is that the status quo will likely remain, meaning all Polish players in the Premier League will be able to continue playing for their respective clubs. Sports Minister Tracey Crouch has given her assurance that Brexit in general, will not heavily impact sports. She is aware of football’s positive economic impact on the UK, noting that the beautiful game “does provide an enormous boost to the Treasury and provides a lot of taxes.” She has also clarified that football authorities, such as the Football Association, will ultimately determine how Brexit will affect football in the UK.
Sports lawyer Paul Shapiro is confident that Brexit won’t affect the Premier League adversely. “I don’t think they (Government) will put in a regime that will stop the Premier League clubs signing top international stars nor is it in their interests to jeopardise the Premier League’s position as the world’s best league,” explains Shapiro. “I don’t think supporters have anything to fear or worry about.”
That is great news for the Polish footballers in the Premier League, and their respective teams, too. West Ham in particular won’t want to lose their number 1 goalkeeper Łukasz Fabiański. The Hammers are currently 10th in the Premier League and are having a much better season compared to last year. This time last year they were in a relegation battle after a very poor start to the 2017/18 season. Currently, West Ham are playing with much more confidence, and this is reflected by how bwin have installed them as the 8th favourites to win the FA Cup . A big part of the team’s success this season has been Fabiański. The goalkeeper, who signed with the club last season, has been a pillar of strength between the posts.
Then again, the situation with Brexit does remain fluid, meaning changes unfavourable to the Premier League might still happen especially if the country goes ahead with a no-deal exit. Also worth keeping tabs on is the Football Association’s own Brexit plans, which The Independent reports includes a proposal to cut down the number foreign players per team from the current 17 to only 13. For now, though, Polish players will continue to thrive in the Premier League. The hope is that it stays that way.