Date: 27th June 2016 at 11:56pm
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With the country narrowly voting to leave the European Union in Thursday’s Referendum, there are certainly plenty of real questions that have to be addressed in terms of Scottish independence, possibly Ireland and Northern Ireland issues, for others Pound Sterling crashing will see price rises – especially for those who holiday in sunnier climes – but there are also questions for football.

Ahead of the vote I ignored the website www.strongerin.co.uk and the articles that were created on the back of it, but now the vote is done and dusted, why not have a bit of fun whilst the country goes a little bit mental around us.

Could this be the start of a Football Exit, or in keeping with the stupid merging of words in the media, a Fexit.

And for those who read to the bottom of this, I’m guessing you wish you’d have thought ‘fexit’ to begin with as well.

The website states.

‘A vote to leave the EU could hit your favourite team hard.

‘Dozens of top European stars – including Anthony Martial, Dimitri Payet and Francis Coquelin – wouldn`t have automatically qualified for work permits if Britain was outside the EU and treated all overseas footballers in the same way.’

And then just in case anybody didn’t understand – the following appears in bold.

‘A Brexit could lead to the most talented players in Europe not being able to come to the Premier League, threatening its status as one of the world`s most exciting leagues.’

Now clearly the website doesn’t hide the fact it was related to The In Campaign Ltd, and the message is pretty clear. Much like the Out Campaign message was clear.

Notice I say clear, not necessarily accurate – as largely it’s a continuation of the #ProjectFear (obligatory mention for one of the Vital owners!) guff we had from both sides. Leave and the UK will sink, Remain and we’ll sink with Europe.

Either way it involved the end of the world as we know it, where the only thing guaranteed would be ex banker Nigel Farage smoking a fag and drinking a point and smiling.

Isn’t politics a funny game, well, once you cut through the lies, spin, bluster and nonsense from both sides anyway.

Anyway, some of the coverage this website created was interesting to follow in the media, and that coverage has only continued with the Referendum result now in.

The Mirror ahead of the weekend were one of the first to run a second piece so to speak, with the Referendum result known. Citing that in 2015/16 there were 332 players in the top two divisions in England and Scotland who would not have signed for their current clubs had Britain not been in the EU.

Focusing on the immigration issue and work permit ramifications of the decision to leave, they point out that for the Premier League alone it means 108 players who only arrived courtesy of the free movement of people condition and state with capitals for effect, these players ‘would NOT’ have been able to join their clubs had we not been in the EU when they arrived.

With work permit regulations for footballers being points based and largely automatic for EU visa purposes, it explains that without a required number of competitive international caps, these players wouldn’t have received the automatic visa and ‘could’ have been prevented from joining.

Because of course, the word ‘could’ is very telling, and not receiving an automatic visa means a transfer ‘could’ not go through, it doesn’t mean it ‘would’ not go through.

There are appeals, other routes to the work permit and so on, that football utilises every transfer window to get players in who don’t qualify for the automatic visa when they don’t hold a EU passport.

So would no longer having an automatic visa by pulling out of Europe result in, as the website claims, ‘Anthony Martial, Dimitri Payet and Francis Coquelin’ and further they ‘wouldn`t have automatically qualified for work permits if Britain was outside the EU and treated all overseas footballers in the same way,’ be a slight spinning of reality?

It’s true, without the EU and the automatic visa they clearly couldn’t have qualified for something that doesn’t exist, but that then brings us to the treating of all overseas footballers in the same way, and you know what, they still ply their trade in this country don’t they more often than not.

So how does that threaten the Premier League’s status as a talent pool of some of the best from Europe and beyond?

It’s just silly isn’t it – much like the way the Leave and Remain campaigns played themselves out.

With the way words change in the modern era, does Democracy now really mean stick you in a dark room, feed you manure and treat you like a mushroom – and I don’t mean special like the magic variety.

In other repeat coverage of this, I’ve even seen some reports suggest tentatively (and I think with a very big grin on their faces) that the Government could now start deporting players who only qualified by the EU involvement – although they quickly point out that would be ‘extreme’ and ‘unlikely’.

Much like Donald Trump’s success in America – ‘extreme and unlikely’ – but at least in this case it seems to be a comic throw away line, as even if that possibility became necessary, everybody would be looking at alternative visa qualifications and the like to maintain the status quo.

The Mirror helpfully provided a quick list of the Premier League players who ‘would/could’ not have joined without EU involvement for last season.

Aston Villa:

Libor Kozak, Adama Traore, Carles Gil, Charles N’Zogbia, Jordan Veretout, Jordan Amavi, Jores Okore, Aly Cissokho and Leandro Bacuna.

Arsenal:

Francis Coquelin, Mathieu Flamini, Mikel Arteta, Hector Bellerin, Nacho Monreal, Tomas Rosicky, Laurent Koscielny, and Serge Gnabry.

Bournemouth:

Artur Boruc, Sylvain Distin and Joshua King.

Chelsea:

Loic Remy, Kurt Zouma and Marco Amelia.

Crystal Palace:

Brede Hangeland.

Everton:

Gerard Deulofeu and Joel Robles.

Leicester City:

N’Golo Kante, Marcin Wasilewski and Robert Huth.

Liverpool:

Emre Can, Alberto Moreno, Jose Enrique, Adam Bogdan, Simon Mignoley, Dejan Lovren, Mamadou Sakho, Tiago Ilori and Joao Carlos Teixeira.

Manchester City:

Jesus Navas, Bacary Sagna, Eliaquim Mangala and Gael Clichy.

Manchester United:

Anthony Martial, Ander Herrera, Adnan Januzaj, David de Gea, Morgan Schneiderlin and Timothy Fosu-Mensah.

Newcastle United:

Ayoze Perez, Gabriel Obertan, Siem de Jong, Vurnon Anita, Yoan Gouffran, Tim Krul, Emmanuel Riviere, Sylvian Marveaux and Massadio Haidara.

Norwich City:

Alexander Tettey, Vadis Odjidja-Ofoe, Martin Olsson and Ivo Pinto.

Southampton:

Juanmi, Oriol Romeu, Jose Fonte, Virgil van Dijk, Maarten Stekelenburg, Florin Gardos and Jordy Clasie.

Stoke City:

Bojan, Joselu, Erik Pieters, Marc Muniesa, Phillipp Wollscheid, Jakob Haugaard, Ibrahim Afellay, Giannelli Imbula and Dionatan Teixeira.

Sunderland:

Fabio Borini, Ola Toivonen, Yann M’Vila, Patrick van Aanholt, Younes Kaboul, Vito Mannone, Jan Kirchhoff and Jeremain Lens.

Swansea City:

Bafetimbi Gomis, Angel Rangel, Jordi Amat, Kristoffer Nordfeldt, Leroy Fer and Alberto Paloschi.

Tottenham Hotspur:

Kevin Wimmer and Michel Vorm.

Watford:

Mario Suarez, Jose Manuel Jurado, Obbi Oulare, Jose Holebas, Etienne Capoue, Nathan Ake, Steven Berguis, Joel Ekstrand and Costel Pantilimon.

West Bromwich Albion:

Jonas Olsson and Sebastien Pocognoli.

West Ham United:

Dimitri Payet, Pedro Obiang, Angelo Ogbonna and Adrian.

Now, those with a greater understanding of visa’s and work permits than me, will have probably spotted curiosities in the list above and no doubt already have their own questions based on the claims.

One that did occur to me is why is there at least one player listed above that I’m confident his country of birth aren’t members of the European Union anyway?

Anyway, moving on.

Some players would have clearly qualified through the EU automatic visa route given their regular international action, and yet plenty of others others listed clearly wouldn’t have qualified through the EU automatic visa route if it didn’t exist – yet much like non EU players, they still find themselves employed.

So like much of the Referendum debate itself, and on both sides, it’s spin and bluster for the large part and more designed to create catchy headlines and stick in your head, than it is actually a reflection on likely reality.

Especially then when you try and move forward with the list and decide not only on whether they’d have received a work permit if the European Union didn’t exist to begin with, but now with the ridiculous suggestions of new work permits applying moving forward (not retrospectively) and if not, being kicked out.

Will it cause some changes – absolutely – but with the money in the English game, the Premier League especially, does anybody genuinely think this is the end of football as we know it?

Not least because whisper it quietly – trade negotiations with Europe, much to Mr Farage’s annoyance, will unquestionably involve free movement of workers again anyway – at least to one degree or another!

This is something that hasn’t been overly lost on the Premier League and the Football League given their respective statements.

‘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 be following the ‘Leave’ vote, there is little point second guessing the implications until there is greater clarity. Clearly, we will continue to work with Government and other bodies whatever the outcome of any process.’

Football League chief executive Shaun Harvey was also quoted as saying.

‘The ramifications of leaving the European Union may prove to be significant for every industry in the UK, including football. However, at this stage, it is fairly unclear what the precise impact will be on the EFL. Clubs were contacted earlier this morning in order to outline that we are engaging with the Government and the other football bodies to ensure that our sport`s views are understood and taken into account during the discussions that lie ahead.’

Yeah Fexit…a very appropriate merging of two words to describe so much since Thursday.

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