In Depth

Brexit: Why falling pound could cost Arsenal millions

Premier League stars demand huge pay rises to compensate for collapse of pound since EU referendum

Football clubs in the Premier League could find themselves millions of pounds out of pocket because of Brexit, as players demand higher salaries because of the fall in value of the pound.

It's claimed that two of the biggest stars in England, Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez of Arsenal, are demanding big pay rises partly as a result of sterling's decline since Britain voted to leave the EU.

Negotiations between Arsenal and the two players over contract extensions began a year ago but no agreement was reached. Since then the pound has fallen by almost 20 per cent against the US dollar and the euro. 

"The players, who are out of contract in 2018, are due to reopen talks on their futures at the club this month," reports The Times, but it adds that the pair "are demanding £250,000-a-week salaries, with the declining value of the pound one of the main factors".

The club had hoped the two forwards would accept deals worth £180,000-a-week, but that now seems unlikely. If Arsenal do acquiesce to their demands it "could cost the club £36m more than they had originally budgeted for", says the paper.

The exchange rate is not the only reason for the increased pay demands – the pair are now entering the final 18 months of their contracts and a lucrative new TV deal has bumped up wages – but the paper notes that the "dramatic collapse" of the pound "is an external event with big implications" for football clubs.

Fewer than 35 per cent of Premier League players are English, with most now coming from overseas.

"The change in currency valuation could have serious ramifications for all Premier League clubs signing players from abroad, with those holding large assets and families abroad set to ask for higher wages," reports The Independent.

The falling pound has not only affected players' salaries. During the summer transfer window, Premier League clubs were forced to pay more for new signings from Europe because transfers are conducted in euros. 

Another cause for concern for football clubs is that once Britain leaves the EU, Europeans will no longer have an automatic right to live and work in the UK, meaning that new signings from the continent will be forced to apply for visas.

Brexit: Premier League transfer plans hit by falling pound

24 June

Britain's decision to leave the EU could have significant repercussions for the Premier League – and the effects have already been felt.

The Premier League had campaigned to remain in the EU, with chairman Richard Scudamore citing the openness of the table and its cosmopolitan nature.

In response, Brexit campaigners argued that leaving would be beneficial to homegrown players.

So what lies ahead for a post-EU Premier League?

Players from the EU

The most obvious impact will be on player recruitment. Under current rules, any player from an EU member state was free to play in Europe while those from outside the bloc have to meet strict criteria to earn a visa.

"Last season, 432 European players were registered to play in the Premier League. Those players are unlikely to have to leave following the vote, but new players will not have an automatic right to live and work in the UK," reports Sky Sports.

"Europeans could now be subject to the same immigration rules as non-EU players, under which a player from a top-10 nation has to have played in 30 per cent of their games in the two years prior to the date of application to be granted a work permit."

Under those rules, Premier League legends Thierry Henry, Cristiano Ronaldo, David Ginola and Dimitri Payet would not have been able to sign for English clubs, notes the Daily Telegraph.

However, not everyone is concerned. ESPN believes it is likely the UK will agree trade deals which will still enable European stars to play. It notes that the criteria for entry will be determined in part by the Football Association, which will not want to undermine the English game.

Signing young players

Brexit could have an unexpected impact on young players, notes ESPN. At present, players under 18 can only be transferred in certain circumstances, such as their parents moving to a new country, which will be more unlikely as Europeans will no longer be able to move to the UK as freely.

Another of the rules involves transfers of minors between the age of 16 and 18 within the EU or European Economic Area, and that could have a major impact on the academies of teams such as Arsenal and Manchester United. The deals that brought Cesc Fabregas, Hector Bellerin, Adnan Januzaj, Gerard Pique and Paul Pogba to England could not now take place.

Transfer fees

The most obvious and immediate impact of the shock decision to leave the EU has been the sudden collapse in the pound - and that could cause havoc in the transfer market this summer. Premier League clubs may be awash with TV money, but it is now worth a lot less than it was.

"West Ham's €40m offer to buy Marseille's Michy Batshuayi was worth £31m on Thursday but now already equates to more than £34m," notes The Guardian.

EU referendum: Premier League clubs say no to Brexit

21 June

With only hours to go before the EU referendum, the Premier League has come out in support of staying in, claiming Brexit would not only jeopardise the future of hundreds of players, but would fly in the face of the league's philosophy.

Chairman Richard Scudamore gave his backing to the Remain campaign, telling the BBC. "There is an openness about the Premier League which I think it would be completely incongruous if we were to take the opposite position."

He had experienced the frustrations of dealing with the "European machine", he said, but added:

"Ultimately you can't break away, you can't just pull out, you have to get in and negotiate and try and organise and try and influence."

Leaving the EU would also "make it harder for the Premier League to protect its intellectual property rights", reports The Independent.

"All of the teams in England's Premier League have expressed their support for staying in the European Union in the forthcoming referendum," it adds.

Last year, a BBC study found that more than 300 European players in the Premier League, Championship and Scottish Premiership would not qualify for work permits under the rules governing non-EU players.

While players from EU member states are free to play for British clubs, those from outside must meet strict criteria, including being regular internationals.

Last season, only 23 of the EU nationals in the Premier League would have met those criteria, with the likes of Dimitri Payet and Anthony Martial unable to secure work permits.

There are fears that Brexit will "destroy" the Premier League, which is the most-watched football competition in the world.

Popular articles

Best TV crime dramas to watch in 2021
Line of Duty series six returns to BBC One in 2021
In Depth

Best TV crime dramas to watch in 2021

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 25 Feb 2021
10 Downing Street
Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 25 Feb 2021

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 27 Feb 2020
10 Downing Street
Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 27 Feb 2020