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The potential impact of Brexit on Middlesbrough Football Club

Throughout the years EU nationals have become a huge part of Middlesbrough Football Club’s DNA, providing countless memorable moments while securing their place in the fan’s hearts and club’s history.. forever!

But could all that be about to change following the results of Britain’s EU referendum? Could Brexit really have a direct impact on the future of Middlesbrough Football Club?

Tside reporter, Josh Frankland, takes an in-depth look at the potential scenario that could be about to unfold when a decision is finally made for the future of the United Kingdom and European Union.


An end to the free movement of labour…

Depending on a deal the British Government strike with the European Union, we could see an end to the free movement of labour that many – including Middlesbrough Football Club – have benefitted from throughout the years.

(Take a look at a potential Boro ‘all-time EU XI’)

As it stands all citizens of members states – including footballers (yes… they’re human, too) – have a legal right to live and work in any other EU country.

But that could be all about to change?

If so, European Union citizens from other member states could about to be treated as any other foreign worker that wants to arrive in the UK – making it potentially difficult for Middlesbrough Football Club to complete such a deal.

As it stands, players from NON-EU countries, must meet FA regulations to join a British club. This is based upon their countries spot on the FIFA world rankings list and the % of matches they have played for their country in the past 2 years.

EU members may potentially now have to apply for a work permit to allow them to play inside the UK… and not all would qualify.

A survey of eligibility by the Guardian, conducted in September 2017, showed that almost two-thirds of Premier League players that currently have a non-British EU passport would fail to secure an automatic permit under the Department of Employment rules.

I spoke to long-serving Evening Gazette journalist and Boro writer Anthony Vickers, who related this directly to Middlesbrough Football Club.

“Without even realising it, in the best of times, and the worst of times, Boro have benefitted from the EU’s freedom of movement.” Anthony Vickers, explained.

“Whether that be during our time in the Championship struggling with Tony Mowbray on a low budget or even stepping up to win the Carling Cup – Boro had players from the EU, many of which certainly may have struggled to sign for Boro if they needed to be accepted for a work permit.

“For example, Mowbray needed players on the cheap and fast. He opted for the likes of Martin and Haroon –  A frenchman and a Belgium – both of which would have stood no chance of qualifying for a work permit with neither making any appearance for their national side or meeting other such rules.”

“Even if we are to look as recent as last season, Boro had 17 EU nationals on their books, and none of them – including the likes of Ayala, Mejias and Nsue – would automatically qualify for the permit.”

How would the fans feel if Boro couldn’t sign an EU National following the result of Brexit?

Tside have contacted Middlesbrough Football Club in hope for a response hoping for an insight into how they are prepping for Brexit but are unfortunately yet to recieve such a reply. However, West Ham United vice-chairman, Karen Brady, has been talking about the subject and it is very much relatable to Middlesbrough Football Club.

“For clubs, free movement plays a big role in transfers and players’ contracts,” Karen Brady, explained in a letter she sent to the chairman of every British football club.

“Players from the EU can sign for UK clubs without needing a visa or work permit, making it quicker and easier to secure top talent from across Europe to come and play in our leagues.

KAREN BRADY: Vice-chairman of West Ham United FC

“Indeed, there are nearly 200 Premier League footballers alone who have benefited from this arrangement. Leaving the EU could have a big impact. Two-thirds of European stars in England would not meet automatic non-EU visa criteria.

“Losing unhindered access to European talent would put British clubs at a disadvantage compared to continental sides.”

Financials and scouting

An instant slump, almost 20%, in the value of the pound sterling.

FINANCE: Sterling value decrease!

This instantly impacted on Middlesbrough Football Club’s transfer business around the time of the EU referendum. Before the vote Middlesbrough had agreed a fee in the region of €12 million for Marten De Roon, a player they were signing from Italian side, Atalanta.

However, the Brexit result – coming to light on the same day a fee was agreed – meant that the sudden slump in currency cost Middlesbrough around £1.2 million as they exchange rate was considerably worse and favouring the Euro.

But there are many people who believe this could be a good thing for English football.

Are young English-players finally about to receive the chance they deserve?

Super-agent, Rachael Anderson, believes it could be a positive.

“Leaving the EU will have a much bigger effect on football than people think.” She wrote in a personal blog on the issue.

“We’re talking about half the Premier League needing work permits. However, you could argue this will benefit English football, especially the national team – a long-term project of the FA. It could quite easily force clubs to concentrate on home-grown talent.”

If this was to be the case, Middlesbrough Football Club certainly have a fantastic track record for introducing home-grown talent. In 2006, Boro – who remain the only Premier League side to ever do so – named a 16-man squad for their game against Fulham, that consisted only of English players, from their own academy.

ENGLISH XI: Boro become first ever Premier League club to name a full squad of academy graduates vs Fulham in 2006

Despite that, Middlesbrough in recent years, have set up a huge network of scouts across Europe and have increased spending drastically in this area over the past few years.

This could be a huge draw-back and the club could take a huge-hit if they were no longer allowed to sign players from this area easily, and also even send scouts to those areas without receiving work-permits at increased costs!

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