Reaction Weekend

Post-Brexit English football will remain European in flavour

BY Allan Massie   /  16 November 2018

With the front door of Number 10 Downing Street revolving fast as disgruntled ministers become ex-ministers, and Mrs May’s Exit Deal due to be savaged in the House of Commons, it may seem an odd weekend to consider what the effect of Brexit might be for football.

But it’s also true that membership of the EU has utterly changed English and, to a lesser extent, Scottish football. Every team-sheet provides evidence of the EU’s famous or – if you prefer, infamous – commitment to the free movement of labour throughout its member states. On one recent weekend fewer than one in three players who started matches in the Premier League were qualified to play for England. Among the six biggest clubs – Manchester City, Manchester united, Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur – the figure was even lower: just over one in five.

English clubs have always fielded players who aren’t English, but they used to come from Scotland, Ireland or Wales.