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How BrExit Will Impact Bolton Wanderers?

Asking the important questions.

Jan Kruger/Getty Images

Those that know me will be aware that I am, at heart, a bit of a politico. I didn't vote on Thursday, because I am 17, however my opinions can be found here. I will try to avoid bias in this article as best I can.

There are some positives and negatives after the UK voted to leave the EU, so how will this changing political landscape effect football and Bolton Wanderers?

Under 18 Footballers

As stricter controls on migration, assuming the negotiation of access to the common market does not demand free movement of people, will be introduced it will be difficult for professional clubs to sign U18s from European nations. FIFA rules dictate that U18s cannot move clubs in a transfer, however there is an exemption for countries within the EU. Leaving the EU will mean that clubs can no longer sign young footballers from EU countries between the ages of 16 and 18. Even if the UK was to join the EEA, where free movement exists, FIFA rules remain the same. Examples of footballers that have benefited from this exemption include Cesc Fabregas, Hector Bellerin and Adnan Januzaj.

It could be argued that this will allow young English talent to develop without the threat of foreign players taking their game time, however it could prevent Premier League and Championship teams from developing the exciting new talent it is world famous for.

As Bolton are currently under a transfer embargo, this is not relevant in the short term. Despite the downgrading of our academy, our young talent is almost entirely British and so we would not be severely effected.


The Home Office's current criteria for non-EU players requires players to have played in 75% of their national team's matches in the last two years. This means that players such as Cristiano Ronaldo, Thierry Henry, Dimitri Payet, N'Golo Kante, Anthony Martial and David De Gea would not have been given the permit, as they established themselves in the national side after having signed for their respective Premier League clubs. The same goes the other way, meaning that some British players will struggle to establish themselves abroad (despite fewer players going the other way).

Furthermore, a weaker pound means that (in real terms), the cost of transfers for foreign nationals would rise. Currently, the value of the pound is falling in relation to almost all foreign currencies and so it would cost more, relatively speaking.

Now whilst this could give English players more game time, it is likely to further increase the gap between rich and poor clubs. If the exchange between the GBP and the Euro stays as it is currently (unlikely), then players from the Bundesliga, Liga BBVA, Serie A and Ligue Un have become 11% more expensive since January 2016. Despite multi-million signings being the deals that would suffer more, the owners would be able to deal with the added cost. However, in the lower leagues, that 11% could be a deal breaker.

Bolton's financial position is, at best, precarious. Whilst we are not in the position to be making foreign signings, Championship clubs could be severely effected by this and financial fair play rules are yet to respond to the devaluation in our currency. There will also be issues with EU citizens currently playing for Bolton as some will either have to take citizenship tests to become British nationals or leave the country, potentially.

Nationality Quotas

The European Court of Justice ruled that, in the case of Deutscher Handballbund eV v Maros Kolpak, citizens of countries which have signed European Union Association Agreements have the same employment rights and freedom of movement within the EU as EU citizens. This means that Deutscher Handballbund could not enforce a rule that a team could not field more two non-EU players. Koblak, a Slovak player, was ejected from a team based on this rule and so challenged the club in court. This set precedent across all sport in the EU could not be discriminated against based on nationality (assuming that that country had signed a European Union Association Agreement).

Some fans have long called for the introduction of national quotas, meaning that certain percentages of team's starting line ups must be English. If EU law ceases to apply in the UK, this would mean that the FA would be in a better position to restrict foreign players in the squad.

Whilst this would, yet again, increase game time for English footballers, it could reduce competitiveness of the Premier League and reduce its value as an international entertainment brand. The current BWFC squad is mostly English and so if a rule was to be enforced, it is unlikely to affect our starting line up significantly.

Salary Caps

Give firefighters/teachers/nurses footballer's wages is a common sentiment expressed by non-football fans. The possibility of a hard salary cap being introduced by the FA is now on the cards, as EU rules had previously prohibited such measures being introduced. A soft salary cap currently exists, the short term control measure, which avoids disobeying laws on the free movement of capital, labour and people. Therefore, not being subject to these rules would liberate the FA.

Whilst this is a hypothetical scenario, we may still be subject to the ECJ and European regulation for some time, within a hypothetical scenario, the FA may not introduce a salary cap, it now becomes a serious possibility.
Yet again, it is unlikely to affect Bolton, as they currently struggle to pay their players at all, let alone more.

Foreign Investment

Due to the uncertainty of the UK markets and the lack of clarity in how BrExit will impact football in this country, many firms will be holding off investing in clubs. The stock exchange took a big hit today and the effects of this will be far reaching, business' confidence in Britain will fall and this is bound to have an effect on football.

It is too early to comment however, if projections are to be believed, Britain would become a less attractive place to invest for football. This is in part because of the effects BrExit would have on the Premier League's structure. That being said, a weaker pound would make investment cheaper.

This is where it gets tricky for Bolton. As the Bolton board scramble for funds, this vote will serious damage the willingness of foreign investors to spend. Whilst there is nothing to prove that foreign investment was ever on the cards, this could become a serious sticking point for the future.

TV Rights

The current TV deal on the continent last three more years, a weaker pound will affect the Premier League's revenue. This would have knock on effects to the incomes of clubs and so could have serious consequences.

This won't effect Bolton for some time, as there is little continental TV money in League One.

Independent Scotland

One of the potential consequences of BrExit is an independent Scotland, which, if they decided to join the EU, would mean that playing either side of Hadrian's Wall could become more difficult, too.