< back
football goal

Vanessa Ganguin for The London Economic

Will Brexit be an own goal for UK football teams attracting the best talent?

31 January 2020

Gordon Brown called Brexit “the biggest own goal in our peacetime economic history … no matter how much it is dressed up as a patriotic act”.

After a season in which English football clubs celebrated record success in Europe, how much of an own goal will Brexit prove to be for the English game?

As the Transfer Deadline Day coincides with Brexit Day, the sad fact is football clubs in the UK are still kicking off about the uncertainty that lies ahead for them.

One of the main worries is the ability to bring in the next generation of European football starlets to join the likes of Paul Pogba and Hector Bellerin, both of which were signed by English clubs while still under the age of 18.

FIFA rules forbid the transter of players aged under 18 across borders – with the exception of what is known as Article 19 – free movement across the European Union and European Economic Area. Under freedom of movement workers over the age of 16 – including footballers can come here to work.

As the UK is leaving the EU on January 31, 2020, clubs feared this transfer deadline day might be the last chance to attract under-18 rising stars from Europe.

FIFA were forced to clarify the matter and put out a statement on the eve of transfer deadline day reassuring UK football clubs that the current exemption that allows potential young EU talent to be poached would continue until the end of the transition period at the end of 2020.