Some think by voting to leave the European Union our membership of UEFA would be terminated along with UK entries taking part in Eurovision.
In case you’re one of the ones concerned about this, I’ll quickly set the record straight. Changing our geographical location is not an option on the ballot paper – what is, is whether we should stay or leave a political union. (Oh, and if we want to basically destroy the Tory party or not *laughs*).
So, the hopes and dreams of Sean Kennedy leading out a fleet of Wigan Athletic supporters at Eurovision 2017 in Stockholm will still be alive no matter how the voting goes on 23 June.
Sometimes you hear complaints about immigration levels into Britain from mainland Europe and on separate occasions how foreign players from across the European continent displace home-grown talent at Britain’s elite football sides, but none of these Sun/Daily Star readers ever combine their two greatest loves – immigration levels and football – into one [that was a joke].
The Australian style points system that ‘Vote Leave’ have recently advocated following a vote to exit the EU would make it much more difficult for football clubs to import footballers from Europe, bringing in similar rules to those in place for players from the rest of the world.
Government regulation on footballers wanted by professional teams in the UK is as follows: “[The FA] will endorse a certificate of sponsorship for a player if he has played 75 per cent of competitive games for a FIFA ranked top 70 nation over the past two years. Failure to meet this requirement will see an application rejected, unless it can be proven a player was unavailable for selection due to injury.”
An appeals process is already in place for footballers who do not meet this criteria but could be seen to have a positive impact on football in the UK. With strict ruling in place for footballers from outside the EU, clubs filing appeals would surely become the norm for foreign players if we did vote to leave.
Nevertheless, on the face of it this means whilst players from Ivory Coast, Australia, Canada etc won’t face discrimination in favour of footballers from EU member states, the number of UK born players in Football League and Premier League starting 11’s will increase significantly.
Its impact could stifle the overall quality of footballers in England’s top four divisions slightly, yet give the country’s national team a boost. Then again it could be argued that English footballers benefit from fierce open competition from French, German and Spanish footballers.
In all probability the impact on football of leaving follows that of the country as a whole. It probably wouldn’t make much difference either way. More clubs would be required to go through the appeals process to secure a player (although discrimination in favour of Europeans would end) and life would go on.
But who knows for sure? Probably nobody, but certainly not David Cameron – he doesn’t even know which team he supports.