‘Football Manager’ has long been one of the most loved video games in the country, as anyone with a hard drive and a passing knowledge of football logs on and imagines themselves as the next Alex Ferguson.
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Most editions don’t change that much – aside from the stats of players – but the upcoming version has a major difference for its release in a couple of weeks: it’s going to try and simulate the triggering of Article 50 and the occurrence of Brexit. Obviously, nobody can accurately predict how this is going to pan out so ‘Football Manager’ has come up with three possible situations:
1. Soft Brexit – free movement of workers remains.
2. Footballers are granted the same special exemptions that are currently given to ‘entertainers’. This means it is easier for them to obtain work permits than other people, and it will not have a huge impact on player movement from the EU.
3. Hard Brexit: similar rules to those which currently apply to non-EU players are adopted for all non-UK players.
It’s the third option that could see the biggest consequences for footballers in this country, with ‘Football Manager’ head honcho Miles Jacobson (pictured below) explaining a bunch of the possible situations that could play out in the game:
At the moment the rules for work permits for non-EU players uses a points system and we could see similar rules for all recruitment from outside the UK.
The points system makes it easier to obtain a work permit for a non-EU-based player if they are in the top 25 per cent of earners at a club or in a league, if they have a large transfer fee or if they play for a major international team. A hard Brexit would affect who is eligible to play in the UK.
If we already had these rules in place, players such as N’Golo Kante and Dimitri Payet would not have been able to gain work permits to move to the Premier League. That’s two of last season’s three best players.
There is also the option that sees us adopt a system like Italy’s, where there is a limit on the number of non-EU players in each squad. The limit of non-UK players that British clubs are allowed could range from anything as high as 17 to as low as four.
If you only had four non-UK players per squad, that’s going to make things difficult. All of a sudden Championship-quality players are moving into the Premier League to fill up slots. That could mean the overall quality drops, and that means the TV money goes down.
Meanwhile, transfer fees go up: foreign players are worth more to British clubs because you need to make sure you make the most of those four slots, and the best British players become more valuable, and so more expensive, too.
Footballers could decide against playing for their home nation because doing so could reduce their chances of ever making it to the Premier League. Newer nations such as Kosovo could suffer, with players holding out to become naturalised and play for a higher ranked country.
There is even the outside chance that non-UK players could end up having to apply for work permits to remain in the UK the day after Brexit. It’s a tiny chance but it could happen in your game.
Jesus, that sounds extensive doesn’t it? Not only is it going to make this year’s ‘Football Manager’ even more detailed and engrossing (which to be honest I’ll probably quite enjoy), as these scenarios are all possible and real life, but it also looks like Brexit is going to completely destroy the Premier League’s status as the best/most popular league in the world as Jacobson concludes:
I love the Premier League as it is. I love seeing the best players in the world on a weekly basis.
If there is a limit on non-UK players in England, then that isn’t going to help the Premier League. English players are not of the same quality as top foreign players.
From a British point of view it could be a positive. From a national team point of view it could be a positive. But from an overall perspective, it’s not a good thing for football in this country.
If people think the outcome is bleak, this is what I believe could happen after interviewing the leading figures involved.
Well there you have it, another reason Brexit has screwed everything up. Nice one guys – I bet you weren’t thinking about that when you voted out were you? Although I guess it does mean there will be less immigrants around so you got that I suppose. Good one.
For more football managers, watch this actual football manager get hit in the face with a drink. Doubt the game will ever reach those levels of realism.