Brexit, another bad news for French football?

The rules are changing. And the French clubs will have to get used to it. From January 1, French players, 32 of whom play in the Premier League according to the specialized site transfermarkt, will no longer be so numerous to be able to go into exile on English soil. England will no longer be able to recruit foreign minors, and French players will need a work permit which will be obtained via a points system which is still a little vague, of course, but the main lines of which have already been drawn.

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“Basically it’s not good news, but at the moment there isn’t a lot of good news for French football”, we analyze in Premier League, the union of clubs of L1. The timing is indeed delicate: the ticket offices of clubs in France are empty, like its stadiums, and the broadcaster Mediapro, unable to pay the sum of 1.1 billion euros promised in TV rights, has just thrown in the towel . “It will inevitably impact the financial windfall generated between France and England, so it is in this context that it is not good news”, details the union.

Between 2010 and 2019, according to the Sport Business Observatory, the English spent 1.25 billion euros with French clubs. For now, it is still impossible to assess the negative impact for French clubs. “After the Covid and Mediapro, it’s a bit like the third layer on the bread, it’s true”, abstract Stéphane Canard, president of the sports agents union (Snas).

Transfers of minors

“That will change of course. Just for minors, transfers like Jérémie Aliadière (recruited by Arsenal at 16, note) or Paul Pogba (recruited by Manchester United at 17, note), it will no longer be possible”, explains the players agent Christophe Hutteau. According to the agreement signed between the English Federation, the Premier League and the Championship (2nd English div), only players who have obtained a minimum of points will be able to be issued with a work permit, the Governing Body Endorsment (GBE).

Points gleaned according to the championship in which the player plays, his number of international selections, his number of matches played in the European Cup. For example, a player like N’Golo Kanté, who, in 2015, played in Caen, was not international and did not play in the European Cup, could not have signed for Leicester with these new rules.

“The problem is that it is still difficult to read”, Explain Romain Poirot, ex-recruiter at Manchester United. “But the English are very pragmatic and very good at that, they will see after the transfer window this winter what to adjust, he explains, their goal is to consolidate the domination of the Premier League, the major world championship “.

“If the Premier League wants a player, they will get him”

Because what will not change is that French stars like Kylian Mbappé for example, will have no problem joining the Premier League. “For the ‘top players’, that will not change anything. But even for a good L1 player, who will have played more than 80% of matches in a season, it should pass”, assures Christophe Hutteau. “Either way, if the Premier League wants a player, they will get him”, he assures, “for me this is not the predicted or feared cataclysm.”

The English have even provided for a commission to arbitrate in disputed cases. On the other hand, for players under the radars of the Premier League who tried the experience in Championship (2nd English div.), “there it will be clearly tense”, summarizes Christophe Hutteau. In 2019, eleven French people had been recruited by Championship clubs according to the transfermarkt site. If this news on transfers will shake up French football, it should also lead to in-depth changes.

“It will force French football to imagine another model, and it may be an opportunity. We will perhaps keep our young players a little longer, offer them longer contracts,” nuance Premier League. The exile of certain young talents in England has not always been crowned with success, and certain intermediaries have sometimes taken advantage of the attractiveness of the English Eldorado to sign very early young talents who have never taken off. . “We have to be careful with the somewhat hasty predictive analyzes. There will not necessarily be only negative effects of this Brexit”, hopes Stéphane Canard.

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