I glance around my flat, searching for something to do. Something to talk about. Anything. Anything at all. I’m so bored. There’s nothing new with Meatloaf and Burnie. Meatloaf’s still a dickhead and Burnie’s still the lovable scaredy cat. I’ve currently got no tactical decisions to make, no transfers on the horizon, no drama at all in fact, footballing or otherwise. I take a deep breath and let out a long sigh… Fine, let’s talk about Brexit.
The United Kingdom is, to quote Graham Chapman, a silly place. It’s a silly place where rich silly people tell poor silly people to vote for laughably silly things. The poor silly people, just to compound the misery of everyone involved, then proceed to vote for the laughably silly things. The upshot of this is that the Kingdom is basically fucked. The silly people will stay imprisoned in a jail of their own making, breeding with other silly imprisoned people and creating silly imprisoned children, who will grow up and vote for an entirely new generation of silly people and laughably silly things, thus completing the silly circle of life in the United Kingdom. Anyway, I’ve decided to stay very neutral, journalistic and professional about the whole thing as I tell you all about how Brexit has played out back in Great Britain.
In truth, the warning signs were there for all to see in early 2018 when Theresa May resigned her post as Prime Minister due to a lack of support and a publicity stunt by bookmakers BetFred went horribly wrong when the public voted in Robbie Savage as her replacement, narrowly beating Alan Curbishley in the polls. Robbie Savage, to give him his dues, was a pretty horrific footballer but a decent defensive midfielder. He was actually like a “Premier League standard” version of me in my playing days, so I can’t really have a go in that regard. Since retirement, he’s been a regular presenter on the BBC’s pit of unrelenting toxicity known as the 606 phone in, and more recently the Fletch and Sav show, which to be honest I’ve never watched, so I can’t really comment. The Welshman was faced with a sink or swim round of negotiations to determine the fate of the UK and their relations with the EU, and much like in his playing days he went diving into the metaphorical ocean with 2 feet and studs raised, dropping like a sack of spuds deep beneath the waves. To put it simply, it turns out that Robbie Savage is unable to negotiate. My homeland was left with a ridiculously confusing and long-winded deal. Mind you, it just wouldn’t be political negotiations if the outcome wasn’t wordy, confusing and needlessly complicated, so here we go…
So whether a non-domestic player is signing for an English club with or without a pre-existing work permit or even if he’s just renewing his contract, the rules that determine if a permit is granted are the same, in as much as he must have played in a certain percentage of his nation’s recent International matches. If his national team is in the top 10 in the FIFA World rankings, he must have played 30% of their recent matches. If the nation is in the top 20, then it’s 45%. In the top 30 it’s 60% and in the top 50 it’s 75%. To be honest I’ve no idea what happens if the poor bloke made the unfortunate decision to be born and raised in a nation outside the top 50, but I would imagine that they’re just out on their arse. If the work permit is not granted, the club must wait 120 days before applying again.
Of course, the club could choose to appeal the decision. If the club appeals, then the decision is postponed and a work permit can be granted as long as the player ticks enough of the boxes to convince the powers that be that he deserves a chance to come over and play football. The boxes are as follows (Player needs 4 points to gain a work permit on appeal):
3 points are given if the transfer fee paid for the player is in the top 25% of Premier League transfers in the last 2 windows. Currently in the Premier League the bar to beat is £9.25M, but I imagine that fees will increase to beat that figure, driving the average up, and hence raising the bar that needs to be beaten. This could get messy. 2 points are given if the fee is in the top 50% over the same period (Currently £3.7M).
Another way to bag 3 of the 4 points required is if the player’s proposed wage would put them in the top 25% of the 30 highest earners at the club. Again, 2 points are given if they’ll be among the top 50%.
1 point is given if the player being signed is currently an “active player” for a club playing in the top 6 leagues in Europe or the top 2 leagues in South America. “Active player” is an extremely ambiguous description and will undoubtably lead to arguments. In other words, it fits perfectly into the football rule book.
Simple, eh? Of course not. You got ripped off, Savage. We all got ripped off.
So let’s just think about the fallout from the deal that the former Blackburn Rovers midfielder made with the European Union. Firstly, because of the work permit appeal system, the teams with money will still be able to get any player they want, giving them another advantage over the rest. Just tack an extra few million onto the fee and an extra £15k onto the weekly wage and you’re sorted. I hate this. I hate this with a fucking passion. The gap between the rich clubs and everyone else will grow exponentially because of these bloody rules, making the Premier League more predictable, which is the worst thing it could be.
Secondly, I’ve already mentioned the fact that everyone tacking on a few more million every time they want to sign a player will raise the average transfer fee, which will mean that everyone needs to tack a few more million on. The same goes for wages. These rules are going to accelerate inflation in football! Accelerate inflation! As if it needs any bloody help! As if the amount of money swilling around the game isn’t already utterly laughable.
Finally, as I’ve mentioned, throwing yet another ambiguous rule regarding “Active players” into football that’s “At the discretion of XYZ” will only end in tears and will ironically make the 606 phonelines that Savage used to abide explode with furious football fans, just itching to give their “controversial” 2 cents about the direction in which the game’s going.
By the way, I understand that this doesn’t affect us at the minute, but my career is only just beginning. I guarantee you I will head back to Blighty eventually, and when I do I’m going to have to deal with all this shite. For now though I’m going to settle into my new job and my new flat in Lansdowne and let Mourinho, Guardiola and co deal with it.
So to summarise, top level football is going to be more predictable, even more advantageous to the rich and even more ambiguous from now on. Fuck you, Savage. Fuck you, Brexit.