The face of Scottish football may be 18 days away from being changed forever, and there is stony silence at the SFA.
To be fair, English football is set to be changed in exactly the same way and there has been nothing from the FA either … but some think they are in a slightly better position to weather the coming storm. Still, it is incredible to me.
When I did the first piece I said that there was a kind of complacency about it that was stunning.
Right now we can sign any player from any European country without having to worry about work permits or anything like that … this is about to swept away entirely.
The complacency came from most people believing that some exception would be carved out for football as it would be for other industries. But that was when most people assumed we’d be leaving with some kind of deal; that no longer looks likely.
A no-deal Brexit comes with no exceptions at all, and even those players who are already here would have to go through a process of making sure they could stay. Even in the short to medium term this is going to hurt, and nobody has issued guidance to clubs on how they should prepare for it.
Football in the UK is about to undergo a seismic shock … and no-one’s ready.
In September last year, the SFA and the FA were “in talks” about how best to lobby for football’s exempt status.
Those talks came to nothing, because the no-deal Brexit bandwagon was already in full swing. Even if it hadn’t been, the idea that one area of the economy would be subjected to different work permit rules as the rest was never going to fly.
On top of that, European leagues have seen a steady procession of their players to England, and that has led to the promotion of the EPL as the world’s biggest league … EU nations might think its time that the EPL was tested and the brand weakened.
Anything to their detriment might be seen to have an upside in certain European capitals.
More than a fifth of the players in the SPL would not qualify, automatically, to play here under no-deal rules. Travel to Europe for fans is about to get more complicated, and expensive. A lot of commercial deals will need to be entirely renegotiated.
The real problem is going to come for clubs like ours though.
Look at the business we’ve done in the last few years, with bringing through players like Wanyama and Van Dijk.
Under a no-deal Brexit neither of these guys would have qualified for a work permit, and we may have struggled to sign them. One of the reasons I keep insisting on us scooping up the best Scottish talent we can find is that sooner or later that might be all we can do.
I’d like it very much if our club gave us some information on this, and what they think it means for the business model.
We don’t seem ready to me. We seem as if we’re crossing our fingers and hoping that the “higher ups” work some kind of deal out … that’s about as unlikely as Dave King finding humility and voluntarily leaving Scottish football to protect its reputation.
This thing looks as if it’s going to happen, and the UK government wants it to happen just 18 days from now.
We might be on the brink of a momentous and destabilising event … I want to know, as we all must want to know, if the club has a plan for it, or are we putting our faith in the governing bodies having sorted this out already?
God help us if we are.
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