No more heroes by Chairman Mao
We had a General Election on 12th December in the UK and I’m sure we all sat up late into the night for the exciting conclusion to the vote in the Merthyr Tydfil & Rhymney constituency; could the Labour Party defy the odds and make it 119 years in a row?
The central issue for the election was of course Brexit and a possible solution to the continued paralysis of government in London. There are too many consequences of leaving the EU to list here but this is a football fanzine so how could it affect us?
We’re not sure that anyone really understands the current “Good Deal” offered by Johnson as an alternative to the catastrophic “No Deal” solution that was also threatened by the ERG fundamentalists and their mates in Brexit Party Ltd. but there will be consequences for professional sport and everyone will be affected in the short term as the numerous trade deals are negotiated over the next couple of years.
Merthyr Town FC has of course benefitted directly from EU funding for the upgrading of Penydarren Park but any dreams of further developments must surely now be at an end unless of course London decides to break the habit of decades and invests directly in the Valleys’ communities.
The great unknown for the future of an “independent” UK is the movement of players and coaches inside football. At present any EU citizen can travel freely to the UK and play football at any level subject to the usual FIFA clearances. If the UK leaves the EU with no deal and no guarantees for freedom of movement then how will football clubs recruit players or coaches from the continent?
The first issue will be the government’s current proposal of a minimum earning limit of between £20,800 (under 26 years of age) and £32,000 per annum for EU migrants to work in the UK. The above figures will probably be used as a baseline as different employment sectors lobby the government for dispensations, for example the above figures would not be acceptable in the seasonal crop picking industry, but how will football approach this issue to satisfy the different levels in the game?
The big clubs will have no issues, they will continue to pay big money for established international players who will meet any visa criteria imposed by any London administration but will they be able to stockpile the very best of Europe’s young talent? Probably they’ll just need to spend more money.
The next level of the game may have more problems as the European market shrinks according to the migration rules at that time. The free market that continues to bring talented European players into the EFL could slow considerably if the current non-EU visa requirement is applied directly to EU migrants.
So what about non-league football? The only issue at the semi-professional league would probably be the reduction in EU migrants seeking work in the UK who happen to be half-decent at kicking a football. A club secretary will now need to ensure that any migrant has a working visa before offering him or her an opportunity to even train with the team, the issue being the length of any such visa affecting the length of any football offer and whether a contract is even allowed to be on the table.
All of these guesses at a post-EU world could also work in reverse so the days of young Welsh football players seeking a living in the lower leagues of Europe may be coming to an end.
For every football fan that enjoys a European away day as a member of the Red Wall should also take note of how freedom of movement is negotiated with each of the current EU countries, if London remains strict on not allowing migrants with some criminal offences into the UK then surely the same would apply to us heading out to watch Wales in the future. Again this wouldn’t affect the majority of us but will that minor offence a few years ago put an end to your weekend session in Budapest in the future?
To be honest we know as much about this stuff as Johnson, May and Raab have shown in the past few years so we make no apology for anything. The Tories have never apologised for inflicting austerity on Merthyr Tydfil over the past decade so in keeping with these turbulent times we offer nothing but theories, threats and pure guesswork.