British sports stars reflect on uncertain future after Brexit

British sports stars and officials have given a mixed reaction to Britain's decision to leave the European Union, unsure of what it means for leagues and foreign athletes.

Positivity, anger, disappointment and uncertainty were among the emotions expressed by an array of famous names as they considered the implications of the so-called Brexit.

Greg Dyke, the chairman of the Football Association in England, said he felt Brexit could have a positive effect on young English players and was confident that the best foreign players would still be able to grace the Premier League.

"If it increases the number of English players, that is to be welcomed," he told the Press Association.

"It would be a shame if some of the great European players can’t come here but I don’t think that will happen. Whether the total number reduces will depend on the terms of the exit."

The English Premier League released a statement saying that its "strong domestic and global appeal" would continue "regardless of the referendum result", but acknowledged it was unable to deal in specifics amid the post-vote confusion.

"There is little point in second-guessing the implications until there is greater clarity."

Former England striker Gary Lineker was less circumspect, however. "Bloody hell! What have we gone and done?" he tweeted.

Meanwhile the British teams left at Euro 2016 were also quizzed out the result of the referendum but not concerned.

"Talking about being in or out of Europe, we're still in it and that’s only thing we care about as a team," Wales manager Chris Coleman said ahead of the game with Northern Ireland.

"We know we are playing Northern Ireland and whatever is happening on the political side of the fence will have to wait."

Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill shared this view but expressed "regret I didn't give the players the chance for a postal vote."

Coleman however did say he feared that it could become more difficult for young coaches to go abroad, like he did when he coached Spain's Real Sociedad and Larissa in Greece before taking the Wales job in 2012.

"Even before the result I found it disappointing that young coaches dont travel abroad ... We know what its like at home. It's a shame not more have taken the leap. Its petrifying but worth it," he said.

Footballers who are citizens of EU member states could now be subject to the same work-permit criteria as non-EU players. This means they would need to meet strict Home Office guidelines in order to be awarded a work permit.

For example, a player from a nation ranked in the world’s top 10 would have to have represented their country in at least 30 per cent of international matches in the previous two years.

Under these rules, the likes of Portugal star Cristiano Ronaldo and Dimitri Payet from hosts France would not have been able to move to England, where both made their name.

Another problem could be the devaluation of the pound, which may lead to difficulties in the international transfer market.

Brexit would also mean the UK would no longer be bound by the Kolpak ruling, which grants freedom of work and movement to citizens of countries that have signed European Union Association Agreements.

Many cricketers and rugby players from Africa, the Caribbean and beyond ply their trade in the country thanks to this ruling, which, if no longer valid, would mean they would no longer enjoy special status, resulting in a shrinking of the international talent pool.

Welsh rugby union star Jamie Roberts was scathing in his verdict of Brexit, complaining that many voters had made an ill-informed choice. "Gutted... Uneducated vote," he tweeted.

Former England cricket captain Michael Vaughan was more cautious in his judgment.

"Only time will tell whether it's the right decision," he tweeted, before going on to criticise the "lies" of both the Leave and Remain campaigns.

Last update: Fri, 24/06/2016 - 20:01
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