They are one of the UK’s most important cultural exports and received special assistance from government to restart play during the Covid-19 pandemic, but even Premier League footballers are not exempt from the stifling effects of Brexit.
The players’ union, the Professional Footballers’ Association, has this week informed its members that it will no longer be subsidising places for a highly-regarded online degree in sports management, after the Danish university which hosts the course confirmed that UK passport holders would now have to pay €10,000 (£8,650) to complete it.
The course, run in conjunction with the international players’ union, Fifpro, had previously cost £300 per student, which the PFA paid for its members. Players attending the three-year BA programme learn aspects of business management as part of preparing for a post-football career.
It means that players join a growing list of professionals hit by barriers imposed by Brexit. Musicians have pleaded with the UK government to reverse a situation in which touring artists require visas that cost up to £600, and multi-city tours are rendered impossible for UK companies in the entertainment industry because of new ‘cabotage’ rules. Industries as diverse as fishing and horse breeding have also been affected.
The changes in tuition charges match those faced by students across the board, with UK students losing the ability to qualify for support, including with fees, when studying in the EU.
The news comes in the week as the PFA contacted all members to remind them of the deadline for EU nationals to apply for settled status in the UK.
Brexit rules have tightened the criteria by which European players can qualify to play in the English professional game, leaving a French player subject to the same conditions as one from South America. European players in the UK must apply for settled status to continue their careers in the country.
In an eight-page document sent to all players, the PFA outlines the settled status process for its members and the criteria needed to gain a Governing Body Exemption if they do not qualify. The EU settlement scheme closes for applications on 30 June.
“As a result of Brexit, EU nationals and their family members no longer have an automatic right to live and work in the UK from 1 January 2021,” the document says. “This means that players need to take steps to ensure that they continue to have a right to work in the UK and can sign new contracts in the future.”