Steve Barclay is the Brexit Secretary. I’m telling you this as some casual readers might not be aware of this fact given we’ve had so many Brexit Secretaries already. Anyhow, that’s what Steve does – now you know.
His contribution to the Tory general election campaign thus far has been to make a video about how leaving the EU – and specifically, leaving the EU under the “Boris deal” – will allow English football to get better. How? Well, this is confused. Part of it is that we will be able to get more players from around the world instead of just within the EU. Also, there will be less foreigners around, so that will mean more English players get first team experience. So, which is it? More foreigners or less? Steve isn’t clear on this matter in the video.
Yet I can see his point about the EU and English football. Why do we have to follow all of these pesky rules made by foreigners? Except, of course, that all the rules English football clubs follow that are foreign, on player quotas, VAR, you name it, mostly come from being a member of UEFA, the supranational body that governs European football. So, yeah, Steve might have got confused on this point a little, but what he really seems to be saying is, why don’t we leave UEFA and take back our own football sovereignty! Then we can fight about whether what we really want is more English players in the premiership or more South Americans! That sounds like a great thing to divert all of the energy of English football into for at least half a decade.
The downsides would be considerable, though. Clubs wouldn’t be able to participate in the Champions League any longer. England wouldn’t be able to play in the Euros every four years. Who cares – worth it to get our footballing sovereignty back. We can just fall back on FIFA rules.
Only, it turns out that a lot of the rules we don’t like come from FIFA as well. So, let’s leave FIFA too. We would not longer get to play in the World Cup, but who cares! We can go back to the good old days, when England played Scotland and Wales three times a year each and that was that. We could go back to that and as a bonus, be more like America – whichever country beats the home countries the most in any one year are declared World Champions. As a bonus, this is way easier than winning the actual World Cup.
Only, when you stop and think about it, having English clubs play in the Champions League and getting to compete in the World Cup are pretty huge things to give up so that English clubs can be confused about whether to have more English players or more non-European ones. If we were out of UEFA and FIFA, we almost certainly wouldn’t change almost any of the rules football is governed by in England, so the upside would be small to none.
I guess this is a bit like being in the EU, where we get access to a huge market in return for a slice of sovereignty. I hadn’t thought about it that way before. Thank you, Steve Barclay, for making me see the light.