Gary Lineker confessed Brexit could be ‘positive for nurturing football talent in UK’November 30, 2020
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The Match of the Day presenter remained a vocal figure during the Brexit referendum, which was secured with a 51.9 percent majority vote in 2016. Lineker is an outspoken critic of Britain’s proposed withdrawal from the bloc. But the former England striker, who celebrates his 60th birthday today, admitted he thought football could benefit from the departure.
He said discussions were “very tribal” on social media due to supporters of Leave and Remain holding such passionate views.
Lineker, who ended his football career in Japan in 1994, had publicly voiced his opposition to Britain leaving the EU online.
Despite his views, the BBC pundit felt it could be an “interesting time” for sport as it would allow “home talent” to thrive.
He said: “The only positive thing that I think might come out of Brexit is that our young players might get more opportunities to play.
“It’s not going to be easy to sign young kids from Europe because they will probably need the same criteria as international players from outside of the EU.”
It’s currently unclear how Britain’s departure will affect the transfer of footballers but some have raised concern.
Talent may need to meet certain criteria or be granted an exemption to allow them to obtain a work permit – if it follows the approach taken for recruiting Non-EU players.
Despite the uncertainty, Lineker felt that Brexit could help British footballers on the cusp of their big breaks.
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He told JOE last year: “We have so many good young players coming through and they are starting to get their opportunities, which is encouraging anyway.
“The Premier League obviously kicked up a bit and said we must still be able to get the Europeans, otherwise we’ll have an unfair disadvantage to the rest of Europe.
“So they are kicking up a bit of a fuss about it but we don’t know until it happens in so many things.”
In 2016, the BBC found that 332 players from the Premier League, Championship and Scottish Premiership would not meet the requirements used for Non-EU players.
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While all Premier League club managers were against Brexit in 2016, Cardiff City’s former manager Neil Warnock said he “couldn’t wait to get out”.
During a press conference last year, he said: “I think we’ll be far better out of the bloody thing. In every aspect. Football-wise as well, absolutely.
“I think once the country knows what they’re doing, it will be straightforward… Any transfer window is difficult for me, not just this one.”
In response to a question about the “influx of foreign European players and managers” since 1992, Lineker said that Britain had previously not “produced enough of our own” talent.
The former Leicester City star said: “Our development was poor, I mean really poor.
“It was only about 10 years ago that we were still playing seven-year, eight-year or 11-year-olds on full-size pitches.”
Lineker admitted that it “changed” with the introduction of smaller pitches for children and now Britain was “producing loads of talent”.
He continued: “They are all coming through and I think it’s really quite exciting.
“But in that interim period it was important that we had lots of good players from elsewhere to teach us as well about how the game should be played.”
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