Exclusive: Premier League clubs could continue signing Europe’s best teenage footballers after Brexit

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Premier League clubs could continue signing the best teenage talent in Europe after Britain’s departure from the European Union is confirmed, the Sunday Telegraph can reveal. Top-flight clubs had feared the passing of a Brexit deal by parliament – something all but inevitable following Boris Johnson’s landslide General Election victory – would immediately prevent them recruiting the continent’s best 16 and 17 year olds. But the Premier League yesterday told the Telegraph that it had sought clarification from Fifa over rules banning the cross-border transfer of any player under the age 18 excepting that of a 16 or 17 year old between two countries in the European Economic Area. A spokesman said it had been told British clubs would continue to benefit from that exception during the transition period the UK Government and the EU agreed would follow the passing of the withdrawal agreement struck between them. That transition period, which already covered the recruitment of EU nationals over the age of 18, is currently scheduled to run until the end of December 2020. That would give Premier League clubs the whole of the January and summer transfer windows to continue to sign any player over the age 16 from within the EEC without restriction. Premier League sides have used the Fifa exemption to sign a series of teens for cheap prices – notably Cesc Fabregas and Hector Bellerin, both of whom joined Arsenal before they were 18. But they now face being at a permanent disadvantage on that front compared with their continental counterparts, meaning 2020 could see a bigger-than-usual influx of 16 and 17 year olds to English football. After that, all foreign workers will be subject to a new, Australian-style points-based immigration system, one the Premier League and Football Association have been at loggerheads over ever since the 2016 vote to leave the EU. © Telegraph Media Group Limited 2019 Need help? Visit our adblocking instructions
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