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Fan Letters: Is Brexit a major concern for Sunderland AFC & other football clubs in England?

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A new transfer policy, horrendous refereeing decisions and the implications of Brexit on football are the main talking points in our latest edition of the Roker Report mailbag. Email us: RokerReport@Yahoo.co.uk - we’ll include your message in the next edition!

Fan Letters
Fan Letters
Danny Roberts | Roker Report

Dear Roker Report,

As a fan of Sunderland, and a fan that is very happy with the new ownership, I think it would be in the clubs’s interest to evolve how they go about buying players. This is in no way meant as a criticism of the purchases or actions in the previous transfer window or the current window, being in League One without the assurance of promotion obviously hinders to some extent long-term planning and transfer policy.

However, going forward, it would be sensible for Sunderland to follow the continental model of many German Clubs, where purchases of players are sometimes conducted as much as six months ahead of time, instead of during the window. The effect of this is two-fold.

First, when the window opens the player is able to join the team right away, allowing him, the squad, and the manager to begin working together without any drawn out story line or unnecessary drama, which might cause all or any of the parties mentioned to become anxious and mentally worn down. Second, it allows the organisation to get ahead of the curve, and to avoid long drawn out auctions. This second effect is important because, to my knowledge, I have never seen a player sold for less than the original price after two months of negotiations went on, certainly not after other teams enter the bidding war.

Naturally, the longer negotiations take, the more chances there are for other parties to become interested. Buying ahead of time, outside of the window, may require a slightly higher initial price, because the selling team may want to court offers, but in the end the buying team will benefit, as the squad will be ready to go earlier, and the player may actually become more comfortable and thus perform better as a result of not having negotiations hanging over his head for months.

Also, if Sunderland are promoted, it might be in their interest to invest in young, British lower leagues players more, as Leeds have done, these players may cost a great deal of money, but their market price will be greatly inflated when they are sold later and they will still be cheaper than players in their prime. Also, it would help with having a mainly British squad, which should be a priority going forward, for many reasons that have previously been discussed.

Colter Lasley

Ed’s Note [JN]: Absolutely, Methven has discussed in the past wanting to follow the route of the “Dortmund Model”, but this is essentially how most clubs in the Bundesliga and 2. Bundesliga carry out their business. This caused some hilarity in certain sections of the internet, but essentially it is to work within ones means, scout progressively and sell at a profit.

The academy will be vital reaching this new model successfully, in order to maximise profitability and also have a playing staff who - ideally - have the club’s best interests at heart (technically Josh Maja isn’t an academy graduate). Now, players with the right mentality are sought after as highly as those with sufficient enough technical ability to compete.

Members of the coaching and scouting staff have also favoured taking a more British approach, especially scouring the Football League for good deals and hidden gems - partly as we simply are no longer an exciting prospect to players abroad to see the club as a stepping stone, but mainly due to the financial sensibility of this approach.

I feel like we are in the right hands to allow the club to prosper with a much sterner and workable fiscal policy.

Although leaving in the summer was premature and the transfer fee may be percieved as somewhat low, the Joel Asoro transfer is still a success of this newer model.
Swansea City FC

Dear Roker Report,

Chris Maguire’s red card was just another item to add to the list of horrendous decisions we have received this season. It is fair to say that the standard of refereeing in League One is nowhere close to the level it should be.

However, what League One has exposed to us is that the further down the leagues you fall, the level of “dark arts” increases exponentially.

This is an area you wouldn’t analyse your team in week-in week-out, but we have to become so much more “street wise” for the remainder of the season with referees.

It’s not the way the game should be played, but other teams are so much better at playing the ref and putting them under pressure to make horrendous calls in their favour. I feel as though we are far too honest and even naive to the workings of the incompetent minds of officials.

Louis Dinsdale

Ed’s Note [JN]: There is a large debate throughout football whether or not this constitutes as cheating. On our shores it is generally derided - yet in South America it is a vital part of getting the three points, which ultimately, is all that matters.

Our players have developed a nastier streak this season, but have yet discovered how to do so while avoiding the referee’s searing gaze. The Maguire red card was utterly, utterly ridiculous and was deservedly rescinded, yet it does show how difficult keeping on the right side of this fine-line is.

The glorious shithouse that is the King.
Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

Being an American supporter, its great to get a daily dose of the club through your articles. One thing I haven’t seen any coverage on is how the British exit from the EU would affect Sunderland as a club, and a city.

Maybe it’s all over the news elsewhere and everyone’s sick of hearing about it! I realise it’s still in the works, but from what i see in the US news, getting a deal through is looking pretty bleak.

Could there be issues with existing player contracts/visas, or even with the supply chain to get some of the food and such at the stadium? If we continue on course and take the step up next year, what could recruitment of foreign/continental players look like in the championship? I really hope the audio and video broadcasts to the states aren’t affected, but is that a concern for EU supporters?

Also, a big shout out to Donald and Co. for making matchdays enjoyable again!

Stephen (Colorado, USA)

Ed’s Note [JN]: Right now, it is pretty impossible to tell. Yet, you can paint a picture with what we already know. Though without wading into politics too much, it is genuinely hard to say how Brexit would affect clubs outside of the Premier League. My initial reaction would be that the economic effects of a no deal (which seems likely) would seep into football, however, football lives in an entirely detached bubble from the rest of society.

Premier League clubs will find it much more difficult signing foreign players due to serious visa and work permit restrictions. It is possible that footballers from EU countries - Germany, France or Spain, say - who are wanted by English sides may be treated in the same way as non-EU or (European Economic Area (EEA) footballers currently are.

The Prem is overwhelmingly staffed by foreigners on the pitch, in the backroom staff and within the clubs themselves, and these same restrictions will likely apply in the event of a hard Brexit.

Former Chairman of the Premier League, Richard Scudamore, even claimed that “the campaign to leave the EU was completely incongruous with the openness represented at the summit of the English football pyramid”. Scudamore sold his soul to the devil on the crossroads two decades ago and he usually spouts utter sh*te, but he does have a point. While “openness” and “integrity” have been lost in the Premier League for a long time, it still exists strongly in the Football League and the pyramid as a whole has irrevocably benefited from the foreign armada of footballers introduced in the Premier League/Sky Sports era.

Brexit may lead to more British players playing in this country, and foreigners moving abroad. Yet this all entirely depends on whether or not the global appeal of the Premier League continues, and if the money still pours in and trickles down the leagues. Hilariously, Sports Interactive have even included a form of the impact of Brexit in the last two Football Manager games.

It will certainly affect club’s less the lower down the pyramid you go, and in our current guise wont be too affected immediately. However, the worry is that, alike to FIFA Financial Fair Play (FFP), the restrictions may not apply to the uber-rich clubs and the already gulfing gap between the elite will only widen more (between UCL clubs and the rest of the Prem and the Prem itself and everyone else).

Right now, the crippling uncertainty is as worrying as it is relieving for football clubs, yet this is an issue - nobody can quite plan too far ahead with much conviction.