Readers' blog: Brexit boon for promising Irish soccer players

An aspect of Brexit that has been overlooked until it came to my mind with the change of manager and failure of the Republic of Ireland football team to score in the past number of matches — or indeed to make a success of any of the recent competitions in which they have been involved.

One might hope (for the sake of international soccer in the Republic of Ireland) that the number of foreign players (from the European Union) in the Premier League in England will become less and less with the departure of the UK from the EU.

Such a possibility would open the door for more Irish-born players to command places in Premier League teams in the years to come.

For instance, if the Bosman Rule had been enacted before 1995, the likes of Roy Keane (who had joined Manchester United in 1993), or indeed Johnny Giles (who joined Leeds United in 1963) and Liam Brady (first major game for Arsenal in 1973), or Niall Quinn (senior debt for Arsenal in 1985), might never have been playing for those top English teams, as they would have had to compete with other quality players — from France, Spain, Italy, etc.

In early 1990 — when Roy Keane (then a player with Cobh Ramblers) was being considered by Brian Clough of Nottingham Forest — I went to watch the young Roy playing in a game against Waterford, at St Coleman’s Park in Cobh. 

The away team won 3-1. 

However, I was not very impressed with the ‘world-class Cobh player’.

Roy was to shoot-up in the soccer world when he moved to England.

How many more potential premiership players from League of Ireland teams are being overlooked by the top English team scouts, who consider that paying astronomical sums for ‘proven’ European soccer players (like Paul Pogba of Manchester United, who was brought for a record £90m from Juventus) are a better bet than many unknown young players still plying their trade in lowly Irish teams?

Tom Baldwin


Co Cork

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