The UK’s Brexit negotiations haven’t even begun yet, but the makers of cult football video game clearly think it’s all over for the flow of football talent across European borders.
Simulation game Football Manager, where players take control of the day-to-day running of a football club, will add new layers of complexity by adding Brexit scenarios to the latest edition of the game, its creators revealed yesterday.
Players will have to contend with the impact of either “hard” or “soft” Brexit on the global trade in football talent, with repercussions including the need for work permits to sign international stars.
One of the scenarios sees Scotland choosing to leave the UK after a second independence referendum and remaining in the EU, with Scottish players then also required to gain work permits in the game to play in England.
The game’s developers, Sports Interactive, said the vote to leave the EU in June was too significant a development to omit from the game – and so varying degrees of simulated regulations are now being added following discussions with “politicians and people in football”.
The new features will form part of an update to be released in November. Players will be notified some time between two and 10 years into their in-game career that the negotiations over the UK’s withdrawal from the EU were under way, with another update a year later revealing the outcome – a tight schedule by the real-life standards of Brexit talks.
Sports Interactive’s studio director Miles Jacobson said that Football Manager’s original plan was to have a single scenario, but soon abandoned the plans because of the complexity of Brexit.
“Of course, none of us know what will happen, it changes on a daily basis,” he said. “Six weeks ago I would have predicted a soft Brexit, but after the Conservative Party conference a hard Brexit is much more likely.”
During the EU referendum campaign, analysis suggested dozens of non-British EU footballers in Scotland and England would fail to get permission to play in the UK if they faced the same requirements as non-EU nationals.
Of the 53 EU nationals playing in the Scottish Premiership last season, only Celtic’s Swedish defender Mikael Lustig was expected to get through the points-based system that is based on the proportion of games played, depending on the standard of the league. Every English Premier League club came out in favour of a Remain vote in June’s referendum.
Mr Jacobson said that the various scenarios will have a big impact on Football Manager’s gameplay, detailing one simulation where if the same points system currently applied to non-EU based players in need of a work permit was extended to include those within the EU after Brexit, Chelsea’s N’Golo Kante and West Ham’s Dimitri Payet – two of the Premier League’s biggest stars – would not be eligible to play in England.
“That’s two of last season’s three best players,” he said, adding that the new scenarios will make the game “difficult”.
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