On Thursday it will be 21 years to the day since the European Court of Justic heard Union Royale Belge des Sociétés de Football Association ASBL v Jean-Marc Bosman (C-415/93).
Following the submissions by both sides, the court ruled that the transfer system that existed placed a restriction on the free movement of workers. This was prohibited by Article 39(1) of the Treaty of Rome. The court instructed that all other European Union football players had the right to move freely at the end of their contracts, so long as they were transferring to another club within the European Union. The rest is history.
While not directly testable, this had an impact on young Irish players hoping to sign professional contracts in the UK. It's now appears much harder for Irish players to make it at top clubs in the Premier League. As late as the mid-1990s Irish stars populated the top teams, with players contracted to Manchester United, Liverpool, Tottenham, Arsenal, Aston Villa and Chelsea. This is not the case today and is partly down to the global pool of talent open to all clubs in the Premier League. Clubs can, and do, sign players from every continent on the planet. The competition to "make it" is fierce.
Brexit may ironically provide an opportunity for Irish players. It is impossible to know what Britain's exit from the EU will look like but already the "special relationship" with Ireland is being mentioned in both the UK and Europe. The House of Lord has mentioned drafting a bilateral agreement, with EU approval, that could apply to citizens on both islands. While this may not be possible, as member states can't make their own agreements with countries outside the EU, special arrangements have not been ruled out.
Should the UK restrict the movement of people entering from the EU (migration was cited as the single biggest factor for voting to leave), it is likely the number of EU-born players playing in the Premier League will fall. If Ireland has a "special agreement" it might be possible for players to move more freely. Effectively, it could be an return to conditions similar to those pre-Bosman.
Should this opportunity arise it can only be a good thing for Irish players and we may start to see stars emerging again within the confines of Old Trafford, the Emirates and Anfield. Only time will tell.