PCA backs two overseas players policy as Brexit threatens Kolpak stars

Morne Morkel Surrey

The Professional Cricketers’ Association has endorsed a move to allow two overseas players in all domestic formats after revealing Brexit will nullify those on controversial Kolpak deals beyond this December.

For nearly two decades, anyone from a nation with a trading relationship with the European Union became eligible for a Kolpak deal provided they stopped playing international cricket, thus becoming non-overseas signings.

The ruling, made by the European Court of Justice in May 2003, originally related to Slovakian handball player Maros Kolpak who was released from his German club because of a quota on non-EU players. He claimed it was unfair and the court ruled in his favour.

However, the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the EU on Friday will have a knock-on effect beyond this year on those on Kolpak deals, including former South Africa seamers Kyle Abbott and Morne Morkel, and ex-West Indies paceman Fidel Edwards.

Those with British passports or who “have settled or pre-settled status” will be able to remain as local players.

But, because of the impact on some members, the PCA has backed the England and Wales Cricket Board’s recommendation to allow two overseas signings in the County Championship, One-Day Cup and T20 Blast for the first time since 2007.

PCA chairman and Worcestershire batsman Daryl Mitchell said: “We are very aware of the sensitive issues that Brexit has been causing a number of PCA members for over three years.

“It has been a frustrating process for many but fortunately we are now able to offer some clarity to the contractual rights of players who will be affected through the departure from the European Union.

“The PCA recognises the legal position of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. These developments will bring England more closely in line with other first-class systems regarding primarily having nationals of that country playing as locals.

“However, we must acknowledge and consider the human element of those players who have made commitments and signed contracts beyond 2020 and the effect this outcome will have on those individuals.

“A number of Kolpak registered players have committed to a career in England beyond 2020 and their needs as PCA members are very important to us.

“Our view is increasing overseas players to two per county in the County Championship and One-Day Cup would be a positive outcome.

“This would allow opportunities for these players to continue their careers in England and help to maintain standards in the county game.

“We will continue discussions with the ECB, the counties and importantly the players to ensure their rights are protected and their welfare is supported.”