SOMERSET completed the signing of South African bowler Vernon Philander on ‘Brexit Day’ (last Friday), and political matters could have an effect on his contract.

The club announced in December last year that it had agreed personal terms with the 34-year-old, who has represented his country in 101 appearances across all formats, taking 269 wickets.

Philander, who took 23 wickets in five matches for Somerset in 2012, brought his international career to an end in the recent Test series against England.

Somerset acted quickly to snap him up for next season, and the club announced last week that the paperwork required to complete the deal had been finalised with the ECB.

He has signed a two-year contract and will be available to play for Somerset in all formats.

His arrival on a Kolpak deal could be complicated by the UK’s departure from the European Union, however.

This is because the Kolpak rule - which came into effect in 2003 - allows EU citizens and citizens of countries that are part of EU free trade agreements to work in any other EU country.

With the Brexit transition period anticipated to end on December 31, 2020, the following year is expected to bring the end of the Kolpak deal in this country.

It was reported in this week’s Sunday Times that “Kolpak players will not be allowed to play county cricket after the end of this year as a result of the UK’s exit from the European Union”.

The article continued: “The ECB has issued guidance to the 18 First-Class counties informing them that they will only be able to employ Kolpak cricketers as overseas players in 2021, regardless of whether they are in the middle of a multi-year deal.

“Under the present ECB regulations, only one overseas player is allowed to play in the County Championship and the One-Day Cup, but the governing body is considering changing the rules to allow two per team in these competitions.

“Two overseas players are already permitted in the T20 Blast and three overseas players per team in The Hundred.”

On Tuesday, the Evening Standard reported: “On the same day as Britain left the EU, Durham signed ­Farhaan Behardien and Somerset confirmed that Vernon Philander would be joining them, both on two-year Kolpak deals.

“It appears that the second year, despite being agreed as being a local player, would have to be as an overseas signing.

“This surprised some counties with Kolpaks on multi-year deals, so there will surely be disputes ahead.”

What all of this means for Somerset and their fellow counties is still to be set in stone.

A Somerset spokesman told the County Gazette: “As part of the First-Class Counties communications network with the ECB, we have been kept up to date with player registration regulations.

“We will continue to operate within the framework as stipulated by our governing body and manage all players’ registrations appropriately.”

Tuesday afternoon also saw the Professional Cricketers' Association (PCA) make a statement regarding its members who could be impacted by Brexit.

According to that statement, the ECB has indicated that, subject to the final legal position, "players with British passports or who have settled or pre-settled status have rights to play as a local cricketer protected past 2020".

PCA chairman Daryl Mitchell commented: “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.”