Five Key Takeaways from the Post-Brexit FA Work Permit Rules

1.       The Basics: The previous Governing Body Endorsement (GBE) requirements only related to non-EEA players wishing to play in the EPL and EFL. This was because of the EU free movement provisions that benefitted all European workers wishing to work in the UK. The new system is relevant to any player who is not a citizen of the UK and has not acquired permanent residence, been granted pre-settled status or settled status under the government’s EU Settlement scheme. For the nuanced detail of the FA men’s GBE regulations, I would recommend this Thomas Horton piece. The below sets out an overview and some particular contextual examples for the men’s regulations.

2.       Route 1 – The Auto-Pass: A player will receive a GBE if his international appearances meet the auto-pass criteria. The national team criteria relate to his percentage of appearances and the team’s aggregate ranking. The latest list can be found here.

Based on the current rankings, the below are specific examples of players that will benefit from the auto-pass criteria and gain a GBE:

a.            An Argentinian, Brazilian, French or Columbian national team player (currently in the top 10 FIFA aggregate rankings) who has made 30% or more international appearances during the relevant time period;

b.            A Mexican, Chilean or Peruvian national team player (currently in 11-20 FIFA rankings) who has made 40% or more international appearances during the relevant time period;

c.             A Japanese, American or Venezuelan national team player (currently in the 21-30 places in FIFA rankings) who has made 60% or more international appearances during the relevant time period.

3.       Route 2 – Points Mean Prizes: If the auto-pass route is not available for a player either because he hasn’t made the minimum percentage appearance requirements or his national team is not within the requisite FIFA ranking positions, then the FA has put in place a points based system. If a player accumulates 15 points or above, they will be granted a GBE. Points are scored based on:

a.            Domestic Minutes,

b.            Continental Cup Competition Minutes,

c.             Final League Position of Selling Club,

d.            Continental Cup Competition Progression of the Selling Club; and

e.            League Quality of Selling Club.

There are a number of avenues to reach the 15 point mark. The below examples demonstrate some of the more straight-forward potential pathways. I purposefully only used two criteria (domestic minutes ((a) above) and league quality ((e) above)) to show the potential pathway to a GBE. There are additional criteria ((b)-(d)), as set out above, that can also be deployed. This is in addition to points that are available to players that do not meet the auto-pass criteria. For example, a player that plays for Brazil that has played 25% of matches (although he will not receive an auto-pass) will receive 10 points (and will only require 5 more) to reach the 15 point target.

Example 1

A player playing for a Band 1 club (EPL, Bundesliga, La Liga, Serie A and Ligue 1) will receive a GBE if he has:

·         “appeared in the squad list for the Player’s Last Club for at least one match in its domestic league competition or a Continental Competition” (12 points); and

·         played in 30% of the available domestic league minutes (6 points).

Example 2

A player playing for a Band 2 club (Portuguese Primeira Liga, Eredivise, Belgian First Division, Turkish Super Lig and the English Championship) will receive a GBE if he has:

·         “appeared in the squad list for the Player’s Last Club for at least one match in its domestic league competition or a Continental Competition” (10 points); and

·         played in 40% of the available domestic league minutes will receive (5 points)

Example 3

A player playing for a Band 3 club (Russian Premier League, Campeonato Brasileiro Série A, Primera División of Argentina, Liga MX and the Scottish Premiership) will receive a GBE if he has:

·         “appeared in the squad list for the Player’s Last Club for at least one match in its domestic league competition or a Continental Competition” (8 points); and

·         played in 80% of the available domestic league minutes (7 points).

As you can see, the lower the league banding, the higher the percentage appearance criteria in order to attain the necessary points. Importantly, a player from any country who has, say, played in the Belgian league and played in fewer than half of the club’s league domestic games, (and that’s not including the four other above criteria that could be applied to boost the player’s points total,) will be able to gain a GBE. Crucially, this gives a pathway for players regardless of their nationality to transition into the UK leagues by first playing in Band 1-3 leagues in Portugal, Holland, Belgium, Turkey, Russia, Mexico and Argentina. Whilst the old work permit criteria for non-EU players was significantly more focused on national team appearances, transfer fee and wage criteria, this points system is heavily weighted in favour of the strength of the player’s club and league.

4. Fine Margins: If a player only manages to receive 10-14 points based on the above criteria, there is an ‘exceptional circumstances’ appeal route called the Exceptions Panel, though that route will not be possible after the winter 20/21 transfer window.

5. The Youth Route: The above pathway also gives a route for under 21 year olds to gain a GBE if they have achieved 10-14 points and also attain 15+ points based on supplemental youth player criteria contained in the regulations. In addition, the FA were keen to stress that only three under 21 players can be signed by EPL clubs in the upcoming January window with an overall cap of six per season. Lastly, as has been well publicised, EPL and EFL clubs will now not be able to take advantage of the FIFA exception for transferring 16 and 17 year olds as I previously wrote about here.

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