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How footballers qualify for UK work permits after Brexit

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The FA has outlined the work permit requirements that foreign players from EU member states will have to come together to join clubs from all walks of life in the Premier League, EFL, WSL and Women’s Championship now as the UK officially left the European Union.

Until January 1, 2021, EU nationals did not need a visa and had the freedom to live and work in the UK, and vice versa. But that’s no longer the case and the new rules would likely have prevented little-known foreign players like N’Golo Kante from being able to move to England in the past.

Ngolo Kante
N’Golo Kante could have been refused a work permit under the new rules | Malcolm Couzens / Getty Images

Government agency approval

EU nationals will now be subject to the same rules as all other foreign players, who can sometimes be denied transfers to England due to bureaucracy, and must receive Board approval (GBE) to qualify – a proposal that has now been approved. by the Home Office.

A GBE will be awarded on a points-based system based on the following criteria for male players:

Any player who reaches the minimum point threshold will automatically be granted a GBE, which in turn will allow them to obtain the necessary work permit. Anyone who fails to earn enough points can still appeal for a GBE to the Exceptions Panel.

Bruno Fernandes
EU nationals must now meet points requirement to join clubs | Pool / Getty Images

The criteria for female players are similar, but will only take into account senior international appearances, nor will they look at sales clubs’ progress in continental competition.

Recruit young players

Premier League clubs in general are now limited to the number of young foreign players they can sign in any given season. The cap is now three in the January transfer window and six per season going forward. Clubs are also being denied the EU advantage they previously enjoyed being able to sign EU nationals from the age of 16 and can no longer sign. all foreign players under the age of 18.

This freedom previously allowed Arsenal to sign Cesc Fabregas and Hector Bellerin and Manchester United to sign Gerard Pique, Paul Pogba and, as recently as 2019, Hannibal Mejbri.

Francesc Fabregas
Arsenal could no longer sign a 16-year-old Cesc Fabregas | Alex Livesey / Getty Images

Premier League teams are already starting to feel the changes. West Brom boss Sam Allardyce lamented being unable to sign three players he was targeting to improve his struggling Baggies squad, apparently lacking the self-awareness to realize he publicly backed Brexit.

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