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What difference will leaving the EU make to the Premier League importation of players?

By Tony Attwood

It is not a topic I have seen debated at all – which seems to imply that everything on the transfer front will continue as now when the UK leaves the EU.   Except there have been a few players where the story of late has been that a work permit has been denied to a player that Arsenal wanted – Hamza Mendyl is the latest example.

To the best of my knowledge the The Highly Skilled Migrant Programme (HSMP) which was the way in which footballers could come into the UK from outside the EEA was superseded by Tier 1 of the Points Based System (PBS) during the course of 2008.  After that, in the special case of football, the immigration of footballers was handed over to the FA, who tended to accept proposals from all Premier League clubs no matter who they were intending to bring in.

So the old system of “has he played enough times for his country?” etc was basically abandoned, and it was felt that the PL was such a moneyspinner for the country in terms of broadcast rights and its value to the tourist industry that if the club was willing to pay for the player he could have his permit.

But not with the case of Mendyl.  So why not?

Mendyl was named in Morocco’s 23 man squad for the world cup in Russia, and has played 13 times for his country since 2016.  In 2017-2018 he played 13 league matches for Lille, having played for their second team (Lille II) in the previous season 26 times.  These are the sort of figures that would have allowed anyone in, in the past.

The immigration system is however not in the best of health.  In April 2017 the British Prime Minister, said, “We have been very clear, as I was as Home Secretary for six years, that it is important that we have net migration that is in sustainable numbers.  We believe sustainable numbers are the tens of thousands.

“Obviously leaving the European Union means we can bring in control in relation to people moving from the EU into the UK as well as people from outside the EU coming into the United Kingdom.”

So does that mean that the FA will be stripped of its job of doling out work visas for footballers as it has been doing, or is it simply being told to reduce the number of immigrants for footballing reasons, or did it just feel that it didn’t like this player?   Germany certainly did not have a problem with him as he has now signed up with Schalke 04.

The FA’s rules are vague to the point of uselessness in this regard.  They say, “A club need to have applied for a permit prior to the window closing.   The UK Home Office has a points-based system based on which clubs must apply to The FA for a “Governing Body Endorsement” for such players.

“If the player does not automatically meet these criteria, the club can request an FA Exceptions Panel consider the player’s experience and value in order to determine whether a Governing Body Endorsement should nevertheless be granted.”

In the past, being in a world cup squad has been sufficient for the “Governing Body Endorsement”, but even if not the FA Exceptions Panel has normally given the go-ahead.

To know what is happening we need to see if anyone else was turned down for a work permit in the last window.  If not, that would suggest that Arsenal was being singled out, given the player’s youth and his position in the world cup squad.  If it is not just an Arsenal thing then clearly the government has told the FA that the rules must be tightened and it is going to be interesting to see who is being granted a visa.

Maybe the days of lots of people from outside the UK and Ireland playing in the Premier League could be coming to an end.  After all, it can’t really just be an anti-Arsenal thing.  Can it?

6 comments to What difference will leaving the EU make to the Premier League importation of players?

  • GoingGoingGooner

    Along with all the great things that make life enjoyable in the 21st century comes the inevitable complication of our political and legal lives. The rules that govern our lives have accreted and bent to a myriad of different influences to such an extent that it is difficult for a layperson to see the underlying purpose of the rules themselves. Add in a pinch of self interest and corruption and cynicism will abound.

  • Samuel Akinsola Adebosin

    It could be an anti-Arsenal thing that led to the FA denying the club to sign the Moroccan footballer, Hamza Mendly. But from the Arsenal fans point of view and on a second thought, us the Gooners would’ve expected Jerome Gordon, the Labour Party leader and the leader of the opposition to the Conservative Party Government headed by Prime Ministeress Theresa May, in the British Parliament who is reported to be a staunch Arsenal supporter to shout at the top of his voice on the floor of the House of Commons during a Parliamentary session venting his anger against the FA withholding their permission to Arsenal to sign Mendly, and demands for an official government investigation to unravel any possible anti-Arsenal proceedings by the FA to stop Mendly from coming to Arsenal during the last PL transfer window this It could be an anti-Arsenal thing that led to the FA denying the club to sign the Moroccan footballer, Hamza Mendly. But from the Arsenal fans point of view and on a second thought, us the Gooners would’ve expected Jerome Gordon, the Labour Party leader and the leader of the opposition to the Conservative Party Government headed by Prime Ministeress Theresa May, in the British Parliament who is reported to be a staunch Arsenal supporter to shout at the top of his voice on the floor of the House of Commons during a Parliamentary session venting his anger against the FA withholding their permission to Arsenal to sign Mendly, and demands for an official government investigation to unravel any possible anti-Arsenal proceedings by the FA to stop Mendly from coming to Arsenal during the last PL transfer window this summer.

    Nevert

  • Mike T

    Greg Dyke during his tenure as FA chairman introduced in 2015 changes to how work permits were issued to non EU footballers.

    Mendyl is 20 years old, in 2017/18 Lille, his old club, played 38 league games so excluding injury time they played at least 3420 minutes he played 862minutes.

    Lille didn’t play in either the CL or the EL in season 2017/18. He didn’t feature in any of Moroccos competive matches in 2017/18. He did feature in 3 friendly International for Morocco during the season. His fee to Schalke was €6 million

    The process is clear and transparent just a simple look at it and detailed in the PL handbook would indicate that it was highly unlikely that he would have been granted a permit

    The number of competitive International matches determines if you get a permit automatically .

    Morocco is ranked by FIFA 46th in the world.

    Internationals under the age of 21 who represent countries ranked by FIFA in the range 31st -50th must have to have featured in 75% of their countries competitive matches in the last 12 months. Being in a squad doesn’t could you have to have played.

    So it’s pretty obvious he wouldn’t get a permit automatically.

    Players that fail to get a permit automatically are then judged on a points basis they need 5 points to qualify under this test

    If the fee paid is in the top 25% fees paid in the last two windows you get 3 points. If the fee in value is between 50% and 75% then it’s 2 points
    A €6 million fee wouldn’t get anywhere near the top 25% but it’s possible it would justify 2 points . So let’s be generous and say 2 points

    If he were to rank in the top 25% of the top 30 wage earners then that would be 3 points.
    It’s highly highly unlikely he would have been offered a wage that would take him into the top 8 earners at Arsenal for almost certainly with the exception of Guendouzi all those that played for Arsenal,on Saturday would be paid more than he was being offered. So no points here

    Lille play in a top league so had he played 1026 minutes he would earned 1 point.His appearances were at least 10% short to get the point

    Finally had Lille played in the EL or indeed the CL in the last 12 months he would have qualified for a point.. They didn’t

    So at most he would have justified 2 points or 3 short of qualification

    Finally the panel that looks at these things does have a little discretion if a player arrives on a free transfer or has suffered significant injury absence in the period being assessed but that doesn’t seem to be the case.

    Whilst none of us know what the rules will be post Brexit the current format probably not be a million miles away from what we see put in place.

  • Samuel Akinsola Adebosin

    My comment has truncated repeating the same paragraphs that I’ve made cutting off some of my last comments and closing comment. That’s not how I typed it. I won’t use the Nokia C300 Opera browser again which I’ve not used before to type my comment.

  • Samuel Akinsola Adebosin

    @Mike T.
    Your detailed explanations have light up our lack of knowledge in knowing the actual rules and laws in place at the FA that governs the signing of non UK/EU players by the PL clubs. And since Hamsa Mendly did not meet these rules and laws, hence the FA who oversees the application of these rules and laws has refused honouring Arsenal FC request for a work permit for him that would enabled the club to sign him this summer. But Arsenal shouldn’t have done their homework thoroughly to know rules and laws governing the signing of non UK/EU players before submitting an application to the FA for issuance of work permit work to Mendly who is a foreign player? Something a miss at the Arsenal CEO’s office?

  • Mike T

    Samuel

    I personally very very much doubt that Arsenal even applied for a work permit those that look after these things would be well versed in such matters indeed the more you look into this is almost certainly Fake News

    Read this copied from an article published in Football London

    “Initial discussions were held, but both parties were aware that it would have been almost impossible for Mendyl to obtain a work permit, so it was decided not to take matters any further.

    An employee of Collective Sports Management was at London Colney the day before deadline day, but it was nothing to do with a possible transfer for Mendyl.

    It was in fact to tie up some loose details involving Arsenal’s deal for Matteo Guendouzi, who although ins’t registered with Collective – does have links to the agency through his intermediary Philippe Nabe.“