What exactly are the new rules concerning transfers of non-UK citizens?

By Tony Attwood

There is obviously a major difference of opinion between Untold’s scribblers and those all knowing all seeing transfer correspondents of other blogs and the newspapers concerning the rules for transfers of players now England is not part of the European Union.

I’ll try and set it out once more as I understand the situation, as it is relevant what with this being the transfer window and all….

Premier League clubs are not allowed to sign any non-UK nationals who are under 18.  So no more of parents moving to the UK and getting a job near the club so that their 17 year old mega-talent son can sign.

Even when the parents do manage to get into England there can be a problem as Premier League clubs can only sign a maximum of three players under the age of 21 who are not UK nationals.   That very clearly does not mean just having a right to remain, it means holding a British passport.  This is why our youngsters are suddenly attracting great interest from other Premier League clubs and why it is so unlikely that we would lob in one of our youngsters as a makeweight in a deal for a foreign player, as many newspapers are currently suggesting.

Premier League clubs can only sign a maximum of six foreign players per season from now on.  At this point I am unsure of the rules, because before English football was opened up, players from Ireland were counted as British, although their were citizens of a foreign country.  I really can’t find out what the situation is now concerning Irish players – and it might be different given the border is open and the Good Friday agreement is being honoured, thankfully.

When we do want to sign a player from outside of the United Kingdom (and possibly Ireland) the player will have to get a Governing Body Endorsement in order to sign for a club anywhere in the UK.  This is the same as the system which has been in place for players from outside the European Union, since the Bosman ruling.

However Governing Body Endorsements are no longer handed out very easily, especially since in England they are controlled by the fanatically nationalistic and even more geriatric than some of Untold’s writing team, Football Association.  They have been running a “no foreigners” campaign for years on the grounds that it is the presence of foreigners in the Premier League that stops England winning the world cup.

The fact that countries like Belgium and Croatia are able to do better than England at international football by having their players play all over Europe is not considered.

So if we want to bring in a non-UK citizen his past record will be considered including the number of international appearances at both youth and senior level, the level of the club that is doing the selling, and the level of the league.

Thus a player from a second division club in Spain would probably not be seen as ok, nor would a player from Iceland.  Not any more.

This is why there is now a huge interest in young players of UK citizenship, and why their value is rising, because they are the players who are going to be at the heart of Premier League football from now on.

What makes the situation more difficult is that these rules only apply in England.  European clubs don’t need to wait until the players are 18 before they can sign them and as I understand it the rules in Scotland are far less stringent.

This season 211 English players have played in the Premier League while 331 players from other countries have played in the League.

Of the other countries 24 players are from Ireland, where as I say, the regulations are unclear to me (given the particular nature of the border between the UK and Ireland following recent changes).  The most common source of non-English players is France (32), Spain (26), and Brazil (25).

There are 18 Scottish players who have played in the Premier League this season, 13 from Wales, 5 from N Ireland.

If you can clarify any of the rulings please do, but it would be helpful if you could give the source of your information, because I am finding a range of sources with contradictory information within.

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