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Sports Q&A: Points-based system introduced for overseas players in England post Brexit: what does this mean for football transfers?

21 December 2020

To obtain a visa to play professional football in the UK a player must first obtain a Governing Body Endorsement (GBE) from the FA.

The reason behind this additional layer scrutiny is two-fold:

  • to protect domestic football in the UK and the national team and to ensure clubs are developing talent through their academies and into to the first team; and
  • to ensure the Premier League remains the top football league and the clubs can attract and recruit the best players in the world to the league.

The FA, the Premier League and the EFL together with the Home agree the criteria to be met to obtain a GBE. Prior to Brexit, these criteria only applied to non-EEA players and the criteria to automatically qualify was solely based on Senior Competitive International Matches. If the player played in a certain percentage of these games, based on their home nations aggregated FIFA ranking then they could qualify.

However, post-Brexit clubs cannot recruit players freely from the EU and therefore a new system was required to ensure clubs could still attract the best established talent and most promising young stars.

What is the New Criteria?

The new Criteria is a detailed points-based system with Players earning points for

  • Senior and youth international appearances;
  • Quality of the selling club, based on the league the selling club are in, their position in that league and how far they progressed in continental competitions; and
  • The number of minutes the player played in the domestic league and continental competitions.

A Player can still automatically qualify or achieve an ‘autopass’ based on the below sliding scale for International Appearances:

 

Aggregated FIFA World Ranking of the Player’s National Association

 Player’s International Appearances

1-10

11-20

21-30

31-50

 51+

 90-100%

Auto Pass

Auto Pass

Auto Pass

Auto Pass

 2

 80-89%

Auto Pass

Auto Pass

Auto Pass

Auto Pass

 1

 70-79%

Auto Pass

Auto Pass

Auto Pass

Auto Pass

 0

 60-69%

Auto Pass

Auto Pass

Auto Pass

10

 0

 50-59%

Auto Pass

Auto Pass

10

8

 0

 40-49%

Auto Pass

Auto Pass

9

7

 0

 30-39%

Auto Pass

10

8

6

 0

 20-29%

10

9

7

0

 0

 10-19%

9

8

0

0

 0

 1-9%

8

7

0

0

 0


Alternatively, a player can score points based on:

Player’s Domestic Minutes

Player’s Domestic Minutes

 Band 1

 Band 2

Band 3

Band 4

Band 5

Band 6

 90-100%

 12

 10

8

6

4

2

 80-89%

 11

 9

7

5

3

1

 70-79%

 10

 8

6

4

2

0

 60-69%

 9

 7

5

3

1

0

 50-59%

 8

 6

4

2

0

0

 40-49%

 7

 5

3

1

0

0

 30-39%

 6

 4

2

0

0

0

 20-29%

 0

 0

0

0

0

0

 10-19%

 0

 0

0

0

0

0

 1-9%

 0

 0

0

0

0

0


Player’s Continental Minutes

 Player’s Continental     Minutes

 Band 1   Continental   Competition

Band 2 Continental Competition

Band 3 Continental Competition

 90-100%

 10

5

2

 80-89% 

 9

4

1

 70-79% 

 8

3

0

 60-69%

 7

2

0

 50-59%

 6

1

0

 40-49%

 5

0

0

 30-39%

 4

0

0

 20-29%

 0

0

0

 10-19%

 0

0

0

 1-9%

 0

0

0


Final League Position of Player’s Last Club

 Last Club’s Final League Position 

 Band 1

Band 2

Band 3

Band 4

Band 5

Band 6

 Title winner

 6

 5

4

3

2

1

 Qualified for group stages of a   Band   1 Continental Competition

 5

 4

3

2

1

0

 Qualified for qualifiers of a Band   1 Continental Competition

 4

 3

2

1

0

0

 Qualified for group stages of a   Band   2 Continental Competition

 3

 2

1

0

0

0

 Qualified for qualifiers of a Band   2 Continental Competition

 2

 1

0

0

0

0

 Mid-table

 1

 0

0

0

0

0

 Relegation

 0

 0

0

0

0

0

 Promotion

 N/A

 1

1

1

1

1


Continental Progression of Player’s Last Club

 Continental Progression 

 Band 1   Continental Competition

Band 2 Continental Competition

Band 3 Continental Competition

 Final

 10

7

2

 Semi-Finals

 9

6

1

 Quarter-Finals

 8

5

0

 Round of 16

 7

4

0

 Round of 32

 6

3

0

 Group stage

 5

2

0

 Other

 0

0

0

League Quality of Player’s Current Club

 Band of Player’s Current   Club

Points

 Band 1

12

 Band 2

10

 Band 3

8

 Band 4

6

 Band 5

4

 Band 6

2


If a Player achieves
15 or more points based on the above tables, the FA will grant the GBE.

A distinction is also made for applications for Youth Players. Under the previous rules, if a player were 21 or under, the Reference Period for International Appearances was 12 months rather than 24 months for over 21s. However, under the new Criteria, a Youth Player is specifically defined as a “Player who is under 21 as at the date the application for a GBE is made”. If a Youth Player does not achieve an ‘autopass’ based on International appearances but achieves at least 10 points based on the above tables, they can achieve additional points based on the Youth Criteria. The Youth Criteria includes:

  • Youth International Minutes;
  • Youth – Final League Position;
  • Youth – Continental Progression; and
  • Youth – League Quality of Player’s Current Club;

An Exceptions Panel is still available for the January transfer window but is only applicable where exceptional circumstances have prevented the Player from achieving 15 points, or if a Youth Player shows significant potential and is of sufficient quality.

What does this mean for clubs?

Clubs need to get to grips with the new Criteria ahead of the January transfer window. While the market for EEA/Swiss players now requires an additional level of review, from 1 January 2021 players from South America, Africa and Asia are now more likely to qualify under the new Criteria, and with the Transfer Fee and Wages element of the Criteria removed, Clubs can negotiate freely on players that qualify.

The appeals process for players that do not automatically qualify is being removed after January and therefore scouts, analysts, directors of footballs and club secretaries will need to be on top of the new rules and ensure players can obtain a GBE to avoid wasting resources on recruiting players who will not qualify.

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