The FA’s new work permit system & proposal for new “home grown” rules

Published 16 April 2015 By: Carol Couse, Tiran Gunawardena

Conor Coady and Harry Kane

The Football Association (“TheFA”) Chairman, Greg Dyke, recently announced two important developments during an update on the England Commission (aimed at improving the English senior team)1 that could have a significant impact for both young English players and non-EU players looking to play at the highest echelons of the game in the UK.

Firstly, following months of FA led discussions, Mr Dyke announced that the Home Office have approved a fundamental reform of the work permit system that will come into effect from 1 May 2015, in time for next season.2 Mr Dyke states that this change was implemented with a view of ensuring that only the best non-EU foreign players will be granted permission to play in England with less “bog standard” foreign players taking spots of local young players who would otherwise receive playing opportunities.3 Secondly, Mr Dyke announced proposals to change the home grown rules by changing the definition of a ‘home grown’ player in an attempt to improve the flow of young English players from academies to the highest level.4

Both these announcements can be seen as an attempt to maximise the number of domestic or home grown players being given first team opportunities at clubs competing in English leagues. Mr Dyke stated that his “fear for the future of English football is the Premier League ends up being owned by foreigners, managed by foreigners and played by foreigners5 and that these proposals are aimed at encouraging the development of more home grown players in the Premier League such as Tottenham Hotspur’s 21 year old Harry Kane, arguably the standout player of the 2014/15 season.

This article will touch on the proposed changes to the home grown rule but will focus more on the new work permit application process and the potential issues and complications it could raise. Undoubtedly, these new work permit regulations will make it much more difficult for non-EU footballers, without experience at the highest level to ply their trade in the UK going forward.


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Carol Couse

Carol Couse

Carol is a Partner in the sports team at Mills & Reeve LLP , with extensive in-house and in private practice experience of dealing with sports regulatory matters, whether contentious or non-contentious, including in respect of all legal issues pertaining to football transfers.  She has represented clients before dispute resolution and disciplinary bodies of the Premier League, The FA, UEFA, FIFA and the CAS.

As a Spanish speaker, Carol frequently advises top athletes, agents, and clubs in Spain and Latin America. Carol is regularly invited to lecture at universities and conferences all over the world, publishes articles on a wide variety of sport-related matters, and often provides comments and analysis on legal issues in sport for the BBC, the Times, the Guardian, the New York Times, Sky Sports, ESPN and others.

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Tiran Gunawardena

Tiran Gunawardena

Tiran Gunawardena is a Senior Associate (Australian Qualified) in the London sports law team at Mills & Reeve LLP.

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