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Why non-EU footballers may struggle to secure a UK visa for club trials

Airplane and ship
Wednesday, 29 March 2023 By Gavin Brogan

Football players, and sportspersons, from outside the UK can face difficulties securing a visa to allow them to enter the UK and attend a closed door trial with a professional club. A recent decision by the Court of Session in Edinburgh[1] highlights the issue.

Post Brexit, both EU nationals and non-EU footballers require both a visa and a governing body endorsement to be able to live and work in the UK (discussed in more detail by this author and Stephen O’Flaherty).[2]

This article analyses a judicial review[3] of the Secretary of State for the UK's decision to refuse a visa to a non-EU national footballer who was seeking to enter the UK to attend a trial for a professional club. It provides helpful tips for non-UK sportspeople on securing a visa to play in the UK. 

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Written by

Gavin Brogan

Gavin Brogan

Gavin is a Partner, Digby Brown, one of Scotland's largest specialist litigation firms. He undertook a commercial traineeship at Dentons in Glasgow and Edinburgh before moving to his current firm where he specialises in reparation litigation.

Gavin maintains an interest in sports related legal matters and holds a Masters in International Sports Law from Instituto Superior de Derecho y Economia (ISDE), in Madrid. Gavin is also a Disciplinary Panel Member of Scottish Athletics and England Boxing.

Gavin is a keen amateur footballer. During his time at Glasgow University, he played for the Glasgow University amateur football team that qualified for the professional Scottish Cup.

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