As explained in our previous article which can be found here; international footballers who require a visa to play professional football in England or undertake any employment duties for a football club in England (including participation at training and in friendly matches), must obtain a Governing Body Endorsement (GBE) from the Football Association of England (The FA). The relevant points tables in relation to GBE endorsements can also be found in an earlier article.
Changes to the Governing Body Endorsement requirement
While the main GBE points criteria will remain in place for the majority of overseas players hoping to come and play in the Premier League and the English Football Leagues (EFL), the FA has introduced a new solution which has been approved by the Home Office, allowing English clubs to sign players who fail to meet the required points for an GBE endorsement. A solution which we are sure will be welcomed by English clubs.
Prior to the changes as explained below, international footballers could only be granted a GBE if they met the following:
- met the ‘Auto Pass’ criteria due to the number of appearances at international level
- or achieved the required 15 points
- or approved at an independent Exceptions Appeals Panel.
The new criteria
From the 2023/2024 season, Premier League and Championship clubs will be able to sign a maximum of four players who fail to meet the GBE points requirements whilst League One and League Two clubs will be able to sign a maximum of two players who fail to meet the GBE points requirements.
However, the number of international players a club will be able to sign in the future under the new criteria will depend on the number of playing minutes given to English players throughout the season. Therefore, while each club will get at least two places for players in the first season, clubs will receive between zero and four in future seasons depending on the number of English players they have played throughout the season.
Reasons for the changes by the FA
Apart from making it easier for English clubs to sign overseas talent, the main purpose of the changes to the GBE requirements is to improve the development of homegrown players.
The outcomes of both the changes to the GBE system and improvements to the development pathway for English players will be kept under review, which essentially, could mean increasing the number of places allowed per club should both be working successfully.
FA Chief Executive Mark Bullingham commented:
“As English football’s governing body, we oversee the whole football ecosystem, and we wanted to create a new model which would meet the different objectives of our football stakeholders. We worked closely with the clubs and the leagues, and have designed a progressive solution which will give clubs additional access to international talent and incentivise playing opportunities for English talent.”
When will the changes come into force?
The changes will apply for the upcoming 2023/24 season and will be effective from 14 June 2023 (start of the transfer window). The new criteria will however be reviewed across the 2023/24 season.
If you would like to speak with an expert immigration lawyer about an International Sportsperson Visa or in relation to a Governing body Endorsement, call Latitude Law on 0161 234 6800 or complete our online enquiry form.