Football and Brexit: FAQs on the 2021 FA GBE Rules

 

On 1 December 2020, The Home Office approved the revised entry requirements for overseas players post Brexit. These requirements, in the form of the Governing Body Endorsement (GBE) regulations, were formulated by The FA, in consultation with the Premier League and the English Football League (“2021 GBE Rules”).

While GBE requirements have previously existed for all UK football clubs (and other sports) who recruit players that do not have the automatic right to work in the UK, the new requirements also deal with the practical impact of Brexit.

In a nutshell, after the end of the transition period following the  UK’s departure from the EU effective 1 January 2021, all non-UK nationals – including EU nationals – will be subject to The FA’s new GBE criteria before they are granted clearance to transfer to an English football club.

While the spirit of the new GBE system remains the same; namely to attract elite talent who will contribute to the development of English football at the highest level, the criteria has become more objective, specific and therefore nuanced.

The sports law team at Mills & Reeve have significant experience advising players with GBE and work permit requirements, and having analysed the new criteria for male players, female players and first team managers for the men's game and women's game have set out an FAQ below.

However, please note that the FA has also issued revised criteria for:

  1. Men’s football, assistant managers, directors of football and performance managers; and
  2. Women’s football assistant managers, directors of football and performance managers. (this is the subject of a separate blog post)

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