African footballers hoping to move to the Premier League will be affected as new Brexit rules are to be effected from the 1st of January, 2021.
In new rules that are to help protect homegrown players in Britain following exit from the European Union (EU), players younger than 18 cannot make moves to British clubs. Also, no Premier League club is allowed to sign more than three players under the age of 21 in any transfer window.
All foreign players are subjected to a point-based threshold to be able to play in the UK, meaning players that don’t meet the expected points won’t be able to secure a transfer. Premier League clubs will also have to wait a little longer to secure foreign young talents.
EU members will have to secure a work permit before moving to the Premier League, as practised with Africans before.
While the rule is not targeted at African talents, it means good, young players from the continent hoping to make a switch to Premier League teams will wait for a longer time.
Foreign players moving to the Premier League will also have to secure a Governing Body Endorsement (GBE) before making a switch. The GBE will operate like a work permit and it was designed by Premier League clubs to be able to access overseas talents. The system has been approved by the Home Office.
Like in the work permit system, foreign players will be graded by their international appearances and the FIFA ranking of their countries.
A player from a top 10 ranking country in the world, who has represented his nation in 50% of games in the last two years will be eligible for a GBE. For countries who are ranked lowly, the players must have played virtually all the matches played by their countries in the last two years.
How clubs perform in competitions will also be key to the points given to their players. A player with 15 points will be eligible to earn a GBE.
There will be exceptions in situations the overseas player being targeted is of the ‘highest quality’ when he’s not able to garner enough points to earn the GBE. The assessment committee will sit in such situations and assess the application. Players who earn 14 GBE points naturally qualify for assessment by the Exceptions committee.
What Does This Mean To African Players?
With a swathe of agreements coming up between Africa-based academies, club sides and Premier League teams, this implies players under the age of 18 from Africa cannot move to Premier League or EFL clubs.
It also means the Premier League clubs may not be able to easily sign players from lowly African football nations. Recall that Tanzanian national team captain, Mbwanna Samatta moved to Aston Villa last January. Under the new arrangement, the move will be very difficult to achieve as he will be on exception and must be of the highest quality, which will be a subjective assessment. Tanzania is not ranked amongst the top 100 teams in the world.
In the past, Premier League clubs have also signed African teenage youngsters with an example like Kelechi Iheanacho’s move to Man City at the age of 19.
With just three U21 foreign players allowed in every transfer window, African youngsters hoping to play in the Premier League will either start looking to other parts of Europe or be of exceptional quality to make enough GBE points.
Britain is expected to exit the EU by the 31st of December.
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