Football clubs face the usual race against time to secure deals ahead of Monday’s transfer deadline day – but there is an added incentive to sign players from the EU ahead of the January window.
Monday is the final day clubs can sign non-UK based EU players and get them pre-settled status ahead of the end of the Brexit transition period.
Come January 1, the UK’s transition period to exit the European Union will have ended, meaning freedom of movement will also have finished.
Nothing is yet to be agreed over the status of signing footballers from EU countries post the transition period and it appears highly likely that work permits will be required.
If work permits are required, it will make it much harder for clubs to sign players from the EU.
Currently, the FA’s work permit rules for players outside the EU state that a potential signing must have played in a minimum set percentage of games for their country.
For countries ranked 1-10 in the FIFA rankings, players must have appeared in 30 per cent matches over the last two years – or one year if the signing is under 21.
This rises to 45 per cent of matches for countries ranked 11-20 and 60 per cent for countries ranked 21-30.
Clubs can appeal should a potential signing not meet the criteria but that is subject to an exception panel’s discretion.
The panel’s decision will often come down to transfer fees being paid, how much the player will earn and what top-level experience they have.
If these rules are applied to EU players, it will make it a lot harder for clubs to sign younger players from outside the UK and Ireland, who are exempt thanks to the Common Travel Area.
The FA may choose to relax these work permit rules slightly if they deem it beneficial to clubs and English football.
Any club signing a player from outside the EU in this transfer window will be able to get them pre-settled status from the UK government, which can be changed to settled status once they have spent five continuous years living in the UK.
Players with pre-settled status can also spend two years in a row outside of the UK without losing their status.