The end of January once again saw the completion of the UK’s annual football transfer window and we all watched with trepidation to see if our favourite players would jump ship. But underlying this excitement was a bigger issue: immigration!
Richard Masters, CEO of the Premier League, blamed Brexit for the January spike in transfer fees. According to him, Brexit has made it more difficult for English clubs to sign foreign players. But from an immigration perspective, it seems quick to blame Brexit for difficulties in signing any foreign player, including non-EU nationals.
After Brexit, a new Points Based System was introduced and the EU Settlement Scheme replaced previous EU treaty rights such as freedom of movement and the right to work in the UK. As the deadline for the scheme has passed EU nationals now have to apply under the same immigration categories as non-EU nationals.
The International Sportsperson visa was introduced as part of the new Points Based System, replacing previous visa categories for athletes. Both EU and non-EU national footballers alike now must apply under this route. This has been a significant adjustment for the footballing world, and further changes are still to come as the Government announced in February 2023, alongside the publication of its football white paper that it would be reviewing the “efficiency of the existing visa system for English football”.
While UK football clubs and associations need to know the impact of post-Brexit changes on their EU players, especially when investing large amounts of money, they can be reassured that Brexit has largely left the Points Based System unchanged for non-EU nationals.