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Tau's Suitors' Belgian Connection...

Brighton & Hove Albion have reportedly set a deadline for Mamelodi Sundowns to make up their minds on Percy Tau, but can he play there?

There has been plenty of talk of late regarding the Bafana Bafana international’s future, with the 24-year-old staying away from training with Masandawana amid talk of a move to the English Premier League side.  

Read: Euro Duo Consider Rantie Move?

Whether Sundowns agree to sell Tau before today’s deadline remains to be seen, but another important aspect of the deal is the fact that a work permit could prove to be difficult for the attacker to obtain. 

With that in mind, Brighton's owner also owns Royale Union Saint-Gilloise in the Belgian Second Division - a link that could be beneficial for Tau. If the club does indeed sign him, Belgium could be a possible destination for him in the form of a loan deal for his immediate future. 

The club finished sixth last season and Tony Bloom will be eager for them to try and secure a spot in the top-flight with next season’s performances, should they potentially see Tau as part of that plan. 

Here’s a breakdown of the work permit rules standing in the way of Tau playing in the EPL, even if he does sign for Brighton.

FIFA Ranking (average over two years) – Percentage of matches required
1-10 – 30%+
11-20 – 45%+
21-30 – 60%+
31-50 – 75%+

If the player does not meet these requirements with regards to FIFA ranking or percentage of games then there is still a chance that they can make a move to England, however their case has to be brought before the ‘Exceptions Panel’ who then use a points system to see whether the player is eligible for a permit.  

Should the player score four or more points in the primary points system then the panel may recommend but is not obliged to recommend - that a permit is granted. 

If the player scores less than four, then the secondary points system comes in to play and a total of five points over the two systems must be accumulated in order for him to be recommended for a permit.  

Primary Points System
3 points - Transfer fee is above the 75% of qualifying transfers – thought to be around £15m at this point.
3 points – Wages being paid are above 75% of qualifying wages.
2 points - Transfer fee is between the 50-75% of qualifying transfers.
2 points - Wages being paid between the 50-75% of qualifying wages.
1 point - Current club is in a top league* and the player has played in 30% or more of the available domestic league minutes.
1 point - Current club has played in the group stages or onwards of a continental competition within the last 12 months and the player has played in 30% or more of the available domestic league minutes. 

Secondary Points System
1 point - Transfer fee being paid for the player is within 20% of the 75th and 50th percentile of qualifying transfers.
1 point - Wages being paid to the player by the applicant club are within 20% of the 75th and 50th percentile of qualifying wages.
1 point - Current league club is in a secondary league** and the player has played in at least 30% of the available domestic league minutes.
1 point - Current club has played in the final qualification rounds of a continental competition within the last 12 months and the player has played in at least 30% of the available domestic league minutes.
1 point – Player has played in the secondary percentage of national team games OR the player’s national team was a semifinalist in the Asian Cup or African Cup of Nations in the 12 months prior to application.

With all of this in mind, while subjective criteria can also be taken into consideration, it is highly unlikely that any South African footballer, let alone one still playing in Mzansi, will be able to get a work permit in the UK any time soon.

*Top League –
· The six (6) European leagues which provide the most players to the top 20 squads in the FIFA Aggregated World Rankings at the relevant point in time; and

· The two (2) Central and South American leagues which provide the most players to the top twenty (20) squads in the FIFA Aggregated World Rankings at the relevant point in time.

**Secondary League –
· The 2 European leagues which are not top leagues but provide the next most players to the top twenty (20) squads in the FIFA Aggregated World Rankings at the relevant point in time; and,

· The Central and South American league which is not a top league but which provides the third most players to the top twenty (20) squads in the FIFA Aggregated World Rankings at the relevant point in time. 

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