Percy Tau is on the tip of everyone’s tongues at present after links with English side, Brighton & Hove Albion, but it’s going to be tough for the Bafana Bafana star to make that move work.
Reports coming out of the UK at the moment suggest that Brighton are tracking the Masandawana star, although they did state that a bid has not been made at this stage.
Work permit rules in England are very strict when it comes to players making a move there, and Kamohelo Mokotjo only managed to make his move to club, Brentford, happen by obtaining European citizenship.
While there are technically no issues with regards to English clubs actually signing players from South Africa, should Brighton manage to sign Percy Tau then they would not be able to register him for the foreseeable future if he doesn’t get a permit. If he couldn’t receive one he would, therefore, have to be loaned outside of the country, similar to what Arsenal did with Joel Campbell.
The English FA imposed new work permit rules at the start of the 2015/16 season in an attempt to slow down the influx of foreign players in the English leagues with the idea that it will help young local players make their way through the ranks.
In order to be granted an automatic work permit to play in England (Premier League, Championship etc) the player has to have played a certain percentage of their national team’s matches over the course of the last 24 months, with that percentage being decided by FIFA ranking of the country.
The FIFA Ranking that is taken into account is not the one at the time of the transfer, but where the nation stands in an aggregated position over the past 24 months. For example, in the latest aggregated ranking of South Africa was 67th and therefore well out of the top 50.
Mohamed Elneny’s move to Arsenal from FC Basel recently was made difficult even though he was signing from another European team, but he was eventually granted a permit because despite Egypt sitting in 58th place at the time, their aggregate ranking was 47th.
FIFA Ranking – Percentage of matches
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 be 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.
For the full breakdown of the criteria you can read this document.