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Brexit halts sign-up of underage Irish soccer talent to English clubs
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09 Feb 2021 / sports law Print

Brexit halts sign-up of new soccer talent to UK clubs

Irish soccer players can no longer transfer freely from Irish clubs to British clubs as a result of Brexit, Leman solicitor Ultán Anderson comments.

Previously, British clubs could sign players from within the EU with no restrictions.

Players now seeking to transfer require a Governing Body Endorsement (GBE). Players under 18 cannot move freely from Ireland to Britain, even with a GBE, Anderson explains.

Traditional rite of passage

FIFA regulations, international transfers of players are only permitted when the player is within the EU, and when the new club will provide education for that player.

Now that Britain has left the EU, its clubs cannot sign underage players from outside of that jurisdiction.

This means that an underage Irish player is treated the same as an underage player from any country globally, ending the traditional rite of passage for underage soccer talent to transfer to English clubs.

No exception

While there were hopes that the Common Travel Area between Britain and Ireland would mean that Irish players would be an exception to both the GBE requirement and over-18 requirements, Ultán Anderson explains that no such arrangement has yet been made.

In the absence of any such arrangement, FIFA has decided that Irish players will be governed by the same rules as all other overseas players when it comes to transfers.

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