Greg Dyke hopes changes to work permit regulations will provide more opportunities for talented home grown players to get game time at the top level.
During an update on the England Commission, The FA Chairman said the Home Office has agreed to a “fundamental reform” to the existing work permit regulations, to ensure only the most talented non-EU players meet new criteria.
The new requirements state that non-EEA (European Economic Area) players will have to meet a minimum percentage of international matches played for their country over the previous 24 month period, as determined by that country’s FIFA world ranking.
Dyke said: “I am pleased to say that on Friday we finally received approval from the Home Office for fundamental reform of the non-EU work visa processes which will come into effect for next season.
“This follows a six-month consultation with everyone involved in football where we listened, discussed, made some changes, and finally found a solution which gained unanimous support.
“The old system meant roughly half the players coming from non-European countries were getting in through an appeals system where something like 80% of all appeals were successful. The future won’t be like that.
“It is key to note that if you applied the new system retrospectively across the last five years we estimate that 33% of the players who gained entry under the old system would not have been granted a work visa under the new system.
“That means that over five years there would have been 42 fewer non-European players playing in the Premier and Football Leagues across that time as a result of the change.”
He continued: “The new system has tightened the criteria required for a visa - reducing the eligible ranked nations from the top 70 to the top 50, with new appearance requirements depending on the status of the nation.
“There will still be an ‘exceptions panel’ but it will no longer be reliant solely on subjective supporting evidence, but will make the decisions based on stricter assessment of relevant objective criteria.
“The new system will make it far easier for us to identify and attract top quality players that truly are at the elite level, and it will make it far tougher for those who don’t meet the quality standard to get to play in Britain.
“It is a significant step forward.”
New work permit system
Required % of international matches over previous 24 months is determined by the player’s National Association’s official FIFA ranking:
FIFA 1-10: 30% and above
FIFA 11-20: 45% and above
FIFA 21-30: 60% and above
FIFA 31-50: 75% and above
Reference period reduced to 12 months for those players aged 21 or under at time of application
The aim of the current system is to allow only non-EEA (European Economic Area) players who are “internationally established at the highest level” and “whose employment will make a significant contribution to the development of their sport at the highest level”.
Currently, roughly half of all non-EEA players join clubs via the appeals panel and 79% of all appeals are successful. Meanwhile, 55% of non-EEA players joining Premier League clubs play fewer than the league average number of minutes and only 58% given work visas play any top-flight football in their second season.
To address this issue, The FA led a formal consultation with the Premier League, Football League, LMA, PFA and Home Associations in September 2014. The final proposal was submitted to the Home Office on 6 March with unanimous support from the game and approved on Friday 20 March.