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Warning – obtaining a Sports visa may not be as quick as you think!

Dec 8, 2021

The recent appointment of Manchester United’s interim manager has highlighted potential delays in obtaining a visa under the new International Sportsperson visa category. It has been well documented that their new interim manager, Ralf Rangnick, was unable to take charge for the team’s first game against Arsenal on 2nd December despite being appointed some four days earlier. Although present at the game, he was only able to watch from the stands and had no involvement with the team due to him requiring a work visa as part of post-Brexit regulations.

Why was there a delay?

This case raises the question of why there was such a delay particularly given that the recent appointments of other European Managers in the Premier League had not resulted in the same.

The delay was caused by the fact that Ralf Rangnick did not meet all of the Football Association’s automatic criteria for a Governing Body Endorsement (GBE) as set out below. In the last 5 years Ralf Ragnick has only managed German club RB Leipzig for 11 months in 2018-2019 season.

The decision to grant his work visa therefore rested with the FA’s exceptional panel and in approving his work visa the panel needed to be satisfied that Ralf Rangnick would be able to make a significant contribution to the development of sport at the highest level in the UK.

The Football Association’s GBE criteria

A Manager role will only be granted a GBE if:

a) The Manager will have Overall Responsibility for the first team of the applicant club.

b) The Manager holds a UEFA professional licence/diploma or equivalent.

c) The applicant club does not have an Existing Manager (or, if the club does have an Existing Manager, the club has confirmed to the FA in writing that the Existing Manager will not be in post when the Manager commences his or her employment). Where a club has been issued with a GBE for an Existing Manager, a GBE will not be granted in respect of a new Manager until the FA has received written confirmation that the Existing Manager is no longer working in that capacity for the club or will not be in post when the Manager commences his or her employment.

d) The Manager has:

i. Managed a club in a Top League for the Prescribed Time; or

ii. Managed an international team for the Prescribed Time which had an Aggregated FIFA World Ranking of 50 or above for the entire Prescribed Time.

Other managers

Antonio Conte and Claudio Ranieri were both granted GBEs quickly prior to joining Spurs and Watford respectively, as both have managed for a cumulative 36 months over the past five years. Antonio Conte has previously managed Inter Milan in the Serie A and Chelsea in the Premier league and both leagues are considered as top leagues. Claudio Ranieri has managed Sampdoria and Roma in the Serie A, Nantes in Ligue 1 and Leicester City in the Premier league prior to joining Watford.

The impact of Brexit

Following Brexit any non-UK citizen wishing to work in English football now must obtain a Governing Body Endorsement and subsequent work visa. As discussed above, not all applicants will qualify for an automatic endorsement.

How we can assist

At Herrington Carmichael we will be able to advise you whether you qualify for an automatic endorsement or not and what can be done to assist with your application for a Sportsperson visa.

Have any questions or interested in applying for the International Sportsperson Visa?

Please feel free to call us on 01276 686 222 or submit a website enquiry and we shall get in touch.

This reflects the law at the date of publication and is written as a general guide. It does not contain definitive legal advice, which should be sought as appropriate in relation to a particular matter.

Sherry Fitzgerald

Sherry Fitzgerald

Partner, Head of Immigration

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