Huddersfield Town’s unique approach could see them benefit most from work permit changes

Huddersfield Town’s unique approach could see them benefit most from work permit changes

The Terriers got Etienne Camara and Brahima Diarra into the club before the work permit rules changed post-Brexit, but they would not have been able to sign any more players like them for the B team for the past few years: they simply would not have passed the criteria because of their inexperience and because they came from relatively modest clubs, rather than sides playing in the Champions League.

That has now changed thanks to an agreement the FA have reached with the Home Office. Along with Premier League sides, Championship clubs will now be able to sign up to four players who would not otherwise be eligible for work permits. (The exact number of players each club is able to sign depends how many English players they have appearing for the first team, but it’s unlikely that Huddersfield Town would run afoul of that with their largely domestic playing squad.)

That means that if there’s a talented player with no international caps playing for, say, Toulouse, the new rules would allow a Championship side to sign them up as long as they didn’t exceed their quota.

The new rules arguably do more favours to sides in the second tier: most Premier League targets will have fulfilled the criteria as it was as long as they were playing regularly for other top-flight sides, but Town would no longer have been able to sign the likes of Christopher Schindler, Chris Lowe and Michael Hefele from the German second tier. Now, they could again.

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The question is whether they would want to. The opportunities to exploit blind spots in every other clubs’ recruitment shrink with each passing year as scouting information from across the globe becomes more readily available, so the kind of first-mover advantage Town enjoyed in 2016 is harder to come by.

Where they could still find players who have slipped through the cracks is in their B team recruitment. The academy is specifically set up to do exactly that, with Camara and Diarra just two examples of players who eluded the bigger clubs’ radars in their early teens and thus slipped off them altogether. Town are meanwhile actively on the lookout for players in their later teens who they can develop into first-teamers.

Whether that structure will remain in place is unclear after a change of ownership and the introduction last year of rules that will require all Premier League clubs to have at least a category three academy from 2024/25; Town are voluntarily only category four.

  • June 25, 2023