New EPL exemption to prevent another Percy Tau permit saga |

New EPL exemption to prevent another Percy Tau permit saga |

A new English Premier League [EPL] exemption looks set to eliminate another Percy Tau work permit saga.

The EPL has adopted new rules allowing clubs to sign players who do not meet work permit requirements.

The clubs can sign up to four players who fall short of the United Kingdom’s work permit requirements.
For a while, players outside the European Union [EU] had to tick all of the UK Home Office’s boxes to eventually be granted permits to play in England.


According to remarks made by the English Football Association [FA] Chief Executive Officer Mark Bullingham, a newly installed Governing Body Endorsement [GBE] Criteria is set to give special dispensation to Premier League and Championship [EFL] clubs to make such signings.

The new development is a game-changer for African players. Many have seen their dream moves to England either delayed or cancelled due to work permit restrictions.

FA chief executive Mark Bullingham said: “As English football’s governing body, we oversee the whole football ecosystem, and we wanted to create a new model which would meet the different objectives of our football stakeholders. We worked closely with the clubs and the leagues, and have designed a progressive solution to give clubs additional access to international talent and incentivise playing opportunities for English talent.”

Percy Tau in action for Brighton & Hove Albion
Percy Tau in action for Brighton & Hove Albion in the Premier League

Tau spent up to three seasons on loan when his then-parent club, Brighton and Hove Albion, couldn’t register him. This was due to work permit problems.

As a result, his dream of playing in England was put on hold. The agonising wait became one of English football’s drawn-out work permit sagas.

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Tau was sent on loan to Union SG [2018], Club Brugge [2019] and Anderlecht [2020] in consecutive seasons.

The former Mamelodi Sundowns player only got his work permit nearly three years later. By the time Tau was cleared to play for Brighton, he was way down the pecking order. He made only a handful of appearances.

Another hindrance was that Graham Potter had replaced the manager who sanctioned his transfer to the club, Chris Houghton.

The relaxed restrictions will open the doors for foreign talent to make a mark in English football without the hassle of going through a strict system.

This had forced English clubs to pay no heed to talent from some regions of the world, with the ever-looming challenge of registering them being a significant factor.

Story by Bongani Malunga

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  • June 25, 2023