1st August 2023
Say goodbye to hours spent poring over Excel spreadsheets filled with ‘available minutes’ data to work out whether an overseas transfer target can obtain a governing body endorsement (GBE) from The FA. Say hello to your ‘Elite Significant Contribution’ (or ‘ESC’) players, capable of being endorsed without all the maths. Sounds good, right? As the saying goes, the devil is in the detail – and there is a lot of detail in the new GBE route!
The new pathway is a compromise between the competing stakeholders, seeking to appease the Premier League’s persistent push for broader access to overseas talent under the GBE criteria, while ensuring that young English players can develop within the English game.
Let’s start with the basics:
Compared to the traditional thresholds, where playing minutes need to be carefully totted up, the new pathway is relatively straightforward. Where it starts to get complex, however, is in determining how many ESC players a club can have at any one time.
Importantly, clubs don’t get an additional number of places per season – they are each entitled to a certain number of ESC-endorsed players at any one time.
After this season, there is no minimum allocation. Premier League and Championship clubs will receive between zero and four places, and League One and League Two clubs between zero and two, which will be based entirely on their Weighted EQP Minutes Percentage and England national team representation.
While the criteria confirms that The FA will calculate the Weighted EQP Minutes Percentage for each club, clubs will understandably want to run their own calculation too, to ensure they agree with the number of ESC places allocated to them.
Given ESC spaces are in short supply, clubs will want to move ESC players out of the ESC places as soon as possible. A club can apply to take an ESC player out of the ESC pot after 12 months if the player: (i) now meets one of the two regular GBE thresholds; or (ii) over that period, played in 25% or more of the club’s league matches and certain cup matches and played a certain percentage of minutes in those matches (the required percentage increasing the further down the leagues you go).
Newcastle recently signed Gambian starlet Yankuba Minteh from Danish side Odense BK, who joined the club on 1 July 2023. However, Minteh was instantly loaned out to Dutch side Feyenoord. The move was reminiscent of Andrey Santos’s move to Chelsea, who ended up being loaned back to his boyhood club after failing to obtain a GBE.
Importantly, while Minteh would not have met the standard GBE criteria – such that a loan move would have been Newcastle’s only option last season – now, it could have used up one of its ESC places to obtain a GBE.
 This assumes Yankuba Minteh does not have the right to work in the UK through other circumstances.