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A new GBE route: has bringing overseas players to England just got easier?

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!

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.

The new GBE route: The basics

Let’s start with the basics:

  • Any overseas player who does not otherwise have a right to work in the UK without a visa must obtain a GBE to play in the Premier League or EFL.
  • To obtain a GBE, broadly speaking, a player needs to either: (i) have played sufficiently regularly for a top-ranked national team; or (ii) accrue 15 points cumulatively across various different metrics.
  • If a player does not pass either test, an Exceptions Panel is available in certain circumstances.
  • From this season, PL and EFL clubs will be entitled to apply for GBEs for players who don’t meet the traditional criteria ().
  • The FA will, however, still need to be satisfied that the ESC player is an elite player who will make a significant contribution to the sport. As a minimum, this means the player must, in the preceding two years, have played a minimum number of matches at a certain level, such as five matches in a top league, or one match for a top-ranked national team in certain competitions.

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.

ESC player places

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.

This season:

  • Every PL and EFL club has two places as a minimum (which is also the maximum for League One and League Two clubs).
  • Premier League and Championship clubs will be entitled to up to two further places based on their Weighted EQP Minutes Percentage. Broadly speaking, this means the greater the number of minutes played by English players in the league and in certain cup matches over the last three seasons, the more ESC places a club has. The calculation is complex – for example, a club’s four highest and lowest ranking EQP Minutes Percentage matches each season are discounted from the calculation and provision is made for English players out on loan in certain leagues or who sustained an injury while on international duty.
  • The two further spots can also be obtained through England national team representation (including at under 20 and under 21 level).

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.

Transition to a non-ESC player

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).

The new GBE route: A case study

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.[1]


Need help with the new GBE route? Contact us

If you have any queries or need any advice in this area, please contact Charlotte or Adam.


[1] This assumes Yankuba Minteh does not have the right to work in the UK through other circumstances.



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