Scottish clubs avoid crippling restrictions on signing players

Post-Brexit changes to Scottish football’s transfer rules have been halted by a joint effort from the Scottish Football Association and the country’s league bosses.

Hampden bosses have secured a rule reprieve that avoids potentially crippling restrictions on transfers. (Photo by Craig Foy / SNS Group)

The Exceptions Panel, which assessed players from overseas outwith the government’s usual points-based employment visa system, was a frequently used route for Scottish clubs to recruit foreign players.

It faced being abolished under new Brexit laws and was expected to be wrapped up at the closing of this summer’s transfer window. However a permanent reprieve has been secured from next month which will avoid potentially crippling recruitment restrictions on clubs looking abroad for new players.

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SPFL chief executive Neil Doncaster said: “Given the significant number of overseas players who enhance our league, and Scotland’s relatively small size in comparison to other nations, it was absolutely imperative that we were able to convince the UK Government to maintain the Exemptions Panel.

“Failure to do so would have dramatically compromised the competitiveness of Scottish clubs, particularly when playing in European competitions, and it is fantastic news for our game that we have managed to secure such a crucial agreement with the UK Government.

“It is no exaggeration to say that this was one of the most pivotal issues for our clubs and I am absolutely delighted we have managed to secure this ongoing arrangement. The alternative did not bear thinking about and would have severely restricted the number of marquee players coming into our game, with disastrous financial consequences.

“The retention of the Exceptions Panel is hugely significant achievement and protects the interests of many Scottish clubs whose business model depends on the import, development and onward sale of overseas players.”

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