Football: Taylor on work permit warpath

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The Independent Online
GORDON TAYLOR, the chief executive of the Professional Footballers Association, yesterday insisted he will not be steamrollered into accepting the Government's relaxed proposals on work permits for foreign players.

Government officials are meeting the PFA and the Football Association in London today for a routine end-of-season meeting and Taylor will insist that any relaxation of the current laws on work permits could have a serious impact on the future of the England team.

The Department for Education and Employment plans to cut the red tape for footballers coming to Britain from outside the European Union, and Taylor said: "I won't accept it and I will be disappointed if the FA accepted it as well. From our point of view there's no way the Government should be relaxing the criteria. If anything they should be made stricter. I'm slightly worried about whose words the ministers are listening to. I'm astonished to hear the proposals when they haven't had the courtesy to discuss this with the FA, the governing body responsible for the game, or the union which represents the players."

To get a work permit at the moment, non-EU players must satisfy several conditions. The player's country must be above a certain position in the Fifa world rankings and he must have played in 75 per cent of their internationals over the last two years.

The player must also be one of the best-paid players at his British club. But the DFEE want to change the rules so players must be in the international squad for 75 per cent of games and relax the salary-linked criteria. Taylor said: "Governments in European countries which are similarly affected, Spain in particular, are working with the sports authorities to try to develop their own talent in the interest of the national team. Unless we are going to give our own youth an opportunity, what chance have we got for a successful national team?" Steve Double, the spokesman for the FA, said they had yet to receive official notice of the plans and would wait until they did before commenting.

n The former Liverpool goalkeeper Bruce Grobbelaar has turned down an offer to coach Cape Town Ajax in South Africa.