The decision on whether Robbie Rogers will be allowed to sign for Leeds United hinges on a work permit that is notoriously difficult to obtain for players outside of Europe.

Since The Whites don’t find themselves in this position very often, few Leeds United fans seem to understand why his application is in doubt so we thought we’d explain the process.

Automatically Eligible

Work permits are required in the UK in order to ensure that the quality of employees working within the country is of the highest standard. Whether you’re a financial expert or an English teacher, the UK Border Control sets criteria which determines eligibility.

For football, this criteria is as follows;

  • The player has represented his own country at international level.
  • The country is ranked above 70 in the FIFA rankings.
  • The player has featured in over 75% of the countries competitive matches over the past two years – this basically means major tournaments and qualifiers.

This fixed criteria ensures players like Lionel Messi or Ronaldinho can sign for any club they please without any difficulty, but it also protects English footballers by ensuring there are places available in our leagues for homegrown talent. Without these restrictions in place, it is not difficult to imagine a Rushden & Diamonds team made up entirely of South American’s.

The Stumbling Block For Rogers

Rogers has played 18 times for the United States (ranked #34 at time of publication) since making his début at the Olympics in 2008 – It’s worth noting at this point that the Olympics are not recognised by FIFA as a competitive tournament, primarily because of the age restrictions placed on players.

The problem Rogers has is that America plays an awful lot of international games (17 last year alone!) due to the additional tournaments they feature in, such as the CONCACAF Gold Cup. Whilst 18 would almost certainly constitute 75% of matches for the English national side, it falls some way short of that for the American national side.

Glimmer Of Hope 

Since Rogers doesn’t meet the outlined criteria, his hopes rest on the outcome of an independent hearing. This is basically a fail-safe measure that was put in place to ensure the Lionel Messi’s of this world can miss a few international games through injury or loss of form, and still sign a trillion pound deal with Manchester City.

The problem is, these panels are notoriously hard to convince. Leeds United must feel they have a solid case to argue else they wouldn’t have wasted their time on Rogers in the first place, but generally speaking, the outcome is usually negative.

There are no loopholes to exploit, no favouritism offered, even the top Premier League clubs have been left frustrated by these independent hearings in the past.

The panel has no connection to football whatsoever so won’t be swayed by personal allegiances. Their role is to protect the British job market and decide whether an individual is of a high enough class in his/her field that the United Kingdom would benefit from them working here.

Likely Outcome

Past precedent suggests both Leeds United and Robbie Rogers will be disappointed by the outcome. But maybe they know something we don’t? By taking him on trial and offering him a contract, The Whites certainly seem confident.

UPDATE: Grella, Somma and Nunez

There seems to be a lot of people predicting a successful outcome based upon the eligibility of non-European players we’ve signed previously. Unfortunately, Robbie Rogers case is in no way similar to that of Mike Grella, Davide Somma or Ramon Nunez. All three of these players qualified to work in the UK automatically, without any need for appeal.

Mike Grella and Davide Somma qualified due to dual-nationality. Both players hold Italian passports so are automatically entitled to work within the UK under EU law. Ramon Nunez meanwhile qualified through the criteria outlined above – Honduras rank #53 in the world.

25 Responses

  1. Leedsfan18

    Apparently he has signed today, officially. He is in London with the squad, and Mika Vayrynen greeted him Via Facebook and has added him on his real account.

  2. Dje

    THE Robbie Rogers, KRIS Boyd, and CHRIS Birchall (yep, check Wikipedia to remind yourself who the hell he is): we really do seem to get connected with some curiously atypical players.

  3. derbyshire white

    Grayson sounds confident. Pity the OS had to mention Grella though. Give the new lad a chance.

    • Dje

      @derbyshire white Yep, positive spin from Grayson – straight into the 1st team squad, and offering an instant impact.

      At least we’ve had him on trial. So we know a bit of what he can do. And, as a Californian lad he knows just how grey Leeds can be!

      If all else fails, his pace alone should excite the Leeds fans.

      • Irving08

        @Dje@derbyshire white

        He has squad player written all over him, which is frankly depressing.

      • Dje

        @Irving08@derbyshire white He’s been playing regularly in the States, and is young, so his fitness should be good to go.

        He’s been on trial with us for a few weeks, so we can only hope that he has fitted into some masterplan.

        His pace offers us an outlet that we had been direly missing until Townsend turned up. Tactically he offers something that all but one of our squad can offer us in attack, so I am not being as quick to see him as ‘more of the same’.

        At the very least our opponents will have to start thinking a bit more about how we may set up against them.

      • Irving08

        @Dje@derbyshire white

        Masterplan ? – if only. But I promise to be open-minded….

  4. TSS

    Davide Somma held an Italian passport and Ramon Nunez met the criteria – Honduras are ranked 53rd in the world.

    • Dje

      @TSS I can’t see why they would go so public about it unless they were as good as sure (THE Granny Rogers was a Sicilian?) he’d get clearance. Otherwise, it’d make more sense not to go public until it was passed or rejected.

      • Dje

        @TSS Possibly, but it isn’t as if another English club could come muscling in and effect the outcome of the work permit (least we hope not).

  5. Irving08

    For once I don’t understand fellow posters at all. Please tell me specifically what it is about his profile that makes you think we need him.

    • Dje

      @Irving08 Pacey winger on a free. He gives us the option to keep White at left-back. That leaves three recognised wingers: Townsend, Snodgrass, Rogers to compete for either flank. Nunez clearly can’t do that position, neither can McCormack without coming inside too often.

      Alternatively it is the pre-lined up replacement for Snodgrass’s imminent sale. Bummer.

      • TSS

        @Dje@Irving08 I disagree. We never replaced Gradel so we needed a winger regardless.

      • Irving08


        True, we did not replace Gradel, but Townsend is here till May, and another pacey winger now is not a priority – unless SG is thinking of playing Snoddy in the hole during Howson’s absence. And beware pacey wingers – they have a deserved reputation for not delivering the goods. We need a player or two who can immediately command a place in the X1 – a player like Beckford or a tougher version of Killkenny (to complement Clayton) would give us much more than this lad…..

    • Dje

      @Irving08 But I agree, a winger isn’t a priority. I think he was just yet another trialist we took a shining too. A bit like, but a happier ending to that Mendy bloke we had on trial in the summer. Only on that one Mendy impressed throughout, would have been cheap on the wages (he is currently playing for Mansfield), but then we rather embarrassingly said thanks but no thanks, we currently don’t need an attacking midfielder: which begged the question why we bothered wasting his and our time in the first place.

      • TSS

        @Dje@Irving08 Just in case he was incredibly talented I guess? You wouldn’t tell Lionel Messi to look elsewhere if he was parked outside Elland Road looking for home, just because we have enough attacking players. There’s different classes of footballer, and clubs will always make room for the highest of these.

  6. Irving08

    On reflection, this lad is not even a replacement for Gradel. He is billed as winger-cum-midfielde,r whereas Max was less a winger, more a hybrid striker – he was not a particularly good crosser of the ball, and did most of his damage down the channels. This signing looks like a classic example of Groupthink – er Boss, we need more pace, yes, boss, we need pace…In all my years of playing and watching football, I have noticed an inverse relationship between pace and skill, save at the highest level (which is what you would expect). What we need is someone to share the creative work Snoddy….

  7. Gav Andrews

    work permits are always a bit hit and miss so fingers crossed. maybe they will look at the fact he played in the olympics and that america play so many international games…

  8. Neil Gibbins

    It’ll be harder getting his horse through quarinteine. That’s a minimum 6 weeks.

  9. number1inyorkshire

    hope it goes well .leeds must be confident he has been there long enough just youtubed him .looks ok .i know some will say that “SOCCER” is not as good there as it is here ,but it is getting better year on year .looks assured .looks like he has pace looks confident too ..

    we do not need a replacement for gradel we need robbie rogers to be better ,and there si nothing to say he will not be .

    hope he gets his permit and comes and does a job like “USA” Eddie lewis

  10. Irving08

    It looks to me like SG is again demonstrating a lack of conviction by recruiting yet another squad player. first, it was centre halves, now it’s wide players….we need better players, not more players, and if we can’t get the former, then it’s up to the collective management to improve the players already on our books. I cannot believe that any of us thought getting two wingers in was a priority at this point in the season. Have they already changed their mind on Townsend ?!!


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