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You May Not Want To Get Your Hopes Up About Tim Ream: A Look At Work Permits

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Tim Ream is a young, American center back that measures in at about 6 foot 1. He has the potential to become a very good defender and his ability to play the ball out of the back has already been noted by Hans Backe, the current manager of Ream's club side, Red Bull New York (RBNY):

"He has a future. I probably shouldn't say too much, but Ream has a chance to be a national team player. He's a center back who is comfortable and calm in possession of the ball. He plays a good passing game, he's an excellent passer. A European-type center back who, I think, reminds me of Rio Ferdinand in the Premier League. Ream is strong tactically and never stressed, and of course he's good in the air. He has a top-class attitude and spirit."

Despite the fact that he shows promise and has already been capped seven times for the US Men's National Team, questions persist about whether RBNY will let him go should a potential suitor pay the price, and if they do say that he can sign, will Tim Ream be able to get a work permit?

Ream had a good rookie season in Major League Soccer and a decent first few caps for the USMNT when first starting out professionally. His sophomore season wasn't as successful but then again, his Red Bulls with the likes of Thierry Henry, Rafael Marquez, and Frank Rost on the field were pretty generally crap. Ream seems to have a bright professional future ahead of him for both club and country with many people thinking that the best way for his game to progress is a move to Europe.

Ream had training stints at both West Bromwich Albion and Bolton earlier this month and by the sound of it, he did enough at Bolton to have Owen Coyle wanting his signature to potentially replace Gary Cahill. As I mentioned earlier, even if Red Bull are willing to let him leave New York, there is still an issue of work permits. Not everyone can play in England and even if they can, the requirements for a work permit are quite strict.

When we spoke to Super John McGinlay back in October, we asked him about Americans coming to play for Bolton and he told us this regarding permits:

A lot of people don't realize the red tape that goes into bring a young or even an older player into the country. There's a lot of strife and visa regulations and work permits and all that. You have to hit certain criteria and young players don't meet that criteria. The older players have to have played I think 75% of the international games over the last over the last two years to qualify for a work permit or something like that. The kids, youth players, they really would need to have some sort of family in Europe. Relations, uncles, aunties, moms and dads, whatever it is before they would be elligible. If they have a European passport, that's fine. If not, it's very, very difficult.

Even though Ream might not have a Europe relative he can claim, that doesn't mean the battle is lost. The FA has its own guidelines for potential work permit applicants. They are:

Criteria for Players
To be eligible for a Governing Body Endorsement under PBS:

  1. The applicant club must be in membership of the Premier League or Football League. During the period of endorsement, the player may only play for clubs in membership of those leagues (i.e. the player may not be loaned to a club below the Football League);
  2. The player must have participated in at least 75% of his home country's senior competitive international matches where he was available for selection during the two years preceding the date of the application; and
  3. The player's National Association must be at or above 70th place in the official FIFA World Rankings when averaged over the two years preceding the date of the application.

Ream meets Criteria 1 & 3 but he has barely been a professional for two years, meaning that he is nowhere near the requirement for "at least 75%" of the USMNT's competitive matches.

You're saying to yourself that clubs sign young prospects from other countries all the time. This is very true and should he not be able to get a work permit under the first two options, Bolton Wanderers and Tim Ream can argue that he shows "exceptional talent" and he may be granted a work permit under the Tier 1 statutes.

Nothing is a done deal yet and who knows if it will even happen. If a fee and contract do happen to be agreed upon, a work permit is not a certainty.