The administrative process for obtaining permission to work in another country may not be the most compelling of topics, but the fact that New York Red Bulls central defender Tim Ream was granted a work permit to play for Bolton Wanderers caused minor shock waves on Twitter this week.
So why was it granted?
Time to sit back and enjoy a wild ride through the world of the immigration appeals process! (or you can just wait for the movie I guess).
Firstly Ream needed to appeal because he failed to meet one of the basic criteria that would have made his move a formality, namely that he had not:
“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”
Ream has only played seven times for the national team in the last two years.
The appeal is heard by he English FA rather than the immigration authorities themselves (and I think that we can all agree that FA panels are beyond criticism) with the onus on the buying club to demonstrate that their potential acquisition is:
“of the highest calibre” and “is able to contribute significantly to the development of the game at the top-level in England.”
Clearly the majority of panel members felt that Tim Ream fitted both of these categories.
Let’s take each in turn.
Is Tim Ream of the highest calibre?
Well, as with all such judgements it comes down to a subjective opinion and while nobody would argue that he is the second coming of Franz Beckenbauer he is likely to have had both the Bolton coaching staff and, perhaps more importantly, his national team manager Jurgen Klinsmann issue statements arguing that he, at the very least, has the potential to match Premier League standards.
Will Tim Ream contribute significantly to the development of the game at the top-level in England?
Anybody who follows twitter will know that whenever a US national team member is playing anywhere in Europe the interest is surprisingly keen.
Clint Dempsey’s recent hat-trick for Fulham caused spasms of almost uncontrollable excitement amongst followers of the game in America, so the Premier League themselves can’t have been indifferent to the advantage of adding another US star to their lists.
The rules were no doubt followed enough to fully satisfy the immigration requirements but the end result was pure pragmatism.
Bolton get the defensive cover they need, Klinsmann sees one of his players get valuable experience, the Premier League get some added publicity and even MLS may get a little bit more respect if Ream turns out to be a success.
Maybe it’s just the New York Red Bulls who will be left lamenting his departure?
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