- National Teams
Basketball England have contacted BBL and NBL teams on Thursday, urging for them to check the status of their non-EEA (European Economic Area) players following a crackdown by the UK Border Agency.
The NGB sent out an email calling for immediate attention by clubs to review the status of any player on a non-EEA visa “as a matter of urgency” after being contacted by the government agency who claim that “a number of players” in both the BBL and divisions below do not have the appropriate clearance to play professional sport.
It could mean some teams end up short-handed right as the BBL playoffs, NBL Finals and Final Fours approach.
The email from the Senior Operational Policy Advisor for the Immigration and Border Policy Directorate read:
“If an individual or player does not have the appropriate entry clearance (visa conditions), Basketball England recommends the immediate suspension from all activity, including play, for the individual and requires that you notify Nicky Brown immediately. Failure to act can result in a fine as identified below.
“There are a number of players in the BBL and the divisions below who are in the UK on visas which do not permit them to play professional sport. To be clear, non-EEA sportspeople may come to the UK using Tier 2 or 5 of the Points Based System if coming for employment with British clubs.
“Having reviewed several team rosters, there are several players on Tier 4 (student), Tier 5 (Youth Mobility Scheme) and Tier 2 (Intra Company Transfer) visas which specifically prohibit non-EEA migrants from playing professional sport. Whilst professional sport is not itself defined in the Immigration Rules, we take it to mean, playing sport in any way other playing it as an amateur as defined in paragraph 6 of the Rules:
“An “Amateur” is a person who engages in a sport or creative activity solely for personal enjoyment and who is not seeking to derive a living from the activity.
“Playing sport for a professional or semi-professional club does not satisfy that definition even if the migrant will not be paid. It is deemed that playing sport at a professional or semi-professional level is not solely for personal enjoyment and those doing so are usually seeking to derive a living from the sport, if not at the time, then in the future. This protects opportunities for resident sportspeople who are seeking to make a living in sport.
“Could I ask that you ensure that all clubs are made aware as the migrants are breaking the terms of their visa conditions and their employers run the risk of being liable for a fine of £20,000. This means that those migrants should not feature in any further fixtures for their team unless they have a visa which permits them to play professional sport or they are not subject to immigration control.”
It remains unclear which teams are affected, but a number of clubs that are linked with universities are believed to bring in non-EAA players on student visas.
If you or someone from your team is affected by this, please contact us on [email protected].
Thoughts? Let us know in the comments!