Player Status & Contracts
Updated GBE Criteria
The UK Home Office has provided Scottish Rugby with updated Governing Body Endorsement Criteria for 2021/22 (a GBE being a necessary pre-requisite for incoming players/coaches not otherwise entitled to work in professional sport in the UK). The main change to the criteria - which can be found below - is that the Japanese Top League has been added to the list of qualifying leagues. The PRO14 tournament has also been renamed as the United Rugby Championship (URC).
Updated Player Payment Regulation
Following a consultation on changes to SDR 4.1 : Player Contracts and Payments, the Scottish Rugby Board has approved a revised player payment regulation. The updated version of SDR 4.1, which can be found below, came into effect on 1 June 2021.
News : EU Settlement Scheme
The rights of EU, EEA and Swiss citizens changed on 30 June 2021. For more on how this may affect their ability to play rugby in Scotland please see below.
The World Rugby Regulation
World Rugby has a regulation (WR Regulation 4) covering Player Status, Player Contracts and Player Movement. Scottish Rugby is obliged to comply with World Rugby Regulations.
Scottish Rugby’s Regulation
The World Rugby Regulation requires individual Unions to put in place their own domestic regulations with respect to the matters it covers. Scottish Rugby’s rules on Player Status and Player Contracts are set out in Scottish Domestic Regulation 4.1 Player Contracts and Payments (SDR 4.1).
Under this domestic regulation:
- limitations are placed on clubs in respect of paying / providing benefits to players; and
- those players in receipt of material financial benefit from playing are defined as Scottish Contract Players and clubs must register any such playing contract.
Scottish Rugby also has rules on Player Movement and these are set out in SDR 4.2 Clearance to Play in Another Union.
All those within the Scottish Rugby Union’s jurisdiction are required to comply with these Regulations.
Clubs: Recruitment of Non-UK Players
Clubs should remember that their ability to recruit non-UK players is governed by law and that they must check the visa status of any non-UK citizen they recruit. This requires examining, reviewing and copying the original documents, considering their validity against the entry criteria and then holding them on file, with identification as to who checked them and when, etc. (Please also see the note below re the status of EU/EEA citizens).
Whilst Scottish Rugby is not able to provide legal advice on immigration / employment law matters, our general understanding of the criteria is as follows:
Super 6: For immigration purposes, the Super 6 licensee teams have the equivalent status to Edinburgh Rugby and Glasgow Warriors. This means that non-UK or Irish players must have been granted leave to enter / remain in the UK, or hold either a UK Ancestry or a T2 / T5 Sportsperson's Visa. The T2 / T5 Sportsperson Visa requirements include a track record playing at international or professional level in a qualifying league (e.g. Super Rugby), and in all cases require completion of a formal Governing Body Endorsement process. Players holding Youth Mobility Scheme, Visitor or Student visas are not entitled to play in the Super 6 even on a wholly amateur basis.
Premiership, National and Regional Leagues: Non-UK players may (subject to the normal National Competition Rules) participate in the Premiership, National and Regional Leagues. However, Clubs must not pay (e.g. match fees, win bonuses, etc.) or provide material benefits (e.g. subsidised flights, accommodation at a cost to the club, etc.) to any player coming to the UK on a Youth Mobility, Visitor or Student Visa (amongst other Visa types) in return for their participation in sport.
Such individuals are not legally entitled to be paid to play sport in the UK. Such players may only play as an amateur for a predominantly amateur club in a predominantly amateur league. Holders of a UK Ancestry or Spousal Visa, Irish citizens and players who have been granted leave to enter or remain in the UK may continue to play in any league or division and may be paid and/or employed as appropriate (though see note below re EU/ EEA citizens). We strongly recommend that clubs obtain advice from a suitably qualified expert prior to recruiting any non-UK player.
Status of EU / EEA Players
The UK has now left the transition period following its departure from the EU (the transition period ended on 31 December 2020). EU / EEA citizens (other than Irish citizens) generally no longer have the right to work in the UK, though many EU/EEA citizens who were resident in the UK prior to the end of the transition period will have obtained leave to remain (which entitles them to the same rights to work in the UK as before the UK departure from the EU). This should not be assumed, however, and the immigration status of any EU/EEA citizen should be checked before any provision of payment or material benefits. Other than in a few exceptional circumstances, Irish citizens will continue to have a right to work in the UK. Please refer to the UK Government's Home Office website for further information with regard to the transition period and any changes concerning the rights of EU / EEA citizens.
Frequently Asked Questions
The area of Player Status and Player Contracts can be complex. To assist those looking for more information we have prepared a summary of Frequently Asked Questions.
Who is covered by the Regulation?
The Regulation relates only to players – it does not relate to coaches, referees, administrators or others.
Why are we required to register player contracts?
This is required under World Rugby's Regulations.
Are we required to register all player contracts?
No. A club is only required to register contracts where the value (which includes any salary, match fee, bonus and certain expense payments) is expected to exceed £12,000. You may choose to register contracts below this level.
Why is registering the contract useful to our club?
There are two main benefits:
- Player Disputes : If you are in dispute with a player from another Union we may be able to delay their ability to play elsewhere until the dispute is resolved;
- “Tapping Up” : Your players under contract should not be approached by another club until there is less than 6 months remaining on their contract.
Can’t we simply employ the player in another capacity (e.g. as a Development Officer)?
This will be determined by the facts. If the individual is undertaking additional duties and is being remunerated for those duties at the appropriate rate for the job then this should be OK : the contract need not be registered. You will need to ensure that any overseas player has the requisite UK entrance requirements to enable him to work in this capacity.
Can we pay the player in a second capacity to bring him below £12,000 limit?
This will again be determined by the facts of the case – is he actually performing duties for you and (if so) is he being paid at an appropriate rate?
What are the consequences if we fail to register a contract?
The Discipline Manager may decide to initiate misconduct proceedings against you and / or your club.
Is there anything else to note?
Yes, please remember that if you are bringing in a player:
- You will have to comply with the appropriate legislative requirements e.g.
- The player must have the requisite UK Borders Agency entrance requirements/visa to perform his duties. This may involve applying for a Governing Body Endorsement; and
- Any payment to the player must comply with HMRC’s requirements.
You will need to apply for International Clearance (see the Scottish Rugby website)
If you can't find the information you're looking for, have a specific query or require assistance please contact please contact Scottish Rugby's Regulatory & Technical Executive, Richard McGhee, at [email protected] or call 0131 346 5029.