With Brexit coming at the end of March 2019 and a large number of injured players at Arsenal, the January transfer window might be crucial for in the quest for trophies.

Contrary to men’s football, where the Premier League set their own rules independent ofthe FA, the FA WSL and FA WC rules are set entirely by the Football Association.

Therefore, the number of non-EU/EEA players is also set by the FA.

It was up to two players last season 2017/18 and, curiously, there is no limit at all for the 2018/19 season.

From next season, with the Brexit in place, the FA will set the number of non-English players allowed per team.

With EU players losing the freedom of movement and, therefore, probably needing a work permit like the non-EU/EEA players, it looks like clubs’ recruitment drives might have to change.

Brexit means that a player like Pauline Peyraud-Magnin, who is uncapped by France would not be eligible to be signed in the future.

Considering the contribution she has made to the team, stopping similar signings would create serious problems for many FA WSL/FAWC teams.

At the same time, it would certainly help promote more  English players.

Here is an extract of the rules, set by the FA, for the 2017/18 season with regards to being allowed to play under the Home Office Points Based System:

A player must have played for her country in at least 75% of its competitive women’s ‘A’ team matches where she was available for selection, during the two years preceding the date of the application; and

The player’s country must be at or above 40th place in the official FIFA World Rankings when averaged over the two years preceding the date of the application.

Competitive matches

The definition of a competitive women’s ‘A’ team international match is a:

  • FIFA Women’s World Cup match;
  • FIFA Women’s World Cup Qualifying group match; 
  • UEFA Women’s Championships and Qualifier; 
  • African Championship for Women and Qualifiers; 
  • Asian Women’s Championships and Qualifiers; 
  • CONCACAF Women’s Gold Cup; 
  • CONMEBOL Women’s Championships and Qualifiers; 
  • Olympic Football Tournament Women’s Finals. 

There is also an appeal process if the club’s application is rejected:


Where an application does not meet the published criteria, a club may request an appeal panel to consider the player’s skills and experience. In these cases, the FA will refer the club’s evidence to an independent panel (please see Panel Terms of Reference and Operating Procedures).

The remit of the panel is:

To consider whether the player is of the highest calibre. 

To consider whether the player is able to contribute significantly to the development of the women’s game at the top level in England. 

Clubs should note that, in respect of any application, there will only be one panel available (i.e. a panel and recommendation, followed by a decision). A club should therefore ensure that all evidence it wishes to present in support of its application is presented to the panel.

If the club has previously made an application that was unsuccessful at panel a further panel cannot be requested for the same player within four months of the original appeal date.

In general, Arsenal tend to shop at the higher end of the market with nearly the entire senior squad current internationals.

Players signed during the FA WSL years were coming from USA ranked #1, Germany #2, France #4, Japan #7, Sweden #9, the Netherlands #10, Spain #12, Switzerland #18, Scotland #19, Austria #21, Ireland #30, Nigeria #38.

We did try to sign a Croatian player but with her country ranked #50, her work permit did not come through due to their low ranking.

Brexit is certainly bringing a lot of uncertainty and the FA has not indicated, or given any hint publicly, of the direction they intend to choose.

In a way, you can’t blame them. In case of a no deal Brexit, EU citizen status will be extremely muddy.

So, the January transfer window might be the last opportunity to sign EU players without red tape to get reinforcements for our seriously depleted squad before the new rules come into place next summer.

With hardly any top-quality English players available in the January transfer window, you can certainly expect Arsenal and a side like West Ham, who also have a small squad, to dip into the Scandinavian market as their seasons have just finished.