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News roundup: Andre Blake multimillion dollar transfer to EPL killed due to arcane permit rule

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Philadelphia Union

That company line about the Union not receiving any offers for Andre Blake? Not quite true. According to Goal, multiple sources (including Blake himself) confirm that Philadelphia received multimillion dollar offers from English Premier League sides Crystal Palace and Brighton & Hove Albion. The deals fell through, however, because Blake does not qualify for a UK work permit thanks to Jamaica’s low FIFA ranking beyond the top-50. Wow.

So many questions here, namely, why does this rule exist? why isn’t anyone trying to change it? and why would a legal decision be based on something as arbitrary as FIFA rankings?

And, of course, Andre Blake deservedly makes the league’s Team of the Week.

In lieu of Wednesday’s U.S. Open Cup Final, Sporting KC players share a painful oral history of the team’s shootout win over Philadelphia in 2015.


A rundown of this past weekend’s Unity Cup round two scores. Bosnia & Herzegovina, Brazil, United States, Haiti, Sierra Leone, Honduras, Serbia, Mexico, Colombia, and Germany all put in dominant performances.

Major League Soccer

New England Revolution manager Jay Heaps has reportedly been sacked.

Speaking of: Toronto FC and Atlanta United are putting MLS’ old guard of complacent billionaires to shame.

MLS is (thankfully) considering changes to the playoff format, including wisely starting it after the international break, when momentum and fan attention tends to nosedive every fall. More interesting though, is the proposal to turn every round into a one-off game hosted by the higher seed to give more importance to the regular season and shorten the playoffs.

Should MLS make the playoff change?

Power rankings from ESPN FC and Soccer America.

Week 28 reviews from Fansided and MLS Hatewatch.

Is MLS a gift to other CONCACAF nations?

U.S. Soccer

The U.S. women take on New Zealand tonight in Cincinnati. You can watch 7:30 p.m. on FS1.

Julie Ertz, better half of Eagles tight end Mr. Julie Ertz, is the answer at defensive midfielder for the USWNT.

Why you might want to pass on applying to be president of the U.S. Soccer Federation.


  1. Old Soccer Coach says:

    Very interesting to read about the Jamaican’s situation. The key point is that the rules were changed in 2015, tightening the FIFA ranking criterion for automatic qualification from 70th or higher to 50th.
    The FIFA ranking system follows a set formula, but the setting of the formula is political within FIFA itself. I once read through it, a couple pf years ago. It considers past performance in past World cups and differentiates between friendlies, national team games in which a B side is put out on the pitch, and full bore A side national team games. More recent results are weighted more heavily than the ones further back in time.
    And of course immigration and labor policies of sovereign national states are intensely political. I do not follow Eng;ish politics closely, and given devolution the work permit issues are Eng;ish politics not involving Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland. They will have been influenced by employment levels, but also by the English FA’s perception of how well, or not, the previsous system was nurturing English players for the English national team. And the last factor influencing the lobbying and the decision is the English ego about having invented the game, even though evidence has long suggested that England is no longer a pre-eminent soccer power.

    • The article also mentions the strong ties Jamaica has with England. The United states has many reciprocal visa and passport relationships where it is easier to get and maintain then than with other countries, and one would think that Jamaica might build a similar relationship with England, especially in regards to their beloved Premier League. After all in the US passports and visas can be expedited for artists, musicians, athletes and extraordinary contributions in science and medicine. So I know the rule is the rule, and it does seem arbitrary to align with the FIFA rankings – which could theoretically mean a player could be playing with a team in May and be booted out of the country after the World Cup – but there should be exceptions, and not for one player but a whole country.

    • I believe the whole work permit issue tied to FIFA rankings is for automatic qualification of a work permit. If I remember correctly, players and clubs can still appeal to a work permit board if a player is denied automatic qualification, but they need to make a compelling case for why that player is special.
      I could be wrong here but I’m pretty sure this is the case. Not sure if this fact helps or changes anything, but wanted to throw this out there for discussion/in case it helps.

  2. I like the idea of tightening up the playoffs. It tends to drag in its current format. I hope that one day before I become old and decrepit I will see the union win a game in the playoffs

    • I’ve heard it suggested they follow an FA Cup format too – if the game at the higher seed ends in a draw they replay the match mid-week at the lower seed, no away goals rule. It punishes higher seeds who don’t get the job done with home-field advantage AND by making them play an extra game, which could also benefit the other team who wins with home field advantage and gets more rest. An interesting take, but ultimately nothing that will come to fruition.

  3. Look, Revs held their coach accountable for results…

    As MLS expands, conference championships should simply be determined by points, eliminating Supporter’s Shield. Conference position seeds a MLS elimination tournament for MLS Cup.

    Thing strange to me with Blake bid news is that it’s hard to believe EPL teams were the only squads to bid for Blake. No Bundesliga bids? Or Ligue 1 bids?

    • I’m sure somebody from the Bundesliga or Ligue 1 or Serie A will read this and realize they have a chance to score a relative bargain, since the EPL teams will be out of the hunt.

      • But remember the Union will only receive (I believe) up to $650K for any Blake transfer anyway – THANKS MLS!! – so while multi-million dollar is great and I feel like Blake deserves it… in the end just getting that max amount would be fine with me.

      • I believe the Union can only receive a maximum of $650K of allocation money for Blake’s sale. They still receive the rest of their portion of the money if it’s more than $650K, but it can’t go to the first team roster and can be used for infrastructure, youth academy, etc. That’s my understanding of the rules.

      • DK you’re correct. They can apply $650K to signing players but the rest can go to the academy, infrastructure improvements, things like that. So if they make $2mil on the transfer, $1.35 of that can go into Sugarman’s pocket so maybe he’d be willing to put an extra $1mil down for players over the winter.

      • Brian, don’t forget MLS takes 1/3 of transfer fees so if Blake goes for 2 mil MLS gets $667K, $650k allocation for the Union and the other about $700k is up to Sugardaddy to keep for himself or spend on the academy, infrastructure, etc.

    • so Union.

  4. Snuck one in Pachy! Your pretty light on your feet for a big guy!

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