By KEVIN KOCZWARA
Juan Agudelo’s dreams of playing in the English Premier League have hit a major roadblock.
On Wednesday morning, Stoke City announced that Agudelo, who is set to join the EPL club in January, had his work-permit application denied by the United Kingdom Home Office. Stoke has no right to appeal the decision.
“We’re bitterly disappointed that the panel rejected our appeal for a work permit for Juan [Agudelo],” Stoke Chief Executive Tony Scholes told the club’s official website today.
Scholes and Stoke manager Mark Hughes went in front of an appeals panel in London on Wednesday to try and secure Agudelo’s permit. However, the panel rejected their request and did not give the club a reason for its decision.
“The criteria by which the panel should make work permit application decisions are well established and have been in place for some years and, despite recent comments to the media and discussion in the media, that criteria has not changed,” Scholes said. “We are therefore left amazed that our application for a work permit for Juan has been rejected when you compare his talent and ability to players who have been granted a work permit on appeal in the past.
“Unfortunately, under the rules of the appeal panel system we were given no explanation why the application was rejected and so can only speculate as to the reasons why we have been unsuccessful.”
According to the Premier League handbook for this season, in order for a non-EU or UK passport-holding player to qualify for a work permit with a Premier League or Championship club:
a) The player must have 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.
b) The player’s National Association must be at or above 70th place in the official FIFA World Rankings when averaged over the two years preceding the date of the application.
While the U.S. Men’s National Team is currently ranked 13th in FIFA’s World Rankings, Agudelo likely didn’t qualify for the work permit because he’s played just once for the USMNT in the last two years, coming off the bench a little more than a year ago in a 2-2 draw at Russia.
The young American forward had a successful season with the New England Revolution this season, helping the club qualify for the MLS playoffs for the first time since 2009. His contract with Major League Soccer expires in December.
Stoke signed the 20-year-old to a pre-contract earlier this year and Agudelo was expected to join the team in January when the Premier League transfer window opens.
What do you think of these developments? Disappointed in the news? Do you see Agudelo returning to MLS next season? Do you believe Stoke will loan Agudelo out until he can earn a work permit?
Share your thoughts below.