The Sussex Premier Cricket League have said that they have 'no knowledge of anyone in Sussex being involved' as the Home Office looks into the eligibility of overseas players across the UK.
The rules for overseas players in recreational cricket changed this year and in a publicised case in August, Essex side Frinton-on-Sea Cricket Club lost a tribunal appeal after they were penalised for fielding an overseas player deemed to be ineligible.
The ruling could have huge ramifications for teams and consequence for young cricketers hoping to mix travel by playing sports.
If any team in Sussex were found to have played an ineligible player, the Home Office would inform the clubs involved and it would be left to the ECB and the local leagues to hand out the punishment.
The Frinton-on-Sea case saw a points deduction for the team and a ban for young Australian cricketer Blake Reed. And the decision in that case could have immediate repercussions for around 110 cricketers currently playing in leagues across the UK. You can read the details of the case here in George Dobell’s story on ESPN Cricinfo.
We understand that if any Sussex Premier Cricket League team was found to be playing an ineligible player this season, they would lose all the points that player played in and well as incurring a monetary fine with the Home Office.
But a league spokesman said: “We have no knowledge of anyone in Sussex being involved.”
The Home Office do not comment on any on-going investigations.
Background from the Home Office:
· Where a non-EEA national professional sportsperson wishes to play for a UK-based club, they must be sponsored for that purpose, and must apply for leave to enter or remain under the appropriate Tier 2 and 5 sponsored work categories for sportspersons.
· An amateur sportsperson can come to the UK as a visitor for up to six months to join an amateur team or club to gain experience in a particular sport if they are an amateur.
· The definition of 'professional sportsperson' in the Immigration Rules includes former professional sportspeople and promising young sportspeople who have taken steps towards becoming a professional. An amateur is someone playing sport solely for personal enjoyment, including in a charity match.
· The definition of professional is intended to both protect development opportunities for resident players and prevent UK sports teams from circumventing the minimum quality standards, set for overseas professional players and coaches by Sports Governing Bodies such as the ECB.
· Cricketers can only be sponsored under the Tier 2 (Sportsperson) or Tier 5 (Temporary Worker — Creative and Sporting) routes if they are already established at an elite level within the sport.
· As a governing body, the ECB sets the criteria as to which cricket clubs can sponsor players in England and Wales.