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English Panel held on 14 December 1999 in London

Allan Mullery – Independent expert
Denis Smith – Independent expert
Mike Walker – Independent expert
John Young – Football Association
John Bramall – Professional Footballers Association
Andy Williamson – Football League.

Application by Chester City Football Club for a work permit for Angus Eve Recommendation

The Panel considered further written evidence submitted by the Club and also took oral evidence from a Club Director, David Evans. The Panel also watched a five minute video of the player competing in Club and International games.

The Panel acknowledged that the player would have qualified automatically had he not suffered a knee injury requiring surgery which forced him to miss Trinidad's only two competitive fixtures in the previous two years. Because of Chester's current league position, 92nd out of 92 professional Clubs, there were misgivings as to whether he was of the highest calibre and capable of making a significant contribution to the English game. In particular, the Panel wondered why another bigger Club had not signed him earlier and would he simply be displacing a young developing player. They were interested in how the Club had found him, what they thought his ability level was and what impact, if any, signing the player would have upon their well established youth development programme.

David Evans presented a short video of the player demonstrating the level he had competed at and the calibre of fellow players. He cited Dwight Yorke, Shaka Hislop (both Premiership level) and Stern John (Dvision 1) as players who were in the same International side as captained by Eve. Mr Evans made a short statement putting the Club's current position into context.

The Club had previously been in receivership until the summer and the Directors had only taken over the Club and received the keys some two weeks before the season started. This had left them with very little time to assess and sign additional, quality players to improve the squad. He accepted that they had not made an effective presentation of their application to the previous Panel but cited three reasons as to why they felt Angus Eve merited a work permit.

First, he was a quality attacking midfield player having played 81 internationals, scoring 39 goals and had been voted Trinidadian player of the year.

Second, the Club had a well established youth policy and signing Angus Eve was seen as helping those developing players to become even better when playing alongside someone of his quality.

Third, the signing would help the Club in its efforts to become a genuine community based Club and encourage players from a diverse background into the game.

This was vital when competing against other local Clubs from Manchester and Liverpool. The Panel asked Mr Evans whether they viewed Eve as comparable to Yorke, Hislop and other Trinidadian players. He said that in time he hoped he would be but at present that was difficult to judge as he had not played in the English game, but they were of the opinion that he was a quality player.

The Panel also asked why Eve had not been signed by a bigger Club. Mr Evans replied that he felt that Chester had got in before other Clubs had seen his talent but he was aware that the player had interested other League Clubs. He also confirmed that the player had been drawn to their attention by an Agent and that no transfer fee was involved. There was a brief discussion regarding the standard of football in Trinidad, the competitive nature of the International games played and what equivalent level the USA indoor league, where Eve had played, was in comparison to Division 3 that Chester play in.

Mr Evans confirmed that Eve had been a full International since 1993 and that the contract offered was until June 2001. He emphasised that Eve had played in every International game since 1993 except for the period that he had been injured, he was captaining the national side and they had confirmed their view of the player during a two week trial session earlier this year.

Following Mr Evan's evidence, the Panel then discussed at length the issues raised and whether the player was genuinely of a sufficient calibre to make it in the English game. In summary, there were doubts about whether he would make a long term career in England but balanced against that was the fact that the Club were bottom of the Football League and he would make a genuine contribution to the game because he was better than the current first team players at Chester.

The view was expressed that if he was good enough some other Club would have snapped him up by now but viewed against the criteria set for the Panel the evidence presented merited recommending that a work permit be issued for him.

The PFA and the FA were firmly against the application saying that in their opinion he would not make a significant contribution to the game and there were doubts over the level of his ability. The Football League and all three of the independent experts supported the application citing that the player was an established international, he would have qualified automatically had he not been injured last year and that he would make a significant contribution to the game, albeit only at Chester.

By a split decision of four votes to two, the Panel recommended that the appeal be allowed and a work permit issued to Chester City in respect of Angus Eve.

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