Tier 2 or 5 Sponsor Licence for Sport Clubs

Tier 2 or 5 Sponsor Licence for Sport Clubs Helps to Bring Overseas Sports People

On June 01, 2018 | In Sponsor Licence Revocation / Suspension | By A Y & J Solicitors Last Updated : January 10, 2024

Tier 2 or 5 Sponsor Licence for some Sports Clubs is business critical. The cricket publication, Wisden, in January 2018 wrote a thought-provoking article regarding concerns that many cricket clubs are now reluctant to hire professional players from overseas. The article explained that if a player has an incorrect visa type for their requirements, and this is discovered, the Chairperson of the club can face a large fine. One such confusion relates to whether an amateur player is considered to a professional, in which case the club could be breaching immigration rules. In 2017, the Home Office provided clarification, clarifying the following would be classified as ‘Professional Sportspersons’:

  • players who have played for professional or semi-professional clubs at junior levels, which may include under 19s teams, whether they were paid or not;
  • coaches of junior teams of professional or semi-professional clubs, whether they were paid or not;
  • former professional sportspeople who have formally reverted to amateur status according to the rules of their sport; and
  • players who have played representative sport for their state, country, or territory, whether they were paid or not.

To illustrate the problem, in July, Frinton-on-Sea Cricket Club were forced to go to court after it was found that one of their overseas players, Blake Reed, a 22-year-old Australian, should not have been using a Tier 5 Youth Mobility Visa to play for the club, as he was deemed ‘an aspiring’ player or coach, and hence he was a professional, which is not permitted with his visa type.

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While the article states that the Tier 2 Creative & Sporting Visa is the most appropriate (and safe) visa choice for ‘professional’ overseas players wishing to come to the UK (as opposed to a UK Standard Visitor Visa), it also cites the onerous obligations and high cost of applying for and retaining a Sponsor Licence. In our experience, if you understand your compliance obligations, the risks of having a sponsoring a player are negligible compared to the considerable benefits of bringing overseas talent into your team.

Client says, “Our Tier 2 Sponsor Licence application was successful in just 3 weeks.

Our Tier 2 Sponsor Licence application was successful in just 3 weeks.

We received extremely professional and helpful service throughout our engagement. A Y & J advised us correctly, and at the end, we achieved a great positive result. Many thanks again Team for all your support. I would recommend A Y & J very highly!

How to Ensure your Sports Club Remains Compliant with UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) rules?

The article in Wisden paints a somewhat worrisome picture, but the reality, with the correct understanding of what you will need to do to remain on the right side of your Sponsor Licence duties and responsibilities, you will not be at risk of a compliance breach.

The UKVI will carry out periodic audits to ensure the compliance of your club with its Sponsor Licence holder obligations. You may be forewarned of an audit, but you may not, so it always pays to be ready at any time.

You risk having your licence downgraded to a B-rating if:

  • you are not complying with your licence holder duties;
  • you stated on the application that one of your sponsored players will not receive state benefits, but at a later point they do, and you have knowledge of this;
  • your processes are inadequate to fully comply with your sponsor duties;

Alternatively, you risk having your Sponsor Licence suspended or revoked if (this list is not exhaustive) it is discovered you provided false information to the Home Office, you stop trading, you receive a civil penalty, you are convicted of certain offences, or you have been downgraded to a B-rating and have not paid the ‘action plan fee’ with ten days.

Client says, “We are extremely pleased with the level of support and advice were given to us for a successful outcome whereby our sponsor licence was reinstated.”

“I found A Y & J Solicitors incredibly helpful in advising what evidence and information we had to gather for the Home Office and am delighted to say we have had our Grade-A sponsor licence reinstated”

To ensure you are compliant at all times, you should adhere to the following:

1. Ensure that at the time of application, everything stated on your application forms, and in attached documents was true – and keep all evidence to prove this was the case.

2. Nominate the correct sponsorship management roles to your staff

  • Authorising Officer who is responsible for the actions of staff and representatives who use the Sponsor Management System(SMS)
  • Key contact – who is the main point of contact with UKVI
  • Level 1 User – responsible for all day-to-day management of your licence using the SMS

Note – you can nominate one person to carry out all the roles or a single person for each role – the most important factor is that they understand and carry out their duties fully.

3. Keep up to date records of all overseas workers, including their present address and immigration status.

4. Keep your SMS fully up to date.

5. Report any illegal working activities to UKVI

6. Ensure your sponsored workers understand their own obligations to UKVI.

7. Ensure you have copies of any relevant professional registrations and accreditation.

Final Words

The benefits of holding a sponsor Licence are considerable. To successfully apply for, renew, or reinstate (if suspended or revoked) your licence quickly and efficiently, it is best to seek the services of an experienced immigration lawyer, who can ensure your sports club is compliant with its Sponsor Licence duties. A Y & J Solicitors can achieve this by taking over the role of updating your SMS on your behalf, thereby ensuring it is always up to date with the latest changes, reviewing your processes and systems to ensure that you meet the requirements of UKVI, and conducting mock-audits, which simulate what would happen if a proper audit were to occur. Any gaps or weaknesses that are found can then be clearly outlined and recommendations for their resolution made.

Client says,A great help with a Sponsor Licence compliance audit. Really straightforward, very well served, quick, skillful and with a lot of knowledge.”

A Y & J Solicitors are specialists in immigration law based in central London. If you would like to have more information, please contact us at [email protected] or call +44 20 7404 7933.

Disclaimer: No material/information provided on this website should be construed as legal advice. Readers should seek an appropriate professional advice for their immigration matters.


A Y & J Solicitors is a multi-award winning, 14+ years experienced, recommended by Legal 500, boutique UK immigration law firm based in Central London. Having assisted 5000+ clients, we are well equipped to help you with our ‘In It To Win It’ approach. For your assurance and confidence, we are pleased to share our trust rating of 4.9/5 based on 1000+ reviews on Trustpilot & Google.

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kulsum gave A Y & J Solicitors 5 stars via @Trustpilot

I approached A Y & J Solicitors after a visit from the UKBA. The service I received from them was highly efficient and professional. The level of expertise, was a notch above all the other companies I had used. I have had a positive result from our representations to the UKBA allowing me to keep my Non resident labour. I cannot thank them enough for their service. I would highly recommend to anyone who would like a review of their Sponsor Compliance etc.

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