Gracia BLOCKED from taking training at Leeds as he awaits work permit

Javi Gracia BLOCKED from taking training at new club Leeds with post-Brexit rules requiring the Spaniard’s work permit to be approved by a special panel… with uncertainty over whether he’ll be in the dug-out for crunch Southampton clash

  • Leeds United confirmed Javi Gracia as their new manager on Tuesday
  • But the Spaniard may not be in the dug-out for Saturday’s Elland Road clash
  • Regulations require his permit to be granted a ‘governing body endorsement’

Javi Gracia has been blocked from taking training at Leeds while he waits for a work permit and faces a race against time to be in the dugout for Saturday’s crunch clash with Southampton.

The Spaniard was announced as the new Whites head coach on Tuesday, with the club stating they hoped he would take charge of his first game at the weekend ‘subject to obtaining the necessary work permissions’.

However, Gracia’s situation is complicated by the fact he does not automatically qualify for a work permit under rules brought in after Brexit in January 2021.

The 52-year-old must be granted a governing body endorsement (GBE) by the FA, which requires a foreign manager to have worked in a top league for at least 36 months, or two years consecutively, in the last five years.

Gracia does not meet that criteria having only worked in leagues defined by the FA as ‘top’ for 27 months since 2018 and not consecutively, having been at Watford in the Premier League from January 2018 to September 2019 and Valencia in LaLiga from July 2020 to May 2021.

Ex-Watford and Valencia boss Javi Gracia has been confirmed as Leeds United’s new manager

However, Gracia may not be in the dug-out for Saturday’s crunch game with Southampton 

Leeds are second bottom in the Premier League and face rock bottom Southampton next

His case is therefore likely to have to go to an ‘exceptions panel’, which could delay the process.

The three-person panel must decide whether the manager is of the ‘highest calibre and is able to contribute significantly to the development of the game at the top level in England’.

It is almost certain the panel will vote in Gracia’s favour and grant him a GBE given his previous success at Watford, who he took to the 2019 FA Cup final.

But whether he can obtain it in time for Saturday’s visit of relegation rivals Southampton depends on how quickly the FA can convene a panel and resolve the matter.

Gracia met staff and players at Leeds’ Thorp Arch training ground on Tuesday but was prevented from taking training or even doing any media for the club’s website.

Training this week has therefore again been led by the Whites’ caretaker coaching team of Michael Skubala, Paco Gallardo and Chris Armas, who will have to take charge against the Saints should Gracia not be cleared in time.

Gracia isn’t able to take training at Thorp Arch until his work permit is finalised by a panel 

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