Friedel's UK options are limited with denial of his work permit.By Robert Wagman
The British Department for Education and Employment has been cracking down on the issuance of work permits. The standard is that a player must have played 75 percent of the full international matches played by his home country over the past two years, and the country must be ranked in the top 50 in the world by FIFA, the world governing body.
A second standard that can be substituted in some circumstances is the player has appeared in more than half the matches of his Premier League team.
Friedel, who is currently with the U.S. men in Guatemala preparing for Sundayís World Cup qualifying match, has started much fewer than the required 75 percent of national team matches. The argument is made that the percentage requirement should not hold for goalkeepers. And Friedel has made only 11 first-team appearances for Liverpool over the past two seasons, the last one against Hull City in the Worthington Cup in September.
Friedel moved to Anfield from the Columbus Crew for a transfer fee of approximately $2 million in December 1997. But he became the number two keeper after Liverpool obtained Dutch international Sander Westerveld who has started almost all of Liverpool's matches except when he had to serve a suspension for fighting.
Premiership teams are limited to dressing three non-European Union players. Liverpool has five on its roster and Friedel occasionally could not even dress for matches when other imports were playing.
Friedel has wanted to move on for some time now. His situation at Anfield has actually worsened with the arrival of Frenchman Pegguy Arphexad from Englandís Leicester City giving Liverpool four keepers on its roster, including Jorgen Nielsen. All but Friedel are EU citizens.
There is a high level of interest in Friedel from several other British teams. Blackburn Rovers boss Graeme Souness has admitted an active interest, as has Liverpoolís crosstown rival Everton. But signing a new contract would depend on obtaining a work permit.
There is some confusion about Friedel's current status. He has one more year to go on his lucrative Liverpool contract. It's unclear whether his present work permit continues for the duration of the contract, so long as he does not change employers, or whether the refusal covers the remaining year.
Officially, Liverpool says "Goalkeeper Brad Friedel has yet to commence preseason training at Liverpool following an unsuccessful work permit application which has seen the American unable to re-enter the country. The 29-year old was due to report to Melwood earlier this week, but has since been stuck in the United States.
"Liverpool have not withdrawn the application, but the situation is further complicated by the fact that a work permit is not transferable and if Friedel does move to another club, then he would need to apply again for new documentation."
Several stories said Friedel has the option of staying at Liverpool. His other option would be to try to find a club
outside the UK.
Senior correspondent Robert Wagman can be e-mailed at
Senior correspondent Robert Wagman can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.