City's Giannoulis deal was touch and go

Greek international Dimitris Giannoulis joined Norwich City in January from PAOK Salonika

Greek international Dimitris Giannoulis joined Norwich City in January from PAOK Salonika - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Dimitris Giannoulis’ Norwich City move was touch and go, with the Canaries having to plot a route through the ‘minefield’ of new Brexit regulations on transfers. 

The Greek international sealed an initial loan switch from PAOK Salonika last month that will become a £6.2m transfer if City clinch promotion to the Premier League. 

Norwich had to successfully hit a points-based target to obtain a work permit under a formula agreed by the FA, Premier League and Football League to sign overseas players following the UK’s departure from the EU. 

But the Canaries’ sporting director, Stuart Webber, has revealed the eye-catching deal could have been in the balance with any further delays. 

“He literally scraped through on the criteria. He had the minimum 15 points. If he had gone a couple more weeks and not played he could have dropped down to 14 points. That is how tight it was,” said Webber. “I would have liked to do the Giannoulis deal a bit quicker than we did because we were working on that for a while so that was disappointing - especially knowing the challenges we were going to have around getting him registered. That is life.

"You need the other club to play ball and that didn’t happen as quickly as we would like.  

“With Giannoulis we have a fantastic player we might not normally have been able to get because we were awake and on top of the rules. It is massively challenging. Huge credit to our lawyer, Sam Hall, and Andy Blofeld, our, long standing club secretary, because they had to work through a minefield of information.

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"To be honest with you I still don’t know how they did it.” 

Webber is confident Norwich will be able to tap new markets in their future recruitment, after a first brush with the new rules on signing foreign talent. 

“It was really good for us to go through that as a club and the individuals within the club because now we are set up even stronger and better towards the next window and beyond,” he said. “It is a time consuming, challenging process and I think it would put a lot of other clubs off at first base because it feels quite daunting. It will change a lot of the markets.

"We did a review of our current squad to see who we could have signed under the new regulations and we wouldn’t have been able to sign the likes of (Teemu) Pukki, (Emi) Buendia, (Marco) Stiepermann or (Christoph) Zimmermann. That is quite scary.

"It will change the face of our recruitment. But what I would say is it also creates an opportunity to tap new markets, such as South America, where we have been working for two years in preparation for Brexit. We wanted to be ready. 

"Many Championship and lower end Premier League clubs will now find they can no longer fish in certain markets.” 

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