STOKE CITY STILL BAFFLED
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KENYA BROWN - Tuesday, May 27, 2014
English Premier League side Stoke City have blasted the English Football Association after their failure to secure United States international Juan Agudelo a work permit.

In an interview with the Stoke Sentinel newspaper, the team's chief executive Tony Scholes said the team was "disappointed by saga," adding that the 21-year-old will now probably play elsewhere in Europe.

"The irony is that he will probably be a success there, and in a few years a Premier League club will be prepared to pay a few million pounds for him," said Scholes.

The Colombian-born Agudelo was signed by Stoke on a free transfer in January, but was sent out on loan to Dutch Eredivisie side FC Utrecht after the first attempt to secure a work permit failed. In order for non-European Union players to acquire a work permit, they must have played in 75 percent of their national team's games in the past two years, something Agudelo had not done.

Despite appeals by Stoke's front office and head coach Mark Hughes, arguing that Agudelo had been injured during that time as well as being unable to crack the U.S. national team's lineup due to more established players being in front of him, the FA turned downed the team's case in November last year and earlier this month.

"Juan Agudelo is a 21-year-old U.S. international. The U.S. are 13th in the FIFA world rankings, England are 11th. Can you imagine an England player at 21 with 18 caps for his country who gets turned down for a work permit anywhere? It's completely wrong," said Scholes.

Scholes reserved most of his criticism at FA Chairman Greg Dyke who is looking to improve the game for English players by increasing their numbers in the league as well as overhauling the work permit system.

"Of course we are caught up in the whole environment with Greg Dyke's commission, even though the rules are clear and that shouldn't be a factor," he said. "But there has been without doubt been a hardening of stance. A player who should have got in because he would have contributed to the game has been turned down."

Agudelo looks to still have a future in Europe as reports have come out that German Bundesliga side Hannover are interested in signing him as soon as he becomes a free agent on July 1.
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