Premier League clubs call for Brexit immigration exemption
Football bosses call on government to safeguard future of players after country leaves EU
Premier League chairmen have called on the government to exempt footballers from post-Brexit immigration rules, amid fears about impact leaving the European Union will have on the world's richest football league.
Stoke City chairman Peter Coates and David Gold, the co-owner of West Ham, led the calls after a meeting of club owners and executives in London.
Gold said: "The bottom line is the Premier League is the greatest league the world has ever known - why would you stifle that? Why would you want that to change?"
More than two-thirds of Premier League players are foreign, with the majority from EU countries, reports The Times.
"Clubs fear that Brexit could have a huge impact on their ability to make signings from the Continent... If footballers are not given an exemption, those from the EU would have to satisfy work-permit rules that demand they have made a substantial number of appearances for their national team in competitive matches."
Under the new rules, the likes of Juan Mata and Ander Herrera of Manchester United and Chelsea defender Cesar Azpilicueta would not be able to play in England.
Chancellor Philip Hammond has promised that "highly-skilled and highly-trained paid workers" will be exempt from new immigration rules, says The Independent. The clubs hope footballers will be considered part of that group.
However, not everyone is concerned. The Times reports that some believe "a reduction in the number of European players in the Premier League would give more chances to English players and boost the quality of the national team".US business website Bloomberg adds that Brexit "will affect the lives of millions of Europeans living in the UK", with the "banking, health-care and hospitality sectors also facing a nervous wait for clarity".
Premier League officials have held preliminary discussions with the government on the possible effects of Brexit, continues the site.
"Clubs are already feeling the affects of Britain's decision to end its decades-long alliance with its European neighbours. The pound has plunged against the euro and the U.S. dollar, making foreign recruits more expensive. Some of those costs are mitigated by the fact foreign TV income is received in dollars."