A leading sports immigration lawyer has warned some European players may no longer be able to play in the Premier League if Britain votes to leave the European Union next week.
Currently players from countries within the EU can work in Britain without a work permit but that could change if ‘Leave’ prevails in the Referendum on June 23, although it is likely to be several years before the effects are felt.
Last season 432 European players were registered to play in the Premier League. Those players are unlikely to have to leave but should the vote go against ‘Remain’ new players would not have an automatic right to live and work in the UK.
The Home Office could roll out current immigration rules for non-EU players for Europeans under which a player from a top-10 nation only has to have played in 30 per cent of their games in the two years prior to the date of application to be granted a work permit.
A player from a nation ranked 11-20 must have played in 45 per cent of international games and that percentage rises to 60 per cent for the next 10 countries, then 75 per cent for nations ranked 31-50.
A vote to leave the EU would mean that players from the 27 countries still in the union would need to meet these criteria.
Speaking to Sky Sports News HQ, leading sports immigration lawyer Maria Patsalos said: “A good example at the moment is Dimitri Payet and N’Golo Kante, two fantastic French players who have lit up the Premier League this season.
“They have not been playing for their French national sides regularly at all. They would not have been given the opportunity to play in the Premier League if we are talking in three or four years’ time.
“It would be a massive loss. Obviously Payet has done an amazing job at West Ham and Kante, who knows if Leicester would have won the Premier League title without him? We would see an issue with the younger, not so developed players coming through and being given the opportunity.
“There could be a catastrophic effect. We don’t know for sure“.
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