Maria Patsalos, Immigration lawyer at Mishcon de Reya: "In the event of Brexit, it is likely that any footballers already playing in the UK will remain. The Home Office is unlikely to apply new rules retrospectively – they would have more impact on new players coming over and so it is probable that they would not come into effect until a specified date in the future - perhaps for a year or two after an 'out' decision. As such, we won't see any immediate repercussions. However, it's difficult to say what the full fall-out of a Brexit would be for the long-term future of British football.

 

"The  current Tier 2  visa route, through which the vast majority of footballers enter the UK, is inflexible and flawed. Its criteria is based on the percentage of first-team games an individual has played in a FIFA ranked club. By this measure, some exceptional talent is excluded – for example, an Argentinian understudy to Lionel Messi, who has not played enough first team games, would not qualify under the rules, however an unknown first choice striker for Cape Verde Islands would qualify (Cape Verde is 47thin the top 50 FIFA rankings). If Brexit becomes a reality, it will be an opportunity to rewrite football's immigration system to make it fit for purpose for the modern game.

 

"In order for the Premier League to retain its position as the best league in the world, the FA must ensure it allows clubs to recruit the best players internationally, without being hampered by an arbitrary immigration system. Embracing talent from across the globe enhances home-grown talent, which of course should be encouraged too.

 

"Irrespective of whether Britain remains in the EU, perhaps the debate that a potential Brexit has spurred will encourage a re-think of the current immigration process. Other solutions are available, which would allow only the best foreign talent into the country, whilst also providing additional funding for grassroots development of domestic players. We hope to discuss these options with the FA for the future benefit of both the domestic leagues and the national team."