ENGLAND (REUTERS) - Premier League club chairmen have urged the British government to exempt footballers from immigration controls that are likely to be imposed once Britain exits the European Union.
Club executives believe Britain's withdrawal from the EU bloc could impede their ability to sign players from the continent, with Stoke City Chairman Peter Coates saying the league needed protection from such uncertainty.
"I'm pessimistic about leaving," Coates was quoted as saying by the Times after a meeting of executives from top-flight clubs. "Hopefully, football will find a way of looking after itself when it finally happens - whenever that will be."
West Ham's co-owner David Gold said Brexit had already limited Premier League clubs in the transfer window as the fall in the value of the pound made players more expensive.
"Brexit has already had an impact on us in that sense," Gold said. "These guys are on huge salaries and all the tax is going into the exchequer. Why would you stifle that?"
The terms of the immigration controls will be formalised before the exit deadline on March 29, 2019, after Prime Minister Theresa May triggered Britain's two-year exit process on Wednesday.