Top-flight English football clubs would have faced missing out on some of their best players if Britain was outside the EU, campaigners have warned.
More than 100 Premier League players could have been prevented from joining their clubs, with Aston Villa, Liverpool, Newcastle United, Stoke City, and Watford each potentially nine men down, according to Britain Stronger In Europe.
The group claims Manchester United’s Anthony Martial, Arsenal’s Francis Coquelin, West Ham’s Dimitri Payet, and Leicester City’s N’Golo Kante — all from France — may have been unable to secure automatic work permits.
Arsenal and Sunderland could both be down eight players, Southampton seven, and Manchester United and Swansea City down six each.
The campaign group has made a direct appeal to fans to vote for Britain to stay in the EU, warning that quitting “could lead to the most talented players in Europe not being able to come to the Premier League, threatening its status as one of the world’s most exciting leagues”.
Manchester United could have missed out on a total of 18 goals and six assists so far this season from the six players that could have failed to secure their place at Old Trafford, according to its analysis.
Some international players have previously faced difficulties trying to obtain permits when signing for UK clubs.
Arsenal signed Costa Rican striker Joel Campbell in 2011 but, eight days after the deal, his application was rejected and the club was forced to loan him out.
Swansea City were last summer denied a permit for Colombian striker Rafael Santos Borre.
West Ham United chief executive Karren Brady, a board member of Britain Stronger In Europe, said: “The Premier League is the most-watched league globally because it boasts some of the most talented players from across Europe and around the world.
“Fans pack stadiums and crowd round screens every week...
Leaving the EU runs the risk of fans missing out on seeing emerging talents from Europe coming to the play at their clubs and gracing the Premier League.”
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