The SFA and the SPFL have united with the ruling bodies from Wales and Northern Ireland – as well as English football’s big guns – to fight government plans that would see Celtic, Rangers, Aberdeen and other Scottish Euro candidates weakened in an attempt  to make Gareth Southgate’s England team stronger once the UK leaves the EU next year.

Home Office officials – who deal with immigration and security – will be swamped with applications for visas post-Brexit and they’re anxious to offload football’s problems from their workload.

Their favoured plan is to grant the English FA the power to impose a policy on all four home nations but that has put the Scottish, Irish and Welsh governing bodies on a war footing.

READ MORE: MPs set to vote on Brexit Bill two days before Christmas 

Scottish clubs – and others throughout Britain – are guaranteed a work permit for any player from a country in the top 70 of the FIFA rankings as long as he has played in 75% of their national team’s games in the previous two years. 

However, Scotland also has an appeals process that allows clubs to present a case for individuals who don’t meet that criteria. 

In the system currently in place, clubs are given the opportunity to argue the player they want to sign has the ability to improve the standard of the domestic game or, as with Ryotaro Meshino, the 21-year-old Japanese midfielder Hearts have taken on loan from Manchester City, that there may also be a financial dividend for Scottish football due to the interest from his homeland.

A panel, managed and chaired by the SFA, would then discuss the matter before advising the Home Office whether or not the governing body had endorsed the player in question. These appeals are heard by representatives of the SFA, SPFL and the PFA plus up to three independent experts, consisting of former players and/or managers.

Without that safety net in place, Celtic wouldn’t be allowed to sign the current equivalent of Virgil Van Dijk (who was uncapped when he joined from NAC Breda for £2m in 2013) and Rangers would have been unable to land Alfredo Morelos, who had yet to play for Colombia when he arrived at Ibrox two years ago. 

Even Odsonne Edouard, Celtic’s £9m signing from Paris St Germain, wouldn’t have met the FA’s high bar if Britain had left the EU before the deal was done last year. 

Four years ago, the FA attempted to impose a minimum of 12 homegrown players in Premier League clubs’ 25-man squads. The League eventually compromised by agreeing to include eight from their academies. But now the FA want to increase that number again.

They’re concerned the number of foreigners in the top tier down south is limiting game time for promising English youngsters and they want to help the national team by providing Southgate with a bigger pool of players to select from.

READ MORE: How will Brexit affect Scottish football? 

As a result, there are battles being fought behind closed doors, with Liverpool, Manchester United and City, Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham backing any move by the Premier League to take the FA to court in order to prevent what they view as a restriction of trade – and the SFA and SPFL are singing from the same hymn sheet when it comes to making it harder for their members to sign up-and-coming stars from overseas.

“It’s not a message we would want to support in any way, shape or form,” said SPFL secretary Ian Blair (pictured). “The FA does not represent Scottish football. We have a good working relationship with our English colleagues but it’s not one that would allow one association to impose its will on the other. 

“We believe the system we have currently works well for Scottish football and its clubs because it allows them to bring in players from overseas who might not meet what is, effectively, an arbitrary barrier and a pretty high bar.

However, they still have to convince our panel that those players would make a positive contribution to our game.

“Stilian Petrov would not have qualified when Celtic signed him from CSKA Sofia 20 years ago and I don’t think anyone could argue he did anything other than make a significant impact on Scottish football.

“Indeed, the success Celtic and Rangers enjoyed in 2003 and 2008 and are currently enjoying was and is helped by having a sizeable amount of players from abroad. If we want to see our club game flourish then we need to be very careful what we do in this area.”

The home countries have held various meetings to debate the Home Office proposal and they were brought into an SFA board meeting by conference call yesterday.