Premier League clubs are exploring a motion to relax work permit regulations as a compromise with the Football Association over English football's post- Brexit homegrown quota plan edges closer.
Sportsmail understands the British government want a
definitive update on how the new rules will look following the United Kingdom's exit from the European Union by the end of the month.
Following initial concern that an agreement between the two largest bodies in English football would not be reached by the end of this month, there is now optimism that a deal can be agreed in the coming weeks.
Among the rule changes mooted is one that would permit clubs to a limited number - potentially as many as three - of players in their 25 man squads who would not require visas.
As it stands, players outside the EU must meet a criteria, like having played a certain number of international matches, before being granted a work permit by the UK government.
Nothing is finalised, but there has been talks over implementing the 'free hit' idea, which would enable clubs to sign players from all over the world without being hindered by employment red tape.
Ideally, Premier League clubs would prefer work permit restrictions for all players to be lifted completely but the FA are keen to use Brexit as an opportunity to curb the number of foreign players clubs are allowed.
The FA's view is that extending the current restrictions will benefit the national team - who haven't won a major tournament since 1966.
But knowing the FA are very unlikely to give clubs free rein on who they can recruit in the transfer market, the Premier League will compromise.
The FA want to reduce the number of foreign players top-flight clubs are permitted in their 25 man squads from 17 to 13 - an idea the Premier League object to.
Premier League officials fear the FA's plans will damage the competition's status as the best in the world and will have significant consequences for the UK economy given its huge global following.
The FA's technical director Les Reed is playing a key role in the ongoing dialogue between clubs and the governing body. The FA's technical director Les Reed is playing a key role in the ongoing dialogue between clubs and the governing body. His experience as key football administrator at Southampton means Reed also understands the requirements from club perspectives.
One source involved in the ongoing discussions has told Sportsmail that while clubs generally remain against the notion of being forced to have 12 homegrown players in their squads, the concept of being able to sign non-work permit players could be crucial in reaching an agreement.
The source said: 'At one stage an agreement didn't look close, but that's changed in recent weeks.
'The option of being able to sign players from outside the EU who wouldn't need work permits is an attractive one.
'What we might see is an agreement on having around 12-13 foreign players who meet work permit criteria, 10 homegrown players and two to three 'free hits'.
'Those numbers are still to be decided but it looks like it will be there of thereabouts.' Up until now the Government have taken a relaxed approach to the law changes - but it remains to be seen if UK officials take more of a lead role if the FA and Premier League fail to present them with conclusive evidence that a deal is close later this month.
Clubs are also seeking clarification on the which foreign players fit the homegrown category with teams no longer able to sign overseas players under 18 from January due to Brexit.
As it stands, a player can be born overseas but still be viewed as homegrown if they spend three years in an English or Welsh academy between the ages of 16-21.