A “small number” of BBL players could be pulled off the court for the rest of the season amid an apparent visa clampdown from the UK Border Agency.

The government body, charged with overseeing work permits, have written to England Basketball claiming a number of players from outside the European Economic Area are currently ineligible to take part in professional sport.

It is understood that those picked out are principally on Tier 4 (student) visas although league officials are yet to confirm who is involved. A handful of teams, including Worcester Wolves, Plymouth Raiders and Durham Wildcats, have strong ties to universities although it is unclear if they have been specifically targeted.

James McCann and Ricky Fetske of Leeds Force, however, have been confirmed among those whose seasons are over amid the wrangle.

A memo, circulated from Basketball England on Thursday, “strongly recommends that all clubs review the status of any players on a Non-EEA visa as a matter of urgency. If an individual or player does not have the appropriate entry clearance, Basketball England recommends the immediate suspension from all activity, including play.”

Current Home Office regulations threaten a fine of £20000 for employing professional sportspeople without the relevant visa.

It is unknown if basketball is the lone sport under investigation but the directive also covers foreign nationals in the EBL and WBBL.

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