Sheffield United became the first team in England to take advantage of the governing body’s directive, published following Vladimir Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine, earlier this year when Filip Uremovic arrived from Rubin Kazan.
Although the Croatia international is scheduled to rejoin Leonid Slutsky’s side by the end of next month, officials in Zurich refused to rule out extending the loophole when contacted by The Star last week.
Despite maintaining a watching brief on Uremovic’s situation, United privately concede their failure to win promotion last term means it would take either a change in their own circumstances or a huge financial compromise from the defender to retain his services should the ruling remain in place.
But if it does, Heckingbottom has argued it would be foolish not to explore further openings in the eastern European market.
“Depending on what it was, and on what we need here, then of course we’d look,” he said, praising the speed with which members of Bramall Lane’s recruitment and administration departments moved to secure Uremovic’s signature. “It’s not something I’d ever rule out, although it’s not something under our control really.”
Uremovic faces an uncertain future in Kazan after Slutsky’s men were relegated to Russia’s second tier; something their general director recently blamed on the number of “legionnaires” who left when FIFA and UEFA banned its leading clubs and national team from their competition