By David Butler
This is the final instalment on an issue I previously wrote about here and here that considers the nationalities of footballers in European Leagues. It's probably worth reading the first of these entries to put this piece in context.The scoop so far is that the Premier League has the lowest amount of Non-EU footballers when compared to the other big European leagues but does however have far more players from the EU that are not home grown.
The argument could be made however that home grown talent does get an opportunity in the Premier League but not with elite Clubs. Looking at the Premier League, Leicester City has the most English players on the books, followed by West Ham and Crystal Palace, none of whom would be considered elite. So does this argument stack up and are the elite clubs the source of the problem?
To answer this I defined an elite club as one having qualified for a European competition for the 2014/2015 season.Table 1 below distinguishes elite and non-elite clubs across the ‘Big 5’ European Leagues. While there is smaller samples for the elite clubs, the results are considered as a percentage of the total and are as follows:
La Liga: There is very little difference between elite and non-elite in Spain. Indeed the elite clubs have about 4% less players coming from non-EU countries when compared to the non-elite.
Bundesliga: Once again there is very little in the difference. The elite clubs have marginally less national players
and marginally more Non-EU players.
Premier League: Unsurprisingly, the non-elite clubs have 12% more national born players than the elite. The elite have just over 5% more non-EU players than the non-elite clubs. Further evidence perhaps that the elite in England are seeking out the best players from inside the EU.
Seria A: The elite clubs have far fewer national born players (over 18%) than the non-elite. Elite clubs also have 8% more players from Non-EU countries.
Lique 1: In terms of national players both elite and non-elite have a similar squad composition. Like La Liga, more players in elite teams come from inside the EU than from Non-EU countries.
If the data for the 'Big 5' Leagues is aggregated for both elite and non-elite have approximately a 70/30 nationality split. That is, regardless of whether or not you are an elite European club (as defined by your qualification for the Champions League or Europa League) 7 out of 10 of your players come from the EU. Elite clubs do however have approximately 7.5% fewer national players however when compared to the non-elite.
All in all, it doesn't seem to be the case that just elite teams are the ones importing non-EU talent to take the place of national born players.
By David Butler
Details on the authors are available on the Contributors page.