By David Butler
Having talent playing in elite leagues seems important to sustained elite performance internationally.
For Ireland, a problem is not so much that we do not have Irish players in the Premier League anymore but rather they do not get as much game time anymore. Added to this, they tend not be contracted to the most elite clubs as much as in the past. It's a quality rather than quantity issue.
We’ve always tended to have the same number of players playing in the EPL – this varies from about 18 to 37 by season - but the average game time that has fallen. The graph below plots Irish player average minutes in the EPL from season 1 (92/93).
In the first year of the EPL, Irish players clocked up about 22 matches on average over the season, this has fallen to about 4.5 matches last season. There is a clear trend in the graph.
One could argue though that the minutes currency is not a constant value? Maybe modern minutes are more valuable as the EPL has become globally dominant?