Some weeks back I gave an overview of footballer migration patterns at a workshop in UCC. After the presentation the group discussed how there appeared to be fewer opportunities for Irish talent in the EPL. Due to the internationalisation of the competition an increasingly competitive labour market has emerged over last 23 years.
So how many Irish have played in the EPL? The graph below shows the number of Irish players with EPL clubs per season from 1992-2015. The most Irish players to be contracted to EPL clubs in any one season was 46 in 1996/1997. A joint lowest amount of 28 were contracted last season. The trend in the number of Irish is cyclical, spiking in the mid 90's, early 00's and early 10's.
What the graph doesn't show is the clubs these players were contracted to. While we currently have a relatively low number of Irish players in the EPL compared to past seasons, the clubs players are with is clearly important when thinking about development and international performance. Furthermore, squads sizes were smaller historically in the EPL and the lower numbers in the earlier period of the data mask this reality.