I’m sure there are very few football matches, let alone Premier League football matches, that have their own Wikipedia page. However, recently I watched a game between Liverpool and Newcastle and thought these clubs might be an exception. The teams provided what most people agree is still the greatest Premier League game of all time, on the 8th of April of 1996. And yes, the historic match, does in fact have its own Wikipedia page.
While the match was a classic from start to finish, involving a seesawing score line, which eventually culminated in a last minute winning goal by Liverpool’s Stan Collymore, it also demonstrates the internationalisation of both Liverpool and Newcastle, and by extension, the Premier League over the past twenty years.
Below I provide two graphics to represent the nationalities that were represented during the matches in April 1996 and April 2015.
In 1996, 77% of the starting 22 players were English, 18% were from current EU states, with just 5% from a non-EU country. Fast forward 19 years. Just under one-third of the starting 22 are from England (32%), 55% are from EU states, while 14% are from non-EU countries. The most dramatic rise has not been from outside the European Union, but from within.
Given the structure and objective of EU labour laws it's very difficult to see how changes could be made to protect home grown players without undermining the very essence of the European project - freedom of movement.