Tag Archives: Foreign players

Foreign players in the Premier League 2011/2012

Following on from the post I made earlier in the week regarding foreign players in the Championship here we have the same information but for the top flight – The Premier League. As you would expect this division features a higher proportion of foreign players than the Championship. However, it’s interesting to note that 68 different nationalities were used in the Premier League during the 2011/2012 season, one fewer – 67 – were used in the Championship.

Of the 522 players that played in the Premier League 212 of them were Englishmen. In my opinion that should be a decent enough pool of players for an England manager to pick from. Talk of sanctions to free up more spaces for average English players over foreign counterparts seems a pointless exercise when that many players are playing top flight football.

The table below shows data on each of the twenty-four clubs in the Premier League and the nationalities who played during the 2011/2012 season. The columns are as follows, Nats: number of nationalities used, Plyrs: total number of players used, Eng: Englishmen used (Sco, Wal, NI, Ire self-explanatory). %Eng is the percentage of the total number of players used who are English whilst %B&I is the percentage of players used who are from England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland or the Republic of Ireland. Whilst I understand that Ireland is a foreign country I feel that this metric is useful as players from the Republic of Ireland have been integral parts of squads in the football pyramid for many years.

Premier League nationality breakdown 2011/2012

Premier League nationality breakdown 2011/2012

No team fielded more Englishmen than QPR during the season (19) though it should be remembered that QPR fielded the most players (35) in the same period. Stoke City operated with the smallest (but almost certainly tallest) squad of 23 and it was Wigan Athletic who featured the fewest Englishmen during the season (3).

Wolves’ doomed campaign featured the most Irish players (6), they also fielded 3 Welshmen during the season though Swansea City fielded the most Welsh players (4). Wigan Athletic’s survival was helped along by their 3 Scotsmen whilst both West Brom and Fulham featured 2 Northern Irishmen in their Premier League campaigns for 2011/2012.

Of the players who turned out for Champions League victors Chelsea, only 28% of them were “British & Irish” whilst Norwich City players were 85% “British & Irish”. The team that we can all label “the foreign legion” are Arsenal who featured 22% “British & Irish” players during the 2011/2012 season. Wigan Athletic fielded the lowest percentage of Englishmen with 13% of their players being eligible for England.



Posted by on May 22, 2012 in Statistics


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Foreign Players in the Premier League 2010/2011

The proliferation of foreign players in the Premier League is an often covered subject on radio phone-ins and blogs like this one. I thought rather than offering the same glib observations on foreign players in the ‘English game’ I’d offer some facts on the number of non-English (and non-British) players who currently ply their trade in the Premier League today (or to be more specific last season).

In this article I’ve decided to focus on the number of games started by each nationality as the most important factor. Therefore Oman have 38 Premier League starts over the past season as Bolton Wanderers’ Ali Al-Habsi started that many games last season.

The following table displays the top 20 nations by “Premier League starts” during the 2010/2011 season.

Premier League starts 2010/2011

Premier League starts 2010/2011

So, to the figures. As you’d expect England top the listings with their players starting 2965 games during the 2010/2011 Premier League season. That figure is out of the total possible starts of 8360, meaning that around a third of all players who started Premier League fixtures last season were English (35.47% to be exact).

Unsurprisingly in second place are the largest group of imported players into the UK (France) who supplied 558 starters during last season, with Ireland on 452 in third place. It’s at this point we get to the other UK nations, Scotland in fourth with 348 with Wales in a surprisingly high fifth place with 280 starts. Northern Ireland find themselves in thirteenth place with 139 starts. As a Wales supporter I find these stats quite interesting. Despite the large number of Premier League starters that Wales boast they still find themselves far below the less illustrious Northern Ireland in the world rankings. It just illustrates how irrelevant a lot of these statistics sometimes are.

The largest non-European supplier of Premier League starters in 2010/2011 was the United States with 180 players who started matches. The largest South American supplier was Brazil (168), in Africa the largest contributor was Ivory Coast with 172 and in Asia it was South Korea who just edged past Oman into first place.

Continental share of Premier League starters

Continental share of Premier League starters 2010/2011

The lion’s share of players come from Europe, with 33 different nations from UEFA’s 52 represented. Africa are in second place taking ten percent of all Premier League players during the 2010/2011 season, with 14 different African nations represented. On 461 occasions South Americans started matches in the Premier League last season, 7 of the 9 nations in South America had players who started matches – only players from Peru and Venezuela were not represented in the division last season. 398 North Americans from 9 nations in CONCACAF started games whilst South Korea and Oman are the only two Asian nations who supplied Premier League starters last season, though Australia and New Zealand did supply players.

I’m not sure that the figures show anything significant. I was quite surprised on researching this that United States were the largest supplier of players outside of Europe, and that Italy only supplied a paltry eleven starts during the 2010/2011 season, but apart from that I think the figures were as expected. Obviously these sorts of statistics will be used as a stick to beat the “foreign invasion” of English football with, and ultimately as an argument for restricting numbers in order to help the English national team. The fact remains that 245 different English players started matches in the Premier League last season, and surely that’s enough to pick a competent eleven from?


Posted by on July 26, 2011 in Club


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