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One Third of Premier League Players From England

Thu 10th Oct 2013 | Club & Country Competitions

Less than a third of all the minutes played in the Premier League were by English footballers a BBC study has found.

The figures uncovered by the BBC’s State of the Game study found that home grown players accounted for just 31.8% of the total taking to the field so far this season.

These figures are down from 35.25% in 2007-08 and considerably lower than in other European leagues such as La Liga, where Spaniards account for 59% of all minutes played and in Germany's Bundesliga, Germans make up 50%.

But the figure is not a total surprise with the decline in the numbers of top English born footballers falling over the last decade. This has been evident with successive England team managers continually concerned by the lack of players to select.

In the Scottish Premiership the number of Scots playing remained static at 57.19% so far this season but the numbers of players from the Home Nations playing in the Premier League has declined - Scottish (3.22%), Welsh (3.12%) and Northern Irish (0.93%) players have got fewer minutes on the pitch than French (7.98%), Dutch (3.94%) and Spanish (6.18%) players so far this season.

However, footballers from England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are playing more minutes in the Championship and the Scottish Premiership than they did five years ago.

The findings come ahead of a crucial weekend of World Cup 2014 qualifiers for England and raise questions over the quality of the England squad. Earlier this week, Jack Wilshere said that only English born players should play for the England team after it emerged that Manchester United starlet, Adnan Januzaj could qualify for England in the future by residency.

Januzaj, the Belgian born player who scored two goals on his debut for Manchester United at the weekend, is yet to play at international level making him eligible to play for up to five different nations including Serbia and Turkey.

Under FIFA residency rules, Januzaj could represent England in 2018, assuming he remains in the country until he turns 23.

Ashley Wootton, a Solicitor on the sports team at law firm Thomas Eggar, said of the growing controversy of player nationalisation, “The legal implications of player nationalisation are twofold. First, the timeframe involved to nationalise a player from one country to another is determined by FIFA residency rules.

“Secondly, it is up to individual Football Associations to decide whether to implement FIFA’s residency rules into its own criteria about who can represent their country.  

“International football is unlike other sports such as cricket and rugby union in that players are not paid to represent their country. The players are employed by clubs and released on international duty in accordance with FIFA rules and regulations.

“There is no central contract in place between players and national associations, meaning that no employment relationship exists. Accordingly, I believe that there is no issue of discrimination or restraint of trade in restricting who can and cannot represent their country by reference to their nationality. If central contracts were ever to be introduced then I would revise this statement in line with national immigration laws.  

“That said, Jack Wilshire’s comment about needing to be born in England to play for England is too strict an interpretation to be applied for policy reasons.

“He is effectively ruling out any migrant from representing England, no matter when they moved here.  That approach, while not strictly unlawful, does not take into account the growing trend of immigration and displacement suffered by some families.”

 Posted by: Aaron Gourley

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