A report by the BBC titled 'State Of The Game' asks the question "Are foreign players really dominating the Premier League?"
Much has been made recently about the high volume of players from all around the World coming to the Premier League in recent seasons, and it is certainly obvious that the Premier League looks very different to how it did even ten years ago, so the BBC want to attempt to determine whether that is a bad thing or not.
Rather than get bogged down into a debate about a lack of World class English talent, or "them bloody foreigers comin' in and takin' the English boys jobs", we thought we would look at the change in dynamic of Irish players in the top flight of English football, using the stats that were provided.
The BBC calculated how many players of each nationality have seen playing time in the Premier League so far this season, and then determined the percentage of minutes each nationality has contributed.
Number of players used in the Premier League this season:
1 - England - 136
2 - France - 31
3 - Spain - 22
4 - Republic of Ireland - 21
5 - Scotland - 18
6 - Argentina - 18
7 - Belgium - 14
Percentage of minutes played by nationality:
1 - England - 36.08%
2 - France - 7.74%
3 - Spain - 5.94%
4 - Scotland - 4.87%
5 - Argentina - 4.30%
6 - Belgium - 4.26%
7 - Republic of Ireland - 4.22%
What this tells us is that while there are still a healthy amount of Irish players playing at top flight clubs in England, many of them are not starting regularly. This was a problem we already knew, but it's interesting to see the data behind it. The BBC report also noted about Irish players:
More players from the Republic of Ireland were used in the first six games this season than during the same time last season (21 compared to 19). However less than a third of them (6) featured in every game and, collectively, they contributed fewer minutes during that period (5,002) compared to last season (5, 652).
Half the clubs in the Premier League used players from the Republic of Ireland in the first six games this season: Everton (4), Hull (4), Stoke (4), Aston Villa (2), Crystal Palace (2), Southampton (1), Sunderland (1), West Ham (1), Burnley (1) and QPR (1).
When you compare the percentage of minutes played by Irish players in the 07/08 Premier League season, 6%, to what it is now, 4.22%, you begin to see a decrease in the impact that Irish players are having in the Premier League. To put that into perspective, the 6% figure from 07/08 is more than the percentage that Spanish players are currently playing so far in this Premier League campaign.
There are worries over the future of Irish football talent coming through, and when you look at the figures which show a declining influence, it begins to paint a worrying picture.
It's not all doom and gloom of course, but clearly we need to have a look at the process of sending Irish players over to the English football system. Either that or just hope Shane Long becomes Southampton's talisman, and Jack Grealish declares for Ireland before going on to become a star for Villa.