The nationality of players within the Premier League and Football League is a subject I regularly return to. It’s not because I’m a believer that foreign players are a blight on our national sport, but because I find the exotic nature of the nationalities represented an interesting discussion point. If you believe that the English national side suffers due to the number of foreign players in its league you should probably look closer to home for the players who are blocking the way of Englishmen as it’s Irishmen, Scotsmen and Welshmen who make up the vast majority of “foreign” players on English clubs’ books.
There are only three clubs who have not fielded Irishmen, Scotsmen, Welshmen or Northern Irishmen this season in the Premier League or Football League. These three clubs are Chelsea, Manchester City and (perhaps surprisingly) Hartlepool United. The north-eastern club are an interesting case when it comes to player nationality as they are the only club of the 92 who have fielded only Englishmen this season. Twenty-two Englishmen to be exact. And coincidentally the same number as would be required to play a game of cricket on a village green on a balmy summer’s afternoon.
Despite Hartlepool United’s commitment to the English cause, it’s Wimbledon who can claim to have fielded the most Englishmen during the current 2012/2013 season. A total of thirty different English players have pulled on the blue of Wimbledon in an attempt to help the London club retain their Football League status so far this season. Though it’s perhaps worth mentioning that this statistic doesn’t tell the whole story, as few clubs have fielded as many players as Wimbledon (38).
In stark contrast to their north-eastern, all-English neighbours Hartlepool (whose residents once hanged a monkey on suspicion that he were a French spy), Newcastle United have fielded eight different Frenchmen in league fixtures this season. No other club in the Premier League or Football League has fielded as many of the same non-English nationality as that. Blackpool come close having fielded seven Scotsmen in their Championship campaign so far, whilst Coventry City (6 Irish), Arsenal (5 French), Blackburn (5 Portuguese), Brighton (5 Spaniards), Crystal Palace (5 Welshmen) and Oldham Athletic (4 Australians) all provide interesting clusters of nationalities.
When it comes to clubs who have fielded very few English players it’s Wigan Athletic of the Premier League who take this title by some distance. During their current league season they have been represented by only three Englishmen with Wigan boss Martinez seemingly preferring players from hisanophone countries such as Honduras (2), Chile (2), Argentina (2), Paraguay (1) and Spain (4). During the current season the Latics have fielded and incredible fifteen different nationalities. However, they are not the most eclectic and international group of players in the Premier League.
The most nationalities fielded by any club of the 92 is Martin Jol’s Fulham. They have fielded players from eighteen different countries during the current 2012/2013 Premier League season (England, Switzerland, Norway, Northern Ireland, Ireland, Australia, Germany, Mali, Greece, Bulgaria, Colombia, Turkey, Croatia, Sweden, Iran, Costa Rica, Belgium and Holland). Clubs outside the top flight who have used a lot of different nationalities include Watford (who have bulked up their squad with loanees from Spain and Italy) and Blackburn Rovers (who are currently battling to recover from a dreadful chicken induced Premier League coma), both sides have fielded players of thirteen different nationalities in league fixtures so far this season.
The impact of British Isles players on the 92 Premier League and Football League clubs is pretty evident when trawling through the statistics. Of the 92 there are twelve clubs who have fielded at least one player from England, Ireland, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland this season. Those clubs are Wycombe Wanderers, Rotherham, Southend United, Barnsley, Bristol Rovers, Crewe Alexandra, Middlesbrough, Nottingham Forest, Doncaster Rovers, Aston Villa, Hull City and West Brom.
Ninety-eight different nationalities have been represented so far this season, they are:
Africa: Algeria, Benin, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Comoros, Congo, Congo DR, Côte d’Ivoire, Egypt, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Malawi, Mali, Morocco, Namibia, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Asia/Oceania: Australia, Iran, Iraq, Japan, Korea Republic, New Zealand, Oman, Philippines, Saudi Arabia and Yemen.
Europe: Austria, Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, England, Finland, France, Germany, Gibraltar, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Latvia, Macedonia FYR, Montenegro, Netherlands, Northern Ireland, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Scotland, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey and Wales.
North America/Caribbean: Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Bermuda, Canada, Costa Rica, Curaçao, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Guyana, Honduras, Jamaica, Martinique, Mexico, Montserrat, Trinidad and Tobago and United States.
South America: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela.