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A new report released today by the Adam Smith Institute blasts the FA’s proposals to crack down on foreign players, finding:

  • No link between native play time in the Premier League and performance of English national team
  • No link between amount of minutes played by Englishmen ten years ago and performance today
  • A strong link between foreign players and Premier League quality

The FA’s plan to crack down on foreign players in the Premier League would damage the league’s quality and success in European club competitions, without any benefit to the English national team’s performance, according to a new study from the Adam Smith Institute, an economic think tank.

In the first research of its kind, there was no link found between the time English players get on the pitch and the performance of the national team.

The report, “Sweet FA – Why foreign player crackdowns hurt English football“, found this to be true for performance measured in FIFA points, world ranking, or placing at major championships—i.e. the World Cup and European Championship. This also goes for the other major leagues in Europe—Spain’s La Liga, Germany’s Bundesliga, and Italy’s Serie A.

The report also rejected as baseless the claim that a reduced amount of playing time for English players five or ten years prior affected English international performance.

But the report did find evidence of a strong link between a league’s UEFA coefficient and the prevalence of foreign players—leagues with more non-natives are stronger, and stronger leagues have more non-natives.

This suggests that Greg Dyke’s scheme to tighten up work permit rules for foreign (or just non-EU) players would harm the English Premier League—the world’s most popular and successful league—without any concomitant benefit to the English national team.

Paper author Ben Southwood, Head of Policy at the Adam Smith Institute, said:

“It is widely believed that England’s perceived underperformance at recent international competitions owes something to the reduced fraction of minutes English players are playing in the Premier League—but up until now no one’s really studied the question with any kind of rigour.

“My numbers are not final but they suggest there is no real link between the amount of football English players play in the Premier League (or across the top four European Leagues) and English international performance.

“If the reduced quantity of experience is a problem, then it is being balanced out by the massively improved quality—or something else”.

For further comments or to arrange an interview, contact Kate Andrews, Communications Manager, at kate@adamsmith.org / 07584 778207.

The Adam Smith Institute is an independent libertarian think tank based in London. It advocates classically liberal public policies to create a richer, freer world.