Sweet FA: Why foreign player crackdowns hurt English football

It is a very common view that “importing” foreign football players into the UK to play in the Premier League leads to less opportunity for English players to play for these teams. This means that English players get less high-level experience, and consequently aren’t as good as the players of Spain, France, Italy or Germany, who make up a larger fraction of the players playing in their home leagues. This, the argument runs, is an important factor in explaining the English national team’s perceived underperformance in international competitions. I review the literature and present novel data establishing a negative relationship between current performance (as measured by FIFA ranking) and the current amount of football played in a league by native players (across Spain, England, Germany and Italy). Further, I find no relationship between minutes played by English players in the Premier League five or ten years ago and current performance. Finally, I find strong evidence that a league’s overall strength (as measured by its UEFA coefficient) is predicted by the current amount of foreigners playing in it. To restrict foreign players would not directly benefit the English national team, but it would risk substantially curtailing the overall quality of the world’s most popular football league.

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The EU: reform or redundancy

With UKIP set to increase further their share of the vote in the upcoming European elections, and Farage’s triumph over Nick Clegg in the televised debate late last month, the issue of EU membership is as heated and controversial as ever.  We are once more reminded of the strengths and limitations of a Common Market, and the anxieties the union has bred here in Britain. (more…)

Should we be concerned about the UK’s current account deficit?

Every year since 1984 Britain has run a deficit on the current account of her Balance of Payments. What this in effect means is that each year British businesses and consumers have purchased consistently more goods and services from abroad than they have been able to sell. But is this a problem?

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Is government helping exports?

Estimated to be spending £100m over its targeted budget, UKTI is not delivering enough exports to justify its costs. This report argues that UKTI is representative of some of the worst inefficiencies of the bloated quango state. (more…)