But the flip side to the debate is that the Premier League’s international popularity and profile is greater than ever before, with players of 64 nationalities now represented in England’s top flight for 2015-16 and with TV audiences of more than four billion fans watching per weekend.
The Premier League is now a truly global competition, in terms of player nationality, manager nationality, club ownership, sponsorship, TV rights and official team fan clubs around the world, as highlighted in a new in-depth study by Ticketbis.net.
As you can see in the infographic above, players from 64 different countries are registered with the first-team squads of current Premier League clubs, compared with players from 55 different nations in the Bundesliga (Germany), 51 in Serie A (Italy), 50 in La Liga (Spain) and 48 in Ligue 1 (French).
Englishmen (213) are still the most widely represented nationality in the Premier League, with French players (37) being the second most popular, ahead of Spaniards (35), Irishmen (29) and Scots (23) in the top five. Dutchmen (21), Argentines (18), Welshmen (18), Belgians (17), and Brazilians (12) complete the top 10 ‘league of nations’, with a vast array of additional nationalities from every continent represented in the competition.
Premier League clubs travelled the world this summer visiting 15 different nations on pre-season tours, whilst 55% of clubs in the top flight are owned by companies or individuals from outside England and Wales. There are only five English managers in the Premier League this season, whilst only half of the 20 club captains come from England.
Broadcast rights extend to 156 countries and 212 territories across the globe and the huge TV audience of fans who watch the Premier League each week is expected to continue growing having reached a colossal 4.2 billion people per weekend last season.
Chelsea have official fan clubs in 80 different countries around the world, there are official supporters branches in 79 different nations for Arsenal, in 67 different countries for Liverpool and 45 for Manchester United.
United’s cross-town rivals Manchester City, meanwhile, make their official website available in an incredible 13 languages, English, French, Indonesian, Spanish, Portuguese, Arabic, Chinese (Mandarin & Cantonese), Japanese, Korean, Russian, Thai and Malaysian.
So as English influence diminishes, the league has been opened up to a world of influences.