English sport and the alien invasion

Robert Henderson

In the past few weeks England have lost three times to the All Blacks at rugby and crashed out of the World Cup with only one point from their three pool games . This week  they lost for the first time ever a home  cricket series against Sri Lankra . During the winter the Ashes series was lost 5-0.

What is going wrong? The answer is beautifully simple. English top-flight team sport is suffering from the same sickness that England as a whole is carrying: it is the victim of immigration. Our three  most popular team sports , football, cricket and rugby union, have all opened their doors to any number of foreigners and foreign players, coaches and owners have flooded in.


Of the three most popular teams sports, football is the most advanced in terms of denying places to young English players a, managers and coaches.  This is unsurprising because of the twenty Premiership clubs starting the 2014/15 season ten are foreigner owned,  as are  twelve of the  twenty two Championship clubs. Foreign owners will have no concern for the wellbeing of  English football,  merely a desire to be successful at all costs either from a  desire to make money or for the prestige footballing success brings on the world stage.

The practice  of excluding English players and managers can be found throughout the professional  English football pyramid, but is seen at its most blatant in the Premier League where less than a third of the players regularly starting are English.   This compares with an average of around a third of players being foreign in the top divisions throughout Europe.

The level below the Premier League, the Championship,  is also heavily infiltrated by foreigners and contains one team, Watford, which starkly demonstrates exactly how quickly English players can be squeezed out.   Watford were taken over by the Italian Pozzo  family who also own the Italian Udinese club and Spanish Grenada  club.  The English manager Sean Dyche – who has just led Burnley to the Premiership –  was quickly replaced with the Italian Gianfranco Zola. This was followed by the ridding of the club of most  of the established  English players and their replacement  with foreigners, most being on-loan Italians from Udinese

In addition, the very successful Watford Academy  was  downgraded from  category 1 to category 3 . This  means that Watford can no longer sign boys from nine onwards and can now do so only from the age of 12  and may no  longer compete in the U-21 League which gives experience against the likes of Man U and Arsenal.  This of itself will mean fewer English youngsters coming through the Watford system,  even assuming that young English players will now reach the Watford Academy for it could become a training ground for foreign  imports from Udinese  and Grenada.


County cricket  is increasingly  staffed by foreign players and managers.  Foreign ownership does not really come into the picture because county clubs are private members clubs and as such cannot be purchased.  Nor is there the money or  public profile in county cricket to make any attempt to change this situation  worthwhile.

With cricket it is difficult to give an exact percentage for foreign players  because  so many flit in and out of the county game, as they arrive for particular competitions such as the T20 or contract for far less than a full season with a county because they want to play in other T20 leagues  or go away  with  their national sides.

An idea of  the scale of the foreign invasion into county cricket can be gleaned from the Playfair Cricket Annual,  which gives pen portraits of the players  registered for each county for the coming season. By my count the 2014 annual shows  thirty-seven players marked as not  qualified to play for England because they were born outside the UK and have either played for Test teams other than England or have not played for another country but have not lived long enough in England to qualify through residence . A further forty-five who were born outside the UK but have qualified through residence.  Many of the latter group are those who have had a substantial first class career, including in some cases, Test experience , outside of the UK . Few will want or have a realistic chance of playing for England.  They include the likes of the Australian Test player Phil Jacques and  the New Zealand Test player Hamish Marshall. The two groups produce  a  combined figure of eighty-two foreigners either disbarred from playing for England or very unlikely to do so at the beginning of the 2014 season.  Experience shows that additional  foreign players will be employed as the season progresses.  It would not be unreasonable to imagine the eighty-three foreigners at  the beginning of the 2014 season will swell to one hundred plus  by the end of the season.

There are  eighteen  first class county sides which gives 191 places in their first teams.  The vast majority of the foreigners, whether  qualified or not for England,  will be regulars in their county sides, not least because counties are very reluctant to drop a foreign player who has cost  them a good deal of money to hire .   On average there will be three or  four  foreigners in each county side for Championship matches, that is, about  40% of the total  places.   The percentage of foreign players in the limited over games, especially the T20, will probably be higher.

Rugby Union

Rugby Union is a Johnny-come-lately to the paid  sporting ranks, the game only turning professional  in 1995. But it is made up for lost time when it comes to the foreign player stakes , although not to the extent of the football influx, the percentage of foreigners into the Avia Premiership being around a third rather than the two thirds or more of  the Premier League.

Football, cricket and rugby are the main team sports but what has happened to them can be found to varying degrees in all teams sports which have any degree of popularity in Britain  and individual sports  where either there are occasional team events  organised on a national team basis such as the Davis Cup (tennis ) or Ryder Cup (golf) or the sport carries enough popularity and prestige for those controlling the sport to engineer  English or British representation at a high level, no matter how bogus that is. Think of Greg Rusedski  (tennis) or  Zola Budd (athletics).  In principle they should be treated as I suggest sports such as football and cricket should be  treated.

How  foreign players are distributed

The raw number of foreigners is not the only concern. In  any team  sport certain positions are considered to be the most important. In football those positions are the goalkeeper, centre-backs and strikers.  In rugby union it is the scrum half and fly half and full back, in cricket the opening batsmen and fast bowlers.   The foreign imports disproportionately fill those positions.   The consequence is that England teams are left with few players to choose from when selecting people to fill those positions, for example, the England  football team  has very few goalkeepers and strikers to choose from at present.

In the case of cricket, it is almost invariably the case that foreign players are given the plum places in the batting order and if pace bowlers use of the new ball.  That means  English batsmen get pushed down the batting order and English pace bowlers often do not get use of the new ball.

The demoralising effect on English players

English players will be subject to the  politically correct propaganda which the British political elite have institutionalised  within English society.  The mistreatment by the state, the mainstream media and employers of those label led as racist, homophobic or chauvinist  has created considerable fear amongst  the British public, who will often voice politically correct views which they do not subscribe to because they are afraid. The fear also creates a sense of  disconnection with the country which they come from, because they think, rightly, that  they cannot  praise England  without shrieks of racist hurtling in their direction To that can be added the deracination of English children through the emasculation of the English school curriculum so that it does not provide them with their culture history while incessantly promoting any culture and history other than that of the English.

The fact that as budding elite sportsmen they are of necessity forced to live in a world with a great deal of racial and ethnic  variety will reinforce the sense of disconnection and isolation from their own culture and history.  Even if English players did want the situation to change and see the foreigners kicked out  of their sport  there is little they could safely do.  If  they   did wish to protest against the denial of opportunity  to them because of foreign players,  every one of them will know that if they voice criticism of  the influx of foreigners their career will be at best damaged and at worst ended.  It is a toxic environment to work in, especially toxic in clubs where the playing personnel and often the management and coaching  staff are foreign.

In such an environment , the  focus of English players will almost certainly be  concentrated upon their own playing careers to the exclusion of any wider interest  social or national interest in what is happening to their sport.

The selection of English national sides

Pedantically the selection of players who were not English to play for England has been going on for a long time. That is particularly true of cricket where the Indian Ranjitsinji was first  selected in the 1890. But  foreigners in an England shirt were  rarities until the 1980s. Cricket led the way with a horde of  South Africans, Australians and West Indians and the odd New Zealander .   By the 1990s England were regularly putting out sides with four or five foreigners, people such as Alan Lamb, Robin Smith,  Graeme Hick,   Andy Caddick and  Devon Malcolm.  The selectors’ obsession with foreigners waned somewhat in the first half of the  2000s, but strengthened again from 2005 onwards.   Three of the four most recent England Test caps have been unambiguously foreign, that is,  they were both born abroad and spent the large majority of their childhoods in the country of their birth:   Robson (Australian), Jordan (West Indian),  Balance (Zimbabwean ) .  On the managerial side, the Zimbabweans Duncan Fletcher and Andy Flower  between them held the position of head coach for  all but two years of the period 1999-2014.

In the case of football most of the foreign input has occurred on the managerial front. Since 2001,   the England side has had  foreign managers  (Sven-Goran  Eriksson  and Fabio Capello)  for  a combined total of nine years.  Nonetheless, there are signs that the FA are now  willing to grab players from anywhere . Last season feelers were put out  to get the Belgium youngster Adnan Januzaj to play for England on the grounds of his residency in England.  Januzai rebuffed the approaches but the attempt demonstrates how the FA have thrown in the towel when it comes to not selecting foreigners.

Rugby Union began to be really promiscuous with the selection of  foreigners in the England side around the time the game  turned professional (1995).  The squad which toured New Zealand in 2014 contained South Sea Islanders  Manusamoa Tuilagiand  and Semesa Rokoduguni , the South African Brad Barritt and  the New Zealander Dylan Hartley.

What can be legally done?

While Britain remains within the EU only players from outside the EU can be excluded from English professional sport. Moreover,  this is weakened to some degree by the ability of players from outside the EU to gain EU state passports. Nonetheless a blanket ban  on non-EU imports would have considerable although varying effects, viz:

1. Football would probably  be least affected because all European states play professional football, most to a decent standard.  Nonetheless, the available talent pool would be massively reduced and make it much more difficult  for clubs to claim that  the players they were bringing were of exceptional talent.

2. Cricket would be the most affected for the simple reason that cricket is not played to a professional standard outside of England within the EU.

3. Rugby would come somewhere between cricket and football because only France and Italy play the game to international level, although there are a few talented individuals outside of those two countries.

What about foreign ownership of English  sporting clubs? This only seriously affects English football of the big three English team sports.  Even as things are foreigners  from outside the EU could be excluded  if the political will was there. Things would be more difficult  with foreigners from within the EU, but it is  debatable whether the free movement of capital rule throughout the  Single Market would be a bar to preventing the sale of English clubs to foreigners within the EU. Certainty the other large EU countries manage to prevent their top clubs falling into foreign hands.

All that is required to substantially restrict the number of foreigners coming into English professional sport  is for the British government to ban every  would-be owner from outside the EU and every manager, coach and player from outside the EU from working in Britain.  The only thing which has prevented this happening is the ghastly ideological commitment to free trade (including in practice the free movement of peoples) to which the British political elite has succumbed.

Apart from banning non-EU foreigners,  much might be done if  politicians, the media and fans  constantly challenged English sporting clubs over the number of foreigners they employ. Sponsors are sensitive to changes in public wants and might well shun clubs if the public atmosphere was strongly against the employment of foreigners. The same would be true of media outlets which earned their money from sales of their product and advertising.   If fans took up the issue they could bring pressure on clubs by not buying the club merchandise or  making it clear with chants and  banners that they wanted English players in their team. But  to be successful I this tactic does require the mainstream parties to take up the issue and start the ball rolling.  In these politically correct times the general public needs to be reassured that they will not find the police feeling their collars if they start chanting slogans  such as “English players for English teams.”

The perfect solution would be for Britain to leave  the EU. Then every foreign manager, coach and

National sides must be national to have a point

The claiming of people as natives of a country when they manifestly are anything but makes a mockery of the very idea of national sporting sides.   There really is no point in an English cricket side comprised of three or four Southern Africans , an Australian and a West Indian or an England football team managed by  a Swede or Italian.

To keep professional   team sports healthy in England what is  needed is a concentration on English owners, managers, coaches and players in our major team sports.  Only  by keeping the personnel English will there be a large enough pool of talent to draw on for the England  national teams, but also because it will mean the players are  living week by week in a thoroughly English atmosphere and that will accustom them to thinking not only of themselves but of the English national interest.

Such a change would also have a beneficial effect on the audiences for the sports. They would go to see English players playing, managed by English managers and clubs owned or controlled by those raised in the country.  Team sports such as football, cricket and rugby are not just games as liberals would have us believe, they are trials of strength, physical prowess and nerve. .  If England started winning consistently that also would boost national sentiment.


See also





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