For the fourth year running, the Professional Football Players' Observatory (PFPO) presents its in-depth analysis of the big five European leagues. The study reveals a decreasing number of club-trained players in contrast to a rising proportion of expatriate footballers. The PFPO was born out of an academic partnership between the International Centre for Sports Studies (University of Neuchatel, Switzerland) and the Centre of Research and Study on Sport (University of Franche-Comté, France).

The fourth edition of the Annual Review of the European Football Players' Labour Market was published today. This well illustrated 100-page publication presents the key trends within the big-five leagues in terms of demography, training, international recruitment and mobility of footballers.

The study reveals that the percentage of club-trained players has fallen for the fourth year in succession. Between 2007/08 and 2008/09, it went from 22 per cent to 21 per cent. The highest value is for France (30.3 per cent), down from 35.3 per cent in 2007/08. The lowest value is for Italy (12.8 per cent). The percentage of matches played by club-trained players has also shrunk: from 16.5 per cent to 15.9 per cent.

In contrast to the percentage of club-trained players, the proportion of expatriate players has risen for the fourth year in a row to reach 42.6 per cent. English clubs still employ the highest proportion of expatriates (59.2 per cent). For the first time ever, expatriate players have outnumbered national players in Germany (50.2 per cent). The five top-ranked clubs in each league have played with a squad made up of 54.8 per cent expatriates on average. The highest percentage has been measured for Liverpool FC (90.0 per cent).

Among many other facts and figures, the fourth edition of the Annual Review of the European Football Players' Labour Market finds that success is not a result of chance. In terms of team make-up, the variables that best account for club performance are the percentage of active full internationals among the 11 most employed players, the number of signings from abroad carried out in the ten main countries of recruitment and the experience of footballers in big-five league clubs. The average stay of footballers at their employer club is also an important criterion that affects results. The greater the stability of the squad, the better the results.

For the first time in the history of this key reference publication, a full chapter is dedicated to managers. The data used in the review comes from a database developed by cross-checking a number of sources (press, yearbooks, internet sites) and extensive personal research. It covers footballers playing during the 2008-09 season in the following leagues: English Premier League (20 clubs), French Ligue 1 (20), Spanish PrimeraDivision (20), German Bundesliga (18) and the Italian Serie A (20).

A sample of this year's report, including the main results of the study, can now be downloaded from www.eurofootplayers.org. This website also offers access to the original database, which provides an insight into the approach used in this comprehensive study. After free registration, it is possible to consult the indicators by season, country, club level, player position, age, and origin.

The research of the Professional Football Players' Observatory is conducted by the International Centre for Sports Studies (University of Neuchâtel, Switzerland) and the Centre of Research and Study on Sport (University of Franche-Comte, France). This year the two founding organisations were joined by the Institute of Sports Science (University of Lausanne, Switzerland).

The fourth Annual Review of the European Football Players' Market can be ordered on the CIES website (www.cies.ch, Publications) or by e-mailing secretariat.cies@unine.ch. There is a special price for students and academics. Journalists can contact the authors of the study by e-mailing eurofootplayers@unine.ch