Stepping stones? An exploration of internal football player migration in the Republic of Ireland

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The football spatial landscape is a key consideration for the equity of any football association and its constituent members. Organizational processes can shape these landscapes and influence player development. Analysing migratory patterns of youth footballers can provide an insight into such processes. This paper investigates the migratory patterns of underage footballers within the Republic of Ireland development pathway. The sample consisted of n = 1937 youth footballers who had been selected onto the Football Association of Ireland’s primary talent development programme, the Emerging Talent Programme (ETP), between 2006 and 2012. Analysis shows clear migratory patterns towards the Dublin District Schoolboy League (DDSL), primarily from a double-tiered level of migration around Dublin. Clubs that had developed reciprocal relationships with clubs in the UK and were more prominent at underage level were the most common location for internally migrating footballers. Research has historically neglected internal patterns of migration, focusing on transnational football migration. Internal patterns of migration demonstrate inequity across the football development pathway and may result in potential sources of talent being neglected or improperly developed which is a cause of concern within smaller national associations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)596-606
Number of pages11
JournalRegional Studies, Regional Science
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 01 Jan 2019


  • development
  • footbal
  • Ireland
  • migration
  • resource dependency
  • world systems theory


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