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Show me the Money: how much is each premier league position worth?

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With less than a quarter of the season remaining, most EPL clubs will finish within a couple of places of their current league position. For some clubs this could mean the difference between survival or sinking into the Championship; for others, swimming with the big fish in the Champions League or the smaller shoals of the Europa League. For the rest the consequences are less dramatic.

While fans chew at their finger nails, club owners and directors will be busy assessing the financial consequences of each permutation as they plan for next season. A significant proportion of each club's revenue next year will depend on their final league position in May. The difference between 8th and 10th may not seem particularly important, but how much are these few extra places worth in terms of the cash prizes on offer? More generally, what is the total amount a club can expect to bank as a direct consequence of their final league position?

The Prizes on Offer
The financial rewards associat…

Declining home advantage makes Mourinho's Spanish stalemate a risky strategy

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José Mourinho was strongly criticized for United's negative performance following their 0-0 draw against Sevilla last week. While perception of the result was partly coloured by Liverpool's three-goal haul at the Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán stadium during the group stage, the general consensus is that United may come to regret their lack of ambition in pursuing an away goal.

A goalless first leg leaves a European tie precariously balanced. In the decisive second match, one team has the advantage of playing at home. The other team, however, has the advantage of the away goals rule: any scoring draw will guarantee them a place in the next round. Unless United build up a healthy lead, Old Trafford will be very nervy place on the 13th March.

The advantage of playing at home has undeniably declined over the decades. In the 70's and 80's, the home team in European competitions would win 60% of matches; in the last 10 years this has declined to 47% (irrespective of whether you inc…

Foreign leagues profit from Premier League wealth.

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The UK has long been a country that imports more goods than it exports. For decades we’ve been buying more food, cars, and other consumer goods from the rest of the world than we've sold. We tend to purchase more than we produce, and in recent years this has also become true of another type of commodity: footballers.

EPL clubs are rolling in the money received from the lucrative sale of TV broadcasting rights, sponsorship and match-day revenue. A large proportion of this wealth is being used to buy players for exorbitant transfer fees and service huge wage bills. This season, English clubs have paid nearly €2 billion in transfer fees, of which €1.1 billion has been spent on imported players. Income from player exports is significantly less – €0.4 billion – leaving English clubs with a net overseas expenditure of €0.7 billion: another large trade deficit.

English football has been running a trade deficit for some time. In the last six seasons, clubs have spent a total of €4.6 billi…

Consistent or Calamitous: How good is your goalie?

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David De Gea won the match for Man United at the Emirates last month. Under siege for much of the second half, de Gea’s brilliant performance preserved United’s lead at a crucial stage of the match. He made a total of 14 saves in the match, equaling the EPL record set by Tim Krul for Newcastle in 2013.

How many goals does a high-quality goalkeeper like de Gea save his team over the course of a season? Pundits frequently claim that a goalkeeper is worth so many goals or points, but this has never actually been measured. In this post I take advantage of a novel feature of Stratagem’s dataset to infer the number of goals that EPL goalkeepers have saved or cost their teams in the last two seasons. Who is bailing out their defence, and who is letting them down? Would United be a top-4 team without de Gea? Is either of Mignolet and Karius a decent shot-stopper?

The difficulty of a save
When a goalkeeper fails to make a routine save it is described as an error, costing the team a goal. But …

Hectic xmas schedule gives some teams an artificial advantage

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Earlier this week West Brom made an official complaint to the Premier League regarding the scheduling of their match against West Ham, which took place only 48 hours days after their 1-1 draw against Arsenal. The root of their concern is not that their players had only one full day to recover, but that West Ham did not have the same issue. The Hammers' previous match was on Boxing Day, giving their players an extra 5 days of rest. Despite taking a first half lead West Brom went on to lose the match 2-1.

West Brom clearly feel that five additional days of rest may have given West Ham an edge in what was already an important fixture in the relegation battle. Is there hard evidence to support this? Using historical results, can we demonstrate statistically that one team is at a disadvantage when they play twice in a short period of time and their (second) opponent does not?

Is one full day of rest enough?
I searched for every professional league match in England in which one team we…

Freedom of Movement of Footballers: Brexit and the EPL

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All opinions, analysis and conclusions are my own. All data was obtained from publicly available sources.

On the 29th March 2017 the UK government activated Article 50, initiating a two-year countdown to the UK's departure from the EU. The government has already stated that freedom of movement of people will end in March 2019. From that date onwards, all foreign footballers – regardless of their origin – could require a work permit to sign for a club in the UK. This would have enormous consequences for British clubs and the future of British football.

Over the last 20 years, Freedom of Movement of People (FoM) has transformed English football beyond all recognition. FoM bestows citizens of the European Union (or the wider European Economic Area[1]) with the right to travel, reside and work in any member state. When an English football club decides whether to buy a foreign player it must consider the passports he holds. If the player holds an EU passport then there are no restricti…