Football Management

Commentary on the management of over 160 English football clubs by Dr John Beech, winner of the FSF Writer of the Year Award 2009/10 Twitter: @JohnBeech Curator of Scoop.it! Football Finance

The Big 1, 2, 3 or is it still 4? Or more?

Posted by John Beech on June 9, 2011

Currently I’m working on a joint research project on various European football leagues with colleagues in Austria.  One set of data which we have produced so far casts some light on this perenial debate.  The latest version of the date centres of course on whether Liverpool ‘have fallen out of the Top 4′, and/or whether Manchester City ‘are  making it into a Top 5′, and/or variations on that theme.

We looked at the points scored each season by each club (adding back in any points deducted), going back to the 1995/96 season – an arbitrary choice, as any is, but one which suits our purpose as it is the season when 3-points-for-a-win was widely adopted across Europe (although the Premier League had embraced this system earlier).

The table below shows the percentage each club grabbed of the total points scored, and the percentage of time they spent in the Premier League over the sixteen seasons.

Overall %

95/96 to 10/11

% Presence

1   Manchester United

7.88

100.00

2   Arsenal

7.22

100.00

3   Chelsea

7.08

100.00

4   Liverpool

6.61

100.00

5   Aston Villa

5.31

100.00

6   Tottenham Hotspur

5.12

100.00

7   Everton

5.00

100.00

8   Newcastle United

4.83

93.75

9   Blackburn Rovers

4.18

87.50

10 West Ham

3.98

87.50

11 Middlesbrough

3.56

81.25

12 Bolton Wanderers

3.30

75.00

13 Manchester City

3.27

68.75

14 Fulham

2.76

62.50

15 Leeds United

2.72

50.00

16 Southampton

2.71

62.50

17 Sunderland

2.38

62.50

18 Charlton Athletic

2.17

50.00

19 Leicester City

1.88

43.75

20 Portsmouth

1.82

43.75

21 Birmingham City

1.81

43.75

22 Derby County

1.65

43.75

23 Wigan Athletic

1.52

37.50

24 Coventry City

1.51

40.63

25 Sheffield Wednesday

1.31

31.25

26 Wimbledon

1.30

31.25

27 West Bromwich

1.02

31.25

28 Stoke City

0.83

18.75

29 Nottingham Forest

0.73

18.75

30 Wolverhampton Wanderers

0.67

18.75

31 Ipswich Town

0.61

12.50

32 Reading

0.55

12.50

33 Crystal Palace

0.40

12.50

34 Hull City

0.39

12.50

35 Bradford City

0.37

12.50

36 Watford

0.31

12.50

37 Blackpool

0.23

6.25

38 Sheffield United

0.23

6.25

39 Barnsley

0.21

6.25

40 Norwich City

0.20

6.25

41 Queens Park Rangers

0.20

6.25

42 Burnley

0.18

6.25

Together the top four in the list grabbed a total of 28.79% of the points scored, comparable with the 28.32% that Celtic and Rangers grabbed as the Big 2 in the Scottish Premier League over the same period.  Manchester United, with 7.88%, dominated the Premier League slightly less than Bayern München dominated the German Bundesliga with 8.36% (they were ahead of Bayer Leverkusen with 6.83%).  And, before you ask, no, we haven’t looked at Italy or Spain yet.

What emerges is a fairly predictable picture of the Premier League – continued dominance and presence by a smallish group of clubs, and a long ‘tail’ of clubs who were either relegated and haven’t yet come back, clubs who have yoyoed in and out, and some recent newcomers.

How this relates to the financial state of the individual clubs is certainly food for thought, and indeed further research…

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3 Responses to “The Big 1, 2, 3 or is it still 4? Or more?”

  1. At first I though the most amazing statistic was that Rangers and Celtic had a higher percentage of the total points that the big four together but of course there are less teams n their league

  2. Really interesting post, nice to see such an extensive presentation of statistics.

  3. Alan easter said

    When you talk of the top four naturally you with think of the days in which the phrase was massively coined, in which Liverpool where indeed firmly present in both the phrase and actual top four. This I why I ask in what sense do you alp ply the phrase as in football things change so dramatically quickly, even with the period of time covered being short. In one sense Manc are definitely in the top four and Liverpool would be not, when you look at current and most recent history, that being said over the last 3 seasons including this current season it would have to become a top five with Tottenham having been in the top four. In the other sense you (looking at the top four clubs in England/or even more specific the first division) you have to look at what makes that the case, so the most likely measurement would be the most successful (ie completions won) how ever that doesn’t take into account a number of factors; completion prestige and quality of each opponents in each competition. With my overriding point being that it is hard to really choose whether to count a lost force such as Liverpool, Leeds or Nottingham forest as big clubs, and in no way do I mean offence to fans of those clubs. My reason being that the best club in the premier league changes not only from season to season but also game by game and league position doesn’t take into account the possibility of a team having an awful start to the season as another has an excellent start yet half way through fortunes change and over all despite not overtaking the initially good team they do have a more successful 2nd half to the season, meaning that although come end of the season the initially poor club would be classed as not as good a club as there opponents they would however be at the present time the better achieving club in terms of quality.
    I apologise for the lengthy comment and messy argument it’s just so many variables are ther but the are almost all valid and an answer is unable to be reached.

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