By Tony Attwood
There is a preliminary question to answer here which is, “which fair play league?” because I have come up with three of them. I know its a bit nerdy to go through all of them, but since no one else has, and since we have been publishing the fair play league tables in the match previews this year, I thought I really ought to pull it together.
I will start with those from the Transfer Market web site. I can’t quite see how they do their points total but it looks like it is one point for a yellow, three for a second yellow and five for a straight red.
Arsenal are published as top of the list I guess because they committed fewer fouls than Leicester although doing the points totals in this manner, the clubs end up equal.
I have placed the top five clubs in the actual league table at the end of the season in bold, to highlight how fair play relates to league position.
One interesting factor is that the number of fouls doesn’t directly link to the position in the fair play table as Arsenal with 349 fouls came top and West Ham (State Aid Utd) with only a handful more came 18th. Five straight reds didn’t help them however. Aston Villa got just on twice as many yellows as Arsenal.
This table deals with league games only.
|16||West Bromwich Albion||386||65||0||3||80|
|18||West Ham United||379||57||0||5||82|
Here’s the FA Version – which includes all games. They do have a version for league matches only on their web site but it hasn’t been working for the past two weeks (which was when I first tried to put this article together). I have been waiting since then, but have finally given up. If you try the link at the start of this paragraph you might find it working now.
I am in each case publishing the table exactly as published by the originator – and in this case the FA put their dirtiest team at the top and the nice guys at the bottom for some reason. All I have done once again is emboldened the top five in the actual league table.
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|3||West Bromwich Albion||45||79||3||350|
|11||West Ham United||45||67||6||302|
- Caution 4 pts
- Denial of a goal scoring opportunity or dismissal for 2 cautions 10 pts
- Violent conduct, serious foul play, spitting or offensive and abusive language 12 pts
Arsenal are once again top (or bottom) of the league, with Leicester and Bournemouth close at hand, but other teams have changed position dramatically – Man U in particular moving from being a mid-table team to one of the dirtiest.
Finally Footstats, whose wide array of statistics I have been using in recent articles – my particular thanks to them. This is interesting as it has some extra details in terms of fouls and fouls per card.
This is the table that gives me pause for thought. We started off with a table that shows the top five teams in the league in the top 12 teams for fair play. But now we have a much bigger spread because this table is organised by yellow card order.
The points totalling system here is simple – one for a yellow, two for a red. So by and large the position that a club has in the league depends on the number of yellows.
Fouls per card is interesting – ranging from 5.75 fouls per card up to 8.97 fouls per card – from Villa at the foot to Arsenal at the top.
Of course there are so many factors at play here, such as the severity of the foul, the leniency of the referee and of course where the foul takes place. But the figures do show that Arsenal commits more fouls per card than any other team. Although we might take it that some of our fouls are invented for the benefit of the referee, so they are used to break up promising moments, but can hardly be turned into cards.
Finally the same table as before but presented in the order of the number of fouls awarded again, starting with the dirtiest team, and ending up with the cleanest.
Now we see the top five clubs spread out – as some (Man U and Tottenham) have clearly used the foul as part of their tactics to get them up the league, and Arsenal in particular have not. Man U committed 122 more fouls noted by the referee than Arsenal during the course of the season. That’s quite a lot.
So there we are – whichever way we look at it, Arsenal are the fair play winners. Everton committed fewer fouls but had so many more cards that they slipped down the table.
Yes Arsenal are the Fair Play champions of 2015/16 – funny thing is I don’t recall this being mentioned in the press. Or on TV. Or on radio. Or in the bloggettas.
Why is that?
- The reform of the FA is now down to a man particularly familiar with lap dancing.
- REF REVIEW ARSENAL – NORWICH: interesting observations or just coincidence
- 1 June is the day football changes. Here are the new rules, and some that the authorities missed.
And on the Arsenal History site…
- Arsenal in the 1930s – the first eight episodes have been published, more to come…
- The First League Season, including a review of each player who played in that season
- Arsenal in the 1970s – the complete review of every game and every transfer
- Arsenal in the summer – the transfers, the friendlies, year by year
- Arsenal anniversaries – nearly 5000 entries
The full index to all the series is on Arsenal History Society Web Site