By Tony Attwood
Last night I saw a comment saying that Arsenal would not get anywhere under the Kroenke ownership because the Kroenke’s would not spend any money.
My immediate reaction to this was that it was quite untrue, and that the current owners had in fact exceeded expectations (or certainly my expectations) in terms of expenditure. And so I went looking for the data – and on looking I found this is so. Arsenal are the fifth highest spenders in the league measured over the last five years.
And digging further I came to this conclusion: simply spending more is unlikely to help us at all.
So to the figures. If we measure the net spend – which is to say money spent on players minus income from players sold, Arsenal are the fourth highest spenders.
Then why are we ninth in the league? The answer simply is that spending money on players does not equate with league position. I know lots of fans like to think it does, but the table below shows it does not.
The Difference chart. In the table below the final column (Diff) shows the difference between the position in the spending table, and the position in the league table. So, a club that had spent more than anyone else (after taking into account spending minus income from players sold) would be number 1 in the Nett spend table. If however the club were fifth in the actual league table their position on the Difference chart (the final column – Diff) would be 1-5 = -4.
To put it another way, clubs with plus numbers in the final column are doing better than we might expect as a result of their buying. Clubs with minus numbers are doing worse than we might expect as a result of their buying.
But remember, just because Liverpool is the big success story over the past five years, that does not mean they would be over the years before that. All clubs can get lucky, all clubs can buy duds. And all clubs can buy brilliant players who get injured or who have wives who fail to settle in the new country.
|Purchased||Sold||Nett spend||Net spend per season||Nett spend pos||Lge pos||Diff|
|Manchester City||£818.5 m||£312.9 m||£505.6 m||£101.1 m||1||2||-1|
|Manchester Utd||£611.1 m||£232.2 m||£378.9 m||£75.8 m||2||5||-3|
|Chelsea||£656.9 m||£523.6 m||£133.2 m||£26.6 m||10||4||+6|
|Everton||£536.5 m||£261.5 m||£275.0 m||£55.0 m||3||13||-10|
|Liverpool||£470.9 m||£378.5 m||£92.4 m||£18.5 m||15||1||+14|
|Arsenal||£443.1 m||£194.2 m||£249.0 m||£49.8 m||4||9||-5|
|Leicester||£381.4 m||£268.8 m||£112.6 m||£22.5 m||11||3||+8|
|Tottenham H||£322.3 m||£227.7 m||£94.6 m||£18.9 m||14||8||+6|
|West Ham Utd||£308.1 m||£152.4 m||£155.7 m||£31.1 m||8||16||-8|
|Aston Villa||£276.2 m||£78.1 m||£198.1 m||£39.6 m||5||19||-14|
|Newcastle Utd||£273.6 m||£166.2 m||£107.5 m||£21.5 m||12||13||-1|
|Wolverhampton W||£269.4 m||£84.7 m||£184.8 m||£37.0 m||7||7||0|
|Southampton||£240.4 m||£243.2 m||-£02.8 m||-£00.6 m||20||14||+6|
|Brighton & Hove A||£212.0 m||£14.6 m||£197.4 m||£39.5 m||6||15||-9|
|AFC Bournemouth||£204.1 m||£70.7 m||£133.4 m||£26.7 m||9||18||-9|
|Watford||£204.0 m||£108.8 m||£95.2 m||£19.0 m||13||17||-4|
|Crystal Palace||£161.5 m||£105.3m||£56.2 m||£11.2 m||16||11||+5|
|Burnley||£126.6 m||£74.1 m||£52.5 m||£10.5 m||17||10||+7|
|Norwich City||£55.0 m||£14.7 m||-£46.8 m||– £9.4 m||19||20||-1|
|Sheffield United||£55.0 m||£14.7 m||£40.3 m||£08.1 m||18||6||+12|
These are the clubs that are beating the odds in that they are doing better than the amount of spending might suggest. It shows that beating the transfer odds can happen at all sorts of league positions.
|Club||Net spend per Season||Nett spend pos||Lge pos||Diff|
|Crystal Palace||£11.2 m||16||11||5|
|Sheffield United||£08.1 m||18||6||12|
The basket cases are doing worse than we might expect given all the money spent
|Club||Net spend per Season||Nett spend pos||Lge pos||Diff|
|Brighton & Hove A||£39.5 m||6||15||-9|
|AFC Bournemouth||£26.7 m||9||18||-9|
|West Ham||£31.1 m||8||16||-8|
|Aston Villa||£39.6 m||5||19||-14|
So to summarise, the top over achievers (that is the clubs doing far better than we might expect for the money spent) are Liverpool, Sheffield United and Leicester.
Now that is interesting, in that in our other articles on this site, we have constantly come up with oddities about both Liverpool and Leicester.
Liverpool are notable because they seem to keep getting the same referees over and over again. And Leicester because they have the most curious record in terms of referee decisions. (You might recall this last case if you are a regular reader – it is the link between tackles, fouls and yellow cards, wherein Leicester are way out of line with the rest of the clubs in the league).
As for Sheffield United, we have not looked deeply at them, but even in passing we noted that by the time of our investigation they had had both David Coote (total 11 matches in the PL) and Simon Hooper (9 matches) on four occasions – 40% of the total games the two of them have been in charge of Sheffield United games. When our new figures are published it will be interesting to see how that situation has developed.
And Chelsea? A further investigation might reveal something, but of course it takes time and needs a lot of statistics searching. Maybe it is brilliant tactics, clever buying and selling… And maybe they have been benefiting from the years of their mass buying and selling of youth players which in the end Uefa had a close look at.
So what links the bottom group together? Here it is not so easy to see. More statistical work is needed, and all suggestions welcome.
But what we can see is that simply spending more and more and more is not a guarantee of success. You have to get the purchasing and selling right over a period of years. That is what Liverpool has done.
The Difference League shows the clubs in order of their success in the transfer market
- Liverpool +14
- Sheffield United + 12
- Leicester + 8
- Burnley + 7
- Southampton + 6
- Chelsea +6
- Tottenham Hotspur + 6
- Crystal Palace + 5
- Wolverhampton Wanderers 0
- Norwich City – 1
- Manchester City – 1
- Newcastle United – 1
- Manchester United – 3
- Watford – 4
- Arsenal – 5
- West Ham United – 8
- Brighton and Hove Albion – 9
- AFC Bournemouth – 9
- Everton – 10
- Aston Villa – 14
The answer is simple: we don’t need to spend more money, we need to buy better players. In fact we could see these figures as a victory for the people who think that success in football is all about spending money. It isn’t. Mr Wenger was known as one of the most careful spenders of the club’s money when it came to transfers. A bit more prudence might be in order.
- The home and away scandal: ignorance, or cover up?
- The reason why Liverpool and Man C are ahead of Arsenal.
- How which referee a club gets has a major impact on the result of each game
- The statistical evidence that shows PGMO are biased against Arsenal
- How European football has taken up the fight against clubs breaking FFP