By Tony Attwood
If you read the blogs or the newspapers, or listen to radio stations like Radio 5 or TalkSprout or watch TV stations like Sky Sports or BT Sport you’ll know one thing for sure: transfers are important.
So important in fact that they determine how well a team will do. Indeed listening to and reading their constant chatter one sometimes wonders if there is any point in playing football at all. All the clubs have to do is spend a lot and they will win the league.
It’s one of those stories that goes around, and few people ever check out if it is true.
Of course it is not the only story that goes around the media unchecked. For example, in Britain we have been told that through being outdoors, the coronavirus can spread like wildfire. In fact you might remember the outrage expressed when people went to the beaches last June.
But anyone bothering to read what the scientists (as opposed to local residents and politicians) were saying, that was tripe. The virus can spread anywhere, but of all settings, outdoors is a very unlikely setting for transmitting the virus. Certainly far, far, far less likely than going to a supermarket or sitting in a classroom. Even the government’s adviser (Professor Mark Woolhouse) said that the chances of getting the virus on the beach was nonexistent in practice.
But it made a good story. Selfish sunbathers. Identify a minority group and demonise them without evidence. Who’d ever have thought of that?
However it is this habit of make-believe news that causes Untold to spend so much time unravelling what the media says about football and trying to see if there any truth in there, anywhere. Which is also why we quote the statistics so often.
Of course statistics are not going to tell us why PGMO remains an ultra-secret institution, nor why it runs refereeing in England in a way so different from refereeing in the rest of Europe. Nor indeed why the newspapers refuse to cover this. From there we need some logic and the following of pathways, to see where they lead.
At then one looks for the most likely explanation.
So, to come to transfers…
Here our thesis is that the amount clubs spend on transfers is not always related to the club’s subsequent progress in the League, and thus endless demands to spend more and more and more, are not guaranteed to bring about improvement.
So below is the net spend for each club across the last two seasons. These figures come from TransferMarkt
A + sign before an entry in the first three columns means that the club is in profit in the transfer window. All other figures are a loss.
In the fifth column the clubs are compared. Aston Villa are number 1 because they have spent the most. Crystal Palace are 20th because they actually made money rather than spent it (hence the + sign). Arsenal are fourth in terms of expenditure of those transfer windows.
In the sixth column is where the club is now in the actual Premier League. So although we spent the fourth largest amount of money we are 10th in the League – showing in the last column a difference of minus 6. We are six places lower than we would be if spending on transfers translated directly into league position.
|Club||2019/20 net||2020/1 net||Total||£m place||Lge place||Diff|
|Brighton and Hove A||£55.31m||£2.61m||£57.92m||12||16||-4|
|West Bromwich A||+£11.04m||£29.57m||£18.53m||16||19||-3|
|West Ham United||£31.25m||£3.42m||£34.67m||14||5||+9|
The biggest winners are Leicester City and Liverpool who are both 12 places above where they would be if money spent translated into league position. Just behind them is West Ham on +9.
The biggest loser is Sheffield United 14 places below where they should be if money spent meant a higher league position. Behind them is Aston Villa on -7 and Arsenal -6.
So what is wrong with Arsenal? Why are we six places below where we should be if money counted? Is it because…
a) Transfers don’t make nearly so much difference as the media suggests
b) We have changed managers three times in four years, and so have no consistent policy.
c) It’s our manager and transfer team buying the wrong players.
It’s an interesting thought.
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