Of all of the World’s sporting leagues, the English Premier League, established in 1992, is perhaps the most difficult to comprehend from a statistical perspective.
Since the inception of the League, only 4 clubs have won the title – of the 18 seasons, Manchester United have won 11, Arsenal and Chelsea have won three each, and Blackburn have their one fairytale trophy from 1995.
Only once in the past 10 seasons has a team other than the “Big Four” of Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool finished in the top 3: back in 2002-2003, Newcastle finished third, just ahead of both Chelsea and Liverpool.
Perhaps the most ridiculous statistical information is found on the All-time Premier League table. On average, Manchester United score 83 points per season, with Arsenal (72.8), Chelsea (70.4) and Liverpool (68) all in the top four. The fifth best team during that period, Leeds United, have averaged 57.66 points. Let’s try to put this in some perspective. Approximately 27% of EPL games end in draws, meaning that an average team should win 14, draw 10, and lose 14 for a season, resulting in 52 points.
In percentage terms, of their games that end in a win or a draw, Liverpool win 67.2% of their matches, making them fourth all-time. Manchester United are first on a ridiculous 81.8%, while Leeds in fifth (in a league that contains 20 teams) are back on 55.4%.
Only 9 of the 44 teams who have played in the Premier League have a positive Goal Difference throughout their time in the League. And what a difference it is for the top four in Manchester United (784), Arsenal (574), Chelsea (486), and Liverpool (461). The other clubs are Newcastle (107), Aston Villa (77), Leeds (68), Blackburn (63) and Spurs (18).
The numbers just continue to confound: Spurs have scored 951 goals during their 18 seasons in the top flight, enough to place them fifth all-time, but almost 200 fewer than Liverpool’s 1130, and they’re in fourth.
There are six clubs who have played in at least two fewer EPL seasons than the Big Four who have given up more goals than each of the Big Four clubs. In fact, Southampton and Manchester City have played 13 EPL seasons, but have given up more goals than any of the Big Four, all of whom have played 18 seasons. Bolton have given up 612 goals in their 11 seasons in the League. Manchester United have given up 590 in 18 seasons. In the same time, Man U have scored 897 more goals than Bolton have scored.
Of course, all of these numbers are related to money in a Salary Cap-less environment. The revenue of Manchester United – €327 million – is way ahead of Arsenal (€263), Chelsea (€242.3) and Liverpool (€217), but all four clubs dwarf the revenue of all of their competitors, with only three other English clubs cracking the €100 million mark last year.
In 2009, it was reported that Chelsea spent €149 million Euros on wages, more than any other club. Manchester United spent €121, and Arsenal spent €101. Incredibly, this meant that Manchester United and Arsenal were two of the bottom three EPL teams in terms of the percentage of their turnover spent on wages, with Man U at 47% and Arsenal at 45%. Poor old Bolton have to spend 67% of their turnover on wages, but even they didn’t spend as much as half of the teams who spent over 70% of their turnover on wages, including a couple who were over 89%.
So the question beckons:
If you’re a fan of any of the teams playing this week who aren’t the Big Four, and who aren’t recently promoted to the EPL, how do you maintain interest in your team and the League?
Surely, you don’t believe that your team has any real chance of winning the Premiership this season, or any season in the forseeable future. And any impressive, young, talented player who looks destined to become good enough to earn a top salary isn’t going to stay in your team for long either – for not only can they earn more money elsewhere, but they also can’t expect to have any chance of Premiership glory if they’re not at one of the four biggest teams in the country.
So why do they keep coming back? Do fans of such EPL teams dream of glory days in which they might manage to climb the ranks and finish…fifth? Are Newcastle fans destined to spend the remainder of their days reminiscing about the incredible 2003 team that carried them all the way…to third?
This year, there may be another fairytale. Sportsbet have Manchester City on the fourth line of betting at $7 to win the Premiership, behind Chelsea at $2.50, Manchester United at $3.25, and just in front of Arsenal at $7 and Liverpool at $10. Other than Tottenham, no other team is under $100.
All of which forces one to wonder: when Aston Villa (8th favourite, but at $201 to win the League) played West Ham (13th, at $751) in their opening game of the 2010-2011 English Premier League season this past weekend, why did anyone care?