With the Championship season going down to the wire, as far as 2nd place is concerned, I wanted to assess who has earned their place in the top 6 and who has bought it. These two scenarios aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive, and there are a number of ways to ‘play’ the system, however, lets see what the headlines are.
Looking at the teams that can finish in the top 6, and therefore are in with a shout for promotion, the transfer spends for the 2012/13 season are as follows, (in order of current position):
So in terms of spending money, 5 out of the 8 are in the order (if not the position) they should be in. The most interesting are Cardiff, who have spent the most (£10,159,600) and are top of the league and Hull City who have spent the 2nd most (£7,427,200) and are in 2nd.
The anomalies are caused by Watford, who have a +ve transfer expenditure due to the fact that they did most of their business in the loan market (did I hear someone say Udinese Reserves?) and Crystal Palace who sold Zaha to Manchester United for £10,340,000 and then loaned him back. Brighton should also be mentioned as they appear to be outperforming Bolton, Leicester & Forest.
Now that we know what they have spent, it makes sense to see what difference the spend has had on the season v last season. Or, has the money spent resulted in an improved performance?
Every team, with the exception of Bolton (who were relegated from the Premier League), have improved on last seasons finish so far, suggesting that any money spent on transfers is money well spent.
A better way to calculate the level of improvement is to measure how much each place that the teams have climbed has cost, or transfer spend / place improvement = value:
Cardiffs climb to 1st has cost them over £2m per place, Leicesters £1.5m transfer expenditure has helped them climb 1 place whilst Brighton are still looking great. Their rise up the table has only cost them £98k per place which is less than 5% of Cardiffs. Bolton are saddled with their total expenditure as they came from a higher division.
The average £ per place figure is £799,828. If I multiply this by the place variance and compare it with the actual £ per place figure we will get a picture of who is over / underperforming against the average.
Clearly Watford & Crystal Palace are overperforming hugely, however if we give them a pat on the back and then move them aside, the next highest overperformers are Nottingham Forest who, using the average, should have spent £9,597,940 to climb their 12 places yet have done it with an expenditure of only £2,763,200 (a variance of £6,834,740).
Cardiff, Hull City, Bolton & Leicester have all underperformed against the average. I’m sure that fans of each team will be able to offer explanations of how this has happened (Nick Proschwitz anyone?), and Cardiff fans are unlikely to care anyway.
The variance chart, and the League Table based on transfer performance, is as below:
Of course, with a minimum of £120m at stake, none of the above means a jot to the teams that are promoted.
*All transfer expenditures courtesy of transfermarkt.co.uk