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Blog

An Analysis of the Performance of Promoted Clubs

Ford Bohrmann

Joey Barton, of newly promoted QPR

An aspect of English football that I love that does not exist in American sports is the promotion/relegation aspect. It makes not just the race for first exciting, but also the race to avoid relegation entertaining. In American sports, last place teams often simply give up, a disappointment for fans. 

I wanted to see exactly how promoted/relegated teams fared throughout the season. Some statistical research has already been done on the subject: Omar Chaudhuri, writer of the 5 Added Minutes blog, looks at conversion rates of promoted teams and their corresponding ability to stay in the top flight here.  In part 1 of this post, I have looked at how promoted teams have done in their first season in the top flight. My original idea was that teams may struggle early in the season to adjust to the higher level of competition, and eventually even out as the weeks go on and the teams adjust. This also puts the performance of QPR, Swansea, and Norwich into perspective with past promoted team's performances. I use data from promoted teams from the 2003/2004 to 2010/2011 season. 

I've created 5 graphs to illustrate the performances of promoted teams. The first one, below, shows how all the promoted clubs' point totals have progressed over the 38 games. On average, promoted teams earn around a point per week. The greenish linear-looking line in the middle is the average. All the other jagged lines are the point totals over the season of promoted clubs. This graph isn't too informative, but is an interesting graphic nonetheless.

The next graph is the same as the one above, but only looks at the three promoted clubs this season in comparison to the average points line and the linear points line. To clarify,  the linear line shows is a line illustrating what would happen if a team earned the same points every week to end up with the average point total for promoted clubs. The average line shows the average points earned each week of the season. These may sound the same at first, but I will show in the next couple of paragraphs that there is an important distinction. Anyways, the graphic below illustrates that all 3 promoted clubs are faring about as well as the average promoted team does. QPR started off a little stronger, but has since returned to the average. Norwich and Swansea both started a little weaker, but have improved to end up just above the average 7 weeks in to the season. All 3 teams have 8 points so far, just above the point per week average of promoted teams.

Another way of looking at the first graph is by looking at points per game of promoted teams. The graph below shows this. Obviously, at first clubs' point per game total is a little spread out. As the season progresses, teams earn an average of 1 point per game, as mentioned above. Some clubs have done a little better, and some a little worse, as evident from the graph.

Next is the graph above, but again looking at the performance of the 3 promoted teams this season. Again, the graph shows that QPR started off the campaign a little stronger, but has since regressed to be even with Norwich and Swansea.

The final and most informative graph shows the cumulative points per game of promoted clubs. This graph answers my question of how promoted teams fare throughout the season. As you can see below, promoted teams seem to struggle up until week 7, where they turn it around and do better than their average point total up until around week 20, where they hover around the point per game mark until the end of the season. There could be a lot of explanations for this trend. Maybe clubs struggle at first, and then adjust to the higher competition? Maybe clubs transfer window acquisitions (think QPR) start to pay off around week 7? It would be tough to tell what the true factors driving the trend are really. However, the graph does highlight the interesting phenomenon. 

I'm still working on doing a similar analysis of clubs that are relegated at the end of the season to analyze how their performance fluctuates throughout the season.