Tag: Data journalism

25Oct
elephantgraveyard

The MLS is Like an Elephant’s Graveyard: a Place Where The Eldest Go to Die

According to a popular legend, when elephants reach an old age, they move away from their herd looking for a place to die. This is called an ‘elephants’ graveyard’. Have you seen ‘The Lion King’? Do you remember when Simba and Nala are attacked by hyenas for the first time? Well, that was an elephants’ graveyard.

American Major League Soccer is the football equivalent to that. A place where famous players with their best years behind their backs go to spend the final seasons of their careers.

Take for instance English players. As we already discussed on this blog, you won’t see many of them playing at major European leagues, but there are quite a few in the United States. In fact, they are the second most popular nationality among foreign players, just after Argentina. Among these 18 Englishmen you can find some big names, like Steven Gerrard, who is playing for Los Angeles Galaxy, or Frank Lampard, who plays for New York City FC. They both had very successful careers and they moved to the US in their mid or late 30s.

The chart below tries to visualise this trend: mature players from all over the world moving to the MLS at the end of the careers. The graph shows the difference between their current market value, and what they reached at the peak of their careers. I took the data from Transfermarkt, a very popular German website that publishes regular estimates of the market value of players in most leagues.
mls-elephant-graveyard
The players shown on the graph are those who suffered the highest losses in their market value. How many names can you recognise? Probably most of them, as these players had really successful careers in European football. Kaká shined at AC Milan and was sold to Real Madrid for a whopping figure. Steven Gerrard was a local hero at Liverpool for many years. David Villa was a key player in the most successful Spanish national team in history. Frank Lampard is the all-time leading goalscorer for Chelsea. Andrea Pirlo is a symbol of Italian football all over the world. Now they are all waiting for retirement in the USA.

Are there any other competitions that have became elephants’ graveyards? Let us know!

26Jan

Is there life after relegation? How long it takes to return to Spanish La Liga?

A few weeks ago I read an article on the Mirror about how long it takes to get re-promoted to the Premier League. Aston Villa will probably be playing in Championship next year, so the paper was looking to the historical data to see how long it took other teams to come back to the top competition.

The article inspired me and I decided to do a similar analysis for other leagues, starting with Spanish La Liga, so I should thank Mirror’s journalist David Dubas-Fisher for giving me the idea.

When do relegated teams return to premier league. Mirror. BLOG

The chart above is based on the data provided by the Mirror and it shows that most comebacks take place in the first two seasons after relegation. If you stay longer…you might never return to the Premier League. That’s what happened to some big names like Leeds, Derby or Nottingham Forest.

In Spain the trend is quite similar. Almost half of the teams return to La Liga in the following 3 seasons after their relegation, in fact, the median is just 2 seasons. Nevertheless, almost 40% (38% to be accurate) are still in lower competitions.

What happens to a spanish team after being relegated from la liga

But hey, if your team has been relegated and it hasn’t returned yet, don’t despair. In Spain there are a few examples of teams that remained many years playing in ‘La Liga Adelante’ (Spanish second division) and eventually got promoted. Have a look to the chart below, you will notice a very different distribution compared to the Premier League.

When do relegated teams returned to Spanish La Liga?

There are some teams (not many) that were able to return to La Liga after 7, 8 or even 13 seasons. Think for instance in UD Las Palmas. They are currently playing in La Liga but they have been playing in lower categories since season 2002/2003. In fact, they spent two seasons in 2B, Spanish third division, but they managed to return to the top category.

The last chart of this post shows the teams that, since 1992, spent the longest periods in lower categories before returning to La Liga. The top position is shared between UD Las Palmas and Hércules CF, a team from Alicante currently playing in 2B that played in La Liga for the last time in season 2010/11.

Which teams waited the longest to return to la liga after relegation

18Jan
Players over 30 years old playing in 5 football teams

Which teams have more footballers over 30?

Following our series of posts about footballers over 30 years old, today we analyse how many ‘oldies’ are playing for each team in the 5 major leagues.

If you have read my last post about Italian players you might assume that the top 5 positions will be taken by clubs from the Mediterranean country. Well, your assumption is correct, 3 out of the 5 teams with the highest number of players over 30 are Italian.

But let’s move away from Serie A for a bit and have a close look to other competitions. What’s going on in La Liga? Rayo Vallecano’s squad includes 12 mature players, but what about the rest?

LA LIGA

Alongside Rayo Vallecano, Deportivo de A Coruña and Real Betis also have a significant amount of players over 30.

Rayo Vallecano’s performance this season has been terrible, and they are currently in relegation positions. Among their oldies you can find former Spanish national team player Pablo Hernández (30) and striker Javi Guerra (33).

Deportivo, on the other hand, are doing a brilliant season (disclaimer: I’m a Deportivo fan). Its squad includes veteran players like former Newcastle player Jonás Gutierrez (32) or the historical Deportivo’s right back, Manuel Pablo (39).

Deportivo’s biggest rival, Celta de Vigo, are the team with the lowest number of veteran footballers in Spanish La Liga. Only the Argentinian defender, Gustavo Cabral, is over 30. Well, actually he is just 30 years old.

Players over 30 years old playing in la liga

BUNDESLIGA

Most German teams have less than 6 players over 30, but there are two exceptions: FC Augsburg and SV Darmstadt 98. Both teams are in the lower half of the table, holding 12th and 13th positions respectively

FC Augsburg’s squad includes former Arsenal goalkeeper Alex Manninger (38) and Estonian international Ragnar Klavan (30).

On the other hand, SV Darmstadt 98 has a very interesting ‘oldie’, Costa Rican Júnior Díaz. He is 32 years old and during the last World Cup he was deemed by FIFA as the fastest player of the competition.

Players over 30 years old playing in bundesliga

PREMIER LEAGUE

Manchester City and Stoke include 10 footballers over 30 in their squads, making them the two teams with the highest number of veteran players in the Premier League.

Fernandinho (30), Yaya Touré (32) or Jesús Navas (30) are some of the top players in Manchester City’s squad.

Stoke City’s ‘oldies’ include English defender Glen Johnson (31) and Nigerian striker Peter Odemwingie (34).

It’s worth mentioning that Tottenham Hotspurs only have one player over 30. Alongside Celta de Vigo, they are the team with the lowest number of veteran players in major European competitions.

Players over 30 years old playing in the premier league

LIGUE 1

As you can see in the chart below, on top the table there are two French teams with 9 players over 30 in their squads.

SC Bastia, currently in 15th position, have two former French international players: Mehdi Mostefa (32) and Sébastien Squillaci (35).

SCO Angers, currently in 3rd position, also has two former internacionals, Algerian Anthar Yahia (33) and Guinean Ibrahima Diallo (30).

Players over 30 years old playing in ligue 1

SERIE A

Last week I defined Serie A as a ‘haven for players over 30’, and the chart below proves me right. Just in Chievo Verona there are 13 veterans, including footballers Dario Dainelli (36) or Slovenian international Bostjan Cesar (33).

Players over 30 years old playing in the serie a

11Jan
CC BY-NC the rik pics

Italian Serie A is a haven for footballers over 30

There are 564 players in the 5 major European leagues that are 30 years old or older. Well, at least that was the figure before the winter transfer window opened, now it might be slightly different.

In another blog post published a few weeks before Christmas I was surprised by the performance of mature Italian players and I promised to investigate if they grow old more gracefully than other nationalities. Well, I haven’t done a proper research this time, but I did have a look to the origin of these 564 players and, it’s true, there are lots of Italians!

Footballers in their 30s playing in major leagues

Defenders in Serie A

Serie A is the competition with the highest number of active players older than 30. They represent 26% of the total number of mature player in the 5 major leagues.

As you can see in the chart above, defenders are the most popular position for veteran footballers playing in Italy. Think in Giorgio Chiellini and Andrea Barzagli from Juventus or Miranda from Inter Milan.

It’s interesting to see that Serie A players lead every single position except for midfielders, where Ligue 1 takes the lead, including names like Mathieu Valbuena (Olympique Lyon, aged 31) or Lassana Diarra (Olympique Marseille, aged 30)

Not even the veteran Premier League players are English

But where are all these players actually from? Which competition has more national players over 30? Well, there are quite big differences between leagues, as you can see in the chart below.

Nationality of players over 30

Ligue 1, La Liga and Serie A have a clear majority of national players, Bundesliga is divided in a perfect 1:1 ratio and in the Premier League there’s an overwhelming majority of veteran footballers from overseas.

But where these foreign players come from? The chart below shows the top 10 nationalities of players over 30. Outside the 5 countries we are analysing, Argentina and Brazil are the most popular origin.

Top 10 nationalities over 30

Summary

  • Serie A is the major European competition with the highest number of active players over 30
  • There are more footballers over 30 playing as defenders than in any other position
  • Less than 1 in 3 players over 30 in the Premier League are actually English
  • Italy is the country with more veteran players in the 5 major competitions, but most of them remain in Serie A.
21Sep

Arrests at football games. A closer look to London teams

I’ve already mentioned in a previous post that Millwall is the English team with the highest ratio of fans arrested. In the last 10 years, 2.5 supporters were arrested for every 10,000 attendees to their games.

Is this a London phenomenon? Do football supporters from the capital get in trouble more often that the rest of the country? Well, actually they don’t. If you have a look to the chart below you’ll see that only 4 teams are above the national average: Millwall, Chelsea, West Ham and Tottenham. There’s something in the docklands…

10 years in arrests in London teams

The chart below analyses the evolution through time of the arrest ratio of current Premier League teams. Be aware that not all of them have been in the Premier League for the whole period, so I’ve used a different colour to highlight the years they spent in Championship.

The general trend is a decline in the number of arrests in the last decade, you can see that both in London teams and in the national average. Nevertheless, there are some teams that consistently perform worse than the national average, particularly Chelsea, West Ham and Tottenham (just at the beginning of the decade).

There are some interesting peaks that can be explained by particular incidents that provoked a higher number of arrests. For example, in season 2008/2009, West Ham reached their highest ratio for the whole series. This was the year when the Upton Park riot took place, a battle between Hammers’ and Millwall’s supporters. I couldn’t any particular event for the Spurs peak in 2005/2006, so I’ve you know what happened that year let me know!

Arrests in London Premier League teams

The main reason for being arrested is public disorder, followed by alcohol offences and violent disorder. But some offences are more common in some teams than in others. For example, Spurs are the club with the highest percentage of fans arrested due to alcohol offences. West Ham are leaders in racist chanting and an important percentage of Leyton Orient arrests were caused by pitch incursions, probably after last year’s game against Peterborough.

You can explore the interactive chart below to see which crowds are more likely to commit each type of offence. But careful, it doesn’t include data for 2009/2010 because that year the Home Office merged public and violent disorder in a way that we can’t compare it with other years.

18Aug
10 years of arrests

10 years of arrests in football games

Let’s take a step back from the football pitch and have a look to what happens around it. Today I am starting a new series of blog posts about violence and disorder in football games.

The Home Office regularly publishes data about arrests and banning orders (that means people that are not allowed to attend to a match), so I have put together statistics between seasons 2003/2004 and 2013/2014 in order to create some charts. Hopefully, data for last season will be available in a few months.

In the following days we will see which supporters are more problematic when they are not playing at home, where are there more arrests for racist chanting and which crowd cause more violent disorders. But, today, we will just have a look to the big picture: which team has more supporters that have been arrested in the last decade? The answer: Manchester United. By far.

9Jul

Premier League: Best (and worst) performances in the second half of season 2014/2015

2014-2015 second half

A few months ago I wrote a blog post about how English club’s performed in the second half of the season since 1993. The chart above is an update of that post and shows the best and worst performances of last season’s second half.

The most impressive improvement was broadly commented at the time. In just 6 weeks, Leicester City moved from being last to end up in a comfortable 14th position. As you can see in the chart, they were virtually relegated for most of the season!

It’s also interesting to see the evolution of Crystal Palace, another team that started the second half as one of the main candidates to be relegated and during the whole second half climbed 8 positions.

There were a couple of bad performances too. West Ham United had an amazing first half, reaching the middle of the season in the 5th position. Sadly for the East Londoners, they were not able to keep the good performance and they ended up 12th.

Newcastle United also had a terrible ending of the season. They held in the middle of the table for most of the season, but in the last 9 games they lost 4 positions and finished 15th.

24Jun
Gerrard

Only a third of Premier League players are English

Last week I wrote a post saying that there are only 4 English footballers playing in the big 5 European leagues. But there are not many playing in England either!

I had a look to the percentage of nationals in each major competition and the Premier League performs really bad. In season 2014/2015 only 35% of footballers in England were actually English. This is a very low percentage compared to other countries like Spain, Germany or France.

National players in the big 5 leagues

This is not something new. At the beginning of the season, BBC Sport made a great analysis about the number of foreign players in Premier League and changes in the FA home-grown rules are trying to push forward players from the Premier League academies.

My question is, does this low percentage of national players damage England’s chances in international competitions? I will crunch some numbers and try to answer myself in a few days. Stay tuned!

18Jun

English footballers overseas: only 4 players in majors European leagues

There are not many English footballers playing overseas. If we consider the other 4 major European leagues (La Liga, Ligue 1, Bundesliga and Serie A) there are only 4 players with English nationality. Well, to be fair there are 6, but the other two have other main nationalities.

So, who are they?

Ashley Cole

Age: 34
Nationality: England / Barbados
Current team: AS Roma
Previous teams: Chelsea FC, Arsenal FC, Crystal Palace

He signed for Roma last season after playing in the Premier League since 1999.

Micah Richards

Age: 26
Nationality: England
Current team: AC Fiorentina (loan)
Previous teams: Manchester City

He was loaned to AC Fiorentina from Manchester City. Last week Manchester City included him in the released list.

Myles Anderson

Age: 25
Nationality: England
Current team: Chievo Verona
Previous teams: Monza, Pro Patria, Exeter City, Blackburn, Aldershot, Aberdeen FC, Leyton Orient.

He played consistently for the Italian team Pro Patria in Lega Pro (Italian third category) but he didn’t play a single minute in Serie A.

Taylor Moore

Age: 18
Current team: RC Lens
Previous teams:

He was born in England but he moved to France when he was 7.

As you can see, 3 of them play for Serie A and the other one for Ligue 1. But are there more Italian and French players in the Premier League? Short answer: yes. There are 5 Italians and a whopping 33 Frenchs playing in England.

There are some countries that export more footballers than others. For example, there are 54 Spaniards playing for the other major European competitions, almost half of them in England. But French are the most international. There are 68 players spread among the biggest leagues. Have a look to the graphic!

16Jun

Players nationalities in the Premier league and other major competitions

It’s summer time! The Premier League is over, Barcelona is the new European Champion and sports pages are full of transfer rumours. I’m more interested in facts than rumours, so I’m not going to write about transfers.

Last week I downloaded a spreadsheet with the nationality of every single player in the 5 major European leagues (Premier League, La Liga, Bundesliga, Ligue 1 and Serie A) and started looking for patterns. Do English teams sign more Spanish players than French? Which league has more players from outside Europe? Are there more Asians in Bundesliga than in any other competition?

I have found some interesting stuff that I will publish it in the following days. But, if you want to analyse the data yourself, have a look to this Tableau visualisation. If you find something interesting, let me know.

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