“We are Premier League, we are Premier League”
Being a Hull City fan, I heard this a lot over the weekend. A lot! And I loved every single chant of it.
The incredible roller coaster ride that was the final day of the Championship season has been very well covered (Amber Nectar and From Boothferry to Wembley are two of my personal favourites), but now Cardiff City and Hull City have reached the Holy Grail and can start planning for a successful 2013/14 in the Premier League. But…..what does success look like for promoted teams?
Quite simply, in your 1st season it’s avoiding relegation isn’t it? I don’t mean to be controversial but its not about competing in a league of 20 teams, its about winning more points than 3 teams. Do that and live to fight another day.
Therefore, my task is to look at teams promoted to the Premier League. How do they fare? And what do they need to do to stay there?
These are all of the teams that have been promoted to the Premier League, and their final position:
Since the Premier League began there has been a total of 62 promotions, shared amongst 33 different clubs.
Here’s the same data, displayed as a heat map:
Overall, there seems to be a reasonably even split between green & red, however appearances can be deceiving and if we now look at the positions that all of the promoted teams have ever ended in, its clear that teams are more likely to finish in the bottom half more often than not:
In fact, based on these figures, the chances of a promoted team ever finishing in the top 10 are 34%. That’s not first season, that’s EVER. You are more likely to finish in 20th place than any other, however the good news is you are just as likely to finish in 13th as you are in 18th or 19th.
Whilst its interesting to look at where promoted teams have finished over the years, it doesn’t help in planning in a 1st season in the Premier League. For that we need to take the original data again and remove any subsequent (or ‘survived’ seasons).
The chart below shows 1st seasons only:
And, for ease of reading, the heat map again:
The most common end of season position for teams in the 1st season after promotion is sadly, yet unsurprisingly, 20th.
Another view of the final position figures is via a bar chart:
The good news though is that the average finish for a team in their first season after promotion is 15. However, 41% of of teams are relegated in their first season after promotion. Quite a sobering thought!
In fact, as per the pie chart above, over half of the promoted teams have ended their first season in the bottom 5. I’m pretty sure though the teams that finished in 16th or 17th and therefore earned a 2nd year in the Premier League won’t care.
But they should, because that’s when ‘2nd season syndrome’ kicks in.
Second Season Syndrome
Teams have survived for a second season in the Premier League on 33 occasions. However, the 2nd season figures are startling:
73% of teams drop down the league in their 2nd year. Of these, a third fall into relegation positions and are gone from the Premier League. This means that just under a quarter of teams who manage a 2nd season are then relegated in that season. The average number of positions that teams drop down the league is 4.2. This means that teams need to aim for a 13th place finish in their first year, just to avoid relegation in their 2nd.
Added together, this means that 54% of teams promoted to the Premier League are subsequently relegated within 2 seasons! On the plus side (obvious positives), 46% aren’t!
Even more positively, 8 of the 18 teams that have managed a 3rd consecutive season in the Premier League are still there now.
The above chart shows the minimum number of points required each season (20 team seasons only) in order to survive the drop. The average ‘safe points’ is 37, however this would still have seen teams relegated in 6 out of the 17 seasons.
The following graph is a representation of the teams that finished in 18th place. The trend-line for wins hasn’t changed, however, if I was to add for draws you would see that it has dropped from 12 to 10, reinforcing the point that less points are required (on average) these days as opposed to 10-15 years ago.
Finally, just to have a look at the fine margins between success and failure, the following chart shows what difference 1 extra win or draw could make to the 18th placed team:
One draw would be the difference between relegation and staying in the Premier League in 6 of the 17 years and a win would make the difference in 5 more.
I heard Steve Bruce on Talksport on the Monday following promotion saying the target for the Premier League had to be 10 wins whilst also hopefully picking up 7 draws. If Hull City (or Cardiff) manage this, they’ll have stayed up in 11 out of the previous 17 seasons. However, just one draw less means they’d have been relegated in 10 of the 17 seasons.
With those odds, it’s no surprise that Sir Alex has thrown in the towel…….