Football Blog: Tangerine Flavoured

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Has the EU ruined football? Part 2 of a stats filled pointless exercise.

Image result for aston villa 95/96"
The last voice of leave - Aston Villa 1996/97
After writing part 1, in which I proposed a football version of 'left behind Britain,' based on a comparative ten year analysis of how footballing power had been coalesced in 3 key urban areas (and Leicester) I was left with a few loose ends in my mind.

It seemed true that 'Brexit Britain' had been locked out of the top echelons of football for a decade, but how far back do you have to go to find a side from a leave voting area actually having something approaching success?

The answer is quite a long way - The last time a 'brexity' team finished in the top 4 was Aston Villa in 1995/96 a full 23 years! Since that point, success has been exclusively confined to a 'remainer elite' and shared between just 9 teams.

Even extending the parameters to a 5th place finish we have to look as far back as George Burley's Ipswich team of 2000/01 - a full 19 years ago.

Image result for George Burley"
George Burley. Admit it, you'd completely forgotten about him too... 
So, emboldened by my new found useless statistics that prove nothing other than that the Premier League has created a less diverse league, in which a few teams from a few places win the majority of things... I decided to look deeper.

I set myself another challenge.

How deeply has football altered since Britain joined the EEC in 1973 (46 years ago?)

I would analyse the winners of the FA Cup and the top flight for the 47 seasons since that date (starting with 1972/73 season, on the basis that with entry to the EEC taking place on 1st January, the majority of the season belongs to the latter era) and the 46 seasons before that, (back to 1913/14, taking into account the loss of 6 years of football to the war) to see if we can identify any particular patterns, but particularly, to see if we can see more 'small town' success in the earlier period.

Why? - Don't ask me. Cos I don't know. For no other reason than, in the slightly paraphrased words of Billie Piper, because I want to.

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Crowds gather in anticipation of the outcome of the latest exercise in pointless data mining

Section 1: English league champions of the post EEC membership era. (47 seasons - 1972-3 to 2018-19) 

Manchester United (13)
Liverpool (11)
Chelsea (5) 
Arsenal (5)
Manchester City (4)
Leeds (2)
Everton (2)
Nottingham Forest
Aston Villa

Blackburn Rovers 
Leicester City

The conclusion is quite clear - since joining the EU, only 8.6% of available league titles have gone to 52% of the country. We can also see that whilst 12 teams win the title, 3 cities, Liverpool, Manchester and London represent 85% of all title winners over the era.

Section 2 English League Champions of the immediate pre-EEC membership era. (47 seasons, 1913-14 to 1971-72, taking into account both WW1 and WW2)

Arsenal (8)
Everton (6)
Liverpool (5)
Manchester United (5)
Wolves (3)
Huddersfield (3)
Blackburn Rovers (2)
Burnley (2)
Sheffield Wednesday (2)
Manchester City (2)
Portsmouth (2)
West Bromwich Albion
Leeds United

18 different sides win the title, suggesting football is a third more competitive. Leave Britain accounts for 18 title wins from 47 seasons (38.2%) - a huge proportion compared to the 8.5% of the post EEC era or the 0% of the last 25 years. Whilst Liverpool, London and Manchester still dominate, it is not to the extent of the latter era (53% of titles as opposed to 85%)

FA Cup Winners, 1972-73 to 2018-19

Manchester United 10
Arsenal 10
Chelsea 7
Liverpool 5
Tottenham 3
West Ham 2
Everton 2
Manchester City 2

One-off triumphs for 6 'leave voting' teams represent 12.7% of FA Cup wins during the era.

FA Cup Winners, 1913-14 - 1971-72  

Newcastle United 5
Tottenham Hotspur 4
Bolton Wanderers 4
Arsenal 4
West Bromwich Albion 3
Manchester City 3
Sheffield United 2
Aston Villa 2
Everton 2
Manchester United 2
Wolves 2
Huddersfield Town
Cardiff City
Blackburn Rovers
Sheffield Wednesday
Preston North End
Derby County

Charlton Athletic
Nottingham Forest

West Ham

The FA Cup offers even more stark contrast than the league in terms of the decline of 'Leave England.' We see 23 victories for teams from 'Leave UK' or 48.9% of Wembley winners, a 36.2% increase on the modern era figures. We also again see a wider range of teams winning. 

Image result for bolton wanderers white horse"
The White Horse final of 1923 - overcrowding caused by people from most of the country desperate to see someone who isn't from Manchester, Liverpool or London lift the cup, whilst they still can... 


Although, like the previous article, these stats are the result of a pretty pointless exercise, this evidence suggests a compelling narrative - it tells the story of football, once a game where success was once shared by a much broader cohort than it is today.

Here's an interesting stat that illustrates the point well: Since Aston Villa's 1981 league victory, only Blackburn Rovers have managed to break a 'remain stranglehold' on the league championship with their 1995 triumph.

Given as we could reasonably expect that prior to joining the EEC, a 'leave' team would win the title roughly once every 2.5 seasons, to shift to a situation where those sides win the league once in 38 years is quite a change.

Similarly, where the stats show we could expect these teams to win the FA Cup every other year, recent victories have been confined to Wigan and Portsmouth. In other words, in the period since Coventry's 1987 victory, just 2 sides from Brexit voting areas have lifted the Cup in 32 years. To put this in numbers: a fall from 1 in 2, to 1 in 16

 Perhaps after all, we are seeing a situation where Brexit is finally explained

- not by the death of industrial England,
- not by the political machinations of the disaster capitalists,
- not by the abandonment of the working classes by political elites,

but by the subconscious understanding of large parts of England, that until we threw off the shackles of Brussels, we'd have to put up with the same teams at the top of the league forever and ever and ever.

Or maybe we aren't. Still, perhaps January 31st will lead to the unexpected consequence of Sheff Utd and Wolves launching an all out onslaught on the league title. Ye never know.

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Sunderland, winning the cup despite the best efforts of Ted Heath


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