Picking a Football Club, Part 2

If you’ve been following along, I’m trying to decide on a favorite English Premiere League club. I have narrowed the list down to eight clubs, and you can read up why I eliminated the other 12 here.
As a reminder, here are the remaining eight clubs in alphabetical order:
AFC Bournemouth
Crystal Palace
Leicester City
Newcastle United
West Ham United
Starting this week, these eight teams will be entering into a tournament of sorts. I have used SIX different factors (weighted by importance to me) to seed the teams, and these factors, as well as some qualitative factors about each team, will help determine who moves onto the semifinal next week. This post will explain the initial six factors that I used, as well as my reasoning behind why certain things may be more important than others. I am hoping that I will have my team figured out by Wednesday of next week, just in time to really get invested in my new team for the three weeks until the season kicks off in the middle of August.
The six rating factors, in order of personal importance, are:
1) 2017-18 Season Points
2) Stadium Size
3) Net Profit (year ending June 2017)
4) Current Market Value
5) Number of Top League Titles
6) Top League Ratio (I’ll explain this momentarily)
If I wanted to become a fan of the top teams, I simply could have hopped onto the bandwagon of any of the “Big Six” teams and expected to see my new favorite team hoist the trophy about ever eight years or so. Instead, I wanted to identify teams that aren’t scraping the bottom of the league, while still being competitive should everything go right for the team – and wrong for the 6-8 teams above them. The Leicester City title run is evidence of that, and I mentioned previously that they were the first team from outside the “Big Six” to win the Premier League since 1995.
Of my remaining eight teams, we have the seventh place finisher from last year – Burnley – as well as the seventeenth place finisher – Southampton – and every other team in between. Three teams were tied with 44 points (3 points are awarded for each win and 1 point for a draw). I’m hoping that my selected team can consistently finish in the top 10, but sometimes avoiding relegation is also a solid goal.
For stadium size, I ranked each stadium from smallest to largest, as I think that a smaller stadium would be a more intimate experience if/when I ever get to England to take in a match. The average stadium size of these eight teams is just a shade over 34,000, with only three teams exceeding that level. AFC Bournemouth plays in the smallest stadium in the Premier League, with a capacity of 11,360 at Vitality Stadium. On the other end of the spectrum, West Ham United plays in 60,000 capacity London Stadium, so I would imagine that the fan experience would be vastly different between those two stadiums.
The next factor is net profit for the clubs, which is available thanks to publicly filed documents at the United Kingdom’s Companies House. Each team is required to file a report by April 1st every year that covers their “accounts” for the year ending the previous June. Therefore, the last available records are currently the year ending June 30, 2017. Crystal Palace was late with their filing this year, but most other clubs are very prompt with their reports.
The net profit number I used for each club was taken directly from these reports, and I used the after income tax number. These numbers ranged from a net loss of $53.6M for Newcastle United (they were relegated to the Championship for the 2016-17 season and missed out on EPL media money) to the $104.0M profit by Leicester City, which was aided by their appearance in various additional tournaments. All told, the average profit for the eight clubs was $31.7M, showing just how valuable that staying in the Premiere League is for mid-table clubs.
My fourth factor is related to team value as well. Using the information at TransferMarkt.com, I ranked the teams based on their estimated market values.* Like stadium size, this list is ranked from smallest to largest, and ranges from AFC Bournemouth at $175.0M to Everton at $442.0M. The average for all eight clubs is $300.7M, with exactly half the teams above and below that number.
*Note: This is not the market value of the club, as other factors would factor into that. It is instead an estimated value based on the actual amounts paid for transfers in/out of a club and perceived long-term value based on age and contract. A player that is transferred for $130M is probably considered to be worth at least that, though other factors may impact this perceived “value.”
Finally, the last two factors are related but have minimal weight, if only because it reinforces my desire to find a team outside of the “elite” clubs. I called factor five “top league titles” because only one of these eight teams – the aforementioned Leicester City – has won an actual Premiere League title since its inception. The other three teams with titles – Burnley, Everton, and Newcastle United – all won their titles before the Premier League as we know it was a thing. The first season of the Premier League as the top flight in English football was 1992-93; Everton won the last of their nine top league titles in 1987, with Newcastle (4 titles but last in 1927!) and Burnley (2 titles and last in 1960) winning long before then.
The final factor is simply a measure of how long each team has spent in the Premiere League relative to their total time spent at the top level in English football. This will hopefully measure how much overall success a team has had in the era of the Premier League, as opposed to being really good a hundred years ago (like Newcastle). Each team will be ranked from highest (AFC Bournemouth) to lowest (Burnley) based on this ratio.
For example, AFC Bournemouth has spent only the past four seasons in the Premier League, but those four seasons equal the entirety of their history at the top level. Burnley, on the other hand, has spent five seasons in the Premier League but 56 seasons at the top overall, which shows that the bulk of their top league performance was before 1992. Everton is the only team of these eight that has managed to stay in the Premier League for the League’s entire run.
After weighting all these factors, I seeded each team, so these will be the individual match-ups this week. The six factors above will be used to determine a winner in each contest, as well as some other factors that weren’t listed here, which I’ll cover each day in the individual match-ups.
(1) Burnley versus (8) West Ham United
(2) AFC Bournmouth versus (7) Southampton
(3) Leicester City versus (6) Newcastle United
(4) Crystal Palace versus (5) Everton
Check in tomorrow for the first match-up between Burnley and West Ham United!
Until next time…

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