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Tuesday, January 01, 2013

OT: The Soccer Thread: January 2013

Because the first sporting event of 2013 that I watched was a soccer match.

fra paolo Posted: January 01, 2013 at 03:38 PM | 1784 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: soccer

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   401. ursus arctos Posted: January 08, 2013 at 10:59 PM (#4342537)
I would be surprised if it isn't.

It's more than twice as much as the usual away support ticket. The North American comparisons don't really work because the fan base is much different. Corporates don't go away.
   402. Richard Posted: January 08, 2013 at 11:00 PM (#4342538)
effin Bradford! I'd say there's a better than even chance they'll be in Europe next year, no?

Only if they win the trophy. Beaten League Cup finalists do not get a Europa League place.

Getting to the final, which no fourth tier side has done since 1962, would be an achievement in itself. Bradford have only won 1 major trophy - the FA Cup in 1911.
   403. I am going to be Frank Posted: January 08, 2013 at 11:25 PM (#4342543)
Only if they win the trophy. Beaten League Cup finalists do not get a Europa League place.


I thought if the League Cup Champions make Champions League then the runner-up gets to go Europe League. That's how Birmingham made it a couple years ago even though they got relegated.
   404. Richard Posted: January 08, 2013 at 11:42 PM (#4342550)
No, Birmingham won the trophy.

The FA Cup is different: the runners up do get a place if the winner is a CL qualifier (eg Millwall in 2004).
   405. puck Posted: January 09, 2013 at 12:24 AM (#4342570)
The North American comparisons don't really work because the fan base is much different.

Could you explain, I've read this in articles but wasn't sure what they meant. You hear a lot that the Emirates is dead compared to Highbury. I assumed that meant a lot of the fanbase from Highbury was priced out of tickets and only the wealthy folks go, and they tend to sit more politely (like it seems they do in the States, aside from the NFL, I guess).

   406. puck Posted: January 09, 2013 at 12:25 AM (#4342571)
It's funny that Bradford have taken 3 straight games from Premiership teams in the League Cup, but are just 8th in League Two. I guess that's a playoff/knockout for you.
   407. I am going to be Frank Posted: January 09, 2013 at 12:48 AM (#4342580)
Damnit I was confused. I forgot they won it (on a disaster of a game by Arsenal) and it was the FA Cup, not the League Cup.
   408. Richard Posted: January 09, 2013 at 12:51 AM (#4342582)
Could you explain, I've read this in articles but wasn't sure what they meant. You hear a lot that the Emirates is dead compared to Highbury. I assumed that meant a lot of the fanbase from Highbury was priced out of tickets and only the wealthy folks go, and they tend to sit more politely (like it seems they do in the States, aside from the NFL, I guess).


I think what ursus means is that the away support (in this case Man City's) has a different demographic from a usual group of fans and there is no US comparable.

Away supporters tend to be younger as a group than the home supporters, and are more likely to have been drinking before the game (because they are younger, and also because they tend to arrive in the vicinity of the ground earlier - if you go on a coach organised by the away team, there is no beer allowed on board but you will be at the ground at least 90 minutes before kick off in most cases). These two factors, plus travel costs, mean that they have less spending power. Hence a 62 quid ticket is more likely to be purchased by home fans - particularly in London, where prices are higher generally - and away supporters will balk at the cost. The game is also live on TV, giving even less incentive to travel.

As for the Emirates generally, there is no doubt that the home support for Arsenal has got older (and quieter) and wealthier on average than, say, 20 years ago, but then again Highbury itself was never known as a ground with loud home support. Away supporters used to nickname it the "Highbury Library".

Another away support oddity is standing for the whole game, even in sections with seating. I think many PL clubs make away fans sit but this is common in the divisions below.
   409. ursus arctos Posted: January 09, 2013 at 12:52 AM (#4342583)
405, while it is true that the Emirates fan base has become considerably more corporate since the move from Highbury, that tends not to be the case for travelliing fans, particularly those from outside of London.
   410. Mattbert Posted: January 09, 2013 at 08:38 AM (#4342660)
Damnit I was confused. I forgot they won it (on a disaster of a game by Arsenal) and it was the FA Cup, not the League Cup.

Nearly there. Brum beat Arsenal to win the League Cup in 2011. Memorable in part for Barry Ferguson's charming behavior after they scored the winner, slapping Koscielny upside the head.
   411. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: January 09, 2013 at 08:56 AM (#4342665)
Not much transfer news today. Walcott looks to sign a huge contract with Arsenal. If Spurs sign all the players they're linked to they'll have spent 140 million pounds and have 40 midfielders on the roster. Southampton are working on bringing in Coutinho from Inter which would be a hell of a signing for them. I'd say that one was nuts but they were able to sign Gaston Ramirez, so who knows? Everyone in Serie A wants to play with Ricky Lambert, I guess. Danny Welbeck may be going out on loan to Reading. The Qataris want David Beckham to play in their league for god knows what reason. If the Qataris want to waste money on soccer, they should give it to me to create my Shooty FC project. I won't let them down!
   412. ursus arctos Posted: January 09, 2013 at 09:46 AM (#4342686)
Belated beverage for Richard.
   413. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: January 09, 2013 at 10:02 AM (#4342690)
Stuart Holden played in his first reserve game for Bolton and could be back in the first team by February.
   414. CWS Keith plans to boo your show at the Apollo Posted: January 09, 2013 at 10:33 AM (#4342707)
Two random things:

- Anyone know how much the MLS salary cap is set to increase this year? The MLSPU's website unfortunately still links to the old CBA, and the roster rules on the main site haven't been updated to 2013 yet.

- 45-minute Gazza documentary with James Richardson narrating. The Football Italia bits are great, and some of the footage they pull is real neat. (In Bed with Maradona tweeted this yesterday.)
   415. DA Baracus Posted: January 09, 2013 at 10:56 AM (#4342728)
- Anyone know how much the MLS salary cap is set to increase this year? The MLSPU's website unfortunately still links to the old CBA, and the roster rules on the main site haven't been updated to 2013 yet.


Up from 2.81M to 2.97M according to this.

Stuart Holden played in his first reserve game for Bolton and could be back in the first team by February.


From a USMNT standpoint I am fine with him staying the hell off the field for the summer. But man it would be great to have him back. Klinsmann would probably still start Jones and Williams though.
   416. Flynn Posted: January 09, 2013 at 10:59 AM (#4342732)
As for the Emirates generally, there is no doubt that the home support for Arsenal has got older (and quieter) and wealthier on average than, say, 20 years ago, but then again Highbury itself was never known as a ground with loud home support. Away supporters used to nickname it the "Highbury Library".


Well, there was never the Highbury Roar like at Anfield, but Arsenal tickets have been expensive for a long time. Nick Hornby complains about it in Fever Pitch, which is 20 years old now.

The bigger the game the better the atmosphere at Arsenal. It's been my experience that fans have tended to save up their money for the bigger games. Tt's when Arsenal are playing a lower-table side that the atmosphere is really terrible and often ###### and negative if Arsenal don't go 2 up within 10 minutes.

I don't know if away fans are always younger (Arsenal away tickets are so hard to get I can't imagine young people getting them unless they're long-time season ticket holders), but they are always the most hardcore of fans. I saw Arsenal play at White Hart Lane and with a handful of exceptions (including a legit Mother of the Year candidate*) they were diehard Gooners.


* Casually walking around outside White Hart Lane with your young daughter in Arsenal tops is a legitimate example of child endangerment.

   417. Mattbert Posted: January 09, 2013 at 11:25 AM (#4342754)
Southampton are working on bringing in Coutinho from Inter which would be a hell of a signing for them. I'd say that one was nuts but they were able to sign Gaston Ramirez, so who knows? Everyone in Serie A wants to play with Ricky Lambert, I guess.

I'm not 100% sure where it's coming from, but the Saints appear to have to some money to spend. Maybe the savings generated by their youth setup producing first team starters (Lallana, Shaw, and Ward-Prowse are all academy products who've contributed this season) allows them to spend a bit more on foreign imports than a similar club in their position might otherwise be able to support. They also have a pretty good size stadium and a history of filling it up when they're in the top flight, so I imagine their gate receipts aren't half bad.
   418. Mattbert Posted: January 09, 2013 at 11:26 AM (#4342756)
The bigger the game the better the atmosphere at Arsenal. It's been my experience that fans have tended to save up their money for the bigger games. It's when Arsenal are playing a lower-table side that the atmosphere is really terrible and often ###### and negative if Arsenal don't go 2 up within 10 minutes.

Not a phenomenon unique to Arsenal supporters, to be fair.
   419. I am going to be Frank Posted: January 09, 2013 at 11:37 AM (#4342766)
What does everyone think of Lampard? He is obviously still a good player but its not like Chelsea is bereft of midfielders, and you can't beat age. Frank doesn't seem the type to be happy taking a pay cut and being a rotation/bench player.

Aren't there enough Man City fans in London that 3,000 away tickets shouldn't be a huge problem? Coming down on the train/bus is obviously another added expense, but 62 pounds shouldn't be too much for a club with the amount of supporters City has.
   420. ursus arctos Posted: January 09, 2013 at 11:37 AM (#4342767)
Saints are still owned by the Liebherr Estate, which has a couple of billion dollars at its disposal.

They may have decided that some judicious transfer spending in this window will increase the value of the club to potential buyers by a greater amount.
   421. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: January 09, 2013 at 11:39 AM (#4342770)
I'm not 100% sure where it's coming from, but the Saints appear to have to some money to spend. Maybe the savings generated by their youth setup producing first team starters (Lallana, Shaw, and Ward-Prowse are all academy products who've contributed this season) allows them to spend a bit more on foreign imports than a similar club in their position might otherwise be able to support. They also have a pretty good size stadium and a history of filling it up when they're in the top flight, so I imagine their gate receipts aren't half bad.

That and, I guess, buying Ramirez and Coutinho isn't much of a risk as they'll get their money back if they go down and if they stay up the increased tv revenue kicking in next year will pay the freight for them. What's smart about what they're doing as opposed to QPR is that they're looking to buy players they can sell on if things don't go as planned. No one is going to buy Jose Bosingwa from QPR. Of course, the hard part is getting these players to agree to come over.
   422. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: January 09, 2013 at 11:43 AM (#4342773)
Coming down on the train/bus is obviously another added expense, but 62 pounds shouldn't be too much for a club with the amount of supporters City has.

Heh! My impression on my trips to London is that there are more Wolves fans there than City fans. (Speaking of which, when I went to Rough Trade records they were selling copies of The Blizzard at the counter and I blew the salesclerk's mind--a Wolves fan--by knowing what it was. He said he didn't mind Spurs, thankfully enough.)
   423. Mattbert Posted: January 09, 2013 at 11:51 AM (#4342779)
Good points in #420 and #421. I hadn't thought of the resale angle for the club itself, but of course that can only be helped by (a) staying up and (b) having a handful of salable assets on-hand.
   424. Flynn Posted: January 09, 2013 at 11:51 AM (#4342781)
I'm going to the Blizzard event next week, wocka wocka.

There are hardly any City fans in London, if the amount of people I see in City tops is any guide. Plus your average City fan is going to have several opportunities to see City in London, so paying £62 for it might not be so appealing when they might be playing Palace in the Cup two weeks later, QPR at the end of the month, Tottenham in April and Reading in May.

   425. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: January 09, 2013 at 11:56 AM (#4342791)
Stuart Holden indeed managed to play a whole 70 minutes without getting hurt again. True Bolton fans will also be happy that David Wheater was supposed to play the game but then got dropped from the lineup because there's a limit on how many over-21s can play in the "development team" at once. Fans do not like Tim Ream very much so Holden is still crucial for inculcating pro-USA views in the northwestern part of Greater Manchester.

Also backup keeper Andy Lonergan did a great job in the cup game against Sunderland. As a 30-year-old who started many years for Preston it seems pretty natural to consider making him the top guy, and selling the not-especially-leaderlike Adam Bogdan to Spartak Moscow or somewhere. Bolton sell a player for more than $500,000 about once every six years, so these opportunities must be taken.
   426. DA Baracus Posted: January 09, 2013 at 11:57 AM (#4342794)
What does everyone think of Lampard?


Still a good player but as long as Chelsea keep the old guard they are never going to transition. Or be a team a neutral fan can root for. And then one day Lampard, Terry, Cole and Cech will all be gone and it'll be too late. Of course, changing managers every 7 months means you are just operating on short term plans anyway.
   427. I am going to be Frank Posted: January 09, 2013 at 12:41 PM (#4342878)
I assume there are fans of every team in London, maybe not as many as Man U or even Barcelona but they have some history and a pretty big fan base.

I'm all about the getting rid of a player a year too early rather than a year too late. Its Roman's money and I don't see the harm in keeping Frank around another year, unless he becomes a malcontent. Even now the story has to be a little distracting, but the English press is going to do what they do.
   428. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: January 09, 2013 at 12:49 PM (#4342897)
I've been futzing around with the Opta numbers (I got a Fantasy Football Scout membership to get access), and I've created a kind of cludgy team rating number. Basically, I put together projected goals scored and projected goals allowed estimates based on shots on target, shots off woodwork, and "big chances". (I weight "big chances" more heavily for goals allowed than for goals, it seems to matter more on the defensive side.) I adjust for home and away. I haven't yet adjusted for opponent.

As expected, the outcomes look pretty normal except for Liverpool, who remain great in all the numbers that correlate with goals but not so great at the actual production of goals. QPR is probably the other big outliers. QPR's attack is probably overrated a little here, but it's quite notable that their defense isn't allowing too many shots on target or big chances. Manchester United are leading the league because of their insane rate of goal scoring, which is significantly a function of their insane rate of shot conversion. That's probably partly unsustainable and partly the Van Persie and other great finishers factor. City, despite their forward talent, are converting opportunities at a rate below league average. You have to think that will improve.

MCoA's cludgy team ratings, expressed in a likewise cludgy attack % better than league + defense % better than league:

+.97 Manchester City
+.63 Manchester United
+.51 Liverpool
+.40 Everton
+.39 Tottenham Hotspur
+.35 Chelsea
+.23 Arsenal
+.05 Swansea City
-.00 Fulham
-.03 West Bromwich Albion
-.11 West Ham United
-.13 Southampton
-.15 Stoke City
-.25 Queens Park Rangers
-.27 Norwich City
-.34 Newcastle United
-.40 Wigan Athletic
-.47 Aston Villa
-.60 Sunderland
-.78 Reading

The system is also not terribly impressed with Stoke City. Their defense is good, solidly above average, but they're basically tied for fewest goals allowed with Man City and Chelsea, and their underlying numbers do not suggest they're truly elite. I was surprised to see that Chelsea didn't rate above Everton/Tottenham/Arsenal. Maybe there really is a race for third after all.

Sunderland were truly dire for much of the season, and they've improved in the last month or so. They overall still rate terrible, but perhaps Martin O'Neill has fixed what ails them and they'll be better soon. Newcastle should theoretically get better when their starters get healthy, but they've been quite legitimately bad by this measure. I'm not sure what to say about Southampton, that's just surprising.

Because it's so close to midseason, and because I got bored, I didn't put together a strength of schedule adjustment. The main team I'd expect to be affected by a schedule strength adjustment are Tottenham, whose extra games have been against league-worst Reading and league-almost-worst Aston Villa.
   429. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: January 09, 2013 at 01:09 PM (#4342929)
OMG! OMG! OMG!

Pfft.

+.97 Manchester City
+.63 Manchester United
+.51 Liverpool


Told you guys Liverpool is close to being good!
   430. JuanGone..except1game Posted: January 09, 2013 at 01:18 PM (#4342945)
What does everyone think of Lampard? He is obviously still a good player but its not like Chelsea is bereft of midfielders, and you can't beat age. Frank doesn't seem the type to be happy taking a pay cut and being a rotation/bench player.


The pay cut is the real issue. I want Lampard around next year, but only if his wage bill goes down. I think that he'll eventually bend to be a rotation player.

Lukaku stays at West Brom. I'm torn as I really want him back in blue as statistically he would be our best striker, but its obvious that Chelsea isn't yet ready to give up completely on Torres so his minutes would suffer. I haven't felt as confident about a young Chelsea player signing since Essien. I think that he's going to be world class very soon.
   431. Mattbert Posted: January 09, 2013 at 01:55 PM (#4343006)
Interesting work, MCoA.

Liverpool's rating doesn't surprise me as much because even as they've struggled in terms of table position the last few years, they've remained in the top handful of teams defensively over that period. Based on nothing but a hunch, I feel that defending is less prone to the twin whimsies of form and confidence than scoring. It's more of a team effort, more easily influenced by coaching, and less reliant on individuals being in form. Liverpool have been consistently good to great at preventing goals, even while their ability to actually win games has eroded. Now that Suarez has been on a tear of late, I would have expected Liverpool to rate pretty well by any pythag-like measure.

I'm not sure what to say about Southampton, that's just surprising.

Their goalkeepers are ####### awful.
   432. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: January 09, 2013 at 02:02 PM (#4343010)

The pay cut is the real issue. I want Lampard around next year, but only if his wage bill goes down. I think that he'll eventually bend to be a rotation player.


If the last sentence is true why does the first sentence need to be true? There is no salary cap and Abramovich ain't going to tell his Manager of the Month he can't buy Falcao or whoever simply because he's paying Lampard $8 million rather than $4 million (or whatever the right numbers are). If Lampard is willing to be what Giggs has been with ManU I don't think the money should be a concern for Chelsea fans.
   433. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: January 09, 2013 at 02:02 PM (#4343013)
Their goalkeepers are ####### awful.
Yeah, I bet that's it. This method doesn't account for shot-saving. Southampton hasn't allowed many more quality opportunities than the league average, but they've let tons of those balls into the net.
   434. Mattbert Posted: January 09, 2013 at 02:04 PM (#4343015)
Lukaku stays at West Brom. I'm torn as I really want him back in blue as statistically he would be our best striker, but its obvious that Chelsea isn't yet ready to give up completely on Torres so his minutes would suffer. I haven't felt as confident about a young Chelsea player signing since Essien. I think that he's going to be world class very soon.

I agree. He's pretty one-dimensional, but it's an immense dimension. You can go a long way by being an absolute handful physically and finishing like a terminator.

Anecdotal evidence time! I have watched almost every Spurs game this season, and I have not seen anyone else even come close to just outright bullying Jan Vertonghen the way Lukaku did in West Brom's game at the Lane. I know he was coming on fresh as a sub after Shane Long had run the Spurs defense around for an hour, but jeez. Vertonghen is usually the one winning the positional battles with his strength, but Lukaku was shrugging him off like he was barely there.
   435. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: January 09, 2013 at 02:04 PM (#4343016)
If the last sentence is true why does the first sentence need to be true? There is no salary cap and Abramovich ain't going to tell his Manager of the Month he can't buy Falcao or whoever simply because he's paying Lampard $8 million rather than $4 million (or whatever the right numbers are). If Lampard is willing to be what Giggs has been with ManU I don't think the money should be a concern for Chelsea fans.

Chelsea do seem to be paying attention to FFP and their wage bill now is 176 million a year. It turns out the only reason they were profitable last year is due to some one off accounting maneuvers and, of course, their run to the CL finals. They will most definitely be in the red again this year.
   436. Mefisto Posted: January 09, 2013 at 02:04 PM (#4343018)
I disagree somewhat on Liverpool. They have a team full of players who simply cannot put the ball in the net (Downing being a perfect example). I'd say that when you have players with a track record, their actual scoring rate is a better predictor than "shots on target" or "big chances" or anything else. Some players (Heskey, Downing) will find ways not to score, others (van Nistelroy) will find ways to score.
   437. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: January 09, 2013 at 02:30 PM (#4343044)
   438. J. Sosa Posted: January 09, 2013 at 03:22 PM (#4343201)
Thanks for the post MCoA that was interesting, also I liked Mattbert's observation regarding Southampton's goalkeeping. They are aware of how bad it is and have been after Butland since last summer. It reminds me of when defensive ratings in baseball started getting refined and it was evident that there was a certain level a major league manager was willing to tolerate in terms of playing a guy with a stone glove.

It does not surprise me that Liverpool score well in MCoA's system. They were built to win the third order championship. I enjoy analytical stuff about soccer, but for the most part my feelings on it mirror those I have of the gridiron football analytics and to a lesser degree the basketball analytics. Hazardous if you put much weight in it in terms of putting a team together.
   439. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: January 09, 2013 at 03:25 PM (#4343210)
While my Twitter feed is blowing up with HoF reaction I got the Soccer by Ives note that "Stuart Holden positive after latest Bolton reserve appearance" and immediately thought Holden had failed a drug test.
   440. Mattbert Posted: January 09, 2013 at 03:39 PM (#4343255)
I missed this tactical year-in-review piece by Michael Cox from the other day. I love this closing bit about the false nine.
But if the false nine has gone mainstream, how long before the football hipster complains about the term being overused? Well, here goes: Fabregas was a false nine at the start of Spain’s Euro campaign, as he was essentially another central midfielder – Andres Iniesta was generally higher up the pitch. By the end of the tournament, he was just a midfielder playing as a striker – making runs in behind, occupying space in the box. Shelvey, similarly, wasn’t interpreting the striking role differently, he just played out of position in a selection crisis.

2013 started with Harry Redknapp – the notorious chalkboard ignorer, a man who has played Peter Crouch upfront at three separate football clubs, masterminding an unlikely victory at Stamford Bridge by playing Adel Taarabt as a false nine.

When that happens, you know the false nine has sold out.
   441. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: January 09, 2013 at 04:00 PM (#4343317)
   442. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: January 09, 2013 at 04:25 PM (#4343377)
Wow. Chelsea dominated the half and then one bad touch by Ivanovich and Michu takes a goal.
   443. Swedish Chef Posted: January 09, 2013 at 05:07 PM (#4343447)
Rangers continue to bring the crazy

That's not crazy. That's just the same old story, it's been a constant refrain from the Old Firm for at least ten years.
   444. Flynn Posted: January 09, 2013 at 05:24 PM (#4343481)
The funny thing is Rangers thinking anybody in England would care.
   445. Mattbert Posted: January 09, 2013 at 05:33 PM (#4343499)
Iain Macintosh is one funny SOB. This was fantastic twittery:
It's almost three years since Fernando Torres was good at football.

Demba Ba keeps stretching, looking plaintively at Benitez, stretching some more, making big kitten eyes, doing a bit of a jog...

Demba Ba has hurriedly fashioned an 'I SCORE GOALS, GAFFER' banner and is holding it above his head while making a noise like an owl.

The banner worked. Ba is on. A good thing too, Stage Three was a coordinated firework display that would spell out 'PUT ME ON' in the sky.
   446. ursus arctos Posted: January 09, 2013 at 05:35 PM (#4343502)
Swansea get a second
   447. Mattbert Posted: January 09, 2013 at 05:39 PM (#4343509)
Danny Graham scores ANOTHER late goal. That's three games in row he's banged one in right around the 90-minute mark.
   448. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: January 09, 2013 at 06:03 PM (#4343546)
That was like a grade-school poacher's goal. Just hang around by the keeper and hope someone puts in a dumb back pass. Ivanovic, man, you've got a manager trying to figure out a defensive rotation for the next two weeks, and you basically string your own "play Terry and Cahill instead" banner across the penalty box.
   449. ursus arctos Posted: January 09, 2013 at 06:36 PM (#4343576)
If Torres really is Abramovich's personal project, what are the chances that Roman decides to walk away now that his last two personal projects (Torres and Sheva) have done nothing but cost him money and earn him the opprobrium of the supporters?
   450. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: January 09, 2013 at 07:04 PM (#4343591)
If Torres really is Abramovich's personal project, what are the chances that Roman decides to walk away now that his last two personal projects (Torres and Sheva) have done nothing but cost him money and earn him the opprobrium of the supporters?

Who knows what goes through that guy's head. It's a fascinating question--what does Roman want? Love? Respectability? Glory? It would make a great novel, I think, to imagine what goes through his head. I kind of get what Joe Lewis and Sheik Mansour and the Glazers are after, but what's in it for Abramovich? It's almost as if he's taking capitalism to its logical extreme as some sort of performance piece.
   451. SuperGrover Posted: January 09, 2013 at 07:28 PM (#4343603)
MCoA's cludgy team ratings, expressed in a likewise cludgy attack % better than league + defense % better than league:

+.97 Manchester City
+.63 Manchester United
+.51 Liverpool
+.40 Everton
+.39 Tottenham Hotspur
+.35 Chelsea
+.23 Arsenal
+.05 Swansea City
-.00 Fulham
-.03 West Bromwich Albion
-.11 West Ham United
-.13 Southampton
-.15 Stoke City
-.25 Queens Park Rangers
-.27 Norwich City
-.34 Newcastle United
-.40 Wigan Athletic
-.47 Aston Villa
-.60 Sunderland
-.78 Reading


Mine are quite similar.

MCI 89.2
MUN 59.9
LIV 39.2
EVE 32.8
TOT 31.9
CHE 30.4
ARS 24.5
SWA -4.3
FUL -5.0
STO -6.9
WBA -9.2
SOU -16.3
WHM -17.1
QPR -17.4
NEW -22.0
NOR -24.4
WIG -29.7
AVL -42.3
SUN -46.4
RDG -69.7

Stop stealing my stuff! :)
   452. SuperGrover Posted: January 09, 2013 at 07:33 PM (#4343606)
Because it's so close to midseason, and because I got bored, I didn't put together a strength of schedule adjustment. The main team I'd expect to be affected by a schedule strength adjustment are Tottenham, whose extra games have been against league-worst Reading and league-almost-worst Aston Villa.


The Spurs have the second easiest schedule by my metrics behind City. Liverpool and Swansea are next.

Most difficult are Sunderland, Stoke and Reading.

Obviously, these are impacted by the fact the good teams don't play themselves and vice versa. I haven't yet worked out a SOS metric excluding games against the team in question.

Toughest schedule for a top 7 team (and there is a very clear top 7 in my metrics) is Arsenal, quite a bit more difficult than Chelsea, Everton and Man U (who are all basically tied).

   453. SuperGrover Posted: January 09, 2013 at 07:40 PM (#4343609)
Their goalkeepers are ####### awful.
Yeah, I bet that's it. This method doesn't account for shot-saving. Southampton hasn't allowed many more quality opportunities than the league average, but they've let tons of those balls into the net.


A ton of that was early though and a result of playing some ridiculously good competition as a promoted team (City, united, Arsenal, Everton in first 6). The last 10, they've allowed only 10 goals, three of them is the disgrace at Stoke.

Southampton has quietly been a near mid-table club most of the year.
   454. SuperGrover Posted: January 09, 2013 at 07:43 PM (#4343611)
I'd say that when you have players with a track record, their actual scoring rate is a better predictor than "shots on target" or "big chances" or anything else.


Goal conversion hasn't been proven as a skill though, at least year-over-year. It's the BABIP of soccer to some extent. Accuracy seems to have some stickiness, but conversion seems to be as much about luck as anything else.

At least, that's where we stand right now.
   455. Biff, highly-regarded young guy Posted: January 09, 2013 at 07:51 PM (#4343619)
Goal conversion hasn't been proven as a skill though, at least year-over-year. It's the BABIP of soccer to some extent. Accuracy seems to have some stickiness, but conversion seems to be as much about luck as anything else.

At least, that's where we stand right now.


Hasn't Suarez been converting many more chances this year than he did last year? That's the immediate example that springs to mind for me.
   456. RB in NYC (Now Semi-Retired from BBTF) Posted: January 09, 2013 at 09:45 PM (#4343703)
Who knows what goes through that guy's head. It's a fascinating question--what does Roman want?
Interestingly, I've never had much doubt about this. To me, Roman wants what Jerry Jones wants and what George Steinbrenner wanted (at least most of the time): glory, but glory on his terms. He wants Chelsea to win, of course, but he wants it on his terms, and if that means Torres and Sheva that means Torres and Sheva. And like Jones and Big Stein, Roman--it seems--thinks he knows more about his sport than he actually does.
   457. Mefisto Posted: January 09, 2013 at 10:07 PM (#4343717)
Goal conversion hasn't been proven as a skill though, at least year-over-year. It's the BABIP of soccer to some extent. Accuracy seems to have some stickiness, but conversion seems to be as much about luck as anything else.


I get what you're saying and it's appealing on one level. But there are certain players who just never convert their chances. Maybe they spend a career being "unlucky". I doubt that; I've watched such players and they never get better. Maybe it's just the ability to be calm. Maybe it's a vision thing. But I believe there's something going on beyond luck.
   458. Swedish Chef Posted: January 09, 2013 at 10:59 PM (#4343758)
People who think there is no difference between having Emile Heskey and Robin Van Persie when a chance is to be converted are out of their mind.
   459. Mefisto Posted: January 09, 2013 at 11:03 PM (#4343763)
What the Chef said. Much pithier.
   460. Fancy Pants Handles lap changes with class Posted: January 09, 2013 at 11:16 PM (#4343775)
The sad thing is that half the English people I know would probably take Heskey.
   461. Richard Posted: January 10, 2013 at 12:02 AM (#4343803)
Goal conversion hasn't been proven as a skill though, at least year-over-year. It's the BABIP of soccer to some extent. Accuracy seems to have some stickiness, but conversion seems to be as much about luck as anything else.

I third what Chef said. I simply cannot accept this. For one thing, you can improve conversion rates by coaching.
   462. Mattbert Posted: January 10, 2013 at 12:08 AM (#4343807)
Coming back to the strength of schedule issue, do you attempt to adjust for home/away or is it strictly based on quality of opponent regardless of the venue?
   463. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: January 10, 2013 at 12:10 AM (#4343808)
I'm sure there are real and important differences in player skill at shot-on-target conversion, and it's crazy to think there aren't. (Just like with pitcher BABIP).

The issue is, like with pitcher BABIP, the skill isn't obviously recognizable from the numbers even in pretty large samples. I figure this is because the goal-scoring skill isn't just the ability to avoid having the keeper save the ball, it's also the ability to put a shot on target, and once the ball is on target, keeper skill and random chance are major causes of the outcome. (For pitchers, the goal isn't to prevent hits on balls in play, it's to prevent good contact. When non-HR contact is made, fielder skill, park effects, and random chance play major parts in the outcome.)

I mean, Manchester City are converting shots on target at a rate below league average. Their leading shooters are Tevez, Aguero, Dzeko, Toure, and Silva. Are those guys really poor finishers? I think it's usually a better practice to regress half-season conversion numbers back toward the league average quite a bit.
   464. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: January 10, 2013 at 12:21 AM (#4343816)
Coming back to the strength of schedule issue, do you attempt to adjust for home/away or is it strictly based on quality of opponent regardless of the venue?
I need to go back and adjust for opponent as well as home/away - so home/away is already in there. The home field effect is huge. This season, home sides have outscored away sides 333-264, with commensurate shots / shots on target numbers.
   465. Mattbert Posted: January 10, 2013 at 12:42 AM (#4343826)
The home field effect is huge. This season, home sides have outscored away sides 333-264, with commensurate shots / shots on target numbers.

Any sense of how this compares with previous seasons? I'd been wondering if we'd see any statistically significant shrinking of the home/away disparity following the Premier League's standardization of pitch dimensions for this season.
   466. SuperGrover Posted: January 10, 2013 at 01:38 AM (#4343844)
I'm sure there are real and important differences in player skill at shot-on-target conversion, and it's crazy to think there aren't. (Just like with pitcher BABIP).

The issue is, like with pitcher BABIP, the skill isn't obviously recognizable from the numbers even in pretty large samples. I figure this is because the goal-scoring skill isn't just the ability to avoid having the keeper save the ball, it's also the ability to put a shot on target, and once the ball is on target, keeper skill and random chance are major causes of the outcome. (For pitchers, the goal isn't to prevent hits on balls in play, it's to prevent good contact. When non-HR contact is made, fielder skill, park effects, and random chance play major parts in the outcome.)

I mean, Manchester City are converting shots on target at a rate below league average. Their leading shooters are Tevez, Aguero, Dzeko, Toure, and Silva. Are those guys really poor finishers? I think it's usually a better practice to regress half-season conversion numbers back toward the league average quite a bit.


Exactly. No one is saying there isn't skill involved. However, when the entire league pretty much regresses to the same rate, it's hard to see how skill has much influence.

The good players get shots and get them on target. Once they are on target, it's pretty much up to luck and factors out of their control as to whether they score or not. At least that's what the current data shows.

It may be difficult to swallow, but BABIP was difficult to swallow as well. Doesn't make it incorrect.

Also of note is RVP. Would you guess that last season he converted at a bit below average rates for a forward once his penalties were removed? He was basically league average.

   467. SuperGrover Posted: January 10, 2013 at 01:41 AM (#4343845)
Hasn't Suarez been converting many more chances this year than he did last year? That's the immediate example that springs to mind for me.


Yep. Suarez is converting 37.5% of his SOT this season after converting just 23.4% last season. His percentage of shots in the box has actually decreased quite a bit, so there is really no explanation for the change other than regression to the norm.
   468. SuperGrover Posted: January 10, 2013 at 01:45 AM (#4343848)
Any sense of how this compares with previous seasons? I'd been wondering if we'd see any statistically significant shrinking of the home/away disparity following the Premier League's standardization of pitch dimensions for this season.


The past decade has seen about a 16% home field advantage judging by goals alone. This year, that number is running at 11.5%, so it does seem a bit smaller, although probably not enough to raise any flags.

I don't have the data in front of me but I believe the advantage was pretty random over the last ten years, moving up and down 6-7% per season.

EDIT: Arrggh. For some reason, I removed the year from my data set. I will put together another set with the year here in a few days and let you know.
   469. SuperGrover Posted: January 10, 2013 at 01:50 AM (#4343852)
Coming back to the strength of schedule issue, do you attempt to adjust for home/away or is it strictly based on quality of opponent regardless of the venue?


Oh and I know you weren't asking me, but my numbers do include venue location.
   470. Richard Posted: January 10, 2013 at 02:05 AM (#4343859)
The good players get shots and get them on target. Once they are on target, it's pretty much up to luck and factors out of their control as to whether they score or not.

A huge factor in whether a goal is scored or not is the part of the target that is hit. A good forward, given time, will try to pick a spot that the keeper can't reach. Wouldn't you classify this as a factor within the control of the forward? (no snark intended, interested in the data and the research)
   471. SuperGrover Posted: January 10, 2013 at 02:51 AM (#4343874)
A huge factor in whether a goal is scored or not is the part of the target that is hit. A good forward, given time, will try to pick a spot that the keeper can't reach. Wouldn't you classify this as a factor within the control of the forward? (no snark intended, interested in the data and the research)


Intuitively, I agree. But, intuitively, it would seem it would be more difficult to get hits when making contact off Greg Maddux than off Greg Hibbard. Unfortunately, the data doesn't suggest that.

If you notice, I continue to use words such as "suggest" to illustrate how primitive soccer data is at this point. It may turn out there most certainly is an impact but the current crude data sets do not easily expose one.
   472. SuperGrover Posted: January 10, 2013 at 03:05 AM (#4343880)
People who think there is no difference between having Emile Heskey and Robin Van Persie when a chance is to be converted are out of their mind.


If Heskey gets it on target he has about as much chance of scoring as RVP, especially over the full range of an EPL season which includes big chances, half chances, and out of left field shots that somehow make it in.
   473. SuperGrover Posted: January 10, 2013 at 03:06 AM (#4343881)
I third what Chef said. I simply cannot accept this. For one thing, you can improve conversion rates by coaching.


You are going to have to show me some data for a statement as profound as this. Otherwise, one would thinkEPL teams with the best coaches would dominate conversion rates on a yearly basis. They don't.
   474. Richard Posted: January 10, 2013 at 04:22 AM (#4343904)
You are going to have to show me some data for a statement as profound as this. Otherwise, one would thinkEPL teams with the best coaches would dominate conversion rates on a yearly basis. They don't.

Well, to give a simple example of what I mean, in a one on one situation where the keeper is advancing, if the forward hits the keeper with a shot, that's an accurate shot on target, but it's not converted into a goal. You can, however, teach a forward to lob the goalkeeper in that situation. An accurate lob is, in that scenario, a certain goal, because there's no one protecting the net - the keeper is helpless - and luck or other factors are irrelevant. Those factors are out of play because the player has been taught a way to take the keeper out of the equation.

It comes back to the same point I made in my other post you answered: a good forward has a better chance of picking a spot that the keeper can't reach and thus eliminating random chance, and therefore not all forwards who can hit the target are equal. There is certainly some element of randomness, but your premise seems to me to be too absolute.
   475. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: January 10, 2013 at 08:17 AM (#4343921)
Intuitively, I agree. But, intuitively, it would seem it would be more difficult to get hits when making contact off Greg Maddux than off Greg Hibbard. Unfortunately, the data doesn't suggest that.
I don't want to turn this into a DIPS discussion, but just to be clear - there are definite and highly important differences between pitchers in their abilities to prevent hits on balls in play. BABIP skill made Tom Seaver a Hall of Famer, it made Dave Stieb an ace, it made Sid Fernandez a professional ballplayer, and it made Andy Messersmith rich. If you look at Tango's fun DIPS spreadsheet, you see that there are far, far more players several SDs removed from the league mean than you'd see if it were truly random.

However, because of all the confounding factors, it takes a couple of seasons of play to get good data on BABIP skill for pitchers. Single-season FIP is a better measure of pitcher skill than single season ERA because it takes so long for BABIP to find its true level. On the sabermetric side, it took a bunch of different studies before the extent of BABIP skill could be identified.

My intuition is that shot-on-target conversion is like this. Factors of random chance, keeper skill, quality of opportunity provided by teammates will obfuscate the skill in even a relatively large sample. A few percentage points of skill in shot-on-target conversion would be worth a lot of money. So it can be a very real and important skill that you can't identify in a season of data.
   476. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: January 10, 2013 at 08:37 AM (#4343924)
Coming back to the strength of schedule issue, do you attempt to adjust for home/away or is it strictly based on quality of opponent regardless of the venue?

Oh and I know you weren't asking me, but my numbers do include venue location.
In case I misunderstood the question - I'm not making adjustments for the particular venue, it's just a generic HFA factor.

I've only been working off the two years of data in the FFS database, so I figured that any individualized park factor based on just 1.5 seasons of data would probably be more noise than signal. But I realize that G/GA for home and away seasons dating back for quite a few years are available on ESPN's website, so I perhaps should try to add that in at some point. I played with those numbers earlier in this thread (or in the last one) and the main thing I found was an unsurprisingly huge HFA at the Britannia. I think that Fulham had the smallest HFA. That could just be random, though.
   477. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: January 10, 2013 at 08:38 AM (#4343925)
   478. zack Posted: January 10, 2013 at 09:49 AM (#4343947)
FWIW, in hockey the exact same effect is seen with scoring rate (which is called shooting percentage there). Over like 5 seasons you'll start to see who actually shoots better or worse than usual. Some guys can sustain high shooting percentages by being crease crashers, but there's not much of that in soccer. On the one hand, hockey has many more shots per game (and more games per season) so you'd expect it to stabilize sooner, but on the other, something like 92% of all shots are saved, so you're going to see lots of randomness.
   479. JuanGone..except1game Posted: January 10, 2013 at 10:04 AM (#4343957)
If Torres really is Abramovich's personal project, what are the chances that Roman decides to walk away now that his last two personal projects (Torres and Sheva) have done nothing but cost him money and earn him the opprobrium of the supporters?


Just got around to watching that match on BEIN late last night. Torres was just dreadful. Watching Ba create 3 chances in 10 minutes, while Torres was mostly invisible during a match where Chelsea just completely dominated the ball for a good 60 out of the first 80 minutes was just damning. It's bad enough that he hasn't been in great form this year, but his inability to deal with any competition whether it a legend like Drogba or just an inform striker like Ba should mean his exit. I say that they try to sell him for a Pato-like discount to Atletico the minute Falcoa walks out that door. This is bad for the squad and just painful for him. I don't hate the guy, but like Randy Johnson in NY this was just not a good fit.

Agree with the Steinbrenner comparisons, Roman wants to have the glory. I would love for him to leave the player acquisition to the experts at Chelsea who have been better than good especially during the last year + (Mata, Hazard, Luiz, Lukaku, Oscar who are all young and good), but I'm not confident when he decides to set his eyes on a guy. At least he passed on Walcott as that guy.
   480. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: January 10, 2013 at 10:09 AM (#4343962)
So, more time wasting in the morning, leading to more cluttering of the page. Sorry if this is annoying. I'm enjoying myself, though.

Anyway, I added in a strength of schedule adjustment to the ratings. I'm not sure to what degree the changes are because of that or because of other minor tweaks I added - I now run the attack and defense team quality adjustments separately, rather than producing a single +/- figure for every game. So that might also be the culprit in the small changes.

Stoke City gets a big boost, which is surely a schedule effect - the only clubs they've played twice this season are Liverpool and Manchester City. Likewise Newcastle, who have doubled up on Manchester United and Everton. Chelsea's drop in the ratings may be a schedule effect (they have only the one extra home game against QPR), but it could also be an effect of spreadsheet tweaks. QPR by contrast actually move down a bit, so who knows. I expected a bigger drop for Spurs.

EDIT: There's got to be a bug in the spreadsheet. This output is flawed somehow. Will fix at some point at re-post.
   481. DA Baracus Posted: January 10, 2013 at 10:21 AM (#4343970)
Great discussion going on. It seems to me that part of shot on goal conversion is quality of service. Not all shots on goal are equal, and not all passes to the shooter are either. I think we can all agree that a long ball from Pirlo or a cross from Leighton Baines is significantly better than from most players. That has to be taken into account somehow.
   482. Mattbert Posted: January 10, 2013 at 10:33 AM (#4343979)
Oh and I know you weren't asking me, but my numbers do include venue location.

Grover: I was asking you and MCoA, so thanks for the reply. What I was trying to get at regarding SoS adjustment was, for example, whether you would weight playing Manchester United away differently than playing Manchester United at home. Actually, United might be a bad example since they're awfully good everywhere. Better would be clubs like Stoke and Fulham that have an established pattern of huge home/away splits that goes back several seasons.
   483. zack Posted: January 10, 2013 at 10:40 AM (#4343989)
How common are direct goals from free kicks? My intuition is not common at all.
   484. Mattbert Posted: January 10, 2013 at 10:54 AM (#4344004)
How common are direct goals from free kicks? My intuition is not common at all.

I'd be amazed if the conversion rate is much better than about 1%. It seems to be a very, very difficult skill just to get the ball on target and force a save.
   485. Mattbert Posted: January 10, 2013 at 11:01 AM (#4344011)
Okay, I found some data and analysis here and here. Consider me amazed. I think I may have been colored by watching Tottenham more than any other team, because apparently they actually are truly lousy at free kicks in addition to it being very hard to score that way in general.
   486. DA Baracus Posted: January 10, 2013 at 11:04 AM (#4344017)
I was just about to post that. Perhaps I missed it but it appears that counts all goals from direct kicks--including ones that deflect, and Zack was wondering how many go straight into the net. I don't think 1% is that crazy a guesstimate.
   487. Fancy Pants Handles lap changes with class Posted: January 10, 2013 at 11:05 AM (#4344018)
I'd be amazed if the conversion rate is much better than about 1%. It seems to be a very, very difficult skill just to get the ball on target and force a save.


Seems to be about 3%. SSS alert.

Would have guessed 5% myself.
   488. Mefisto Posted: January 10, 2013 at 11:08 AM (#4344026)
475 seems well-stated to me. Part of the debate may be that some players simply don't hit the target very often. That might not get picked up in the stats MCOA is talking about.

Speaking of conversion rates, do you have the data for corner kicks? Seems to me that it takes an awful lot of corner kicks to score one goal.

Edit to add: An example of a player who began his career very wasteful of chances but learned quickly is Thierry Henry. Maybe it was SSS when he was a teenager, or maybe he was taught something, IDK.
   489. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: January 10, 2013 at 11:44 AM (#4344061)
So, I think I fixed the minor problem in the spreadsheet. So these are my cludgy team ratings. I've also listed team ratings by actual goals scored / goals allowed (% better than league) as a comparison. Adjusted for home/away and strength of schedule.

Based on Expected Goals / Expected Goals Allowed
1) +.97 (1.57 - 0.60) - Manchester City
2) +.64 (1.57 - 0.93) - Manchester United
3) +.42 (1.24 - 0.82) - Liverpool
4) +.37 (1.36 - 0.99) - Everton
5) +.36 (1.22 - 0.86) - Tottenham Hotspur
6) +.26 (1.14 - 0.88) - Arsenal
7) +.21 (1.11 - 0.90) - Chelsea
8) -.03 (0.77 - 0.80) - Stoke City
9) -.04 (0.94 - 0.98) - West Bromwich Albion
10) -.08 (1.02 - 1.10) - Swansea City
11) -.12 (0.92 - 1.04) - Southampton
12) -.16 (0.81 - 0.97) - West Ham United
13) -.18 (1.02 - 1.20) - Fulham
14) -.20 (1.12 - 1.32) - Newcastle United
15) -.22 (0.89 - 1.11) - Norwich City
16) -.27 (0.84 - 1.11) - Queens Park Rangers
17) -.36 (0.81 - 1.17) - Wigan Athletic
18) -.41 (0.72 - 1.13) - Aston Villa
19) -.46 (0.72 - 1.18) - Sunderland
20) -.80 (0.67 - 1.47) - Reading

Based on Goals Scored / Goals Allowed
1) +.81 (1.86 - 1.05) - Manchester United
2) +.67 (1.34 - 0.67) - Manchester City
3) +.65 (1.34 - 0.70) - Chelsea
4) +.60 (1.33 - 0.78) - Arsenal
5) +.45 (1.32 - 0.87) - Tottenham Hotspur
6) +.20 (1.18 - 0.98) - Liverpool
7) +.17 (1.18 - 1.01) - Everton
8) +.05 (0.69 - 0.64) - Stoke City
9) -.03 (0.99 - 1.02) - Swansea City
10) -.04 (0.81 - 0.85) - West Ham United
11) -.05 (0.97 - 1.12) - West Bromwich Albion
12) -.18 (0.73 - 0.91) - Sunderland
13) -.21 (1.00 - 1.20) - Newcastle United
14) -.21 (0.94 - 1.15) - Norwich City
15) -.26 (1.07 - 1.33) - Fulham
16) -.35 (1.02 - 1.38) - Southampton
17) -.49 (0.83 - 1.32) - Reading
18) -.52 (0.72 - 1.24) - Wigan Athletic
19) -.58 (0.61 - 1.19) - Queens Park Rangers
20) -.67 (0.61 - 1.28) - Aston Villa

It'll be interesting to see if either is a slightly better predictor of team results in the second half.

I note also Liverpool is pretty good at scoring and preventing goals, and their xG/xGA underperformance is equally as bad on the defensive side as on the offensive.
   490. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: January 10, 2013 at 12:31 PM (#4344133)
Spurs show there are no hard feelings by sending Jake Livermore to QPR on loan, reportedly. Will Wesley Sneijder move to Turkey? We will soon find out!
   491. Mattbert Posted: January 10, 2013 at 12:39 PM (#4344143)
Turning from the statty to the emotive, it seems there's been a minor conflagration over ticket prices going on in England lately. Germans evidently think the English are nuts for paying more than €15 for a ticket. I wonder what the English, who are up in arms over £62 tickets, would think of NFL prices.
   492. OsunaSakata Posted: January 10, 2013 at 12:49 PM (#4344150)
So what are Rangers F.C. complaining about? That the bottom division will be expanded from 10 to 18 which won't enable them to be promoted?
   493. RB in NYC (Now Semi-Retired from BBTF) Posted: January 10, 2013 at 01:32 PM (#4344192)
I wonder what the English, who are up in arms over £62 tickets, would think of NFL prices.
To be fair, if there were only eight home Bundesliga or EPL games per season, they'd be paying a lot more than £62 or €15 or whatever.
   494. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: January 10, 2013 at 01:39 PM (#4344201)
To be fair, if there were only eight home Bundesliga or EPL games per season, they'd be paying a lot more than £62 or €15 or whatever.

Judging by the NFL's attendance problems, maybe not...
   495. RB in NYC (Now Semi-Retired from BBTF) Posted: January 10, 2013 at 01:46 PM (#4344212)
Judging by the NFL's attendance problems, maybe not...
If the data in this chart is accurate (and yes, I know that's tickets sold, not butts-in-seats) then every league in the world would love to have the NFL's attendance problems. No team below 75% capacity, every team above 54,000 per game and five above 75,000 per game.
   496. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: January 10, 2013 at 01:51 PM (#4344214)
(and yes, I know that's tickets sold, not butts-in-seats)

Their attendance last year was the lowest since 2001 and, more importantly, there were a LOT of now-shows. Not great for a sport with only 8 home games a year. I don't think it's because people don't like football, it's just that watching football at home or at a bar is a much better experience than going to a game anymore. Why spend hundred bucks to go to a game, fight the traffic getting in, get gouged on parking, get gouged on food and drink, freeze your ass for 4 hours and then fight traffic to get home when you can get NFL ticket, invite your friends over and go from game to game and bore everyone with details about your fantasy team from the comfort of your Lazyboy?
   497. I am going to be Frank Posted: January 10, 2013 at 02:33 PM (#4344271)
Does anyone know what percentage of NFL tickets are season tickets? I would imagine the ease of reselling tickets makes attendance (# of tickets sold) lower. I think for a lot of people going to a NFL game it is all about the tailgate - meeting up with all your friends, drink some beers and gorge on food. That you can make a family outing makes it more palatable to wives and significant others rather than spending all Sunday in a bar or some guy's man-cave. In my opinion you go to a sporting event to experience the atmosphere. If you want to watch the game stay at home and have it on your HDTV.

I've only been to one European soccer match and had seats along one end line. I had no idea what was going on the far side of the field. It was exhausting - everyone was standing throughout the match.
   498. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: January 10, 2013 at 02:37 PM (#4344276)
It was exhausting - everyone was standing throughout the match.

Lucky. I WISH they'd let you stand at WHL. I think sitting down when the game is getting tense just drains the energy from the home crowd.
   499. I am going to be Frank Posted: January 10, 2013 at 03:13 PM (#4344316)
It was definitely a great experience and the section was full of energy. I couldn't understand a single chant/song the crowd had going even though it was English (it was Upton Park). I hadn't stood through a game since college and had been walking around London for three days already - my feet hurt.
   500. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: January 10, 2013 at 03:59 PM (#4344365)
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