Thursday, 20 October 2016

English Premier League: Which Season Ticket is the Best Value?

In my two previous posts, I've examined the data for the English Premier League for the last ten seasons, reviewing how 'exciting' each season has been.  I've drawn some conclusions, segmented the data and found some interesting data points, but not yet produced anything that's really useful, or that can help a football fan.

It's time to move on, and to provide some useful facts and figures that are more meaningful and more useful than I've written previously - in particular, to look at the relative value and cost of season tickets for each of the teams.  But first, a quick recap:

Post number 1: Less than 10% of English Premier League games are goal-less (0-0) draws.
Post number 2:  Arsenal consistently achieve more goals per game (scored plus conceded) than average, while Everton frequently have fewer goals per game than average.

All very interesting and fascinating and useful to quote, but not really anything you can do anything with.  So far, the best recommendation I could make is: "If you were given the choice between watching an Arsenal game or an Everton game, I'd recommend the Arsenal game."

What I propose to do next is to start connecting the data I have to some additional data that will help form recommendations - in this case (and in most cases in business), money.  Money, in the form of reduced costs or increased sales and revenue, is often the essential part of any business recommendation, and I can apply the same process here.  We know how many goals per game (on average) we will see for each team in the English Premier League, but what we haven't yet identified is how much it would cost to see each game, and how much it will cost per goal.

In order to calculate this, I've taken the data from 2015-16 (the most recent completed season) and looked at the costs of season tickets, using the Sky Sports website for the costs.  I'm using the cheapest standard adult season ticket cost in each case.
Image credit

Jumping straight into the analysis - let's compare the cost of a season ticket to the average number of goals per game for the 2015-16 season:

And then compare the season tickets on a "cost per goal" basis, again for the 2015-16 season:

Isn't it interesting how the data has become more relevant, meaningful and even actionable when you start introducing money?

Arsenal may usually have the largest number of goals per season (or per game), and consistently achieve over-average performance there, but if you want to watch 'exciting' football of their type, you're going to have to pay for it.  (Note that the 2015-16 season was lower than usual for Arsenal, who actually came in below average for goals per game).

If you want the best value for your season ticket, then Man City is the place to go, at just £2.67 per goal - and you'll see plenty of goals too, 

This data could be displayed geographically (are London clubs better value than other regions?) or sorted in various other ways.  Beware, though, while you do this, of introducing apparent trends in your data when there is none:

This one isn't too bad, although it does look like season tickets are coming down in price.

This second one, though, makes it appear that (1) there is a trend, and (2) season ticket prices are going up (which is generally the case).

In Summary

In this series, I've moved from data to analysis to insight:

Post number 1: Less than 10% of English Premier League games are goal-less (0-0) draws. Data, and analysis

Post number 2:  Arsenal consistently achieve more goals per game (scored plus conceded) than average, while Everton frequently have fewer goals per game than average.  Analysis, but still nothing actionable.

Post number 3 (this post):  Arsenal may have the most goals on average, but in 2015-16 the cost of seeing a goal (£10.25) was much higher than the other clubs: 20% higher than the next-highest (Southampton, £8.53) and nearly four times higher than seeing a goal at Man City (£2.67, actually 3.83 times more).

If you have the choice of watching an Everton match or an Arsenal match as a neutral, pick the Arsenal match.

Buy a season ticket for Many City, Villa, or West Brom.  If you want to follow a London club, the best value season ticket for London was Chelsea at £4.77 per goal, still half the price of an Arsenal ticket.  Actionable analysis.

In a future post, I'll look at this worked example, pulling apart the differences between data, analysis, actionable analysis and insight

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

How exciting is the English Premier League?

So, it's the start of the English Premier League (EPL) season. Sport generates vast amounts of data, all available for analysis and insight, and in this post (and probably a couple of following posts), I will be looking at the English Premier League (football, aka soccer) for recent years and reviewing how the game has changed. This will form a practical look at data, reporting, analysis, insight and actionable analysis.

This is a reconstructed post: I originally posted this in September but the post has since been deleted or lost.  Here's what I can remember of it.

There are a number of questions to be asked (and answered):

How 'exciting' is the English Premier League?

How many goals can you expect to see per game?
How many games end in goal-less draws?
How many games are won by a one-goal margin (perhaps a good definition of a tense, exciting game).

This data can then be used to compare the English Premier League with other leagues (in the UK and abroad).

So, to start with, what's the average number of goals per game (total scored by both teams) for each of the last eleven seasons.

And the answer is:

And how does this compare with the percentage of games that are dull, uninteresting, goal-less draws?

The line graph above shows the percentage of goal-less draws.  It doesn't exactly trend with the average number of goals per game, but when the percentage of goalless draws is high (2008-2009) then the average goals per game is low (less than 2.5).

This does lead to an interesting point that would make marketers and headline-writers happy: "Less than 10% of EPL games end in goalless draws" (excluding 2008-2009).

Now we can see that 2006-2007 had the lowest average number of goals per game, while 2011-2 had the highest; we can then analyse these two seasons side by side - see below - to understand where the differences were.

Key points:
- 2007 had 34 0-0 draws, compared to 27 for 2012.  Only 2008-9 had fewer (25).
- 2011-2 had more games with five, six, seven, eight and ten goals.  
- The highest scoring game in 2006-7 was Arsenal 6 - Blackburn 2.  
- In 2011-12, the highest scoring game was Man United 8 - Arsenal 2.

Finally, which seasons were most interesting from the perspective of one-goal winners?  Not just 1-0, but 2-1, 3-2, 4-3 and so on.   
2011-12, with its huge average number of goals per game, doesn't do so well here.  2006-7 and 2007-9, the two games with low goals per game and high percentage of goalless draws, does marginally better - they were both really mean seasons.

Football data obtained from this football website; others are available.



Analysing the data at this level - with trended comparisons - has given us the ability to compare one time period with another.  There's nothing actionable here, but we get a nice headline about the percentage of 0-0 draws.  In the next post I wrote (chronologically, before the original version of this post was lost), I segmented the data by team, and that provided more interesting insights.