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How to Spend No More Than £4.2M Per Player and Win

By Ted Knutson | June 15, 2013 | Analytics

There is a team that teetered on the brink of bankruptcy in 2005. A payment from one of their biggest historic rivals helped save the club from administration.

In 2008, they finished 13th in the league.

In 2011, they won the league.

In 2012, they won the league again.

That is a fairly impressive rebuilding effort, regardless of what league you are in. Three years from 13th to league winners seems nearly impossible in modern football unless you spend like a sheikh, right?

Their highest transfer fee during the rebuilding period was £4.2M.

Okay sure, now you start to think they were probably in a mediocre league to pull something like this off.

After they won their second title, this club really splashed the cash. For a single player that cost £15M.

They still had a positive net transfer balance that season.

In 2013, they made it to the Champions’ League Final.

So tell me again how the big money teams in the Premier League are entrenched and unassailable.

Tell me again that there is no value in the transfer market (January or otherwise).

Tell me again how efficient transfer and wage spending isn’t paramount.

Tell me again how a good academy and superior player scouting and recruitment aren’t the most important cornerstones in building a successful team.


Because I want to laugh, and shout, “Scoreboard!” and point to Borussia Dortmund.

The thing is, they did it in the Bundesliga without anything close to the financial backing that clubs get in the Premier League. Yes, they had one major thing going for them in their 74,000 person stadium that was always full of great fans. But they didn’t have overwhelming EPL TV money that every team in England gets upon entering the league.

Look at what they spent versus the success they had, and it boggles the mind.

Forget Liverpool for a minute – Sunderland and Newcastle could easily become Champions’ League teams.

Southampton could easily assume Everton’s yearly 6th place finish.

Swansea could go from League 1 to regular top half finishers. Oh wait, they already did that.

This is what analytics can do. Stats and analytics matter right now.

Bad management groups will continue to throw tens of millions of pounds at the wrong players, while teams with strong analytics groups will throw single millions at the right players. Teams that aren’t exploiting stats are already behind, and it will only become more obvious as the years progress.

Article by Ted Knutson