Wages are gravity not destiny
4 min read

Wages are gravity not destiny

Wages are gravity not destiny
Photo by Christopher Bill / Unsplash

One of the things that is always said is that wages are one of the more important factors for determining a team's place at the end of the season. This is something that is a bit of a truism and I am certain that I have seen data that backs it up at one point or another but it was not something that came out quickly in a  google search.

So I did the next best thing and did some quick and dirty analysis.

One of the hardest parts about this is trying to get data on wages for teams. What I ended up with I am not 100 percent certain is reliable but seemed to be in the ball park for most teams and had data going back to the 2013/14 season. I think that it really undercounted Manchester City's wages at times but also all wage reporting is basically a giant shrug emoji.

In the end, the imperfect data in the spreadsheet is better than the perfect data that is nowhere to be found.

So what I did here was go to look at first the correlation of wages to finishing place in the table (maybe points would also be a good thing to add he thinks to himself wishing he had thought of this a few hours earlier)

The correlation here is strong and pretty obvious when you look on the graphic:

Arsenal are highlighted in red

I also looked at the rank in wages and table finish, which also has a very strong correlation.

Arsenal are highlighted in red

For fun I finished things off by running a quick regression on the relationship between wages and finishing place (again I wish I had also done points but hey now I have a follow up post). The regression came out as expected with wages coming out as a strong explanatory variable, with an R Square of 0.459 where roughly every 10 million pounds in wages is worth roughly a place in the table.

What this also illustrates for me is that while there is certainly a connection between wages and player quality that relationship is not perfect. Dumb spending in the Premier League is still not a silver bullet, one the best examples of that is that Manchester United have had the highest wage bill in this sample (not sure I 100% buy this but again it's in the ballpark) 6 times in the last 9 years and have 6th, 2nd, 3rd, 3rd, 2nd, 6th, 4th, and 4th. In fact, only one team with the highest wages (grain of salt), 2013/14 Manchester City won the title with the highest wage bill.

High wages generally mean good players but not always success. Wages are a gravitational pull towards a spot on the table and not a destiny.

With the US holiday it was a lighter content week for me. I did very much enjoy the second episode of the Stats Guy and a Civilian with Paul.


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This was a bit of some random thoughts as I wrote from a hotel room.

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