Sunday, 23 June 2013

Best Promoted Team

According to the bookmakers, the 2013-14 English Premier League season is comprised of three teams with a chance of actually winning the title, (the Manchester duo plus Chelsea), Arsenal, two teams who will be playing for the Europa Cup spot (Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur) and Everton. The other thirteen teams are all available at 1000 to win the league, and any season long betting interest is confined to the relegation market, the "Rock Bottom" market or, in the case of three clubs, the "Best Promoted Team" market.

One of the challenges of updating ratings in the close season is how to incorporate the promoted teams in each league. One component in these calculations is how promoted teams have historically performed in the following season.

No doubt many people would simplistically assume that the second level Champions fare best, followed by the runners-up with the Play-Off winners bringing up the rear, but this is not true.

If we look at the last ten seasons, in the EPL, only three of the clubs promoted as champions have followed up by finishing as the best promoted team. Four times the runner-up achieved this distinction, and three times the play-off winners did it. The last two season, the champions actually ended as the worst of the promoted teams. The average final placings are:

In the other leagues I follow, similar results are seen. Again looking at the last ten seasons, in France and Germany four of the Champions went on to finish best, including the last three in Ligue 1, and in Spain it is just two. In Italy meaningful numbers are best extracted from the past five seasons, as the data is skewed by over-performing teams only competing at the second level due to non-playing reasons. Here, two of the five champions finished best.

Unfortunately the only League I see a market for this bet is the EPL, which isn't the most liquid I have seen, but should Cardiff City really be odds-on to be the best promoted team? I suggest not.

Crystal Palace, Hull City and Cardiff City also happen to be the first three favourites to finish "Rock Bottom", a fate that has befallen five teams promoted in the last ten seasons, but none in the last four seasons. Of those five, two were previously Champions and three were play-off winners.

Going back for a moment to the starting ratings for promoted teams, an exception has to be made this year for Monaco. The Ligue 2 champions would normally be rated around thirteenth for the new season, but clearly this would be nonsense this time around.

No comments: