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Punching Above Our Weight (2010/11)
Punching Above Our Weight (2010/11)
Tuesday, 28th Jun 2011 12:00 by Wessex Exile

For many years, a byword for Colchester United – and then Parky took us to the Championship, George for a brief moment even challenged the Premier League play-offs under Robbie and his fortune, and we moved to shiny new WHCS.

Suddenly we seemed to have forgotten that even being in League 1 used to be considered one hell of an achievement, suddenly supporters were expecting, even demanding success, and Robbie had to bankroll that expectation. But not anymore – Robbie has (quite rightly) served notice that his season-on-season bail-out cannot continue – the U’s must learn to stand on its own two feet again, with John Ward’s squad budget limited to the money he can attract through the turnstiles.

Time then to look at the figures, and maybe resurrect the proud tradition that Colchester United is punching above its weight?

The hypothesis for exploring this is simple; attendance equals money, and money equals success – of course there are notable exceptions, former giants with large fan-bases who find themselves languishing in the lower leagues, small clubs with fantastically generous chairmen, and I can’t sensibly factor in revenue from the various cups, transfer money received or televised match revenue – but the general principle is sound.

Accepting that as the 2010/11 season kicked off, there was little any of the 92 could do about the league they found themselves in (regardless of their fan-base), analysis will first look at each of the four leagues independently. As a general note, attendance stats are taken from the excellent website http://www.european-football-statistics.co.uk, and analysis compares rank according to average attendance compared to actual league position, to see who ended up furthest ahead of (or behind) where their attendance average suggested they should have finished in their league (the Punching above Weight rank, or PaW) . Where clubs have matched on their PaW rank, order has been determined by average attendance (smallest to largest).

Premier League

In the Premier League, the star performer was Fulham, seven places above their attendance rank, followed by West Brom (6 places) and Spurs (5 places). Only Stoke City (13th in the league, 13th in attendance) and Man Utd (1st and 1st obviously) actually finished where they should have done.

The long-suffering Toon Army, with a massive average attendance of nearly 48k will probably not be consoled that they finished nine places below the 3rd position they should have finished in, matched by relegated West Ham, and Wolves five places below the 12th place they should have achieved.

Special mention must go to Bolton and Wigan, both of whom should probably have been relegated on the back of their relatively poor average attendances, but actually managed 14th and 16th place respectively.

Premier League PaW Table

Club Ave. Att. Att. Rank Lg. Pos. Pos v Att PaW Rank
Fulham 25,043 15 8 7 1
West Brom 24,683 17 11 6 2
Tottenham Hotspur 35,704 10 5 5 3
Bolton 22,870 18 14 4 4
Chelsea 41,435 6 2 4 4
Wigan Athletic 16,812 19 16 3 6
Everton 36,039 9 7 2 7
Blackpool 15,775 20 19 1 8
Blackburn Rovers 25,000 16 15 1 8
Man City 45,905 4 3 1 8
Stoke City 26,858 13 13 0 11
Man Utd 75,109 1 1 0 11
Aston Villa 37,194 8 9 -1 13
Liverpool 42,820 5 6 -1 13
Arsenal 60,025 2 4 -2 15
Sunderland 40,011 7 10 -3 16
Birmingham 25,462 14 18 -4 17
Wolves 27,925 12 17 -5 18
West Ham 33,492 11 20 -9 19
Newcastle United 47,718 3 12 -9 19
 

Championship

In the Championship, QPR demonstrated perfectly the exception to my rule – on attendance alone they should have been lower mid-table, but bought the league title thanks to the deep pockets of Lakshmi Mittal and friends. Heyho, let’s instead celebrate Swansea’s stunning performance, 15th in the attendance rank, yet promoted via the play-offs, and (begrudgingly) no one’s favourite visitors Millwall, who should have flirted with relegation, and ended up flirting with the play-offs.

Three teams did exactly what it said on the tin; Scunthorpe and PNE were rightly relegated, and Middlesbrough, boring boring Middlesbrough, finished a predictably boring 12th in both ranks.

At the wrong end of business (look away now Mr Happy), with the second largest average attendance in the Championship, Derby should have been promoted, and ended up 17 places down only just avoiding relegation, a feat which Sheff United would probably have paid good money to avoid – 8th highest average attendance and now facing a trip to the WHCS next season. Possibly thanks to the influence of former son of Col U Aidy Boothroyd, Coventry only just avoided a similar fate, seven places below the comfortable mid-table position they should have achieved.

Not much to make special mention about here – Donny did well I suppose to only just avoid relegation, everyone’s favourite Nodge (pfft) should have been disappointed if they hadn’t got promotion, and dirty dirty Leeds, best supported team in the league, must have been gutted to even miss out on the play-offs – shame.

Championship PaW Table

Club Ave. Att. Att. Rank Lg. Pos. Pos v Att PaW Rank
QPR 15,635 14 1 13 1
Swansea City 15,507 15 3 12 2
Millwall 12,439 20 9 11 3
Burnley 14,931 17 8 9 4
Watford 13,152 19 14 5 5
Reading 17,682 10 5 5 5
Barnsley 11,855 21 17 4 7
Bristol City 14,605 18 15 3 8
Doncaster Rovers 10,258 23 21 2 9
Cardiff 23,194 6 4 2 9
Norwich City 25,386 3 2 1 11
Scunthorpe United 5,548 24 24 0 12
Preston North End 11,768 22 22 0 12
Middlesbrough 16,269 12 12 0 12
Nottingham Forest 23,275 5 6 -1 15
Portsmouth 15,707 13 16 -3 16
Crystal Palace 15,351 16 20 -4 17
Ipswich Town 19,615 9 13 -4 17
Hull City 21,169 7 11 -4 17
Leicester City 23,666 4 10 -6 20
Leeds 27,299 1 7 -6 20
Coventry City 16,310 11 18 -7 22
Sheff United 20,632 8 23 -15 23
Derby 26,023 2 19 -17 24
 

League 1

Right then, this is the one that counts – but before we get to the mighty U’s, hat’s off to Rochdale, should have been relegated, but nearly made the play-offs. Colchester United came in a very credible second, our 10th position ten places ahead of the flirting with relegation 20th we should have achieved, and a result matched by Leyton Orient who should have been 17th but nearly made the play-offs in 7th place (though don’t forget their cup-run money).

No one in League 1 did exactly as they should, though Walsall (nearly relegated), Oldham, the Mongs, Huddersfield and Southampton (promoted) finished within one position of their rightful place.

As for the under-performers, Plymuff’s 10pt administration deduction condemned them to relegation when they should have made the play-offs (maybe they should have spent less on golf-balls and throwing away all their loose change), and Swindon and eponymous fallen giants Sheff Wed weren’t too far behind.

Special mention definitely goes to Hartlepool, who should have been relegated but managed to dodge the Mick “Bigger B’stard than…” etc. curse to finish lower mid-table, Brighton for winning the league when they shouldn’t have even made the play-offs, and Parky’s former club Charlton who should have aced the play-offs with 15.5k average support, but only just made top half.

League 1 PaW Table

Club Ave. Att. Att. Rank Lg. Pos. Pos v Att PaW Rank
Rochdale 3,537 22 9 13 1
Colchester United 4,247 20 10 10 2
Leyton Orient 4,582 17 7 10 2
Hartlepool United 2,933 23 16 7 4
Peterborough 6,450 11 4 7 4
Brighton 7,352 8 1 7 4
Exeter City 5,393 14 8 6 7
Yeovil Town 4,291 19 14 5 8
Brentford 5,172 16 11 5 8
Dagenham 2,770 24 21 3 10
Carlisle United 5,207 15 12 3 10
AFC Bournemouth 7,103 9 6 3 10
Walsall 3,846 21 20 1 13
Oldham 4,392 18 17 1 13
MK Mongs 8,512 6 5 1 13
Huddersfield Town 13,733 4 3 1 13
Southampton 22,161 1 2 -1 17
Tranmere Rovers 5,467 13 18 -5 18
Notts County 6,585 10 19 -9 19
Bristol Rovers 6,253 12 22 -10 20
Charlton Athletic 15,582 3 13 -10 20
Sheff Wed 17,821 2 15 -13 22
Swindon 8,458 7 24 -17 23
Plymouth Argyle 8,613 5 23 -18 24
 

League 2

At the bottom of the tree, clear winner was Accrington Stanley (‘oo are they?); their paltry 1.8k average attendance should have seen them relegated second from last, instead of finishing a whopping 18 places higher in the play-offs. Buckle’s Torquay also did extremely well to finish just inside the play-offs on an average of 2.6k through the turnstiles, and Bury likewise for actually achieving promotion on lower mid-table gates.

At either end of the table, Barnet in 22nd and Shrewsbury in 4th matched expectation with performance, and Crewe, Hereford and Gillingham were only one place off their potential.

The City Gent army will be far from happy that their enormous 11k+ average attendance, comfortably the best in League 1 by a country mile, was rewarded with a season spent trying to avoid relegation out of the league altogether, something that no doubt Stockport 14 places below their average attendance rank wished they avoided when finishing rock bottom of the 92, and even Oxford will feel they should have done a lot better, the 2nd best supported team in the league, but only a mid-table finish.

However, special mention for League 2 is definitely reserved for Macclesfield, officially the worst supported team of the football league, yet still managed a very respectable lower mid-table finish (though do have a chuckle at Sarfend, should have made the play-offs, only just avoided Page 2 on Ceefax).

League 2 PaW Table

Club Ave. Att. Att. Rank Lg. Pos. Pos v Att PaW Rank
Accrington Stanley 1,868 23 5 18 1
Torquay United 2,631 19 7 12 2
Bury 3,313 14 2 12 2
Stevenage 2,899 17 6 11 4
Macclesfield Town 1,816 24 15 9 5
Aldershot Town 2,488 21 14 7 6
Wycombe 4,495 9 3 6 7
Rotherham 3,667 12 9 3 8
Chesterfield 6,972 3 1 2 9
Crewe 4,119 11 10 1 10
Barnet 2,250 22 22 0 11
Shrewsbury Town 5,876 4 4 0 11
Hereford United 2,516 20 21 -1 13
Gillingham 5,231 7 8 -1 13
Morecambe 2,648 18 20 -2 15
Cheltenham Town 2,980 15 17 -2 15
Burton Albion 2,948 16 19 -3 17
Port Vale 5,533 5 11 -6 18
Southend United 5,274 6 13 -7 19
Northampton Town 4,605 8 16 -8 20
Lincoln 3,508 13 23 -10 21
Oxford 7,277 2 12 -10 21
Stockport County 4,163 10 24 -14 23
Bradford City 11,128 1 18 -17 24
 

Overall ranking for the 92

So finally, looking at all 92 regardless of the league played in, but taking the view that if you cram in tens of thousands every game you really shouldn’t be languishing in the lower leagues (we’re talking about you Sheffield Wednesday), who are the overall winners and losers?

In reverse order:

Bradford City, 47th best supported team and 86th place in the football league (-39!!!);

Our friends Sheff Wed, 29th best supported team and 59th place in the football league (-30);

Oxford, 53rd best supported team and 80th place in the football league (-27);

Derby County, 15th best-supported team (that’s Premier League level!) and 39th place in the football league (-24); and even

Southampton – yes they were promoted out of League 1 in 46th place, but they are actually 25th best-supported team in the league (-21)

Only four teams were exactly where they should have been:

Barnet, virtually bottom of League 2, were 90th in both position and support;

Rotherham and Tranmere were likewise 77th and 62nd respectively in both; and

Everyone’s bête noire ManUre were predictably top of both ranks.

Top of the heap, and worthy recipients of The U’sual Punching above their Weight awards for 2010/11 are:

Accrington Stanley, 2nd from worst supported team in the league, but finished 18 places higher in 73rd (+18);

Colchester United, 73rd in terms of support (that’s mid-table League 2 levels), 54th in position (+19);

Daggers, 85th in support, 65th in position (+20);

Hartlepool, 83rd in support, 60th in position (+23); and finally

Take a bow over-achievers Rochdale, 78th for support (an average of just 3,537 per game), but 53rd place in the football league (+25).

The 92 PaW Table

Club Ave. Att. Att. Rank Lg. Pos. Pos v Att PaW Rank
Rochdale 3,537 78 53 25 1
Hartlepool United 2,933 83 60 23 2
Dagenham 2,770 85 65 20 3
Colchester United 4,247 73 54 19 4
Accrington Stanley 1,868 91 73 18 5
Leyton Orient 4,582 69 51 18 5
Scunthorpe United 5,548 60 44 16 7
Millwall 12,439 44 29 15 8
Swansea City 15,507 38 23 15 8
QPR 15,635 36 21 15 8
Blackpool 15,775 34 19 15 8
Wigan Athletic 16,812 31 16 15 8
Yeovil Town 4,291 72 58 14 13
Torquay United 2,631 87 75 12 14
Walsall 3,846 76 64 12 14
Brentford 5,172 67 55 12 14
Burnley 14,931 40 28 12 14
Exeter City 5,393 63 52 11 18
Stevenage 2,899 84 74 10 19
Bury 3,313 80 70 10 19
Oldham 4,392 71 61 10 19
Carlisle United 5,207 66 56 10 19
Bolton 22,870 24 14 10 19
Fulham 25,043 18 8 10 19
Macclesfield Town 1,816 92 83 9 25
Peterborough 6,450 57 48 9 25
Watford 13,152 43 34 9 25
West Brom 24,683 20 11 9 25
Barnsley 11,855 45 37 8 29
Aldershot Town 2,488 89 82 7 30
Brighton 7,352 52 45 7 30
Doncaster Rovers 10,258 48 41 7 30
Bristol City 14,605 41 35 6 33
Reading 17,682 30 25 5 34
Tottenham Hotspur 35,704 10 5 5 34
AFC Bournemouth 7,103 54 50 4 36
Preston North End 11,768 46 42 4 36
Blackburn Rovers 25,000 19 15 4 36
Chelsea 41,435 6 2 4 36
Everton 36,039 9 7 2 40
MK Mongs 8,512 50 49 1 41
Middlesbrough 16,269 33 32 1 41
Stoke City 26,858 14 13 1 41
Man City 45,905 4 3 1 41
Barnet 2,250 90 90 0 45
Rotherham 3,667 77 77 0 45
Tranmere Rovers 5,467 62 62 0 45
Man Utd 75,109 1 1 0 45
Hereford United 2,516 88 89 -1 49
Wycombe 4,495 70 71 -1 49
Crystal Palace 15,351 39 40 -1 49
Portsmouth 15,707 35 36 -1 49
Cardiff 23,194 23 24 -1 49
Aston Villa 37,194 8 9 -1 49
Liverpool 42,820 5 6 -1 49
Morecambe 2,648 86 88 -2 56
Birmingham 25,462 16 18 -2 56
Arsenal 60,025 2 4 -2 56
Crewe 4,119 75 78 -3 59
Sunderland 40,011 7 10 -3 59
Cheltenham Town 2,980 81 85 -4 61
Nottingham Forest 23,275 22 26 -4 61
Burton Albion 2,948 82 87 -5 63
Huddersfield Town 13,733 42 47 -5 63
Ipswich Town 19,615 28 33 -5 63
Hull City 21,169 26 31 -5 63
Norwich City 25,386 17 22 -5 63
Wolves 27,925 12 17 -5 63
Coventry City 16,310 32 38 -6 69
Notts County 6,585 56 63 -7 70
Bristol Rovers 6,253 58 66 -8 71
Leicester City 23,666 21 30 -9 72
West Ham 33,492 11 20 -9 72
Newcastle United 47,718 3 12 -9 72
Gillingham 5,231 65 76 -11 75
Lincoln 3,508 79 91 -12 76
Shrewsbury Town 5,876 59 72 -13 77
Chesterfield 6,972 55 69 -14 78
Leeds 27,299 13 27 -14 78
Northampton Town 4,605 68 84 -16 80
Sheff United 20,632 27 43 -16 80
Southend United 5,274 64 81 -17 82
Swindon 8,458 51 68 -17 82
Stockport County 4,163 74 92 -18 84
Port Vale 5,533 61 79 -18 84
Plymouth Argyle 8,613 49 67 -18 84
Charlton Athletic 15,582 37 57 -20 87
Southampton 22,161 25 46 -21 88
Derby 26,023 15 39 -24 89
Oxford 7,277 53 80 -27 90
Sheff Wed 17,821 29 59 -30 91
Bradford City 11,128 47 86 -39 92

Photo: Action Images



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burnsieespana added 13:08 - Jun 28
Thanks for this Wessex some really great stats!
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tazzydjr added 13:28 - Jun 28
So your basically saying your heading towards League Two this coming season?
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GhanaDale added 13:33 - Jun 28
Tazzy, shut up.
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Phil added 14:16 - Jun 28
Tazzy, by your logic, if that's true then we (Dale) are heading with them
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regjenkins added 08:02 - Jun 29
Well done Wessex a really interesting article well put together. good to see my club at the top. See you in 2011/2012, and good luck. Up the Dale.
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wessex_exile added 20:29 - Jun 29
Cheers Reg and the other kind commentators. This is an update of an article I originally wrote for one of our fanzines many seasons ago, but credit must also go to our webmaster Daniel for encouraging me to re-visit the concept for the season just finished.

Your top-billing is well-deserved, and you know considering our respective histories that I'm not trying to patronise when I say I'm always pleased to see the little clubs defying the odds.

See you in 2011/12 indeed, where I hope we're pushing you all the way for the PaW title - good luck!
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