Can Swansea City win the Premier League? Perhaps Pay As You Play can help you decide.

Swansea beat Reading 4-2 in the Championship play-off final, a pulsating battle that brought the curtain down on the British club season, and ends their near 30 year wait for top flight football. The Swans were previously in the top tier of English football in 1983, where QPR passed them on the way up as old Second Division Champions.

Although the penultimate game of the season was a one sided affair, it was a display of majestic football, a perfect example of pass and move, keeping possession and ruthlessness in front of goal. Unfortunately if you are a Manchester United fan, Barcelona were the purveyors of this footballing exhibition against an ill-equipped Old Trafford side.

Being fair, not many teams could live with the current Barca squad. But a midfield pairing of the aging Ryan Giggs and the non-tackling Carrick shows perhaps Ferguson got his tactics wrong rather than Barca slaying the English Champions.

Ferguson will be happy with winning Manchester United’s 19th championship, thus overtaking Liverpool’s 18. They have taken their time getting there though, Liverpool have not been champions since 1990.

But will Kenny Dalglish, FSG and Andy Carroll help Liverpool lift the piece of silverware they used to think as their bread and butter? After a sixth placed finish for 2011 there is work to do for a convincing title charge, and plenty more money to spend. The combined £57 million outlay on Carroll and Luis Suarez should just be the start.

According to ‘Pay As You Play’ by Paul Tomkins, Graeme Riley and Gary Fulcher there is a link between success and transfer spending. Using their devised Transfer Price Index (TPI) system the authors have converted all transfers since the start of the Premier League in 1992 in to today’s Current Transfer Purchase Price (CTPP). By also assessing the cost of the starting eleven players (£XI) and the club’s squad cost (Sq£) the book gives a detailed account showing successes and failures of teams correlated to expenditure.

The authors do state the book isn’t intended to definitely prove anything, yet it is a very good indication. When the results are seen for past seasons they are clearly on to something.

Which brings us back to Carroll. With PAYP showing that to win you need to spend, it may seem obvious that the clubs with rich owners will be those winning trophies. With only four trophies on offer per season and the randomness of cup football, the title over 38 games will be most aligned to the CTPP, £XI and Sq£.

But for Liverpool to smash their record signing record in 2011 with £35 million for Carroll is almost bizarre as Manchester United have been signing players around this value for years: Rooney £27 million (£49 CTPP) in 2004, Ferdinand £30 million (£48 CTPP) in 2002, Veron £28 million (£36 CTPP) and Berbatov £30.5 million (£23.8 CTPP) in 2008. When the CTPP are taken in to account then the cost is so much higher. But they have had success, and they do have enormous debt, gross over 350 million.

Season 2009/10 saw Chelsea win the title and have the most expensive XI, Manchester United second on both accounts. With the bottom three being the same three clubs, the evidence is fairly strong for correlation. 2010/11 results are to be finalised, but at Easter Graeme Riley stated: “13 teams are within 2 places of where they should be, and 17 are within 4 places – this exactly reflects last season, which was the most aligned in history.”

Unfortunately for Hammers fans, the odd curveball is present in the Premier League. Having the 10th most expensive squad for 2010/11 saw them finish fourth from bottom, and a similar Sq£ position this year could not save them from the drop.

Which means they face the blog’s other team, Leicester City. The Championship offers a very different landscape to the Premier League. The money from Champions League football far outstrips anything available to Championship teams, unless you have been relegated! Teams drop down to and are promoted up to the Championship creating a bigger turnover of teams, which add more variables.
Formerly with the Europa League teams, they were teams on the rise and more likely to offer a sterner test the next year. The Championship offers more of these teams due to the nature of the division, what were the odds of Norwich gaining promotion at the first attempt after coming up from League One? Leeds, who came up with Norwich, also gave the promotion play-offs places a good chase.

Considering these variables it is very difficult to predict the outcome of the Championship using squad cost as easily as it is for the Premier League. Promoted Norwich (16th most expensive squad at £16.19 million) and Swansea (17th at £16.14 million) prove the correlation isn’t there with such accuracy overall.

But while Paul Tomkins, Graeme Riley and Gary Fulcher offer a great in depth look at these figures, as does the transfermarkt website, is there something else that can be looked in to, Glaswegian managers?

For season 2011/12 there are six Glaswegian managers in the Premier League:
Kenny Dalglish at Liverpool
David Moyes at Everton
Steve Kean at Blackburn
Alex Ferguson at Manchester United
Owen Coyle at Bolton
Paul Lambert at Norwich

Perhaps it’s something in the water, other than the lead of course.

The blog was a look at four months of English football, from the view of two teams in two different divisions using the £35 million figure as a starting point. As with PAYP, it was not out to prove anything solid. I hope that it has been of interest. If you would like to know more about the Transfer Price Index please visit or

Many thanks to those who have contributed to the blog and thanks also to those who have taken the time to visit.


Alexander Tate


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