The following article was initially published in Hebrew here by Ouriel Daskal for calcalist, an Israeli daily business newspaper and website: this is a rough translation.
Guy Elaad, a post-doctoral researcher in the Department of Economics at Reading University, has been conducting research into the winter transfer market in recent months. The study, in collaboration with Prof. James Reade and Dr. Carl Singleton at the University of Reading in England, examines the impact of the transfer window in January on the performance of football teams: “There are many studies on the impact of coach changes on performance,” This led Elaad, Reade and Singleton to examine the effect of the winter players transfer market on the teams’ performance. “In other words, we check whether the teams are actually ‘getting stronger’ when they bring players in during the transfer window in the winter,” writes Elaad. “According to our results, the answer is no, both in the English Premier League and in the Championship. In fact, we find a significant negative effect from the amount of players who were replaced in the team (mainly the number of players who joined but also those who left) on the team’s performance in the months (Premier League) after the transfer window. “Even an examination of the total minutes actually played by players arriving in the transfer window shows that as more minutes are played by these new players, their team’s results are less favourable after the transfer window than before. ”
The study is not over yet, but the interim conclusions are very interesting. In general, signing each player is a short-term harm to the team, since there is a period of acclimatisation. If the player is at a very high level, it can neutralise the negative effect of the acclimatisation period. However, it is even possible to see exactly how too much action in the player transfer market can hurt teams.
The researchers looked at tens of thousands of transfers between 2008/09 and 2017/18 and saw that for each player who signed for the team and for each player leaving the team, the chances of good results in the following months decreased by 1 percent, relative to matches before the transfer window, if their opponents did not carry out any transfer activity. That is, if 5 players join and 5 players leave, on average the team has approximately a 10% reduced chance of winning a game after a transfer window. However, the data does indicate that a player’s high-quality transition (quality is measured by his value on Transfermarkt) may actually increase the chances of a team winning more games. For example, if a player joins for £45m, his new team’s chance of winning the next game is up 4%. For example, the acquisition of Virgil van Dijk for £75m helped Liverpool in the second half of the season And his quality made the team better for next season.
In any case, “the fact that the more players which are brought in the more performance after is hurt is evident from the data” says Guy Elaad. “The question is whether the owners of the teams are aware of the impact, and if so, why do they still sign players?” So far we have thought, and we still need to examine it in real life, about three possible explanations: A. There is an opportunity to bring a player we want – In the winter, it will hurt us this season, but it could be worthwhile for the following seasons: B. To increase the variance – we know that in the replacement of many players – the average effect is negative, but the chances of very positive impacts are also high, so it could be worth taking the the risk; C: the performance of the team is not the only objective when deciding on transfer activity – the owners of the teams want to avoid the criticism of fans / The media / sponsors that they did nothing at the window, especially in case players left the team. ”
Other studies have shown that staff stability is a virtue of achievement. According to the CIES Football Observatory, “Stability in the roster gives teams an advantage over rivalry – at the sporting level (better results in the medium and long term) and at the economic level (financial savings and easier integration of young players).” “Stability” is measured by CIES according to the average stay time of each player on the roster and the percentage of new players on the roster. CIES show that over the years, the less staff changes, the more the faculty spends. Already in 2001, the University of Southampton demonstrated in its Premier League research that “stability leads to success.” The social psychologists of the university calculated the stability of each squad in relation to the team’s position in the table and found that teams with small turnover were more successful than teams with high turnover. “Football is a complicated teamwork,” said Dr. Mark van Vogt, director of research, “Football is not built on individual talent, but mostly on the players’ ability to work together with other players as a team that tries to beat the team in front of it.” According to van Vogt: Players who rely on each other and the abilities of their teammates are familiar to them, meaning they understand each other’s strengths and weaknesses together with strong faith and correct guidance will succeed – against all odds. “Van Vogt concludes:” Instead of investing in new players and changing the staff , Clubs need to develop team capabilities of their players and ensure that everyone knows each other. ”
In other words, signing players often does not fit into professional-rational-sports thinking, which strives to create more stability in the team and build it with players who are more suited to each other. If owners want to help the team in the middle of the season, they do not necessarily have to buy new players, but they have to invest a lot of money in purchasing a break-even player, and if not, then simply take the players out for vacation or mid-season. That way, with less money he can make more connections, better communication between the players and a better team. In short, the winter market players should buy a lot of money or not buy at all.