The fallacies of Soccernomics

While researching this article on Soccernomics and how well it has aged, I stumbled upon this 2013 essay by Daniel Altman entitled “What’s wrong with Soccernomics? A guide to its potential errors related to European club soccer” and it was an insightful read. Daniel pointed out a lot of discrepancies and errors in the book’s hypotheses and assumptions with the following key observations:

  • The authors are likely to have overstated the causal relationship between players’ wages and league position
  • Profitability is not necessarily at cross-purposes with club performance, contrary to the authors’ assertion
  • Apparently overachieving managers may be less valuable than the authors’ analysis would suggest
  • Transfers may play a bigger role in clubs’ success than the authors admit
  • The authors may have underestimated the influence of penalties on the outcome of league games

I hadn’t read Soccernomics in a long time so reading back some of the quotes from the book was eyebrow raising. My least favourite?

“Some clubs – notably Barcelona for most of this century – understand the inefficiencies of the transfer market and therefore avoid buying players wherever possible.”

Barcelona?! Wild wild wild.

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