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New Report on attendances in football stadia

The 44th Monthly Report of the CIES Football Observatory analyses match attendances in 51 national football leagues from 42 countries. Germany appears as the footballing country par excellence. Although also very popular, English and Spanish clubs have considerably less spectators than German teams. Outside of Europe, Mexican clubs attract the biggest crowds.

The study of the changes since 2003 reveals the growing enthusiasm for football in the United States and Canada. Despite the increase in the number of teams participating in the MLS, average attendances have consistently increased to break the 20,000-spectator threshold over the past five years. This limit has also been broken in China, where football’s popularity is henceforth also well established.

With over 80,000 spectators per match, Borussia Dortmund is top of the rankings for attendance by club. The Ruhr team is ahead of four football giants: Manchester United, Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Real Madrid. Five German clubs are in the top ten rankings (the two already cited, Schalke 04, Hamburg and Stuttgart). Atlanta United is the most popular non-European club (10th in total).

Foreign goals: from Cyprus to Ukraine

Issue number 258 of the CIES Football Observatory Weekly Post ranks 27 top division leagues of UEFA member countries according to the percentage of goals scored during the current season by expatriate footballers. At the top of the table is Cyprus (86.7% of foreign goals), ahead of Turkey (80.7%) and England (68.8%).

In nine other leagues, foreign goals accounted for more than half of total goals. At the opposite end of the table, expatriate players scored less than one third of goals in four countries only: Ukraine (25.5%), Serbia (27.6%), Israel (27.9%) and the Czech Republic (30.4%). The lowest percentage at big-5 league level was measured in the French Ligue 1 (35.6%).

Big discrepancies also exist at club level. The figures vary from 0% (Paksi FC, EA Guingamp, Athletic Club Bilbao, etc.) to 100% (AEK Larnaca, Rizespor, FK Senica). In the English Premier League, they go from 97.4% at Wolverhampton to 20.5% at Leicester City. More data on the composition of squads is available in the exclusive CIES Football Observatory Demographic Atlas.

Highest transfer values per club in the big-5

Issue number 257 of the CIES Football Observatory Weekly Post presents the players with the highest estimated transfer value per big-5 league club. The potentially most expensive player overall, Kylian Mbappé (€228 million), represents 25.9% of the total squad value of Paris St-Germain. A similar percentage was measured for Jadon Sancho (€148 million, 24.9%) at Borussia Dortmund.

Despite his age, Lionel Messi remains the most valuable FC Barcelona’s player: €171 million. The Argentinean is the oldest footballer among those with the highest transfer value out of all big-5 league clubs. At Juventus, 34-year-old Cristiano Ronaldo (€125 million) is only outranked by Paulo Dybala (€142 million).

Eden Hazard (€121 million) is the most expensive Chelsea FC’s squad member. The Belgian also has the highest transfer value among footballers with only one year of contract remaining, ahead of Timo Werner (€70 million). The German striker is the most valuable RB Leipzig’s player. If they do not extend their contract, both footballers will probably be transferred during the next transfer window.

Best performing big-5 league players: last 1,000 minutes

The CIES Football Observatory has developed an exclusive approach to measure the technical performance of players on an objective basis using data provided by OptaPro. Issue number 256 of the Weekly Post presents the best performing big-5 league footballers for last 1,000 minutes played. The rankings only include players fielded for at least 630 minutes since January 1st 2019.

Four Atalanta players are in the best XI for Serie A: Timothy Castagne, Josip Iličić, Papu Gómez and Duván Zapata. The only Juventus player fielded for at least 630 domestic league minutes in 2019 is also present in the best formation: Daniele Rugani. Five Barcelona footballers figure in the Liga’s best XI, including Lionel Messi.

The most represented teams in the remaining leagues are Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga (four players), Manchester City in the Premier League (five players) and Paris St-Germain in the Ligue 1 (six players). The youngest footballers per league are Gianluigi Donnarumma, Sergio Reguilón, Jadon Sancho, Marcus Rashford and Kylian Mbappé.

Foul analysis at big-5 league level: from Barcelona to Brighton & Hove

Issue number 255 of the CIES Football Observatory Weekly Post ranks big-5 league teams according to the ratio between fouls suffered and committed during the current season using data from OptaPro. FC Barcelona players suffered the most fouls with respect to those committed (1.5 times). At the opposite end is Brighton & Hove with a ratio of 0.68.

The highest number of fouls committed per match was measured for Getafe (17.1). In the other leagues, the top values were recorded for Torino (16.8), Dijon (15.8), Augsburg (14.2) and Brighton & Hove (12.8). Conversely, Borussia Dortmund players have on average committed the least fouls per game (8.4). In the other championships of the big-5, the lowest figures were observed for Manchester City (8.5), Barcelona (10.5), Napoli (10.7) and Nice (11.2).

The average number of fouls per fixture varies between 20.9 in the Premier League and 27.0 in the Liga. This strong gap partially reflects the existence of different styles of refereeing. In the remaining leagues, these values are 24.0 in Bundesliga, 26.4 in Ligue 1 and 26.6 in Serie A. Among players fielded for at least 1,000 domestic league minutes, Moussa Doumbia (Reims), Amine Harit (Schalke 04) and Borja García (Girona) are those fouled most often.

Players’ origin in the English Premier League under the light of Brexit

The 43rd Monthly Report of the CIES Football Observatory analyses the evolution of the origin of players fielded over the past ten years in the English Premier League. It shows that the playing time of footballers having grown up in England has progressively fallen to reach a new negative record level over the current season: 35.2%. A similar trend was observed for goals scored: 30.7%.

On the contrary, the proportion of continental Europeans has steadily increased throughout the decade analysed. New records have been measured during the current season both at the level of the percentage of minutes (45.0%) and at the level of goals scored (43.3%). Since the 2017/18 season, continental European nationals are more numerous on Premier League pitches than UK players. 

Within the context of Brexit, a possible limit on the scope of international recruitment may oblige the majority of Premier League teams to modify their transfer strategies. However, the rise of a new generation of very promising Englishmen suggests that, on strictly sporting terms, such a change may not negatively affect the competitiveness of Premier League teams. It could even strengthen the English national team.

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