The Price of Victory for EFL Championship teams

Updated: 276 Football

How much did a win cost each EFL Championship club last year. Who spent the most and the least in the pursuit of glory and what were the returns?

The Price of Victory for EFL Championship teams
Dan Tracey Data Scientist and Football Editor

Writer, analyst, podcaster, Spurs fan. Three out of four is not bad. If there is a data angle, I will find it.

With the dust now settled on the regular phase of this season’s EFL Championship campaign, it is time to look at the stories throughout nine months of arduous action and although promotion and relegation are always the main chapters, there are also plenty of other subplots.

Because with 46 matches being played by each of the 24 teams in the division, it allows analysts and number crunchers to dive into the numbers and make sense of what has just concluded.

The True Cost of Victory in Championship Football 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿⚽️📊💷

Just crunched the numbers 💻🔍! Following our analysis of Premier League victory costs, we've tackled England’s second tier next🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿⚽️. With Burnley now marked as champions🏆 & play-off lottery results in, we're excited to add even deeper context to our findings📈📚

While for those who are regular readers of our website, you may be aware of a recent analysis piece that we undertook and with the price of a Premier League victory now being calculated, we can also do the same for England’s second tier.

Not only that, but with the history books now denoting Burnley as the champions and the other 23 positions also secured after the lottery of the play-offs, we can also provide a further level of context to our findings.

Which means without further delay, here is what we have first uncovered when it comes to the pursuit of Championship glory (table sorted by transfer value)

Team Transfer Value Wins Cost Per Victory
Burnley £36,720,000 29 £1,266,207
Sheffield United £15,988,500 28 £571,018
Luton £12,750,000 21 £607,143
Middlesbrough £9,911,000 22 £450,500
Coventry £8,695,500 18 £483,083
Sunderland £5,151,000 18 £286,167
Blackburn £3,825,000 20 £191,250
Millwall £2,125,000 19 £111,842
West Bromwich £1,955,000 18 £108,611
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Looking at the table above, there is one thing that arguably stands out more than most and this is the fact that eight teams did not spend a single penny in transfer fees during the 2022/23 Championship season.

When you consider the largesse that is spent in the Premier League above, the fact that a third of the division below have spent nothing in the way of transfer funds only highlights the gap between the first and second tiers of English football.

Financial Disparity in English Football

Astonishing😮! Eight Championship teams spent ZERO on transfers during the 2022/23 season!💰❌ The spending gap between the Premier League and Championship only widens, highlighting the two-tier financial divide in English football🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿⚽️📊

With that being said it does also show that you need to spend your way out of the division. The three teams that booked their place in the 2023/24 edition of the Premier League were the trio that also had the highest transfer expenditure.

Burnley may have spent £36.7m but manager Vincent Kompany would say that it was worth every penny and especially when you consider the level of riches that will be unlocked with a return to the Premier League.

It cost Burnley £1.2m per league victory but considering the Championship trophy is now firmly in the Turf Moor trophy cabinet and the likes of Manchester City and Arsenal are just around the corner, this can only be considered as shrewd investment.

The Smart Investment in Championship Football 🏆💰⚽️

At a cool £1.2m per league victory, Burnley’s Championship trophy is now sparkling🏆✨ in the Turf Moor cabinet! With Man City and Arsenal on the horizon, this hefty cost seems like a shrewd investment🎯💰⚽️

While the same can be said at Bramall Lane, as Sheffield United are also looking forward to a return to the big time. The Blades spent just under £16m last season and at £571k per league victory, this is also looking like great value. 

The biggest transformation has taken place at Kenilworth Road, as Luton did not spend a penny during the 2021/22 campaign but spent £12.75m during 2022/23. That outlay would take them to the play-offs and eventual success at Wembley. Success that cost £607k per regular season win.

The Remarkable Rise of Luton 🚀⚽️💷

Hats off to Luton 🎩✨! From spending £0 in 2021/22 to ₤12.75m in 2022/23, their big bet took them to the Wembley playoffs & win🎯🏟️🏆. A whopping £607k per regular season victory. Talk about a transformation at Kenilworth Road 🚀⚽

TOP TO BOTTOM

While with both Burnley and Sheffield United in mind, we can look at the price of victory table in a different order and if were to stack the number of wins from highest to lowest, here is what that the same data sample would look like.

Team Transfer Value Wins Cost Per Victory
Burnley £36,720,000 29 £1,266,207
Sheffield United £15,988,500 28 £571,018
Middlesbrough £9,911,000 22 £450,500
Luton £12,750,000 21 £607,143
Blackburn £3,825,000 20 £191,250
Millwall £2,125,000 19 £111,842
Coventry £8,695,500 18 £483,083
Sunderland £5,151,000 18 £286,167
West Bromwich £1,955,000 18 £108,611
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Because here we can start to see more of a natural order to proceedings and with Burnley and Sheffield United both earning the two automatic promotion berths, it stands to reason that they would also have the most wins.

While if we try to extend the hypotheses further, we can see that only two of the four clubs that made the play-offs would finish in the top six when it came down to outright wins. Middlesbrough won 22 league matches during 2022/23, it was still not enough for automatic promotion.

Nor was the fact that they spent £9.9m in transfer fees. This equates to £450,000 per league win and although missing out on promotion would have been frustrating, you must not forget the transformation that was made under Michael Carrick.

The Tough Road to Promotion for Middlesbrough 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿⚽️💰

Interesting stats 🧐! Only 2/4 clubs in the play-offs secured top six finishes based on outright wins. Despite winning 22 matches and spending £9.9M 💰 (or £450k/win) in 2022/23, Middlesbrough fell short of auto-promotion😮. Still, let’s applaud the transformation under Michael Carrick👏🚀⚽️.

Before the former Manchester United midfielder took charge, it looked as if the ‘Boro were more likely to be playing League One football in 2023/24. The relegation zone to the play-offs should not be ignored and with the building blocks in place, things may bode well for them next season.

As for the two teams that were also in the play-offs, Coventry and Sunderland were seven and eighth in the table respectively having both picked up 18 regular season wins and they will look for improved fortunes as a new season is soon to get underway. 

FINDING THE CORRELATION

Of course, the best way to add further context to all of this, is by comparing the two tables and seeing what correlation can be found and to do that, we must rank the clubs in terms of victory cost and final league position.

Team Transfer Value Wins Cost Per Victory Cost Rank League Position Cost vs League
Bournemouth £116,540,000 25 £4,661,600 24 2 22
Fulham £93,380,000 27 £3,458,519 21 1 20
Sheff Utd £75,870,000 21 £3,612,857 22 5 17
West Brom £66,400,000 18 £3,688,889 23 10 13
Nottm Forest £23,280,000 23 £1,012,174 16 4 12
Middlesbrough £22,710,000 20 £1,135,500 17 7 10
Blackburn £16,250,000 19 £855,263 13 8 5
Stoke City £27,540,000 17 £1,620,000 18 14 4
Bristol City £32,160,000 15 £2,144,000 20 17 3
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To make things easier, we have removed the eight teams that did not spend a single penny last season and therefore, we are just going to work with the 16 that did. In doing so, it makes it far easier to compare the cost per victory rank and league positions.

Now that the data has been filtered, we can see that there is very little difference between the final league position and how much money was needed for each league win that was recorded – especially when it comes to Burnley at the top.

They won the 2022/23 edition of the Championship; they also had the highest cost per victory. If you spend your money wisely, then the rewards are plentiful. Both Luton and Sheffield United were not afraid to splash the relative cash either and they also earned a ticket to the Premier League.

While the clubs that had the highest top seven spends per victory also finished in the top seven of the final Championship table. The order is slightly disrupted by Luton and Coventry slightly spending over their position and both Sheffield United and Middlesbrough spending under it.

Both Sunderland and Blackburn found parity when it came to ranking via cost per victory and their final league position. Watford on the other hand really struggled when it came to their attempt to return to the Premier League.

The Hornets spent £1.8m last season and recorded just 16 wins for their efforts. The eighth highest cost per victory at £112k, an 11th place finish to go with it. Nowhere near the play-offs, let alone a bid for automatic promotion.

Of course, the same could be said for Norwich. They spent even less in terms of transfers when compared to Watford and with a total expenditure of £1.2m, their 13th place finish in the Championship table was only one place better off than their cost per victory ranking. 

With demotion to the second tier, it is clear to see that Watford and Norwich tightened their belts but whereas Burnley went big and went up at the first time of asking, the picture has been far different at both Vicarage and Carrow Road. 

Methodology and Editorial Information

This article was researched and fact-checked by Dan Tracey who also then added the words - Dan is a multi-talented writer, data analyst and podcaster whose six-year career in the sports data sphere has seen incredible successes. From helping UEFA create their annual technical reports to writing articles for Sports Betting Websites, including sites like TheLinesUS and Goal

Data correct as of at August 2023


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