News from Cass Business School

Cass academic co-authors new book explaining why England lose

Friday, 4 September, 2009

Professor Stefan Szymanski has teamed up with prize-winning football writer, Simon Kuper to write a new book, Why England Lose. The book reveals surprising truths about football and disproves the general perception that England underperforms in football. According to the authors, based on income, experience and population, England actually does better than expected.

As well as answering why England lose, the book addresses many interesting football questions such as: why do fewer people commit suicide when there’s a World Cup on?; why does hosting football tournaments make you happy but not rich?; which is the best football country on earth, given its resources?; are blond players more likely to get scouted?

According to Professor Szymanski, the use of data analysis in football is still in its infancy and many people are sceptical about the value of quantifying the beautiful game. But even if statistics will never replace talent, when used properly they can enable management to make better decisions. With the amount of money now at stake in football it is inevitable that managers will demand the greater precision that statistical analysis brings.

Professor Szymanski says: In the book we challenge the view that managers in football make much difference. We show that most of the variation in team performance can be accounted for simply by what is spent on the players in terms of wages. This presents an interesting challenge for anyone interested in business: how can management improve a team other than by buying the best players?

Professor Szymanski is the director of a recently launched sports research centre called The Sports Business Network at Cass Business School. The centre aims to be a leading intellectual resource for organisations involved in the commercial and business aspects of sport. The centre has three main research themes which are: quantitative analysis of sports data, sport, business and management, and sport and public policy.

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