Sunday, January 06, 2008

Last on Match of the Day

(Update 12/08/2008: The results of this experiment along with a full explantion of the rules are available here. Click on the graphs to make them bigger.)

Being last on Match of the Day has become a bit of a topic recently, after Phil Neville's comments that Everton were always in that position. Last night Gabby Logan almost apologised for Walsall vs Millwall taking the uncoveted position, saying

“If you’re a Walsall or a Millwall fan, someone had to be last. It’s nothing personal, OK?”

Freelance sports write Mike Whalley has been keeping a tally of the teams ended up last on the BBC's flagship footie show on a table he calls the Gubbometer, after his belief that Tony Gubba also always ends up commentating on the last match of the show. I have decided that a slightly more sophisticated system is needed to find out if the BBC are indeed biased against certain teams, and have come up with the 'PRoBrum MOTD Running Order Index'. Catchy, isn't it?
(Updated 16/3: Now shortened to 'the Promroiship'. For an explanation, see this post.)

The rules are as follows: all teams appearing on Match of the Day will be awarded points based on the position of their game in the running order, the number of goals scored and the number of matches appearing on MOTD that weekend. Only Premiership games will count and MOTD2 is not included. Midweek MOTD will also count towards the total. The rules are as follows:

1) Teams appearing in the first match will be awarded 10 points, the next 9 and so on all the way down to 1 if necessary. As there are 20 teams in the premiership, a maximum of 10 matches can be played on any day involving all teams once.

2) Because matches with more goals should in theory come first, 1 point will be taken away for each goal scored in the match. I deliberated a lot about this rule, because a few high scoring matches before Christmas made this potentially unfair, but I think it is the easiest way to factor in "entertainment" at an objective level. In any case, it would not be football if their was not potential for an argument over the fairness of some rule or other.

3) Thanks to security considerations, Sky and European involvement, sometimes there can be very few matches on Saturday and so we need to factor in the number of matches shown. I have decided to multiply the result of the first two rules by the number of matches appearing on MOTD. Obviously the fact that some teams do not play on Saturday adds in some additional unfairness, but I hope that over half a season there will not be too much bias, and we should pick it up week by week if there is.

So, using the above rules for MOTD on January 1, we get the following results:

Manchester United 6*(10-1)=56
Birmingham 6*(10-1)=56
Arsenal 6*(9-2)=42
West Ham 6*(9-2)=42
Fulham 6*(8-3)=30
Chelsea 6*(8-3)=30
Aston Villa 6*(7-3)=24
Spurs 6*(7-3)=24
Middlesbrough 6*(6-2)=24
Everton 6*(6-2)=24
Reading 6*(5-2)=18
Portsmouth 6*(5-2)=18

Ironically then, Birmingham, who appeared last on three MOTD's over the Xmas period and were second last once, lead the table after the first round of matches by virtue of playing Man United.

I will keep this up until the end of the season or until I get bored, whichever is earlier. I think it will be interesting, in a kind of sad way, to see if we can glean any trends from this data.


Peter Gasston said...

I predict that you will find that teams in contention for winning or relegation will appear at the top of the chart, and teams likely to finish mid-table will appear at the bottom. It's not bias, it's based on perceived interest.

Louis said...

If that happens Peter, that is a perfectly reasonable explanation that I will accept. But do the BBC really feature the relegation battles as frequently as the race for the title as they claims? And amongst the mid-table teams will there be equal exposure? Even when you have taken interest into account, I believe there is still some bias against certain regions and teams, which I hope to demonstrate.

ourman said...

Fascinating - I will be watching.

Beaman said...

I wish they would show Championship matches too.

Louis said...

Well if ourman is going to be watching I better keep it up!

Beaman - I don't think showing Wolves vs West Brom on the BBC would be a good use of taxpayers money ;D