How Close to the Trapdoor? Measuring the Vulnerability of Managers in the English Premiership

Judge Institute of Management Working Paper No. 16/2002

20 Pages Posted: 3 Feb 2003

See all articles by Christopher Hope

Christopher Hope

University of Cambridge - Judge Business School

Date Written: August 2002

Abstract

What strategy should a football club adopt when deciding whether to sack its manager? This paper describes a development of an earlier model to include the different ambition levels of different clubs, and applies it to all 20 Premiership clubs at the start of the 2002-03 season.

A measure of how close a manager is to the trapdoor is to see how many matches he can afford without a win and still not drop through the trapdoor. This measure is calculated for the Premiership clubs at the start of the 2002-03 season, assuming that a team alternates draws and losses, in the period before a win is obtained.

For the majority of clubs in the Premiership, the manager's vulnerability is strongly related to the total number of points scored last season. For clubs where this is not true, the difference in vulnerability can easily be understood by taking into account the level of ambition of the club, the performance of the team in the latter half of the 2001-02 season, or the appointment of a new manager.

The safest manager in the Premiership seems to be Gary Megson at West Bromwich Albion, who can afford to go 21 matches without a win and still not fall through the trapdoor. At the other end of the scale, Peter Reid's position at Sunderland appears to be the most precarious, but even his performance is above the trapdoor level for now.

Keywords: Football, manager, trapdoor, strategy

JEL Classification: M00, M51

Suggested Citation

Hope, Christopher, How Close to the Trapdoor? Measuring the Vulnerability of Managers in the English Premiership (August 2002). Judge Institute of Management Working Paper No. 16/2002, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=344380 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.344380

Christopher Hope (Contact Author)

University of Cambridge - Judge Business School ( email )

Trumpington Street
Cambridge, CB2 1AG
United Kingdom
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