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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dissects the modern English game perfectly
An outstanding piece of analysis which confirms what we've always suspected that, other things being equal, the more a team spends on players the greater it's chance of achieving success. The authors have used a methodology called Transfer Price Index (akin to the retail price index but using a "basket" of each player bought and sold each season since 1992) as the...
Published on 8 Nov 2010 by Pebble888

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8 of 14 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Nice concept, but not written for the general fan
This is probably one of the most disappointing books I've read. The concept of comparing transfer fees over time, as well, measuring changes in how the Premiership has developed is very interesting and would make for an interesting read. However, this book doesn't deliver upon that opportunity.

Starting with the positives, this book provides a list, for each...
Published on 25 Oct 2011 by Dave


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must for footy fans, 3 Dec 2010
This review is from: Pay As You Play: The True Price of Success in the Premier League Era (Paperback)
Absolutely cracking analysis of the premier league era. A must for all those who want to back up those Saturday night pub discussions with hard facts. Which manager spent more, how much would ..... cost in today's money, what is the cost of each squad etc.
The book contains a detailed statistical breakdown of each premier league club and each of the 18 seasons, it is easy to follow the trends and conclusions made. Although there is a lot of data to process this is not just a reference book but an interesting take on why money is so important in modern football.
Very insightful and would make a great stocking filler this Christmas
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must-read for the modern football fan, 12 Nov 2010
This review is from: Pay As You Play: The True Price of Success in the Premier League Era (Paperback)
The issues of club ownership and debt have had profound effects on even the country's biggest top flight sides recently. The release of this book is perfectly timed, then, as it gives the reader an insight into how every Premier League manager since 1992 has spent the television money, foreign investment, and borrowed cash at his disposal.

Using a unique model for reconciling transfer fees from 1992 to the present, which the authors have dubbed the Transfer Price Index (TPI), "Pay As You Play" (PAYP) can assess which player moves from throughout Premier League history represented good value and which most certainly did not. Taking into account a player's transfer fee, how much did each of their appearances effectively cost the club? The club's success in relation to its manager's spending can then be evaluated too. From these statistical beginnings, the book sets out a fascinating alternative narrative on Premier League history. Using the TPI as the medium through which to analyse, amongst other things, the turnover of managers at high-spending Newcastle United and the gross financial mismanagement at Leeds, allows fresh perspectives on both to emerge. The expensively assembled squad that Sir Bobby Robson inherited on Tyneside leads to him surprisingly finishing bottom of a points-to-squad-cost table, but only two places above him as an underachiever in this sense is Jose Mourinho. In Leeds' case, for a few years their squad was actually overachieving under David O'Leary for what the players were worth, until their spectacular decline towards relegation.

I write this review as a Manchester United fan who is, for obvious reasons, currently keenly interested in the finances of the game. Paul Tomkins, who wrote PAYP in collaboration with Graeme Riley and Gary Fulcher, is a Liverpool fan who has previously written a series of very well-received books about the club he supports - a club that has been no stranger to the business pages lately either. Football fans have a shared interest in the issue of money in football, even United and Liverpool supporters at the moment, and PAYP gives us a collective and unbiased understanding of how much success really costs - and whether it's worth the risk.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Serious about Moden Day Premier League Football, 30 July 2012
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This review is from: Pay As You Play: The True Price of Success in the Premier League Era (Paperback)
Pay as you Play is a must for all premier league fans, if you thought you knew about premier league football then think again. This book illuminates the game and really illustrates modern premier league football for what it is. I highly recommend this book for all premier league fans.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars SUPERB, JUST BRILLIANT, 11 Mar 2011
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David H. Hargreaves "dhargreaves2002" (Guisborough, Teesside) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Pay As You Play: The True Price of Success in the Premier League Era (Paperback)
Pay As You Play is just a superb book and a brilliant read. Once you start, it's very hard to put the book down and it is so well researched that you feel like thanking the author personally (I did find a few errors/slips if the author wants to get in touch!).
For me the best section was the club by club analysis of all 43 teams that have graced the Premiership, especially the "Best" and "Worst" buys during the Premiership years. As a Spurs fan, who could disagree with our worst 8 million going on Helda Postiga (who?) and the 2.1 million plus whatever went in Cloughie's brown envelope on the motorway for Teddy Sheringham.
The author will have to update the book, as Gareth Bale is already edging into Sheringham territory. Let's hope that we get updates fairly regularly; reading the book was like hearing a superb debut album by a new band, you can't wait for the sophomore effort hitting the racks.
My only beef is that I have been seriously annoying my friends by quoting whole sections of the book to them. All I needed to say was "Go out and buy this book, it's the best read ever".
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8 of 14 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Nice concept, but not written for the general fan, 25 Oct 2011
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This review is from: Pay As You Play: The True Price of Success in the Premier League Era (Paperback)
This is probably one of the most disappointing books I've read. The concept of comparing transfer fees over time, as well, measuring changes in how the Premiership has developed is very interesting and would make for an interesting read. However, this book doesn't deliver upon that opportunity.

Starting with the positives, this book provides a list, for each club to have appeared in the Premiership, of every transfer and provides a mechanism for comparing prices. Commentary is provided by a fan of the club, giving a biased account personalised to the history of the team. This is very interesting and rewarding reading which the casual fan will find fascinating.

However, the problem lies with the poor statistics and the tone of the Premiership-wide discussion. It is quite clearly written by a Liverpool fan who dislikes Chelsea, with the tone throughout over emphasising Liverpool connections and highly critical of Chelsea in particular. There is also an instance that Sir Alex Ferguson is a relatively poor manager as he has spent much money, without the contextualisation that his managerial successes have generated much of those resources. As a fan of a football league club I was looking forward to a neutral analysis, based in statistics, but that is not the agenda of the text.

The debate in the text does not follow the statistical methods being used. Rather than developing an analytical framework and discussing success, a few preconceived managers who identified as successful, regardless of what the stats say. The measure of a good manager, at different times, is finishing in the top two (although some managers to achieve this are missed out), only those who have won the league, or the managers who have won the most points per season (irrespective of the money spent, which is supposedly the whole purpose of the book). These criteria appear to have been selected to include certain managers when wanted, and dismiss others.

The bias can be found throughout the book. A table of the managerial performance, based on spend per point, only includes managers who have had three seasons in the Premiership, aside from a Chelsea manager included to show his title win was purely monetary. Dalgleish is shown as a great manager due to his spend at Blackburn, but his record at Newcastle is rather passed over with the disclaimer many managers have failed there. There is little point in reading a book claiming to have a statistical basis to claims, if they will be overlooked whenever they go against the views the authors wish to make.

The methodology in some tables is very confusing as the authors misreport how they actually make the calculations. In effect, they calculate for each transfer the percentage of the annual transfer spend by all clubs during that season. Rather than maintaining a theoretical value, which would be more readable, they attempt to convert this to 2010 prices. Therefore, essentially, they divide the total transfer spend by all clubs in the season by the 2010 figure, and use that as a multiplier for each transfer. A simple table showing the spend each year would make the facts easier to see. They, confusing, talk of the differences in average prices, which is not how they actually calculate the prices.

The flaw in this methodology is that players in a season with a low total spend are highly inflated. For a bottom half club, spending 5m when their rivals all spend 5m and the top clubs spend nothing is worth more than the following season where just one bottom half club spends 25m, but the top half clubs spend over 250m. This is an extreme example, but the method is too simplistic and doesn't take spending into account.

There is also a strange belief that sell-on values are important. Roy Keane (Man United) is shown as one of the worst signings as he was signed for a huge fee (when corrected to 2010 prices) but sold for peanuts. The fact he won several titles is irrelevant. This suggests the Premiership is about generating money, which other parts of the book argues against.

This is the problem with the book for me. The statistics are overly simplistic to tell us much, but presented in an overly sophisticated manner which attempts to make it seem very academic, but in reality suggests the authors themselves are confused by the calculations. The narrative tone, for the Premiership overview, is written as biased as the club specific chapters, often ignoring the statistics to make claims on what the authors perceive.

There are also some shockingly weak pieces of analysis. The authors try to argue that transfer prices didn't influence results too much until a certain point and now have a strong effect. The data shown actually suggests that aside from clubs who regularly play in Europe, nothing has changed. Additionally, there is absolutely no discussion of players wages, with a belief that a player costing 2m to sign and 2m a year in wages is somehow more expensive than a player with a 5m a year wage. Given the income and expenditure of clubs is available for the whole period, I wonder if this is using the completely wrong data anyway.

I'm happy to read a book which contains statistics and then claims that some things cannot be shown by stats alone. That is where the fans sections come into their own. I have a real problem, however, with a book which presents highly biased ideas about clubs, makes false claims about statistics to justify these arguments and attempts to claim it is neutral, scientific research.

Liverpool fans, and especially those who are fond of Benitez, will no doubt love this book as it provides some pub-standard data to justify how great Liverpool are and how weak Chelsea and Man United really are. Non-partisan followers of football, wanting a neutral read about the changing nature of contemporary football, however, should either stay away or just enjoy the fans-written chapters.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars a good book, but not on kindle, 21 Mar 2014
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Whilst an enjoyable read, this is a book which relies heavily on tables and statistics, which it was difficult to view in kindle format. Would've awarded 4 stars had I read a paperback version
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1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Very poor I'm afraid, 15 Jun 2013
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This review is from: Pay As You Play: The True Price of Success in the Premier League Era (Paperback)
My reasons for writing this review are slightly unusual. I've just finished "The Numbers Game" and have been pondering why Football Clubs in England seem so reluctant to fully embrace data and it's analysis as important contributors to their decision making. I'm sure there are many factors involved, including a simple closed shop mindset which is resistant to change, but it doesn't help when people make great claims for their research which then, in practice, turns out to be completely unhelpful.

Play to Pay is a good example. It's a very poor piece of work; a classic example of what happens when very bright and enthusiastic people get hold of a mass of data and begin analysing it without thinking conceptually about what they are doing.

The thesis of this book is very deeply flawed. For example, at no point is any consideration given to wage bill and it's interaction with transfer fees. Could it be that performance relates most clearly to wage bill with transfer fees then being the mechanism for acquiring players who are paid more? If this were so then transfer fees might relate to time frame rather more than performance, i.e. an established Club with an expensive squad (high wages) is in the same position as a new entrant (Manchester City) which has to lay out huge transfer fees to recruit a similar standard of players? This question has profound implications for transfer strategy and for any judgement about success.

I could go on. My point is the the authors simply didn't think hard enough about what they were doing. They did little more than play clever games with the data. I found the book very irritating. It does those who'd like to see more professional management of football no favours.

Very poor I'm afraid.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Should be a free PDF, 30 Aug 2013
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Good data but not a great book. You get the premise in he first few chapters.
Should be a free PDF AND NOT A BOOK.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Save your money, 26 Dec 2012
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This review is from: Pay As You Play: The True Price of Success in the Premier League Era (Paperback)
Far too simplistic and there are a fair few mistakes in the book. The only thing it's good for is transfer prices over the years but a lot of them were guesswork and you can get them online for free. All in all it won't tell you anything you don't already know. The more expensive the squad, the more successful the team etc... It doesn't pretend to be ground breaking for a reason. Save your money and time and don't buy this book.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Stats, stats, stats........!, 6 April 2011
This review is from: Pay As You Play: The True Price of Success in the Premier League Era (Paperback)
Looked forward to reading this book, but i'm afraid it is very much more of a reference book with lots of statistics - one that you might use to look up a quiz question. It is very well put together, has a great deal of information in, but is just not a book that you can read from cover to cover.
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