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Study measures impact of managerial change in Championship

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Issued:14/03/16

A managerial change part-way through the football season could see a team's league table positioning increase by three places, new research has concluded.

A Sheffield Hallam University study of Championship clubs over the last five seasons found that teams in the lower half of the league that changed their manager saw a slight improvement in points per game - from 1.02 to 1.25 points. It also recorded an improvement in league positioning from 17.39 to 15.31.

Sport business management experts from Sheffield Hallam's Academy of Sport and Physical Activity have analysed the performance of Championship teams between the 2010/11 and 2014/15 seasons. In that time, there were 62 managerial changes with an average of 12.4 changes per season. The highest number of changes within a season was in 2014/15 when there were 18 managerial changes across 15 of the 24 clubs in the league.

The researchers found that, over the five-year period, the 45 clubs in the lower half of the league that did make a change, climbed an average three places up the table.

In the top half of the table however, there were 10 examples over the five years where teams changed managers and recorded an average drop of two league positions from 6.7 down to 8.7.

Yet, when the study compared points accumulated by clubs that kept their managers against clubs that changed managers, the average points per game was better for clubs that had managerial consistency, scoring 1.48 points per game compared to 1.24.

Dr Dan Plumley, senior lecturer in sports business management at Sheffield Hallam, said: "The Championship is a difficult league to stay in and difficult to get out of and the pressure on Championship managers is notoriously high.

"It is widely acknowledged that the basis of replacing a football manager is primarily an attempt to improve on-pitch playing performance with a view to sometimes saving a club from relegation or providing the extra impetus for a club to gain promotion."

Football finance expert, Rob Wilson, who co-authored the report, added: "The evidence around managerial change in professional football does remain mixed, particularly when you look at the 2014/15 promotions to the Premier League when all three teams achieved success in different ways.

"There are other factors that play a role in this complex issue such as owner objectives, fan emotion and personal relationships which cannot be accounted for in our data. But ultimately, league position is a massive concern for clubs changing managers during the season and our study has found it can be less productive for clubs in the top half who may have less to play for than those fighting relegation."

For press information: Sarah Duce in the Sheffield Hallam University press office on 0114 225 4025 or email s.duce@shu.ac.uk