Thursday, March 23, 2006


Maths time!

Something to mull over, considering the comments of the last post.

If we assume Pardew is "choosing" the FA Cup over League position you can compare prize money. If this stuff gets too complicated, skip to the paragraph with the asterisk*.

We have six league matches between now and the semi, and another two between the semi and the final (hopefully). Between now and the semi we have two writeoffs (Man Utd and Chelsea) and four more matches against Wigan, Charlton, Man City and Boro. I count 7 points between that lot if we prioritise the league, and 2 points if we prioritise the cup.

Between the semi and the final we'd have Liverpool and West Brom - let's give us three points against them if we prioritise the league and one if we prioritise the cup.

Add to those the four points (win and draw) we've already sacrificed against Bolton and Portsmouth,and Pardew is probably sacrificing 11 points (4 + 7 + 3 - 2 - 1) if we make the final and 9 points (4 + 7 - 2) if we don't.

I reckon the highest we'd have got was 5th. Looking at last year's table, dropping 11 points from 5th would have dropped the team to 10th, and dropping 9 points also drops the team to 10th. In 03/04 it would have been 13th and 12th respectively. I think this year is quite close so I'll say that sacrificing league games for cup games puts us in 12th (if we make the final) or 11th (if we don't make the final), partly because two games are against direct opposition (Wigan and Man City) and gifting them points puts us further behind.

Anyway that's a drop in prize money of £1,750,000 (if we make the final) and £1,500,000 (if we don't make the final).

Now - there's a 2/3 chance of us drawing Chelsea or Liverpool in the semis. I'll assume a 1/3 chance of winning against Liverpool or Chelsea and 50% chance against the other team in both the semis and the final. From prior to the last cup game you'd have given us 50/50 of turning over Man City. So our expected return is (0.5 x £565,000) + 0.5 x ((2/3 x £900,000) + (1/3 x 900,000) + (1/3 x 2/3 x 1,000,000) + (0.5 x 1/3 x 1,000,000)) = £926,944.

* So by sacrificing league for cup we expect to lose about £500,000 in revenue plus whatever UEFA Cup earnings we'd have received.

Making the big assumption that we will actually win the FA Cup, we'd get £2,465,000 from that (quarter + semi + final winnings) so we'd end up, at most, about £1 million in front, minus UEFA earnings.

Is it worth it? The FA Cup is priceless, right? Plus you've got to take into consideration fan sentiment, attendances, future season ticket sales and so on.

Well, it's something to think about.

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