indgren-021508-ajaxnlAlthough borders in Europe have long gone, football in Europe is still very much a national affair. Each country still has its own national league, each and every one of them with their own identity and image. Whether it is the Premier League, Serie A or Bundesliga, one immediately has an image on whether these leagues are attractive in terms of football or not. Is the league competitive, are clubs generally playing attacking or defensive football etc? We have briefly looked at how many goals are scored in each league and which teams are scoring the most goals on average in Europe. In this perspective The Netherlands and Ajax are the winners.

Leagues have their own image. Come to think of it. In Europe the Dutch are wellknown for the attacking kind of football they play, which often is at the expense of defense. In contrast the Italians are known for their defensive style (still dealing with the relics of catenaccio), leading to the perception that not a lot of goals are being scored. The Premier League and the Primera Division are probably the leagues where the world’s best players are gathered, both in terms of defensive and offensive players. It should be interesting to see whether some of these perceptions are true and in which countries the most and the least goals are being scored. In the table below we have summarized how many goals on average are scored each game in a specific national league during the last 5 years.


Country Goals Matches Goals/Match
Netherlands 4598 1530 3.01
Norway 2826   968 2.92
Switzerland 2555   900 2.84
Germany 4342 1530 2.84
Denmark 2775   990 2.80
Austria 2509   900 2.79
Belgium 4123 1530 2.69
Turkey 3989 1530 2.61
Scotland 2959 1140 2.60
Sweden 2644 1026 2.58
Italy 4878 1900 2.57
Spain 4837 1900 2.55
UK 4794 1900 2.52
Greece 2752 1200 2.29
Portugal 3045 1332 2.29
France 4235 1900 2.23


The Netherlands most productive. It is interesting to note that some perceptions are indeed confirmed and that the overall ranking reasonably fits with what one would suspect. Not surprisingly The Netherlands tops the list, indeed confirming the attacking kind of football. It is also noticeable that the more northern European countries rank generally at the top half of the list, whereas the southern European countries rank at the bottom half. The last place of France surprises somewhat given the French generally play attractive football. The final conclusion is that the leagues where the most money is at stake (UK, Spain and Italy) also can be found at the bottom.

Productivity depending on different factors. We also looked at which clubs are most productive by taking the 5 year average number of goals scored during league matches. Clearly results partly depend on the strength of the league and the extent to which a club is dominating its league. Several weeks ago, we published an article on the competitive balance in European football, in which we concluded that this balance did not exist in most leagues. Hence it should be no surprise that the rankings are topped by either the European traditionals facing limited competitive balance in their leagues and hence often ending up in the top 3 or by clubs which are part of leagues where many goals are scored.


Club Goals/Match Club Goals/Match Club Goals/Match
Ajax 2.31 Manchester 1.90 Kalmar FF 1.75
Porto 2.25 Arsenal 1.89 Club Brugge 1.74
PSV 2.18 Real Madrid 1.88 AEK 1.69
Basel 2.17 Yboys 1.88 Brondby 1.67
Celtic 2.14 Rosenborg 1.87 Panathinaikos 1.65
Fenerbace 2.10 Inter 1.85 Besiktas 1.65
Lissabon 2.10 Galataseray 1.84 Liverpool 1.63
Barcelona 2.09 Rapid Wien 1.84 Lyon 1.63
Anderlecht 2.09 Juventus 1.84 IFK 1.63
Bremen 2.08 AC 1.79 Stuttgart 1.60
AZ 2.04 Chelsea 1.79 Schalke 1.52
Benfica 2.03 Standard 1.79 Sevilla 1.49
Bayern 1.98 Kopenhagen 1.78 Valencia 1.47
Rangers 1.93 Salzburg 1.77 Austria Wien 1.46
Zurich 1.93 AS Roma 1.76 Grasshoppers 1.46
Olympiakos 1.91 Leverkusen 1.76 Hamburg 1.45


Ajax is taking the number one spot. This may come as a surprise to many as the club has not been league winners during the last 5 years. However, it has consistently performed in the top 4 of its league, whilst performing in a competition with limited competitive balance, also explaining the high ranking of PSV Eindhoven. Moreover, the club has always been known for its offensive kind of football. In that perspective it is nice to see it taking the number one spot. For the number two, the story is not that different. FC Porto grabbed the championship four out of the last 5 times, again in a competition even less balanced than that of The Netherlands. In spite of the fact that they are playing in relatively low scoring leagues, Barcelona, Manchester United, Arsenal and Real Madrid are ranking high due to their consistent good performances.

It is sad to see what the Americas Cup has evolved into. Rather than battling it out on the water, the 33rd Americas Cup has turned into a legal tug of war, fought out in Court. Sportsmanship and fair play seem to have long gone and sadly the outcome will contain only losers, including the eventual winner of the cup. That can be seen as a blow to the credibility of the Americas Cup (although it will survive) and the sport of sailing, something both syndicates can take the blame for.

The America’s Cup has always been one of sailing’s biggest traditions, a race between the sport’s best sailors sailing with the most advanced material and equipment. Hence there has always been a lot of money involved. The Americas Cup is the world’s oldest active trophy in international sport. It is a challenge-driven series of match races between two yachts which is governed by the Deed of Gift (a registered trust document in the Supreme Court of the State of New York). In the old days business tycoons from different continents battled it out on the water with some of the most magnificent ships one can imagine. In those days it was a gentlemen sport, where sportsmanship and fair play were the name of the game. No doubt Sir Thomas Lipton was one of the greatest figures in the history of the America’s Cup, challenging the cup 5 times. No wonder he is known as one of the world’s most graceful losers. Unfortunately times have changed and even sailing has become big business. The battle for the 33rd Americas Cup still lies in the hands of 2 big business tycoons. However, where sportsmanship reigned in the old days, this has now been replaced by mudslinging and courtcases. Sad for sailing indeed and even more for the Americas Cup.

Who are these two billionaire tycoons, with unprecedented egos? They are famous US software businessman Larry Ellison with his trimaran BMW Oracle and the Swiss biotech tycoon Ernesto Bertarelli with his catamaran Alinghi. Both gentlemen are not prepared to lose and will do everything to win the Cup, either on but preferably (as it appears) off the water in Court leading to some unprecedented (in sailing that is) legal wrestling. Too bad Thomas Lipton is not around anymore to teach them a lesson or two on how to deal gracefully with such matters. Alinghi is the defender of the Cup and hence is almost in complete control of the competition according to the Deed of Gift.

A brief summary. I realize many are fed up with the whole issue (they should skip the next section), but following is a brief summary on which issues these parties have been fighting:
1.Which club would be the Challenger of Record? Following the successful defense of the Cup in 2007, Societe Nautique de Geneve (SNG, Alinghi)) accepted a challenge for the 33rd Cup from Club Náutico Español de Vela (CNEV), a newly formed yacht club, created for the purpose of challenging for the Cup. However, the Golden Gate Yacht Club (GGYC, BMW Oracle) initiated legal action claiming CNEV did not meet the terms of the Deed of Gift as a legitimate yacht club. Simultaneously GGYC entered as a challenger for the Cup. After extensive litigation, GGYC became the official challenger.
2. Multi challenger format or not? In the end it was decided that there will be 3 races between GGYC’s BMW Oracle and SNG’s Alinghi 5
3. Dates and venue. Despite various attempts both parties could not agree on a date for the race. In the end the Court ruled that the race has to take place in February 2010. After this, the dispute went on regarding the venue of the race. SNG filed for Ras al-Khaimah in the Northern Hemisphere, GGYC immediately replying this was not in accordance with the Deed. In the end the Court decided the race to be held in Valencia, Spain.
4. Rules of the Match. Disagreements on issues such as measurements, powered winches, moveable ballast, rules during the race were by means of Court intervention finally decided upon.
5. The construction of the boats. The latest Court action in this ongoing saga comes from GGYC, claiming SNG’s sails are not constructed in the country where the competing yacht resides, which is not in accordance with the Deed of Gift. To be continued…..

No winners. Are you still there? This is sadly how the America’s Cup has evolved…….In the mean time both parties have arrived in Valencia where the races (the first to win two races will be the winner) are due to start on February 8, so in less than a month time. Clearly the pestering is going on, the latest being that the appointed infrastructure (marina) is not suitable for BMW Oracle and could create dangerous situations. Nevertheless if everything goes well, we should be done and over within a month time, when finally the battle will take place on the water. Whoever will be the winner of the Cup, it will be a Pyrrhic victory, in fact containing only losers; the two syndicates (think about brand values), the spectators (2-3 races only) and the sport of sailing, which has lost some of its credibility.

It is to hope that all involved parties will get to their senses for the next edition of the Americas Cup; in this perspective the Deed of Gift requires some revisions and questions should be asked what direction the Americas Cup should take. The Americas Cup has always been innovative as far as technology is concerned requiring huge investments. The danger exists that the Americas Cup would be caught in the same trap as Formula One did a few years ago; enormous budgets limiting the potential number of challengers and technology taking over from the sailormen (we do not want to end with unmanned yachts, do we?).

Hence action required! When looking back the 32nd edition of the Cup in 2007 has been great for all parties involved. A significant number of challengers with relatively similar equipment and some close racing. In the end that is what match racing should be all about!

michael_schumacher1Although I have always admired Michael Schumacher for his driving capability, I never have been fond of his behavior both on and off the track. Nevertheless I have to admit I am kind of looking forward to his return to Formula One. Formula One should be fun again and probably thanks to Schumacher the sport should regain some of its lost popularity again.

Michael Schumacher is a phenomenon and star. He has been Formula One’s most successful driver, winning 91 Grand Prix and 7 World Championships. Who cannot remember his famous battles with other stars such as Ayrton Senna, Damon Hill, Jacques Villeneuve and Mika Hakkinen. Nevertheless the guy is controversial; one can clearly remember how he tried to eliminate Jacques Villeneuve in order to try to become champion or how he parked his car during qualifying in Monaco in order to prevent Fisichella and Alonso taking pole position. He also is known to politically eliminate his teammates, by taking care that they did not get the same material. In any case Michael’s sporting behavior seems not to be one of his core values. That’s probably, why he has done so well in Formula One, which is not always an example of integrity either.

In his absence Formula One has gone through tough times. Firstly the sport lost some of its popularity given the lack of charismatic stars such as Schumacher. One can barely say that Kimmi Raikkonen is interesting to watch or listen to (besides when he is in the car of course), whereas Hamilton is too polished to be really colorful (the ideal son in law, where did we see this before?). At least Schumacher has always been authentic, not always likeable but authentic. That’s why many people like him and why he is important to Formula One.
Secondly the sport did face a financial and economic crisis. Several car manufacturers like BMW, Honda and Toyota withdrew from the sport, whereas Bridgestone will quit after the upcoming season. Instead new less appealing (at least no real brand names as of yet) teams such as Campos Meta 1, Team US F1, Virgin Racing and Lotus F1 Racing will appear on the grid. Adding to the difficulties, sponsors are less inclined to enter Formula One.

Concluding, given the decline in popularity and the aftermath of the financial crisis, Formula One is in dire need of charismatic stars and hence the return of Schumacher should be seen as a blessing.

Watching Formula One should be fun again and I am certainly looking forward to it. Whether you hate or love the guy, Schumacher brings spice again. It’s a bit like the old Michel Vaillant strips where the good guy (Michel Vaillant) is fighting the bad guy. Formula One should embrace the return of Schumacher, he might even turn into the good guy!