The Economist had a great graphic which broadly stated that a club’s position in the English Football League is determined by how much money they spend on players. The link between the amount spent on wages and the number of points won is strong (see chart). Relative to the league median, 55% of the variation in the number of points scored in any given season can be explained by the amount spent on wages. To access the interactive graphic and see which clubs spend the most click – The booty-full game
However research that there are other variables that influence success.
1. Teams that perform better might reward players with higher salaries. Fatigue might be a factor: Liverpool may have done well in the league this season partly because it has not been competing in Europe.
2. Managers are also influential. Sir Alex Ferguson, who retired as manager of Manchester United last year after 26 years, won an average of 15 points more than might be expected given the amount the club spent on wages. Had he been just an average manager, he would have won just one Premier League championship in 17 seasons; instead he won 11. Some clubs, like Southampton, punch above their weights under different managers.