Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Are Oldham matches Giffen goods?

A Giffen good satisfies the rather odd property that as its price increases, demand increases. It so happens that if you run a regression of Oldham's attendance on entrance price since 2000, the coefficient (given the particular regression model selected - I'm talking about the model I'm sticking in my thesis right now before I submit in 4 weeks) on entrance price (both logged) is 0.215, with a standard error of 0.096. So price goes up, attendance goes up!

The classic Giffen good is potatoes in Ireland during the famine. The classic explanation is that potatoes were a large part of the Irish diet, so that when their price increased, the Irish substituted away from other foodstuffs in order to ensure that they had enough potatoes to satisfy themselves, hence demand increased, perversely. There's an argument the same is true for football - it's a big part of a hard-up football fan's leisure diet, and so if the price goes up, other things must go out of the window (bit of shopping with the wife, the odd cinema trip), in order that he can get to as many matches as possible.

It's plausible, but I think more likely it's that football attendances in general are on the up, and Latics are caught up in this general trend. Football stadia are generally perceived to be safer these days, and football is more acceptable a thing to do, than say in the 1970s or 1980s. Also price is a very uninformative variable - it's constant for long stretches of the sample size, increasing in four increments from £14 to £20 over the sample. It strikes me it's more likely this is coincidental than causal. I sound very like my first ever econometrics tutor, John Ashworth in Durham, who argued strongly against the existence of the Giffen good...

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Monday, April 09, 2007

No, no and Bradford

Well, Oldham didn't send their fans home overly happy on Saturday, only drawing 1-1 with their Yorkshire neighbours Huddersfield. Furthermore it seems a very poor turn-out from Huddersfield led to the attendance being only a paltry 7,000, as opposed to the 9,500 gate predicted. So that's a no and a no.

Moving on to Bradford, another Yorkshire neighbour, to whom Latics travel this afternoon. It turns out Latics have won their previous five matches against Bradford home and away, and given Latics occupy 4th position, and Bradford 22nd, one might reasonably expect a Latics win. Sure enough, my model suggests Latics have a 52% chance of winning, with Bradford only a meagre 23%. Of course, such models struggle to take into account the late season desperation which tends to surround matches involving sides in the relegation zone, and leads to them out-performing relative to their league position.

Given further that Latics have failed to win their previous two matches away against teams in or near the relegation zone, this suggests a draw. I'll be disappointed if that happens, but I can see it happening. Probabilities for individual scores run something like this: the most probable score is a 1-0 Latics win, with 13%, then a 1-1 draw following with a 12% probability. I'd go for that myself. There's a 2% probability on Latics repeating their 4-1 win at Bradford last season.

Come on Oldham!

Also, if Scunthorpe win their match away at Northampton today, and Nottm Forest fail to win at home to Rotherham, Scunthorpe will be promoted. A Scunthorpe win has a 47% probability, a draw or Rotherham win at the City Ground at 37%, suggesting that, assuming these two events are independent of each other (!), that there's actually only a 17% probability of Scunthorpe securing promotion today. By next week though I'm sure it'll be confirmed...

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Saturday, April 07, 2007

Easter Saturday's matches...

Who's going to do what on this important footballing weekend? Today, 11 matches take place in League One, after Scunthorpe effectively sealed their promotion last night winning 1-0 over Yeovil Town.

Below are the predictions for this afternoon's matches:

Home Draw Away
Blackpool v Tranmere 46.6% 29.4% 24.0%
Bournemouth v Bradford 44.6% 29.2% 26.1%
Brentford v Cheltenham 33.8% 30.1% 36.1%
Brighton v Doncaster 36.7% 31.6% 31.8%
Bristol C v Swansea 12.3% 21.0% 5.8%
Chesterfield v Crewe 40.7% 26.3% 33.0%
Leyton Orient v Northampton 41.8% 26.6% 31.7%
Millwall v Nottm Forest 28.2% 26.6% 45.1%
Oldham v Huddersfield 66.5% 19.3% 14.2%
Port Vale v Carlisle 46.5% 26.3% 27.2%
Rotherham v Gillingham 52.0% 22.1% 25.9%

Disturbingly, for the biggest match of the day, the model appears to have been hit by a glitch; the probabilities don't sum to unity. This will be looked into.

For the remaining matches, the one I'm interested in is Oldham v Huddersfield. Oldham have never beaten Huddersfield twice in one season before, but today they appear to have a 66.5% chance of doing just that, having won 3-0 at Huddersfield earlier in the campaign. Oldham are indeed strong favourites for this match, which reflects that fact Oldham are considerably higher in the league table. Huddersfield are not in relegation trouble, but are firmly in mid-table. Fink Tank put Oldham at 59.7%, also rating Oldham as overwhelming favourites.

But will they prevail in this local derby? With it being a local derby, a large attendance can be expected. Attendances have been increasing gradually over the season, and a gate of around 10,000 ought to be expected this afternoon. Huddersfield may not bring as many fans over the Pennines as they would if they were challenging nearer the top of the division, but nonetheless, my forecasting model suggests an attendance of 9,479. Let's see if the Latics can send this bumper crowd home happy as they further cement their play-off place.

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