Visualising Premier League club spending on agents

Last weekend, the Premier League released the annual spending on agents per club, following a commitment to make this data public each year.

The data shows the total amount each club paid to authorised agents during the period from October 1, 2012, to September 30, 2013. It wasn’t hard to find the data for the previous year and so I decided to put some basic data visualisation skills we learnt with John Burn-Murdoch to the test.

It was a really straightforward dataset (see table below), therefore quite an easy write up for sport websites, using hooks like the fact that the total figure of 96 million representing a record, or highlighting a few interesting points on which club paid the most, the least and so on.

One of the easiest things to do was to compare between the two years, as The Times did (£), making a point that Chelsea and Newcastle spent double this year than they had done the previous one.

Given that in the last few weeks we had learnt about a couple of great data visualisation tools, namely Datawrapper and Tableau, which allow you to quickly and with minimal fuss visualise your data, I thought it was a great chance to try my hand at using them in ‘real time’.

So for the initial year on year comparison I used Datawrapper. I included the values for the clubs in the Premier League for both seasons, so did not include clubs relegated in 2012 or promoted from the Championship last season.

It was really easy, but I encountered a slight problem as I had initially uploaded the values from the CSV as currency, which Datawrapper had some trouble with. I amended that, transposed the table to get each team side by side and simples, here’s the result.

Premier League clubs agent fees fullIf you want to take a look at the interactive version, click on the image.

What is noticeable is that it’s immediately easier to see the difference year on year per club when the data is presented in this way rather than list or text form.

You can quickly identify that only two clubs – Arsenal and West Ham – paid less to agents this year than they had the last, while the difference between the amount Chelsea, Man City, Spurs, Liverpool and the rest spent this season is clear.

Design-wise as there are more than 15 clubs in our chart, including two values for each, it does look quite cramped, but still does what it’s supposed to and in just a few minutes. Maybe rounding up the figures to millions with a couple of decimal places would have worked better though.

Not wanting to stop there while I was in the swing of things and quite eager to practise a little more with Tableau, I went a bit further.

Using just the latest data for 2012-2013, I tried to show how much each club spent in terms of the whole, to give a slightly different visual focus from the initial chart that looked at the change year on year.

Given how much of a no-no it would be to represent this with a pie chart, the best way to do this was probably using a tree map. Again, this is a pretty simple database, but Tableau really does make it look like you have spent much more time and effort than you actually have.

Click on the image to look at the interactive version.

The tree map works well to show the difference between the clubs in terms of the total spent and makes this clearer than a bar or column chart. I  think the colour gradient for the different parts of the tree map comparing value ranges is a great feature as well.
Making these two visualisations, simple as they are, only took around 15 minutes in total. The great thing however is that it looks like it took much more time and effort to create.

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