Table 1 indicates that the rate of dismissals so far this season stands at the highest level since 2007-2008. When split by league, Table 3 shows a similar trend to last season – in that no Premier League managers have yet been sacked. Last season looked set to be the first in which no PL manager had been sacked by the end of November, until Steve Bruce was sacked by Sunderland on 30th November 2012. At the time of writing (25th Oct 2012), again no Premier League Managers have been sacked thus far this season. The possible explanations for this are addressed under Question 3 below. The rate of dismissals in the Championship, however, already stands at 5 for the season, more than half of those sacked in all of the previous season in the Championship, before we reach the end of October. The contrast between these two figures has previously been used to suggest that the financial gains of reaching the Premier League are so great that these may influence the decisions of Boards of Directors of Championship clubs to change managers if they do not get off to a good start to the season. The rate of dismissals in both Leagues 1 and 2 currently stand at 4 and 3 managers respectively.
So what might we conclude from the pattern of dismissals and resignations of football managers so far this season, for the broader football management trends and governance of football clubs?
1. Manager Dismissals and the Transfer Window
Comparing the pattern of manager dismissals by month over the last five seasons compared with this season, recent seasons have often seen a peak in dismissals sometime between September and December. This peak may have developed as a result of the introduction of the transfer window in January with clubs who are thinking of changing manager tending to make the switch before January to give any transfer funds to the new manager rather than the incumbent. As the dismissal figures by league shown in Table 2 suggest, the rate of dismissals by this point of the season is noticeably higher in the football league than in the Premier League.
2. Timing of the Peak in Dismissals
In a number of recent seasons, there has been a peak in the rate of dismissals between September and December. It has been argued that this might relate to the existence of the Transfer Window in January – clubs who wish to change manager might be more inclined to do so before the transfer window if they are not sure about the continued tenure of the manager as they can then give any transfer budget to the new incumbent.
The timing and magnitude of this peak has, however, varied. In terms of its magnitude, the very high dismissal figures over the early part of the season in earlier seasons appear to have fallen back somewhat over recent seasons.
An interesting characteristic of the dismissals to date in the 2012-2013 season is the disparity between the level of sackings in the Premier League and the Championship.
Last season looked set to be the first time in 100 years that no manager in the top flight had been sacked by the end of November, until the sacking of Steve Bruce at Sunderland just short of this mark on November 30th 2012. Again this season, no manager has, as of 5th November 2012, been sacked.
In the same period, however, 5 of 24 managers have already been sacked in the Championship (20.83%) 4 of 24 (16.66%) in Leagues 1 and 3 of 24 (12.5%) in League 2. The number of dismissals in the Championship is more than half of the level of dismissals in the Championship for all of last season.
4. Has FFP made a difference?
It is hard to discern what differences UEFA FFP measures will make in the patterns of football manager employment. As yet the measures and targets are still being implemented and these will focus first on clubs living within their means in terms of player signings and player wages.
Changes in the average tenure of football managers.
Average tenure in 2010-2011 stood at 1.45, although that was raised by the dismissal of a few long-serving managers including Rafael Benitez (5.5 years), Steve Tilson (6.6 years) and Paul Trollope (5.23 years). In the 2009-2010 season, tenure was at an all time low of 1.4 years. In 2011-12, the average tenure of football managers across all leagues was 1.75 years.
Taking this season’s dismissals, the following can be noted:
• Of the 12 managers dismissed, 3 were first time managers (Dyche, Thorn and Kean). Average tenure of all dismissed managers in 2012-13 to date is 2.17 years. Average tenure of dismissed managers in the Championship is 1.62 years and in League 1 it is 1.43 years.
• Average tenure of the first time managers who have been dismissed is 1.43 years. Andy Thorn was dismissed exactly on the League 1 average tenure and the two Championship managers average 1.42 years so a little below average for all Championship managers.
• The highest number of dismissals is in the Championship (5 managers dismissed) the League 1 with 4 managers.
• However 5 managers have also resigned to move up the leagues so far this season, so progression up the league structure is possible.