Analyzing League Rankings Based on UEFA Coefficients — Part 1

UEFA Country Coefficients were introduced by UEFA in 1979 as a way to rank the collective performance of each member league based on the performance of member clubs in European Competitions. Based on the rankings (calculated through a somewhat 6 year running average) UEFA assigns the number of places for a league in UEFA Competitions.

Although the coefficients may not be perfect, they still are, in my opinion, perhaps the most objective measure to rank various leagues and analyze the rise and fall of various leagues over the years. The battle for higher rankings has given us great sub-battles like Italy vs Germany in late 2000s when both were fighting for the 4th UCL spot; France vs Portugal for the 5th rank (& more importantly, bragging rights) and the fascinating (unfortunately now irrelevant) England vs Italy battle last season — before UEFA decided to grant 4 automatic spots to top 4 leagues in the UCL.

Nevertheless, the idea here was to graph the league rankings, based on UEFA coefficients from 2000/01 season till 2015/16 season with the hope of honing my web scraping and ggplot2 [R Programming] skills in the process.

The source of the data is UEFA’s website — Web Scraped using rvest package on R.

Top 10 Ranked Countries (Click to Zoom)
Ranks 11–20 (Click to Zoom)
Ranks 21–30 by UEFA Coefficients

Some interesting changes at first glance

After nine consecutive years in the top-2, England fell to 3rd in 2015–16

  1. Quite surprising that even though Portugal has been in top 5 for some years now we still include the French Ligue 1 when talking about the ‘Big 5’
  2. Russia and Ukraine have really stepped up. Russia’s rise is impressive (uh huh) considering their clubs are only allowed 3 non-Russians. On second thoughts, clubbing these two together isn’t most politically correct
  3. Germany showing what happens when you invest in youth. On both the international stage and the club stage
  4. Scotland are, now, below football heavyweights Cyprus and only 1 space ahead of Azerbaijan

This was an interesting exercise. Hopefully in Part 2, I’d be able to transform my data in order to analyze the following

  • Check most dominant seasons across different leagues by UEFA Coefficient Points. Something tells me, Spain would figure a lot considering they’ve already surpassed 20 coefficient points four times already. No other League has reached 20
  • Check which seasons were the most competitive in terms of lowest variance in coefficient points gathered for Top 5 Leagues