Biggest Factors That Affect Football Club Performance On And Off The Pitch

business man on football pitch money raining downThere are so many variables that can affect a football club’s performance, both on the pitch and off and it depends on how you look at it.

Now, fundamentally, a football club is a business and as a result, everything starts at the top, as it does (it could be argued) with any business. Having a strong owner and executive committee in place means that everything can fundamentally look after itself.

Invariably though, the main product of a football club, that essentially affects the growth and performance of the entity as a whole, is on-the-pitch results. However, if you have a team that is getting good results, though the team behind the scenes does not possess the knowledge or expertise, then this could be short-lived because the main components who are achieving the results (players and by extension coaches and manager), could leave.

What on-the-pitch results do is though, contribute to revenue growth, which helps to then transform the football club (business) into a brand, which every great business around the world does, regardless of industry.

When it comes to making betting decisions as well, these factors can also have an influence, particularly after the arrival of a significant player at a club, which often results in a lot of money being wagered on his new club to win the Premier League.

Let’s take a look at some of the key variables of examples over the years that have affected on-the-pitch performance and how this translated off the pitch.

Managers And Coaches

jose mourinho sits alone in dugout

This can differ as to how the person sees themselves, some are stronger on the coaching side and others are stronger with the overall management of players and hire coaches beneath them to help translate their philosophy in training sessions, via different drills. Some are very good hybrids.

With that in mind let’s take a look at examples of these including managers who exceeded expectations and those who performed below what they were expected to.

Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea Bow

Despite winning the Champions League with Porto against all the odds, it was still a big gamble from new owner Roman Abramovich to replace experienced outgoing manager Claudio Ranieri with a young, relative unknown. However, this paid dividend immediately.

The Portuguese manager’s impact was immediate, stating that he would win the Premier League in his first season, with his cocky demeanour becoming popular with fans and media alike. Undoubtedly, many of these fans would have placed bets on the club to win the title, after hearing just that and seeing the manner in which he said it. He also gained a reputation for correctly guessing his opposite number’s starting XI.

It wasn’t until after he had retained the Premier League trophy with the club though, did he really achieve ‘messiah’ like status with the fans, despite claiming in his maiden press conference that he was ‘The Special One’.

Following the club’s success on the pitch, their stature off the pitch grew significantly and they were also able to establish a fanbase in Asia, particularly after securing a lucrative sponsorship deal with South Korean-based technology giants, Samsung.

Rafa Benitez And His Tyneside Troubles

Arriving in Newcastle with a big reputation and an intimate knowledge of the Premier League, following the Spaniard’s unbelievable Champions League final win plus a dramatic FA Cup final victory, Newcastle fans thought that their club would start to go in the right direction.

However, it was the same old story at the club, with fans long-frustrated by owner Mike Ashley and his highly rigid approach. Having been hired in March 2016 by the relegation-threatened club, he was unable to keep the Magpies in the top flight.

Despite winning the Championship title, Newcastle struggled again the next season and flirted with relegation once more. After his contract expired, Benitez walked away from the club.

Sam Allardyce Unable To Save West Brom

The manager that has earned himself a reputation for being able to steer clubs to safety, failed in his latest task to keep West Bromwich Albion in the Premier League. With Slaven Bilic dismissed from his post in December 2020, Allardyce was given an achievable amount of time to keep the club up and was also backed in the January transfer window, albeit, mainly in the loan market.

Despite this though, the Baggies finished 19th and 13 points adrift of safety, with Allardyce subsequently leaving his post at the end of the season. Due to his reputation of keeping clubs in the top flight, no doubt, bookmakers made a significant amount of money from punters who may have decided to take a bet of the Baggies to survive.

Jose Mourinho – Take Four

Mourinho’s return to Chelsea brought with it another Premier League title before he was then dismissed again. Shortly after, he joined Manchester United, where the club tasted their first silverware since the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson when they won the Europa League.

As a result, big things were expected of him when he arrived at Tottenham and many fans believed that he could be the manager to deliver them silverware. However, he lost the dressing room, when players seemingly refused to do things his way.

For chairman Daniel Levy at least, this was expected to be a success, though it materialised into an error of judgement. Mourinho had until this point, won trophies everywhere he had been and Spurs fans especially may have seen good value on odds that offered him to do so.

Zinedine Zidane’s Real Revolution

Perhaps one from left-field, the appointment of former superstar, [Zinedine] Zidane as the manager of Real Madrid in 2016, was a major gamble by president Florentino Perez, despite managing their youth team.

However, he was aided by a team of superstars though this can come with its own troubles. With that many big-name players, it takes a strong character to lead the team and handle the different egos, though Zidane largely demonstrated his mettle.

Three consecutive Champions League titles materialised which is unprecedented and ultimately, Zidane became a hero in the eyes of the fans. This was a period when Barcelona had been dominating on the world stage, so Zidane essentially achieved what many would have believed to have been impossible, simultaneously raising the club’s global profile once again.

Manager Breakdown

ManagerClubDurationMoney Spent (£ – millions)RecordMajor Trophies
Jose MourinhoChelsea (first spell)June 2004 – September 2007365.22W: 124 D:40 L:215 (2 Premier Leagues, 2 League Cups, 1 FA Cup)
Rafa BenitezNewcastle UnitedMarch 2016 – June 2019170.50W: 100 D: 19 L: 37 (46 Championship games)1 (Championship)
Sam AllardyceWest Bromwhich AlbionDecember 2020 – May 20214 loan signingsW: 4 D: 7 L: 150
Jose MourinhoTottenhamNovember 2019 – April 202199.45W: 44 D: 19 L: 230
Zinedine ZidaneReal Madrid (first time)January 2016 – May 201863.45W: 104 D: 29  L: 164 (1 La Liga, 3 Champions League)

Key: W = Wins, D = Draws, L = Losses


david beckham

As we have touched on, there have been some significant, individual transfers over the years that have affected club performance on and off the pitch, which will invariably have had an influence on betting behaviour, while some of these transfers could be also tied into new manager arrivals at a club as well.

Let’s take a look at some significant examples of transfers over the years that have influenced this, even those that perhaps did not live up to expectations.

David Beckham Becomes Real Madrid Galactico

During president Florentino Perez’s first ‘Galactico’ reign at Real Madrid, Manchester United’s Beckham was courted heavily throughout the summer of 2003, with the Spanish club keen to take advantage of a dressing room rift between the player and manager [Alex] Ferguson.

At the time, Real were also understood to be tracking Ronaldinho, though chose Beckham, due to branding potential off the pitch, as a direct potential influence on their commercial (off-the-pitch) strategy.

Despite the fact that he was among a number of global superstars on the pitch; [Zinedine] Zidane, Luiz Ronaldo, Raul and Luis Figo, Beckham was still able to make an impact, with his free-kick deliveries and crossing ability, though he was often utilised as a central midfielder, so that Figo could play on the right wing.

On his La Liga debut, it took him less than three minutes to find the net, while he recorded five goals in his first 16 appearances for the Spanish club.

Chelsea Splash Out On Fernando Torres

After his exploits for Liverpool, Spanish superstar striker was lured to Chelsea in a cool £50 million deal, with much expectation on his shoulders. For the Reds he scored 81 goals in 142 appearances as the club challenged for the title and made good proggress in the Champions League, however, he was unable to reproduce this kind of form at Chelsea.

He scored 45 goals in 172 appearances for the club, though managers were heavily criticised for not playing the type of football that suited him. Liverpool had adopted a counter-attacking style, which enabled him to use his pace and develop a relationship with Xabi Alonso and Steven Gerrard, who would often provide him with the service.

Chelsea’s style of play though was more possession based and more conducive to powerful centre forward Didier Drogba whose game didn’t require as much space for him to be effective. Whether it was the player or the club to blame for Torres’ lack of goals at Chelsea is very much one for debate.

Bayern Munich’s Raid Of Rivals Borussia Dortmund

In 2014, German giants Bayern Munich needed a goalscorer and having seen Robert Lewandowski fire their fierce rivals Borussia Dortmund to the Bundesliga title, the choice was obvious and staggeringly, the player would join on a free transfer; arguably one of the most effective pieces of business in German football history.

He has fired the club to seven consecutive Bundesliga titles while he has been there, four DFB Pokal’s and one Champions League final win, while helping to further raise the profile of the club in the process. A key part of the club’s merchandising strategy as well, the player is a shirt-selling machine, while he fits the profile of arguably the most complete centre forward in world football.

For punters, he is also an obvious choice for Bundesliga top-scorer on a regular basis, while many double up on this and back Bayern to win the league as well; this being for many, an obvious choice. By signing Lewandowski, Bayern also weakened their biggest rivals as well, a strategy that has worked well for the club in the years since. Whichever manager Lewandowski has played under, he has performed consistently and has notched 305 goals in 336 appearances, registering 65 assists.

Messiah Arrives On Tyneside

Perhaps one of the most statement signings of the nineties in the Premier League, was when Premier League winner at Blackburn Rovers, Alan Shearer famously chose his hometown club of Newcastle United in 1996 over serial contenders Manchester United.

It was a move that significantly raised the profile of the Magpies and one which saw them push the Red Devils close in a title tilt the following season, with Shearer having an instant impact, while on the betting front, many a Magpies fan would have fancied their club to win it, following this transfer. Having pushed the Red Devils all the way, Newcastle would eventually finish second (for a second season in a row), with Shearer scooping the Premier League top-scorer award with 25 goals.

Shearer became a legend at Newcastle during his 10-year tenure, breaking a number of records for the club and finishing with 206 goals in 405 games. The striker was also a selling point for new signings, which helped the club to raise its profile, with star names such as Michael Owen and Patrick Kluivert all joining during this time.

Manchester City’s First Big Name Gamble

On the same day that the club was bought out by the Abu Dhabi Investment Group; incidentally being the last day of the summer transfer window in 2008 (01/09/08), the club pushed to try and make a ‘statement signing’. Upon hearing that Robinho was on the market, they quickly made their move, with this being sealed in the final hour of the window.

The Brazilian moved for £32.5 million from Real Madrid, which was the type of signing that they wanted to excite fans, however, the player transpired to be a square peg in a round hole.

While he had the pull to fill the stadium (at least initially), the attacker only managed 16 goals and 12 assists in his 53 appearances and failed to live up to expectations.

Transfers Breakdown

PlayerClubTransfer Fee (£ in millions)RecordMajor Trophies
David BeckhamReal Madrid25P: 116 G: 13 A: 371 (La Liga)
Fernando TorresChelsea50P: 172 G: 45 A: 353 (1 Champions League, 1 Europa League, 1 FA Cup)
Robert LewandowskiBayern Munich0P: 336 G: 305 A: 6512 (7 Bundesliga’s, 4 DFB Pokal’s, 1 Champions League)
Alan ShearerNewcastle United15P: 405 G: 206 A: 580
RobinhoManchester City32.5P: 53 G: 16 A: 120

Key: P = Played, G = Goals, A = Assists

Fiscal Mismanagement

man holding football money raining downThis is one factor that can have considerable effect on a football club’s performance both on and off the pitch.  The creation of the Premier League and Champions League especially has made money the key component of the game.  These days there is simply no way to success without a backer prepared to put hundreds of millions if not billions into a club.

Over the last couple of decades we have seen a number of examples that have shocked the football world, so let’s take a look to see how the performance was affected.

Leeds United

One notable example of fiscal mismanagement which cost a club dearly occurred at English giants Leeds United, who essentially gambled in the transfer market each summer, effectively risking that they would get into the Champions League every year.

This fiscal irresponsibility led to them plummeting down the Premier League table because such factors like injuries had not been considered which saw the club’s ability to acquire points negatively affected.

By not qualifying for Europe, it affected their balance sheet and players had to be almost auctioned off at below-market value, just to keep the club alive. Even having been relegated to the second tier, the club were still in trouble; their lowest point being a further relegation, sale of assets (stadium and training ground) and a deduction of points. A classic example of a club that almost went out of business, due to bad management.


Another big club, that almost ceased to exist was Southampton, who after 27 years in the top flight were relegated to the second tier in the 2004/05 season and were quickly releaged once more in 2009 and subsequently deducted 10 points after their holding company Southampton Leisure Holdings PLC were put into administration.

It was a classic case of off-the-pitch financial mismanagement fromthe southcoast club, who followed an almost similar trajectory to Leeds United. However, they were saved by Swiss businessman, Markus Liebherr (who died in 2010), leading a takeover, which saw the club come out of administration with a clear plan.


For years, this is a club that rode its luck, after the [Pep] Guardiola era, that saw them abandon their previously successful youth academy strategy and instead change to trying to plug gaps with the wrong the players in the transfer market, for excessive fees and high wages.

These errors of judgement, especially regarding Neymar’s replacement and the players that they brought in cost them in the long term. Barcelona were perhaps unlucky with the COVID-19 pandemic that affected a lot of clubs financially, however, what it proved was that their model was unsustainable.

WIth so much debt on their balance sheet and over one year of not being able to earn revenue, this hit them severely and this came to a head in the summer of 2021 when it emerged that their debt stood at over £1.1 billion.

New Stadiums

tottenham stadium empty

We have seen a few examples over the last couple of decades involving clubs who have ‘moved house’, essentially to a new stadium. This has especially been the case for those that have moved from a more intimate setting, to a bigger stadium that has less of an atmosphere. Adjusting to a new surroundings can take time for players and because of this, results can be affected. Let’s take a look at some prominent examples.

Arsenal’s Move To The Emirates Stadium

Former boss, Arsene Wenger was a big influence in the club’s move from Highbury to their new state of the art stadium just a ‘stone’s throw’ away. Astonishingly, they have been at the Emirates Stadium since 2006, though this took a period of adjustment.

They had tasted a lot of success at Highbury, which was a lot smaller and had more of an atmosphere, though their move to the Emirates Stadium saw them struggle to adapt. It was heavily criticised for being ‘soulless’, despite it being one of the most expensive constructions at the time (£350 million).

Finances were particularly tight for a number of years and Wenger had to be savvy in the transfer market, while ensuring that the club consistently qualified for the Champions League the following seasons, in order to help Arsenal bring in necessary revenue so that they could efficiently balance their books.

Spurs’ Ambitious Relocation

Easily the most expensive stadium in the world at £1 billion, the ‘Tottenham Hotspur Stadium’ became the north London club’s new home towards the end of the 2018/19 season.

During the build, the club played their home games at Wembley (the national stadium), which took a big period of readjustment and because of this, results were affected on the pitch.

In their first 12 games at Wembley, the club recorded just two wins, which became a concern for the club; a new environment undoubtedly having an affect on their performance on the pitch, despite boasting a host of star players, such as Harry Kane.

West Ham United’s Olympic-sized ambitions

Another club that moved from their family-orientated home of Upton Park (or the Boleyn Ground), was West Ham when they relocated to the London Stadium in 2016; home to the London 2012 Olympics. Of course, there was a period of adjustment and this was a decision that brought much criticism from Hammers loyalists.

Table of club performances (before and after) moving stadiums (last and first 10 games)

New Stadiums Breakdown

ArsenalTottenhamWest Ham United
W: 7 D: 2 L: 1W: 6 D: 3 L: 1W: 5 D: 1 L: 4W: 4 D: 2 L: 5W: 4 D: 4 L: 2W: 3 D: 1 L: 6

Key: W = Won, D = Drawn, L = Lost

Controversial Circumstances

These can also have an affect on a football club’s performance. Controversy in football presents itself in many forms and there are some examples where this has had been a major factor in recent times.

Chelsea, Mourinho And The Carneiro fallout

Controversial circumstances can also play a part in how a club is affected on the field, none more so than Chelsea during Mourinho’s second reign.

Never far from controversy, [Jose] Mourinho was in the spotlight for different reasons during his second spell at the Blues.

In the opening day of his second season in charge in again, having just won the Premier League title the previous campaign, club doctor Eva Carneiro was the subject of a verbal tirade from Mourinho after she went onto the pitch to attend an injury to Eden Hazard. It meant that the player had to come off the pitch to be treated before going back on.

The media fallout from this saw the player’s (who had a good relationship with Carneiro) react negatively to Mourinho and essentially stopped playing for him, after his treatment of the physio. It led to a decline in results; a classic example of player mutiny on the pitch and eventually Mourinho was dismissed for the second time under Abramovich.

Mike Ashley – Will He, Won’t He Sell?

For Newcastle United fans, the thought of their owner (who divides opinion), the prospect of the last takeover attempt in 2020, likely sounded too good to be true. Allegedly, owner, [Mike] Ashely has been trying to sell the club since 2017, however, he simply refuses to budge on his valuation.

Fans must have been dreaming of being bankrolled by billions in late 2020 when a bid from a Saudi investment fund was rejected by Ashley who played hardball. For supporters, many do not see Ashley as someone who has the club’s best interests at heart, leading to Benitez (arguably the club’s best manager for two decades), leaving the club. This seemingly has translated to performances on the pitch, with subsequent managers feeling the inflexibility of Ashley to invest in the club in order to sell for his desired asking price longer term.

Final Thoughts

It would be easy just to pick one factor that affects a club’s performance, both on and off the pitch, though, essentially like any business, it starts at the top and filters down. Invariably, when it comes to football club performance, especially when considering it as a business entity as a whole, there are so many variables and influences that can contribute to the growth, or even decline.