When 19th century economist and sociologist Vilfredo Pareto noted that 20% of the population owned 80% of the property, it is doubtful that he realized the impact of his statement.
Although it took until 1941 for management consultant Joseph M. Juran to bring attention to what he would name the Pareto Principle, it has become a widely known, used and discussed in the last 70 years.
However, you can be sure that neither Pareto nor Juran were ever thinking of the Premier League and the 2011 transfer window when it came to the 80/20 rule.
But if you are looking at a close to perfect application of the Principle look no further than the recently closed transfer window and the spending by top flight English clubs.
In total terms, spending in this winter window amounted to approximately $360M which outstripped the previous high water mark of $280M set three years ago.
But not every club came to the spendthrift party. January 2011 window expenditures were restricted to only a handful of clubs. When you add up the money spend by Aston Villa, Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester City it comes to around $285M.
Taken as a percentage of the total it comes to 79% – remarkably close to matching one side of the Principle. And of course the four teams out of a total of 20 in the Premier League constitute 20%.
Interestingly the 80/20 rule also became known as “the vital few and the trivial many,” something that certainly rings true given the attention paid to the clubs who took out the cheque books in the last couple of weeks.
But apparently later in life Juran came to believe that the Principle was being misinterpreted and being used as a reason to ignore the other 80% of cases.
Rather like the last few days when the lack of, or certainly limited spending, by the other sixteen Premier League clubs has been almost totally ignored.
Although the UEFA Fair Play rules hover overhead (although not anywhere close to Stamford Bridge) they just are not a priority for the majority of clubs. For most Premier League clubs survival is the name of the game with qualification for European competition only possible in a parallel universe.
If any clubs had an incentive to spend on players in the transfer window you would have thought it would be teams in the bottom half of the table. But that was definetly not the case.
Of the ten clubs only Aston Villa spend any significant money while the others pretty much stood pat or looked to loan signings.
The remaining nine clubs signed 25 players with around half on loan deals. The remainder cost around $18M at an average cost of less than $1.5M each – an absolute pittance.
So while we have been expressing our amazement at how much money was spent by four clubs perhaps the more telling story is that the lack of money spent by clubs who have the most to lose.
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