26 October 2007

Why the Premier League website cannot be trusted

I stumbled across the Premier League's website recently. It has undergone a redesign since the end of the 2006/07 season and appears to be more Safari friendly than before.

I noticed something curious in the statistics section though. As we all know football began in 1992, and the Premier League allow you to see various lists of most appearances, goals scored, red cards and all your usual anorak details for each season since the beginning of time.

But as I checked out the list of all-time leading scorers in the Premier League I saw that Alan Shearer has been credited with 261 goals. To most people this would have little to no significance I readily admit. But your writer happens to be a member of that rare tribe who obsess over details like football statistics, and so the above caused me to feel a tingle of unease.

For Alan Shearer, Big Al, prolific for many years at Southampton, Blackburn and Newcastle, is now a stater of the obvious for the BBC and has retired from football. And I was fairly certain that on his retirement Shearer's tally of Premier League goals was 260. Now I did not know this fact for sure, so I did a brief bit of research.

So I went over to Wikipedia and they listed Shearer's total as 260, but as I could have easily edited it to say 261 (to match the Premier League site) I could not trust this figure. Then my wife distracted me from the laptop for some reason or other and the issue lay unresolved.

Unresolved until earlier today, when I was browsing through the sport books section at WH Smiths. There they had copies of the various football annuals for geeks that are published each summer. (New of the World, Playfair, Rothmans, now renamed after Sky Sports unfortunately). Plus some glossier affairs from the BBC using their Match of the Day and Football Focus brands. And in each one they listed Shearer's total as 260 and despite Newcastle's lack of centre forwards last season, we know that Shearer hasn't played since 2006.

So the figure here is wrong. The Premier League's statistic section is incorrect. It also casts doubt into the reliability of the tallies of other players. If they have miscounted Shearer's total then it is likely that other mistakes have been made. To me this indicates a level of sloppyness that us football stat freaks should not have to tolerate.

So I fired off an email to the Premier League detailing the discrepany. I wonder if there will be any response?

No comments: