Statistically Ranking the World's Top 20 Football Leagues

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Statistically Ranking the World's Top 20 Football Leagues
David Ramos/Getty Images
Do The Math

Surely a pub league punter or two has spent an afternoon making a case for which World Football League is the best (most quality, most competitive, etc.). Professional prognosticators have logged considerable airtime on the subject as well.

Whether you're Warren Barton or Joe Liverpud, most cognizant fans of the sport would agree that much of the world's elite talent tends to reside in La Liga, the EPL, the Bundesliga, Serie A, Ligue 1 or the Brasileirão.

Conventional wisdom has placed a premium on these six leagues but rarely do we hear any statistical framework in support. Fans of teams outside the Big Six would probably like to know how their leagues stack up globally as well.

With this set of ideas in mind, your gentle narrator has devised a layman's statistical quotient (working title, the M.F. Coefficient) using Elo-styled rankings for each team within their domestic league. Using data culled from the fabulous, we've assigned a raw ranking for 20 of the world's top leagues.

Our number-crunching here amounts to a simple baseline; no proofs, algorithms or slide rules necessary. Mathematicians and scientists probably want to see a formula, but it's a simple process—total the points for the teams from each league and divide by 15.

Your first question: Why 15?

Most of the top leagues have at least 20 teams.

The answer:

Some solid leagues like the UPL (Ukraine), the K-League and the SPL (Scotland) have as few as 16 teams. We wanted to give these leagues some consideration so this survey would be as robust as possible.

There's an alternate set of data that only includes leagues with 20 or more teams, but that's another conundrum for another dreary winter day.

We're well-aware our exacting readers will have some constructive ideas on this subject. Perhaps a bona fide statistician will help us refine the concept.

There are cool sites like this one for UEFA clubs and this one for CONMEBOL, and if we had an assistant we'd refine the data set that way.

But we don't.

So we'll just let this set of integers do the talking for now with a small sidebar per each mention.

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