After years of drawing maps of sports leagues, I decided I wanted to better represent how “big” each team was. By “big,” I mean successful and popular. These two usually go hand in hand. An ideal way of measuring this would be some complicated system tabulating championships, cup wins, years spent in the first division, attendance figures, and merchandise sales. But that would be a ridiculously vast undertaking. To cut to the chase, I came up with this kind of map.
I decided to simply use average attendance figures to determine the pixel size of each team’s logo. I think this system works well in visually establishing which teams are big, which are also-rans, and which are minnows.
Here, one can see the predominance of Olympique de Marseille, Paris Saint-Germain, and Olympique Lyonnais. Also, one is able to see which smaller clubs are nearby the big clubs, while, at a glance, understanding their importance (or lack thereof).
Another feature is that 2nd division clubs with solid followings are not ignored, as they so often are by the media. One can see how two clubs, SM Caen and RC Strasbourg, drew better than 30% of the 1st division. Incidentally, they both were promoted at the end of the season.
Of course there are anomalies, such as in the case of Lille LOSC. Lille are awaiting finalization of plans for a new stadium, and are playing currently in a small, inadequate stadium with a capacity of around 18,000. Nevertheless, they finished in 2nd place two seasons ago, and have played well in the Champions League for two straight seasons. So by the dictates of my system, their logo is rather small sized, and does not reflect their recent success. This will change when their ~33,000 seat stadium is completed. It is targeted for a 2010 completion, but no one is holding their breath.
On the other hand, Stade Rennais (aka Rennes) averages 25,000 per game, but has little silverware in the trophy case (last trophy: French Cup in 1971). So on the map, their logo is rather large, but their accomplishments are small. This can be explained by the fact that, as the prominent team of Brittany, they are assured of solid support, regardless of success. The ultimate example of this is northeast England’s Newcastle United, the poster boys for popular futility. Year in, year out, this club draws near or above 50,000 per game, but has not won anything meaningful since 1955.
In other words, my Attendance Maps don’t necessarily measure accomplishment, but they do measure the ability to sell tickets. And nine times out of ten, success at the turnstile means success on the pitch.