This Time Last Season…

Source: Statista

Man City are running away with it this season. Unbeaten in 18 games, with the only points dropped a draw against Everton in their second game. Looking back to last season though, things were looking quite different at the top of the Premier League. City had already been beaten three times and were sitting in third spot, 9 points behind eventual champions Chelsea.

The biggest gains at this stage have been made by Burnley, who after a surprise run of form are currently in a Europa League-worthy sixth. This time last season, they were eight places lower in 14th. Leicester, now in 8th, have made a jump of the same size having languished in 16th spot around Christmas 2016.

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The Steady Rise of Podcasting

Source: Statista

Over the past decade, podcasts have seen a steady rise in popularity. According to Edison Research, 6 in 10 Americans are now familiar with the term “podcasting” and 4 in 10 have listened to a podcast themselves.

The podcast’s rise in popularity clearly coincides with a general increase in digital media consumption, specifically on mobile devices, but it was also helped by the fact that the selection of quality podcasts is virtually limitless these days.

Covering anything from politics and sports to pop culture and investigative journalism, both major media organizations and independent producers are embracing podcasts as a way to reach an engaged audience with long-form content.

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The Billionaire Club Bosses

Source: Statista

Billionaires are buying sports clubs all over the world. According to a report by UBS and PwC, more than 140 top sports clubs are owned by just 109 billionaires. Sixty of those super-rich club owners are from the U.S., 29 from Asia and 20 from Europe. The average age of the wealthy sports baron is 68 years, with an average wealth of $5 billion under their wings.

In the U.S., more than two thirds of the NBA and NFL teams, and half of the MLB teams, are owned by billionaires. In the UK, almost half (9 out of 20) Premier League soccer clubs are governed by billionaires, the report states. While Chinese tycoons were erstwhile investing a lot in European soccer, they have now turned to their own market, investing heavily in China itself.

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England’s Most Valuable U21 Footballers

Source: Statista

“You can’t win anything with kids”. Those now immortal words from pundit Alan Hansen at the start of Manchester United’s 1995/96 season were famously followed up by a Premier League/FA Cup double by the side that had an average age of 26 years and 137 days. If anyone aside from Hansen ever doubted the value of young players, this team proved their worth. Compared to then, the value of a player not just on the pitch but also on the transfer market, has increased almost to the point of ridiculousness.

According to new analysis by CIES Football Observatory, the most valuable English U21 player is currently Tottenham’s Dele Alli. With a potential price tag of £158 million, the midfielder is way ahead of his peers. In fact, when compared to all players in the big five European leagues, Alli is second only to PSG’s Kylian Mbappe who has an estimated value of £161 million.

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Brazilians Boast the World Cup’s Most Valuable Team

Source: Statista

Brazil is sending the most valuable team to the FIFA world cup 2018 in Russia. German transfer market portal Transfermarkt estimates that the 25 players on the team have a combined market worth of 673 million euros. Germany and France share the second spot with 636.5 million euros each.

One big difference between the three teams is that of most of the Brazilian players don’t play in their home league (88 percent), while only 41.7 percent of the German national players are employed abroad and 58.3 percent of the French players score their income in foreign leagues.

England is in the top ten most valuable teams too. Its cadre is worth some 279 million euros. However, it’s one of the world cup teams with most players playing at home. Only 4.3 percent play on foreign pits.

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Soccer’s Embarrassing Gender Wage Gap

Source: Statista

The U.S. national women’s soccer team has enjoyed considerable success in recent years. Despite bringing in more money than the men’s team, however, the women’s national team is still paid nearly four times less. That prompted Olympic gold medalist Hope Solo to take legal action against the U.S. Soccer Federation over pay discrimination in April 2016. Together with her teammates, she filed that lawsuit in April of last year and it is still ongoing. It is going to be difficult for Solo to close the wage gap in a sport where gender inequality is absolutely rampant. Its sheer scale can be seen from a new report from Sporting Intelligence which found that male Brazilian forward Neymar earns more than the top seven women’s soccer leagues combined.

Neymar made a lucrative switch from Barcelona to PSG this year and he will earn $43.8 million for the 2017-18 season from his playing contract alone. That doesn’t include the millions more he is likely to earn from commercial deals and endorsements. The figure is roughly the same as the combined earnings of the 1,693 female players plying their trade in the top soccer leagues in France, Germany, England, the U.S., Sweden, Australia and Mexico. In the U.S. National Women’ s Soccer League, collective earnings only add up to $5.4 million every year by comparison.

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America’s Most Polarizing Brands

Source: Statista

Due to some players kneeling during the national anthem to protest police brutality against black people in the United States and the subsequent hostile response from the president, the NFL has been dominating headlines recently. The issue is highly politicized, with opinions largely split down party lines. In fact, as a survey by Morning Consult shows, it has become one of the most polarizing brands in the country.

When looking at favorability, the NFL enjoys a net score of 38 percent among Clinton voters. When subtracting the share of Trump voters giving a negative rating from those giving a favorable one, the result is a score of -24 percent. For Republican voters, this makes it one of the least popular brands, with only CNN and the New York Times receiving a lower score in this list -28 percent and -25 percent, respectively.

Unsurprisingly, the most polarizing brand is Trump Hotels. With a 99 percentage point difference, Trump voters recorded a net favorability of 48 percent, while the hotels count as one of the least-liked brands among Democrats with a net score of -52 percent.

Most Polarizing Brands Infographic

Iceland Is The Smallest Nation To Reach The World Cup

Source: Statista

People in Iceland are looking forward to another summer packed with thrilling action on the soccer field after their national team qualified for the 2018 World Cup last night. Iceland beat Kosovo 2-0, securing the precious ticket to the tournament in Russia, continuing one of soccer’s greatest fairytales. Iceland’s emergence as a soccer power has been surprising given that the country only has a population of 340,000 people. Kosovo has a population nearly six times larger and it’s roughly equivalent to the number of inhabitants in Santa Ana, California. Despite its serious shortage in manpower, however, Iceland has managed to punch well above its weight on the soccer pitch in recent years.

The tiny nation’s remarkable performances can be attributed to a plan formulated almost two decades ago. That saw heavy investment in indoor sports complexes and heated pitches as well as a sharp focus on education and coaching in particular. That resulted in the country producing some 600 qualified coaches, 400 of whom have a UEFA B license, equating to one coach per 825 inhabitants. England has one coach per 11,000 inhabitants.

According to Yahoo! Sports, Paraguay competed in the 1930 World Cup with a population of 860,000 people. However, that tournament did not actually involve qualification so it is better to compare Iceland’s achievement with that of Trinidad and Tobago. The Caribbean island nation qualified for the 2006 World Cup in Germany with a population of 1.3 million people. As impressive as that achievement was, Iceland have made it to Russia with less than a quarter of Trinidad and Tobago’s population.

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