Does squad instability at Swindon Town result in relegation?

A total of 29 players have already been used by Mark Cooper in League One this season. Ron Smith asks does instability in the squad equate to a poor final league position?

As a mixture of injuries and late loan signings have taken their toll as Swindon Town’s 12 games played in League One has seen 29 different players taking to the field. There have also been only two occasions when Cooper has been able to field the same starting XI – against Port Vale and Southend United respectively.

Saturday’s defeat to Peterborough United added another three to the tally of players with at least one League appearance. The returning Ben Gladwin (on loan from QPR), Adam El-Abd (on loan from Bristol City) and 18-year old Ellis Iandolo all made their debuts.

The instability in the starting XI and need to use the full depth of the squad and additional loanees has widely been quoted as a contributing factor towards Town’s form of 8 points from ten games. However the effects of this factor over the course of the season – judging by Town’s past Football League record – is unclear as to whether there is a direct relationship between players used and eventual success.

With help from Richard Banyard of swindon-town-fc.co.uk we can quantify the impact of the total players used by Swindon Town in each Football League season and the final League position…

The Graph…

2015.10.12 Players Used

Click to enlarge

  • Paolo Di Canio used the highest number of players in our Football League history as a staggering 39 played at least once during the League Two title winning campaign in 2011/12;
  • At the other end of the scale, Danny Williams used the fewest number of players in 1968/69 as just 16 played a League match on the way to promotion and a successful campaign in the League Cup;
  • The most common tally of players used in a Football League campaign is 23, with 11 instances (1920-21, 1929-1930, 1937-38, 1948-49, 1951-52, 1952-53, 1961-62, 1972-73, 1975-76, 1989-90 & 1991-92);
  • The average number of players used for a successful promotion campaign (including 1989/90) is 25;
  • The average number of players used in a relegation campaign (including re-election) is 28.9;
  • Swindon have been promoted in four of the ten occasions that 22 players have been used;
  • The data suggests that Town will finish in 13th position following 29 players used so far in 2015/16; and
  • The graph shows there are more instances of a lower league position the greater the number of players used during a League campaign, although Di Canio in 2011/12 was the exception to that rule. However, there is no direct link between players used and poor league position, or even relegation. This analysis highlights the obvious conclusion that the frequency of squad rotation and the number of players used is one of many factors in determining league position.

The Data:

Season Number Of Players Used Competition Name Final Position
2011-2012 39 nPower Football League Two 1st of 24 (p)
1997-1998 37 Nationwide League Division One 18th of 24
1999-2000 36 Nationwide League Division One 24th of 24 (r)
2000-2001 36 Nationwide League Division Two 20th of 24
2005-2006 36 Coca-Cola Football League One 23rd of 24 (r)
2013-2014 34 Sky Bet Football League One 8th of 24
2006-2007 33 Coca-Cola Football League Two 3rd of 24 (p)
1994-1995 33 Endsleigh Insurance League Division One 21st of 24 (r)
2007-2008 32 Coca-Cola Football League One 13th of 24
2012-2013 32 nPower Football League One 6th of 24
2004-2005 32 Coca-Cola Football League One 12th of 24
2010-2011 32 Coca-Cola Football League One 24th of 24 (r)
1998-1999 32 Nationwide League Division One 17th of 24
1996-1997 32 Nationwide League Division One 19th of 24
2014-2015 32 Sky Bet Football League One 4th of 24
2008-2009 31 Coca-Cola Football League One 15th of 24
2015-2016 29 Sky Bet Football League One
1956-1957 29 Football League Division Three (South) 23rd of 24 (r)
1958-1959 29 Football League Division Three 15th of 24
2009-2010 29 Coca-Cola Football League One 5th of 24
2001-2002 29 Nationwide League Division Two 13th of 24
2002-2003 29 Nationwide League Division Two 10th of 24
1973-1974 27 Football League Division Two 22nd of 22 (r)
1954-1955 27 Football League Division Three (South) 21st of 24
2003-2004 27 Nationwide League Division Two 5th of 24
1990-1991 27 Barclays League Division Two 21st of 24
1995-1996 26 Endsleigh Insurance League Division Two 1st of 24 (p)
1993-1994 26 FA Carling Premiership 22nd of 22 (r)
1949-1950 26 Football League Division Three (South) 14th of 22
1950-1951 26 Football League Division Three (South) 17th of 24
1959-1960 26 Football League Division Three 16th of 24
1926-1927 26 Football League Division Three (South) 5th of 22
1923-1924 25 Football League Division Three (South) 6th of 22
1921-1922 25 Football League Division Three (South) 6th of 22
1957-1958 25 Football League Division Three (South) 4th of 24
1964-1965 25 Football League Division Two 21st of 22 (r)
1946-1947 25 Football League Division Three (South) 4th of 22
1947-1948 25 Football League Division Three (South) 16th of 22
1986-1987 25 Today League Division Three 3rd of 24 (p)
1987-1988 25 Barclays League Division Two 12th of 23
1984-1985 25 Canon League Division Four 8th of 24
1980-1981 24 Football League Division Three 17th of 24
1935-1936 24 Football League Division Three (South) 19th of 22
1925-1926 24 Football League Division Three (South) 6th of 22
1955-1956 24 Football League Division Three (South) 24th of 24
1938-1939 24 Football League Division Three (South) 9th of 22
1965-1966 24 Football League Division Three 7th of 24
1971-1972 24 Football League Division Two 11th of 22
1927-1928 24 Football League Division Three (South) 6th of 22
1932-1933 24 Football League Division Three (South) 22 of 22 (r)
1929-1930 23 Football League Division Three (South) 14th of 22
1920-1921 23 Football League Division Three 4th of 22
1972-1973 23 Football League Division Two 16th of 22
1961-1962 23 Football League Division Three 9th of 24
1951-1952 23 Football League Division Three (South) 16th of 24
1952-1953 23 Football League Division Three (South) 18th of 24
1937-1938 23 Football League Division Three (South) 8th of 22
1948-1949 23 Football League Division Three (South) 4th of 22
1975-1976 23 Football League Division Three 19th of 24
1989-1990 23 Barclays League Division Two 4th of 24 (p)
1991-1992 23 Barclays League Division Two 8th of 24
1992-1993 22 Barclays League Division One 5th of 24 (p)
1976-1977 22 Football League Division Three 11th of 24
1985-1986 22 Canon League Division Four 1st of 24 (p)
1953-1954 22 Football League Division Three (South) 20th of 24
1962-1963 22 Football League Division Three 2nd of 24 (p)
1963-1964 22 Football League Division Two 14th of 22
1970-1971 22 Football League Division Two 12th of 22
1966-1967 22 Football League Division Three 8th of 24
1930-1931 22 Football League Division Three (South) 12th of 22
1924-1925 22 Football League Division Three (South) 4th of 22
1928-1929 21 Football League Division Three (South) 10th of 22
1931-1932 21 Football League Division Three (South) 17th of 22
1933-1934 21 Football League Division Three (South) 8th of 22
1922-1923 21 Football League Division Three (South) 9th of 22
1967-1968 21 Football League Division Three 10th of 24
1936-1937 21 Football League Division Three (South) 13th of 22
1981-1982 21 Football League Division Three 22nd of 24 (r)
1978-1979 21 Football League Division Three 5th of 24
1979-1980 21 Football League Division Three 10th of 24
1983-1984 21 Football League Division Four 17th of 24
1988-1989 20 Barclays League Division Two 6th of 24
1960-1961 20 Football League Division Three 16th of 24
1974-1975 20 Football League Division Three 4th of 24
1934-1935 20 Football League Division Three (South) 16th of 22
1977-1978 19 Football League Division Three 10th of 24
1982-1983 19 Football League Division Four 8th of 24
1969-1970 18 Football League Division Two 5th of 22
1968-1969 16 Football League Division Three 2nd of 24 (p)

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