Welcome back the Bundesliga-and why the Tables never lie

Listening fleetingly on BBC Radio 4 this morning, we were thrilled to hear the return of terms like “going in hard”, “talking point”, “tonight’s game”. As Germany slowly pulls out of its Coronavirus epidemic, the Bundesliga is back. We don’t doubt that one day the English Premier League will be too, a sure sign of life eventually returning to normal in this country.

Larry Elliott, writing in today’s Guardian, uses the football league as a metaphor for understanding statistics. * We at LSS have always found ourselves utterly confused by the babble of competing statistics shouted by all sides in debates on Covid 19, the economy-and just about anything else. “The US has the most deaths!” “French output falls below Germany!” And on and on they shout-but you get the picture. And the first point that Elliott makes is that you shouldn’t make rash predictions about which team will be relegated when only three games have been played. The Coronavirus crisis is still in its early days, and there is a lot more data to come in.

And as it does, the internet is also filling with selected statistics, cherry picking, half truths and downright lies. Many people fear that the lines between news, fake news, and lies have been blurred forever, that we have become so degenerate that we can no longer tell truth from untruths. But humans can create spaces for objective truth, where the data is preserved with scrupulous accuracy for all. One of them is football league tables. Elliott reminds of the old football managers’ dictum- the tables never lie. It is in this light that he refers to a new paper by Oxford University researchers John Muellbauer and Janine Allen. We post the link below.(you can get a good PDF with this) To refine the data the authors study the effect of excess death rates, it cuts through the complications on reporting causes, under recording and differences in practice. It lets you allow for things like regional geography, population densities and other important factors.

Once the results are compared for England with other countries in the UK and across Europe, it seems the Government is well justified in being so cautious about re-opening things like the Premier League. It also seems that their decision to reverse their initial “herd immunity” response was the right one, given these statistics from Sweden* for which we duly thank Mr Peter Seymour of Hertfordshire (Sweden’s per capita death rate from corona virus is among the highest in the world-Apple News 15 May 2020)

We have fond memories of how the weekly football results of our youth in the nineteen- sixties and seventies were like a proud roll call of Britain’s lost industrial heritage. Bristol (aerospace) Liverpool (shipping) Manchester (cotton) Newcastle (shipbuilding and coal) -readers will cite many, many more. The Premier League will return. As economic policy changes, could manufacturing make a comeback? It makes for better jobs. It makes for more well paid jobs. It’s even easier to run up supplies of things like PPE

https://www.theguardian.com/business/2020/may/17/how-england-found-itself-at-the-foot-of-the-covid-19-league-table *

https://www.inet.ox.ac.uk/files/6-May-20-Muellbauer-Aron-Excess-mortality-in-England-vs.-Europe-and-the-COVID-pandemic

# larryelliott #excessdeaths #bundesliga

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