Here’s something fans of the League of Ireland should find interesting.
Nearly 10 years ago a classmate of mine during my time as a masters student at University College Cork decided to investigate the impact of rule changes on the number of goals per teams and the number of goals per game in the League of Ireland since the 1921-1922 season. This work is an extension of his original inquiry.
Below are two interesting graphs. The first charts the average number of goals per team during every completed League of Ireland season to date (1921-2013). Generally speaking the number of goals per team has tended to bob around the 40 goal mark over the course of nearly 100 years. There are infrequent instances of the average dropping below 30 goals or rising above 50. Interestingly, the lowest reported average since 1948 is recorded during the 1985-1986 season. This was the first season a second division was introduced to the league, resulting in both promotion and relegation. The rule change led to a sharp drop in the number of goals per team in the top division (an average of just 28.17 per team during that season) and appears to have reduced the amount of attacking play. In fact, the 1985-1986 season is the only campaign from 1948-1949 to the present that the average number of goals per team in the league fell below 30.
The second graph is slightly more worrying. This illustrates the average number of goals per season in the League of Ireland since 1921. The trend is very much downward. In the early days of the league, averages of more than 6 goals per game are reported. Since the 1981-1982 season, this average has not risen above 3 goals per game. It’s worth pointing out that the 1981-1982 season was the same year the League of Ireland trialed a system of 3 points for a win (as opposed to the normal 2 points). This was abandoned at the start of the 1982-1983. The goal per season average continues to decline until the end of the 1992-1993 season. However, since the 1993-1994 campaign the average has levelled off and is in fact experiencing a slightly upward trend.
Maybe it's because 3 points for a win was reinstated in the 1993-1994 season and has remained ever since.