Recently, I asked whether the League of Ireland was the most complex football league in the world. The graphic in that entry provided a preview of work I’m conducting with Dr.Robbie Butler that analyses the changing incentive structures in the League of Ireland – here’s another one. The chart below shows the average number of goals per game in the league from the 1971 to 2014.
Since the 1993 season (where the lowest average number of goals per game is observed), the average has slightly increased. This coincided with a change in the competition design; 3 points, instead of 2, were awarded for a win. You could interpret this rule change as an incentive for teams to increase attacking play and the switch to a 3 point system may have stemmed the decrease somewhat.
If readers are interested in the idea of goals being under threat, I would encourage them to check out Anderson and Sally’s excellent book The Numbers Game.