This website has a 'Follow the Pundit!' section where I keep tabs on two football experts who make systematic predictions for the English Premier League. After 260 predictions as of last weekend, the stats for Paul Merson and Mark Lawrenson make for pretty grim reading. In short, they get more wrong then right and fall for some classic psychological biases.
Is this something unique to these pundits or to the Premier league? Probably not. This year Ian Holloway, an English football manager and former player has been recruited by Sky Sports have to predict the score line of Football League Matches – this gives us a chance to look at the predictive success of an expert outside of the elite English division. Ollie however gets on just as poorly as Merse and Lawro. On my count he has predicted 303 Football League (Championship, League 1 & League 2) matches this season. Just like our two Premier League pundits he calls one in ten correct scorelines, but usually gets more results wrong than right in the average week too.
It’s critical for the sport that the expert’s predictions are imperfect, but keep the information above in mind the next time you hear a pundit predict a football result. How accurate are the experts? About as accurate as you or me!