Interview: Richard Foster, author of new book of EPL statistics


Prost International Editor-in-Chief Tom Hardy spoke to freelance sportswriter and author Richard Foster about his latest book titled Premier League Nuggets: One League, 27 Seasons, 49 Clubs, a World of Facts & Figures.

The book is Foster’s sixth publication and follows titles such ‘The A-Z of Football Hates’, ‘Football’s Flaws & Foibles’ and ‘World Cup Nuggets’.

Foster writes regularly for the Guardian as well as writing pieces for The Football League.

His latest work delves into the facts and figures of every club to have played in England’s top-flight since the Premier League’s inception in 1992.

Hardy interviewed him about his latest work:

1. What was your inspiration for the book?

Following the popularity of last year’s World Cup Nuggets, we wanted to use a similar formula, namely a mixture of statistics, idiosyncrasies and quirky facts in our approach to the Premier League.

As Martin Tyler sums it up really well in the foreword, the book is “full of the titbits of trivia that we football fans absolutely adore.”

Importantly, each of the 49 clubs that have appeared in the Premier League since its inception in 1992 are featured and I cannot think of any other books that adopt a similar perspective.

I also felt it was essential to include a view from the fans of the clubs as their voice needs to be heard because they are so often sidelined for the sake of television and revenue generation.

2. Do you have a favourite statistic from the book?

There are so many to choose from and my favourite changes quite regularly but if I am going to select just one it would be this:

The last Manchester United player to score a hat-trick was Robin van Persie, back in April 2013 against Aston Villa when they wrapped up Sir Alex Ferguson’s 13th and last Premier League title. 

It seems incredible that a United player has not scored a hat-trick in the post-Ferguson era and over the 6 1/2 years since there have been 75 Premier League hat-tricks, 16 of which have been scored by United’s city rivals Manchester City alone.

During this period over 20 clubs have registered hat-tricks including the likes of QPR, Norwich and West Bromwich Albion.

Foster’s favourite statistic may propel Manchester United strikers to end a surprising famine

3. How has writing the book changed your perspective on the Premier League?

As I am old enough to remember what football was like before the Premier League began in 1992 I am acutely aware that the Premier League is not the be-all and end-all.

Also having written a book about the history of the Football League Play-Offs, “The Agony & The Ecstasy”, I fully appreciate that there is plenty to admire and get excited about in the lower tiers of English football. 

Also as I mentioned above, I do have reservations about how broadcasters hold the whip hand and supporters often suffer as a result. Having said that, writing the book has reminded me that the Premier League has generated incredible drama and attracted some of the most talented players from across the globe, such as Ronaldo, Drogba and Aguero, over the last 28 years.

Additionally, I very much enjoyed writing about the smaller clubs such as Barnsley, Blackpool and Swindon who may have only spent one season in the Premier League but who all had an impact for one reason or another. 

4. Can you tell us about the process of obtaining the stats for the book?

It was interesting to note how statistics have developed over the years. We now have more than enough to satiate the appetite of even the most nerdy people and I include myself in that bracket.

But before the likes of Opta came along, there was not the deluge of information which we have grown accustomed to.

My main source was through Gracenote and Simon Gleave who is Head of Analysis for their sports division, whom I have worked with before on several projects.

Simon and I discussed how I wanted to do something a little different from the rest and we came up with stats like the lowest and highest attendances for each club.

Other than Gracenote and Opta, I used a huge variety of sources, including the Premier League’s own website, which is pretty comprehensive and accessible as well as Sky Sports, the Transfermarkt database and Perform’s Soccerway. It is very important when writing a book like this to use as many sources as possible to check and verify all the information.

Premier League Nuggets: One League, 27 Seasons, 49 Clubs, a World of Facts & Figures is available to buy now at the following sites:


Ockley Books:



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