Curse of the Community Shield?

Wed, Aug 15, 2012

Click on the image to see the visualisation: Community Shield visualisation


The football season in Europe began this weekend with countries hosting their equivalents of the Super Cup. For those confused as to what a super cup, the Wikipedia entry is a good starting point. Super cups, at least in European national leagues are curtain-raisers for the season.

The FA Community Shield is England’s Super Cup and it pits the winners of the FA Cup against the winners of the Premier League from the previous season. This year’s game saw Manchester City beat Chelsea.

Winning the Community Shield at the beginning of the season is considered a bad omen by a lot of football fans - an indicator that the team who win it would not win the subsequent league season. This supposed curse is widely discussed in fan forums and blog posts. And what would be complete on the Internet without a dinosaur thinking aloud about it?

A Community Shield win has the potential to positively influence how a football team performs in the season. People love winning and a victory against an opposition that beat them to win another trophy last season should act as a confidence booster. But does this happen? What correlation exists between winning a Super Cup and the team’s performance in the subsequent season?

I wanted to see this and decided to create this visualisation. It shows teams that won the Community Shield since 1908 and their position in the table for the ensuing season.

The visualisation is here.


If you observe the visualisation, there are a lot of seasons for which there are no winners. These seasons fall in to two sets. The first set signify the time period when the world wars meant there was no Football. The second set is more interesting in that invitation teams won the Community Shield and since these teams don’t compete in the League, they are absent from the visualisation. The invitation teams to have won the Community Shield are English Professionals XI, English Amateurs XI and English World Cup XI.

There are also some seasons when there are two winners shown on the visualisation. This is due to the fact that until early 1990s, a draw in a Community Shield match meant that the teams shared the trophy.


  • Until the 1970s, winners of the Community Shield did not do well in the league.
  • From 1908 to 1970, only 6 teams went on to win the league after winning the curtain raiser.
  • The lowest point belongs Manchester City, who won the league in the 193637 season and the Community Shield in 1937 and then went on to get relegated.
  • Since the 1970s winners of Community Shield had better performances in the league.
  • This trend was first set by the all conquering Merseyside teams of the 1970s and 1980s.
  • Between 1970 and 1990, 6 teams went on to win the league after winning Community Shield.
  • Manchester United set a similar trend in the early 2000s.
  • After 1970s, the winners of Community Shield have done well. Winners finished 6th or better in all seasons since 1970, except for 5 times.

Looks like winning the Community Shield no longer incur a curse on the winners.


The data was pulled from Wikipedia and cleaned up using Excel. The visualisation was created using d3.js.

As always, the code and data used for this project is available on Github. I would greatly appreciate feedback on this.