Squad churn in League 2

With the transfer window finally closed I wanted to look at how much each squad had changed since last season. While we can’t predict which of the summer’s new signings will win – and ultimately hold down – a place in the first team this season, we can quantify the hole left by the players who have departed since the previous campaign.

For each club I added up all the league minutes played by each player last season, which is usually around 49,000 (46 matches x 97-ish minutes per match including added time x 11 players usually on the pitch at any one time). I then subtracted all the minutes which were racked up by players no longer at the club (whether transferred or out on loan) and divided what was left by the total to get a percentage. The higher this number, the more of last season’s playing minutes were accumulated by players still in the squad and the smaller the gap to be filled by new arrivals and players making a step up to the first team.

This number should be more representative than just counting players as the departure of a fringe player will make less of an impact than that of an ever-present, although I’ve also added a slightly less esoteric measure of how many “first team” players departed. I counted up how many of a club’s players featured for at least 1,000 minutes last season (which feels like a reasonable cut-off) and which still remained.

The result of all this is the rather tall graphic below, which you can click to enlarge:

L2 churn 15-16

At the top, we can see that newly-promoted Bristol Rovers and Barnet have largely kept the faith with the squads that got them promoted. Rovers have shed five first team players (by my slightly arbitrary definition anyway) and over three quarters of last season’s league minutes were been accumulated by players presumably considered good enough for League 2. Barnet also lost five from a much smaller core of just 13 players and have kept two thirds of last season’s playing experience within the squad.

Towards the bottom we find the four sides relegated from League 1 who all underwent much more sweeping changes, with Yeovil retaining the services of only five of the 22 players they used for 1,000+ minutes last season. It’s interesting to see that they, Leyton Orient and Crawley each used 20 or more players for this long, implying that all three shuffled their side regularly in a bid to stop the rot and (unfortunately fail to) stave off relegation.

At the foot of the graphic, the impact of Newport‘s financial woes is clearly visible. Retaining just four first team players and a squad that had collectively experienced fewer than a quarter of the minutes the side spent on the pitch last season means that they are virtually a brand new team.


  • There’s a stark comparison to be made with the Premier League version of this graphic which I produced for PA, where losing only two first-team regulars over the summer is more usual and only four sides retained less than three quarters of last season’s playing minutes.
  • The aim is to add similar graphics for the Championship and League 1 in the coming days, time permitting.