Bristol City lead the EFL for squad retention while Rochdale see the most change

Dale are one of several clubs to have lost players responsible for more than half of last season’s minutes over the summer.
Bristol City lead the EFL for squad retention while Rochdale see the most change

By Phil Leake, PA Sport Data Journalist

Bristol City are the only non-Premier League club to have retained their 11 most-used players ahead of the new season in England, PA analysis reveals.

The Championship side have held on to players who accumulated more than 92 per cent of league minutes in 2021-22, the highest retention rate in the English Football League (EFL), with manager Nigel Pearson able to call upon 17 of his 18 most regular picks from last season.

Wigan are next on the list for squad retention, with players responsible for 91 per cent of their minutes under contract, followed by Coventry (86 per cent).

(PA graphic)
(PA graphic)

Squad retention rates tend to fall in each tier of English football.

As it stands, clubs have retained an average of 69 per cent of minutes from last season in the Championship, compared with 65 per cent in League One and 57 per cent in League Two.

All are well below the Premier League average of 87 per cent.

The numbers used here are subject to change, with the transfer window not due to close until September 1, 2022.

All change at Rochdale

League Two side Rochdale have the most-changed squad in the EFL – only two of their most-used 11 players from last season are still at the club, with their retained list responsible for just 29 per cent of minutes.

Gillingham, relegated from League One last season, have the next-lowest retention rate (36 per cent), behind Swindon (37 per cent).

(PA graphic)
(PA graphic)

Paul Ince has overseen a major clearout at Reading, with the Royals losing seven of their first-team regulars from last season including midfielder Josh Laurent – who has joined Stoke after playing almost 4,000 minutes in the league last season – and top scorer John Swift (now at West Brom).

League One outfit Derby are in the same boat following a summer of turmoil, but their retention rate (46 per cent) is not as low as it might have been without the recent takeover.

Local businessman David Clowes bought the club on July 1, by which time manager Wayne Rooney had already left and several first-team contracts had expired.

Wayne Rooney and Liam Rosenior
Wayne Rooney resigned as Derby manager at the end of June, with assistant Liam Rosenior placed in interim charge (Richard Sellers/PA)

Thankfully for interim boss Liam Rosenior, the club have since been able to secure the signatures of experienced regulars from last season such as Curtis Davies and Craig Forsyth.

Same old story at Swindon

Swindon have maintained their growing reputation for dispensing with first-team players at the end of each season. The League Two side will go into the new campaign with just five of their first 11 from 2021-22, despite the team finishing in the play-offs.

Robins fans are used to seeing a different line-up each season, with the club having lost at least half of their playing time from the previous year in each of the last five summers.

Port Vale’s Ben Garrity and Swindon Town’s Jack Payne battle for the ball
Swindon were beaten by Port Vale in the play-offs and have gone on to lose several first-team regulars over the summer, including midfielder Jack Payne (right) who joined Charlton (David Davies/PA)

The annual upheaval has not unduly affected Swindon on the pitch. Apart from being relegated from League One in 2020-21, they have never finished lower than 13th, even managing to win the League Two title in 2019-20.

That said, two other clubs with consistently high squad churn – Oldham and Scunthorpe – were relegated to the National League last season.

Oldham became the first former Premier League club to drop into non-league while Scunthorpe saw their 72-year stay in the EFL come to an end, following four successive summers in which both clubs lost at least six of their most-used 11.

Fresh start for Burnley

Vincent Kompany will be fielding a new-look Burnley side in the Championship curtain-raiser at Huddersfield on Friday, with several long-serving first-team players having moved on in the aftermath of Premier League relegation.

Nick Pope
Goalkeeper Nick Pope is one of multiple Burnley stalwarts to have left the club this summer (Adam Davy/PA)

Nick Pope, James Tarkowski, Ben Mee and Dwight McNeil – all regulars under former manager Sean Dyche – have left Turf Moor for the top flight, while Maxwel Cornet has also been linked with a move away.

Even if Cornet’s move does not materialise, Kompany’s squad will be without players who accumulated 51 per cent of their minutes in the league last season.

This is in stark contrast with the previous four summers, in which the Clarets had retained more than 90 per cent of their squad – based on minutes played in the previous campaign.

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