Q&A : Stretching the point

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The Independent Online
Q. Since the introduction of three points for a win in English football, has there been any significant increase in the number of games won or of goals scored, and what championships, promotions or relegations would have been different under the old system?

A. There are several occasions when three points for a win have made a difference. As far as it has affected the top division, the following changes would have happened. 1981-82: Sheffield Wednesday would have been promoted rather than Norwich City. 1984-85: Coventry would have been relegated rather than Norwich; Portsmouth promoted rather than Manchester City. 1987-88: Chelsea, who were relegated via the play-offs, would have survived at Charlton Athletic's (or Middlesbrough's) expense. 1992-93: Oldham relegated (Crystal Palace). 1993-94: Southampton relegated (Sheffield United). 1994- 95: Manchester United champions (Blackburn).

It is also worth noting that, had goal average (rather than goal difference) applied in 1988-89, Arsenal would have travelled to Anfield effectively needing a five-goal margin to win the title.

With regard to the effect on goal scoring, this is marginal. In the five seasons prior to the change the First Division average was 2.610 goals per game. In the five seasons up to 1994-95 the Premiership/First Division average was 2.619, ie less than five goals per season. - Mitchell Sandler, London N17

Q. The Charlton brothers have played football together for England and the Neville brothers were recently in the England team squad. Has there been any incidence of sisters competing together at the highest level?

A. My grandmother and her identical twin sister played county cricket for Kent and East of England between 1934 and 1951. They were picked for the England team in 1939 to tour Australia, but the War commenced and plans were abolished. They are both alive today. My great grandfather also played for Kent and we boast a great picture of him, his son and W G Grace. - Nick J Lambrou, Northampton

ANSWERS PLEASE

Q. We often hear about the time Arsenal have remained in the top flight, but which team have stayed in one of the other three divisions for the greatest duration? Which side has gone longest without promotion? - Conrad Amis, Swansea

Q. In athletics, some synthetic tracks are regarded as faster or slower than others. In swimming, are some pools faster? Are some venues for championships regarded more favourably than others? Does hard or soft water make a difference, or the amount of chlorine used? Pools cannot all be a standard trapezoidal shape. So would the configuration of swimming baths make a difference to competition times? - Colin Kirkham, Coventry

Q. In the early Sixties, BBC Grandstand sometimes showed a version of snooker - played by the great Joe Davis and others, with Ted Lowe commentating - called "super snooker", which had an orange ball (eight points) and a purple (nine points). Has this game ever been played since? - Stephen O'Loughlin, Huddersfield

Q. Which new sports being are introduced at this year's Olympics? - Richard Shipley, Otley

If you know the answers to any of these questions or have a question of your own, Write to: Q & A, Sports Desk, Independent on Sunday, 1 Canada Square, London E14 5DL.

Fax: 0171-293 2894.

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