New Horizons in the Economics of Sport series
Edited by Plácido Rodríguez, Stefan Késenne and Ruud Koning
Chapter 3: The English disease: has football hooliganism been eliminated or just displaced?
Spectator violence is a threat to any professional sports competition as it deters attendance by fans and investment by broadcasters and sponsors. In the 1970s and 1980s, football hooliganism was associated with declining attendances at English Football League games. Since the 1980s, football attendances have shown trend increases in all divisions. Receding football hooliganism appears to be associated with growth of fan interest and team revenues in English football. This chapter analyses football banning orders and football-related arrests in a nine-season panel data-set, for England and Wales, to investigate the variations in football-related offending through time and across clubs. We consider whether the decline in football-related offences has occurred across all divisions and clubs, so the decline in hooliganism is a result of lower taste or demand for hooligan activity. Alternatively, we consider whether hooliganism has been displaced from the Premier League, where clubs have invested heavily in surveillance and stewarding, to the lower levels of the Football League, where clubs lack the financial resources to invest in prevention of hooliganism. Our empirical results imply that football hooliganism remains a serious problem for the lower divisions of the English Football League.
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