The Economics of Competitive Sports

The Economics of Competitive Sports

New Horizons in the Economics of Sport series

Edited by Plácido Rodríguez, Stefan Késenne and Ruud Koning

The essence of any sports contest is competition. The very unpredictability of a sporting outcome distinguishes it from, say, an opera performance. This volume presents a state of the art overview of the economics of competitive sport along two main themes. In the first part, the discussion centers on the organization of sports and competition. The second part deals with the competitive balance, rewards and outcomes of the actual contests.

Chapter 3: The English disease: has football hooliganism been eliminated or just displaced?

Colin Green and Robert Simmons

Subjects: economics and finance, sports


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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