New Horizons in the Economics of Sport series
Edited by Plácido Rodríguez, Stefan Késenne and Ruud Koning
Live attendance at football games in the Netherlands is higher than attendance at any other sport. In this chapter we study the determinants of live attendance at football games. In particular, we focus on the effect of a variable that measures match significance. A match between two teams can be very contentious, independent of the relevance of the match for the top of the final ranking. However, a particular match may be highly significant for one of the teams if that team could, say, win the title if it were to win that particular game. Both variables are related to competitive balance, a feature of sports that is assumed to yield utility to fans. In fact, the relevance of maintaining some level of balance in competition has been underlined recently in a report by the European Commission, see KEA Economics Affairs and Centre de Droit et Economie du Sport (2013). In our empirical analysis, we take the maximum size of live attendance (due to the maximum capacity of the stadium) into account, and estimate marginal effects of the variables in a tobit model. To assess whether determinants of live attendance vary by level, we estimate the same specification both for the highest level of football in the Netherlands (Eredivisie) and for the second-tier level (Jupiler League).
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