The Comparative Economics of North American and European Sports
Edited by Carlos Pestana Barros and Muradali Ibrahímo
Chapter 2: The regulation of professional team sports
Peter J. Sloane 1. INTRODUCTION Professional sports leagues pose particular problems for competition policy because of their special nature. Nowhere has this been more evident than in the US where the National Football League alone has had to defend over sixty antitrust suits since 1966 and the National Basketball Association and National Hockey League have likewise been aﬀected. Only baseball of the four major team sports has escaped because of its broad antitrust immunity granted by the Supreme Court in 1922 (Roberts, 1991). Increasingly in Europe the clash between professional team sports and European competition law has become apparent following the Bosman case and recent alterations to the post-Bosman transfer arrangements for within-contract players. The purpose of this chapter is to identify what might be an appropriate stance for competition law in relation to professional team sports. We focus on three recent decisions relating to professional football – namely the Bosman case, the UK Monopoly and Mergers Commission’s investigation into the attempted takeover of Manchester United by BSkyB and the UK Restrictive Practices Court investigation into the collective sale of rights to television live games on television by the FA Premier League (FAPL) also involving BSkyB. Before going on to consider these it is necessary to place all of this into context by outlining the nature of professional sport leagues, an issue on which there is a considerable divergence of views among sports economists. 2. THE NATURE OF PROFESSIONAL SPORTS LEAGUES The economics of team sports are unusual because it...
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