Participation and Professional Team Sports
New Horizons in the Economics of Sport series
Edited by Wladimir Andreff
Chapter 8: Is European Football’s Future to Become a Boring Game?
Wladimir Andreff and Gaël Raballand INTRODUCTION In recent years, the proportion of matches ending in a 0–0 draw or a 1–0 win has increased in the five major European football leagues. This increase is most pronounced in the more balanced French league. No- or low-scoring games are of concern if we assume that fans prefer watching matches when more goals are scored. Low goal scoring may lead to lower attendances. If the probability of low goal scoring were to grow in future, might it transform European football leagues into boring sporting events? Might it contribute to a drop in attendances? The next logical, follow-on question is to ask what the main factors or drivers are which contribute to no- or low-scoring games. One explanation would simply be the increased adoption of more defensive playing tactics by teams, a factor which might be exacerbated when a game’s outcome is of greater significance, that is, a match whose outcome may determine a team’s promotion or relegation, given the strong impact of promotion and relegation on future club revenues. Low scoring and defensive tactics may also be triggered by the respective number of points allocated for a win, draw or loss, or by some other football accounting rule to determine the final league standing (goal difference, best defence or best attack criterion).1 Point allocation may act as a strong incentive structure for a club’s strategy. On the other hand, some major drivers of low goal scoring may be viewed...
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