Edited by John Goddard and Peter Sloane
Chapter 4: Spectator demand and attendances in English league football
The literature on the economics of professional team sports has developed considerably over the past decades. Its development and coverage has extended beyond the concept of uncertainty of outcome which were first presented as part of a seminal contribution by Neale (1964). Although the literature has developed to cover wider sporting interests, uncertainty of outcome is still very much relevant today, as it was then when it was first reported. At the core of uncertainty of outcome is that sporting contests should be organised so that teams or individuals are evenly matched and this in turn will increase consumer interest (stadium attendance) and along with it, revenues (and profits depending on other factors). Neale (1964) termed this the ‘Louis Schmelling Paradox’, noting that the earnings of world champion Joe Louis would be higher if his next-best contender was evenly matched rather than relatively weak. Most sports contests, whether professional team sports organised as leagues or individual sports which are normally organised as knockout tournaments, embrace the concept of uncertainty of outcome. In professional sports leagues, organisers make efforts to ensure that the contests between teams are even, though institutional arrangements may mean that optimum levels may not be achieved.
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