Handbook on the Economics of Professional Football
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Handbook on the Economics of Professional Football

Edited by John Goddard and Peter Sloane

In this comprehensive Handbook, John Goddard and Peter Sloane present a collection of analytical contributions by internationally regarded scholars in the field, which extensively examine the many economic challenges facing the world's most popular team sport.
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Chapter 13: The footballers’ labour market after the Bosman ruling

Bernd Frick and Rob Simmons


This chapter will chart the development of the footballers’ labour market over the last 30 years. We will contrast the features of the player labour market after the landmark Bosman ruling with the restricted labour market regime that preceded it. The chapter will focus on patterns of wages, contract length and transfer fees using descriptive and econometric evidence. We shall show that player contracts have become increasingly complex and sophisticated in the modern era with a variety of contingency clauses. The footballers’ labour market has a number of peculiarities not seen in standard occupations. Players sign multi-year agreements with clubs, normally with the help of agents. These agreements specify salary levels, bonuses and length of contract. Contract lengths vary from one to five years and are designed to retain exclusive rights to a player’s services held by the contracting club. If a player’s contract has expired then he is free to accept offers from any other club. If a player’s contract has not expired and he wishes to accept an offer from another club then his current club may insist on monetary compensation in the form of a transfer fee. The chapter proceeds as follows. Section 13.2 presents the historical development of the footballers’ labour market. Section 13.3 addresses some theoretical concerns about how the transfer market can be rationalized using economic reasoning.

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