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Cruel and Unusual Punishment? An Analysis of Point Deduction in European Association Football Leagues


  • Cunniffe Nik J

    (University of Cambridge)

  • Cook Alex R

    (National University of Singapore)


We present a methodology to assess the effect of point deductions, which are widely applied as punishments to teams in European association football (soccer) leagues. In particular we outline a method to estimate the increased probability of relegation and the decreased probability of promotion that are associated with a certain penalty for a given team in a particular league. We illustrate our method in the context of two case studies involving points deductions: the relegation of Luton Town from English League Two in 2008--9, and the promotion of Juventus from Italian Serie B in 2006--7. By adapting the parameterisation of our model, we extend our analysis to the more challenging objective of designing standardised point deductions, and discuss how prior knowledge on performance influences the likely severity of any given punishment. We also investigate the relationship between the magnitude of any point deduction and the financial implications for the penalised team. Our techniques allow unambiguous quantification of the consequences of a form of punishment that has been widely, but not necessarily scientifically, implemented by a number of governing bodies in European association football.

Suggested Citation

  • Cunniffe Nik J & Cook Alex R, 2009. "Cruel and Unusual Punishment? An Analysis of Point Deduction in European Association Football Leagues," Journal of Quantitative Analysis in Sports, De Gruyter, vol. 5(4), pages 1-20, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:bpj:jqsprt:v:5:y:2009:i:4:n:5

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Stephen Dobson & John Goddard, 2004. "Revenue Divergence And Competitive Balance In A Divisional Sports League," Scottish Journal of Political Economy, Scottish Economic Society, vol. 51(3), pages 359-376, August.
    2. Ian McHale & Phil Scarf, 2007. "Modelling soccer matches using bivariate discrete distributions with general dependence structure," Statistica Neerlandica, Netherlands Society for Statistics and Operations Research, vol. 61(4), pages 432-445.
    3. Roger G. Noll, 2002. "The Economics of Promotion and Relegation in Sports Leagues," Journal of Sports Economics, , vol. 3(2), pages 169-203, May.
    4. Stefan Szymanski & Ron Smith, 1997. "The English Football Industry: profit, performance and industrial structure," International Review of Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 11(1), pages 135-153.
    5. Everson Phil & Goldsmith-Pinkham Paul S, 2008. "Composite Poisson Models for Goal Scoring," Journal of Quantitative Analysis in Sports, De Gruyter, vol. 4(2), pages 1-17, April.
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