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Income Inequality, Competitive Balance and the Attractiveness of Team Sports: Some Evidence and a Natural Experiment from English Soccer

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  • Szymanski, Stefan

Abstract

This paper examines the relationship between financial inequality, competitive balance and attendance at English professional league soccer. It shows that while financial inequality among the clubs has increased, competitive balance has remained relatively stable and match attendance appears unrelated to competitive balance. A clearer test of the relationship is suggested by comparison with FA Cup matches. Because income inequality is primarily driven by inter- rather than intra-divisional inequality, the FA Cup has been a much more unbalanced competition than the divisional championships. Attendance at FA Cup matches relative to the corresponding league matches has fallen over the last twenty years.

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  • Szymanski, Stefan, 2001. "Income Inequality, Competitive Balance and the Attractiveness of Team Sports: Some Evidence and a Natural Experiment from English Soccer," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 111(469), pages 69-84, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:ecj:econjl:v:111:y:2001:i:469:p:f69-84
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