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Competitive Balance and Match Attendance in European Rugby Union Leagues


  • Vincent Hogan

    (University College Dublin)

  • Patrick Massey

    (Compecon Limited, Dublin)

  • Shane Massey

    (University College Dublin)


The paper analyses factors influencing match attendance in the three main European rugby union leagues using data for over 4,000 fixtures over 15 seasons. The effect of competitive balance on attendance at sports events has received considerable attention in the literature. We find that (short- and medium-term) competitive balance have a large and statistically significant effect. However, this effect is smaller in magnitude than the effect brought about by the other aspects of the fixture with the strength of the home team being the single most important influence on attendances.

Suggested Citation

  • Vincent Hogan & Patrick Massey & Shane Massey, 2013. "Competitive Balance and Match Attendance in European Rugby Union Leagues," The Economic and Social Review, Economic and Social Studies, vol. 44(4), pages 425-446.
  • Handle: RePEc:eso:journl:v:44:y:2013:i:4:p:425-446

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Stefan Szymanski, 2007. "The Champions League And The Coase Theorem," Scottish Journal of Political Economy, Scottish Economic Society, vol. 54(3), pages 355-373, July.
    2. Jeffery Borland, 2003. "Demand for Sport," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 19(4), pages 478-502, Winter.
    3. Owen, P. Dorian, 2010. "Limitations of the relative standard deviation of win percentages for measuring competitive balance in sports leagues," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 109(1), pages 38-41, October.
    4. Simon Rottenberg, 1956. "The Baseball Players' Labor Market," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 64, pages 242-242.
    5. Stefan Szymanski & Stefan KÈsenne, 2004. "Competitive balance and gate revenue sharing in team sports," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 52(1), pages 165-177, March.
    6. Jaume García & Plácido Rodríguez, 2002. "The Determinants of Football Match Attendance Revisited," Journal of Sports Economics, , vol. 3(1), pages 18-38, February.
    7. Seth R. Gitter & Thomas A. Rhoads, 2010. "Determinants of Minor League Baseball Attendance," Journal of Sports Economics, , vol. 11(6), pages 614-628, December.
    8. Palomino, Frederic & Sakovics, Jozsef, 2004. "Inter-league competition for talent vs. competitive balance," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 22(6), pages 783-797, June.
    9. 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.
    10. Johan Fourie & Krige Siebrits, 2008. "From Competitive Balance to Match Attractiveness in Rugby Union," Working Papers 09/2008, Stellenbosch University, Department of Economics.
    11. Rodney Fort & James Quirk, 1995. "Cross-subsidization, Incentives, and Outcomes in Professional Team Sports Leagues," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 33(3), pages 1265-1299, September.
    12. Sebastian Braun & Michael Kvasnicka, 2013. "National Sentiment and Economic Behavior," Journal of Sports Economics, , vol. 14(1), pages 45-64, February.
    13. Stefan Szymanski, 2003. "The Economic Design of Sporting Contests," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 41(4), pages 1137-1187, December.
    14. Liam J. A. Lenten, 2009. "Unobserved Components in Competitive Balance and Match Attendances in the Australian Football League, 1945-2005: Where is all the Action Happening?," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 85(269), pages 181-196, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. Vincent (Vincent Peter) Hogan & Patrick Massey & Shane Massey, 2014. "Analysing Match Attendance in the European Rugby Cup," Working Papers 201412, School of Economics, University College Dublin.
    2. Patrick Massey & Shane Massey & Vincent (Vincent Peter) Hogan, 2012. "Analysing Determinants of Match Attendance in the European Rugby Cup," Working Papers 201228, School of Economics, University College Dublin.

    More about this item


    competitive balance; sport; leisure;

    JEL classification:

    • D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
    • D21 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Firm Behavior: Theory
    • L22 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Firm Organization and Market Structure
    • L23 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Organization of Production
    • L83 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Services - - - Sports; Gambling; Restaurants; Recreation; Tourism


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