IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Competition Law as a Constraint on Monopolistic Exploitation by Sports Leagues and Clubs


  • Stephen F. Ross


The sports industry is characterized by dominant leagues and clubs exercising economic power unconstrained by rivals or the threat of entry, often featuring market-division schemes. Leagues and clubs can raise price, lower output, and lower quality to fans, create an artificial scarcity of top-tier teams resulting in publicly subsidized stadiums, and impose labour-market restraints that significantly harm consumers by misallocating players, most obviously by inhibiting low-quality teams' quick improvement. Business decisions made by club-run leagues feature significant transaction costs, resulting in even greater inefficiency than would occur if leagues were controlled by a single entity. Many countries have employed settled principles of competition law, originating in the common law of restraint of trade, as a useful and meaningful constraint on the abuses of economic power in sports. Courts have prohibited agreements between clubs or leagues that distort prices or output, or render output unresponsive to consumer demand, unless the agreement is shown to be demonstrably necessary to achieve a pro-competitive goal. In this paper, I argue that consumers and sports fans will benefit from a more ambitious enforcement of these established principles of competition law. Copyright 2003, Oxford University Press.

Suggested Citation

  • Stephen F. Ross, 2003. "Competition Law as a Constraint on Monopolistic Exploitation by Sports Leagues and Clubs," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 19(4), pages 569-584, Winter.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:oxford:v:19:y:2003:i:4:p:569-584

    Download full text from publisher

    To our knowledge, this item is not available for download. To find whether it is available, there are three options:
    1. Check below whether another version of this item is available online.
    2. Check on the provider's web page whether it is in fact available.
    3. Perform a search for a similarly titled item that would be available.

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Finegold, David, 1999. "Creating Self-Sustaining, High-Skill Ecosystems," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 15(1), pages 60-81, Spring.
    2. Maskell, Peter & Malmberg, Anders, 1999. "Localised Learning and Industrial Competitiveness," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 23(2), pages 167-185, March.
    3. Francesca Froy & Lucy Pyne, 2011. "Ensuring Labour Market Success for Ethnic Minority and Immigrant Youth," OECD Local Economic and Employment Development (LEED) Working Papers 2011/9, OECD Publishing.
    4. Francesca Froy & Sylvain Giguère, 2010. "Putting in Place Jobs that Last: A Guide to Rebuilding Quality Employment at Local Level," OECD Local Economic and Employment Development (LEED) Working Papers 2010/13, OECD Publishing.
    5. Timothy J. Bartik, 2011. "Investing in Kids: Early Childhood Programs and Local Economic Development," Books from Upjohn Press, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, number iik, November.
    6. Francesca Froy & Sylvain Giguère & Michela Meghnagi, 2012. "Skills for Competitiveness: A Synthesis Report," OECD Local Economic and Employment Development (LEED) Working Papers 2012/9, OECD Publishing.
    7. Glaeser, Edward L & Hedi D. Kallal & Jose A. Scheinkman & Andrei Shleifer, 1992. "Growth in Cities," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(6), pages 1126-1152, December.
      • Edward L. Glaeser & Hedi D. Kallal & Jose A. Scheinkman & Andrei Shleifer, 1991. "Growth in Cities," NBER Working Papers 3787, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
      • Glaeser, Edward Ludwig & Kallal, Hedi D. & Scheinkman, Jose A. & Shleifer, Andrei, 1992. "Growth in Cities," Scholarly Articles 3451309, Harvard University Department of Economics.
    8. Sergio Destefanis, 2012. "Skills for Competitiveness: Country Report for Italy," OECD Local Economic and Employment Development (LEED) Working Papers 2012/4, OECD Publishing.
    9. Finegold, David & Soskice, David, 1988. "The Failure of Training in Britain: Analysis and Prescription," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 4(3), pages 21-53, Autumn.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. repec:bla:coecpo:v:36:y:2018:i:1:p:215-233 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Budzinski, Oliver & Pawlowski, Tim, 2014. "The behavioural economics of competitive balance: Implications for league policy and championship management," Ilmenau Economics Discussion Papers 89, Ilmenau University of Technology, Institute of Economics.
    3. Budzinski, Oliver & Müller-Kock, Anika, 2016. "Market power and media revenue allocation in professonal sports: The case of formula one," Ilmenau Economics Discussion Papers 102, Ilmenau University of Technology, Institute of Economics.
    4. Philippe Cyrenne, 2009. "Modelling Professional Sports Leagues: An Industrial Organization Approach," Review of Industrial Organization, Springer;The Industrial Organization Society, vol. 34(3), pages 193-215, May.
    5. Pelnar, Gregory, 2007. "Antitrust Analysis of Sports Leagues," MPRA Paper 5382, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    6. Humphreys, Brad R. & Zhou, Li, 2015. "Sports facilities, agglomeration, and public subsidies," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(C), pages 60-73.
    7. Oliver Budzinski, 2011. "The Institutional Framework for Doing Sports Business: Principles of EU Competition Policy in Sports Markets," Working Papers 108/11, University of Southern Denmark, Department of Sociology, Environmental and Business Economics.
    8. Oliver Budzinski & Stefan Szymanski, 2015. "Are Restrictions Of Competition By Sports Associations Horizontal Or Vertical In Nature?," Journal of Competition Law and Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 11(2), pages 409-429.
    9. Stewart, Bob & Nicholson, Matthew & Dickson, Geoff, 2005. "The Australian Football League's Recent Progress: A Study In Cartel Conduct And Monopoly Power," Sport Management Review, Elsevier, vol. 8(2), pages 95-117, September.
    10. Philippe Cyrenne, 2013. "Player Salaries, Player Mobility and the Invariance Principle: Evidence from the National Hockey League," Departmental Working Papers 2013-04, The University of Winnipeg, Department of Economics.

    More about this item


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:oup:oxford:v:19:y:2003:i:4:p:569-584. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Oxford University Press) or (Christopher F. Baum). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.