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The English Football Industry: profit, performance and industrial structure


  • Stefan Szymanski
  • Ron Smith


The English (Association) Football League is a long established industrial cartel selling a highly popular product with only imperfect substitutes. Despite that, the majority of its member clubs lose money and the industry has faced successive financial crises over the last decade. This paper develops an empirical model of the financial performance of English League clubs using a high quality dataset of 48 clubs over the period 1974-89. The underlying model explains how rents are competed away through the maximising behaviour of club owners subject to production constraints. This model is parameterised by a system of equations which describe the behaviour of a maximising owner subject to demand and production constraints. The model is then used to examine the coordination failure which lies at the heart of the English Football League's decline and to assess the prospects for the Premier League.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:irapec:v:11:y:1997:i:1:p:135-153
    DOI: 10.1080/02692179700000008

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