Competitive balance in European football: Comparison by adapting measures: National measure of seasonal imbalance and top 3
Competitive balance is a widely used concept in team sports and often put forward and accepted as a justification of exemptions and interventions. We describe this concept and construct measures in order to compare European national highest league football. We believe that in a unified Europe an international comparison is requisite and precedes the empirical evaluation of theories and implications of policy decisions. We concentrate on two kinds of uncertainty: seasonal imbalance and dominance of teams over seasons and adapt three measures for them. We introduce the National Measure of Seasonal Imbalance (NAMSI): the standard deviation of the winning percentages divided by the standard deviation when there is complete certainty about all outcomes of the games. To include championship dominance we calculate the number of teams that entered the top 3 in a period of 3 years as well as constructing the Lorenz curves for the distribution of championship titles. We compare the highest leagues of 11 European football countries from the season 1963-1964 until 2004-2005 to determine whether there are diverging levels between countries and between measures. We add cluster analysis to show that European competitive balance differs among countries and that depending on the interpretation of the concept other groups exist. We show that the big5 are not necessarily one group and caution for evaluation of unified interventions is hence appropriate. Ranking of the countries learns that Portugal, the Netherlands and Greece are the least balanced countries independent of the chosen definition and hence measure.
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