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Measuring Competitive Balance in Sports using Generalised Entropy with an Application to English Premier League Football


  • Vani Borooah

    () (Economics and Politics - University of Ulster)

  • John Edward Mangan

    () (Economics - University of Queensland [Brisbane])


A central issue in the economics of sport is the degree of competitive balance in sporting contests. The importance attached to competitive balance is predicated on the belief is that it is uncertainty about the outcomes of sporting contests that attracts spectators and sponsors. In a perfectly balanced competition, each team would have an equal chance of winning every match and, therefore, of winning the championship or the league. By contrast, the absence of competitive balance would mean that the results of sporting contests would become predictable and attendance at sporting contests would suffer. The general theme that underpins the issue of competitive balance is that of inequality. This paper proposes a general measure of competitive balance based on the based on the Generalised Entropy approach to measuring inequality and shows how this might be interpreted in terms of the league's welfare. The measures are applied to results from the 2006-07 season of the English Premier League.

Suggested Citation

  • Vani Borooah & John Edward Mangan, 2011. "Measuring Competitive Balance in Sports using Generalised Entropy with an Application to English Premier League Football," Post-Print hal-00666678, HAL.
  • Handle: RePEc:hal:journl:hal-00666678
    DOI: 10.1080/00036846.2010.537638
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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. Shorrocks, A F, 1980. "The Class of Additively Decomposable Inequality Measures," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 48(3), pages 613-625, April.
    3. Lief Brandes & Egon Franck, 2007. "Who Made Who – An Empirical Analysis of Competitive Balance in European Soccer Leagues," Eastern Economic Journal, Eastern Economic Association, vol. 33(3), pages 379-403, Summer.
    4. Shorrocks, A F, 1982. "Inequality Decomposition by Factor Components," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(1), pages 193-211, January.
    5. Stefan Szymanski, 2003. "The Economic Design of Sporting Contests," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 41(4), pages 1137-1187, December.
    6. Atkinson, Anthony B., 1970. "On the measurement of inequality," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 2(3), pages 244-263, September.
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    Cited by:

    1. Lee Scyoc & M. Kevin McGee, 2016. "Testing for competitive balance," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 50(3), pages 1029-1043, May.
    2. Dorian Owen, 2014. "Measurement of competitive balance and uncertainty of outcome," Chapters,in: Handbook on the Economics of Professional Football, chapter 3, pages 41-59 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    3. Geenens, Gery, 2014. "On the decisiveness of a game in a tournament," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 232(1), pages 156-168.
    4. Antonio Ávila-Cano & Francisco Triguero-Ruiz, 2018. "The distribution of soccer leagues scores that generates the minimum of competitive balance: Truncated-Cascade Distribution," Working Papers 2018-04, Universidad de Málaga, Department of Economic Theory, Málaga Economic Theory Research Center.

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