IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Labour market regulation and professional sport: The case of the Victorian Football League’s Coulter Law, 1930-1970


  • Lionel Frost
  • Peter Schuwalow


In most professional team sports, salary caps – first used in the mid-1980s – stabilise the financial position of teams and promote balanced competitions. Teams that do not comply with labour market regulations face heavy penalties and there is a debate about whether such labour markets should operate like competitive markets in general – with wages directing players to the teams that value their contributions most. Analysis of earlier restrictions on the mobility of players and the movement of wages may raise new questions about the effects of noncompliance. The Coulter Law was a set of Victorian Football League (VFL) recruiting and payment rules that operated from 1930 to 1970. The conventional view – that most VFL clubs breached the maximum player wage rules to maximise the utility derived from winning games – is supported only by anecdotal evidence. A new data set reveals that the Coulter Law did restrict earnings in the VFL, except for a small number of elite players. Clubs allowed players to take up more lucrative jobs in other leagues and their subsequent on-field performance reflected the level of talent of replacement players.

Suggested Citation

  • Lionel Frost & Peter Schuwalow, 2010. "Labour market regulation and professional sport: The case of the Victorian Football League’s Coulter Law, 1930-1970," Monash Economics Working Papers 42-10, Monash University, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:mos:moswps:2010-42

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Ada Ferrer-i-Carbonell & Paul Frijters, 2004. "How Important is Methodology for the estimates of the determinants of Happiness?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 114(497), pages 641-659, July.
    2. van Praag, B. M. S. & Frijters, P. & Ferrer-i-Carbonell, A., 2003. "The anatomy of subjective well-being," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 51(1), pages 29-49, May.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    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:mos:moswps:2010-42. 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: (Simon Angus). 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.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with 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.