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Insolvency in English professional football: Irrational Exuberance or Negative Shocks?


  • Stefan Szymanski

    () (University of Michigan)


Insolvency is an endemic problem in the world of European football. This paper uses a unique database of financial accounts for English football clubs between 1974 and 2010 to examine the causes of insolvency. Two alternative hypotheses are considered- “irrational exuberance”, meaning that owners attempt to achieve a significant improvement in league position which is not affordable, leading to financial crisis. This view seems widely espoused and seems to lie behind initiatives such as UEFA’s Financial Fair Play. An alternative is that club finances are subject to negative shocks – either to productivity or to demand- and that a series of such shocks can lead to insolvency. The empirical model provides evidence in support of this alternative hypothesis.

Suggested Citation

  • Stefan Szymanski, 2012. "Insolvency in English professional football: Irrational Exuberance or Negative Shocks?," Working Papers 1202, International Association of Sports Economists;North American Association of Sports Economists.
  • Handle: RePEc:spe:wpaper:1202

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Benno Torgler & Sascha Schmidt, 2007. "What shapes player performance in soccer? Empirical findings from a panel analysis," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 39(18), pages 2355-2369.
    2. 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.
    3. Babatunde Buraimo & David Forrest & Robert Simmons, 2007. "Freedom of Entry, Market Size, and Competitive Outcome: Evidence from English Soccer," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 74(1), pages 204-213, July.
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    Cited by:

    1. R. Todd Jewell & Rob Simmons & Stefan Szymanski, 2014. "Bad for Business? The Effects of Hooliganism on English Professional Football Clubs," Journal of Sports Economics, , vol. 15(5), pages 429-450, October.
    2. Stephen Morrow, 2014. "Football finances," Chapters,in: Handbook on the Economics of Professional Football, chapter 6, pages 80-99 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    3. Thomas Peeters & Stefan Szymanski, 2014. "Financial fair play in European football," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 29(78), pages 343-390, April.

    More about this item


    Insolvency; football;

    JEL classification:

    • L83 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Services - - - Sports; Gambling; Restaurants; Recreation; Tourism
    • G33 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Bankruptcy; Liquidation
    • G38 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Government Policy and Regulation

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