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Analysing Determinants of Match Attendance in the European Rugby Cup


  • Patrick Massey
  • Shane Massey
  • Vincent (Vincent Peter) Hogan


The economic literature on professional sports leagues suggests supporters’ utility depends on uncertainty of outcome (competitive balance) and the quality of play. Unlike soccer, where the Champions League is dominated by teams from larger countries, our analysis indicates that the ERC exhibits high degrees of both dynamic and inter-league competitive balance. Using data from 1,096 matches played over 17 seasons, we analyse match attendances in the pool stages of the European Rugby Cup (ERC), a competition that involves teams from the three main European rugby leagues. The results indicate that the quality of the home team is the main determinant of match attendances, although a strong visiting team also raises attendances. Medium-term (seasonal) uncertainty, which has received less attention in the literature, appears far more important than short-run (match) uncertainty. Measures designed to make matches more attractive, e.g. bonus points for high scoring, appear to have had little effect on attendances.

Suggested Citation

  • Patrick Massey & Shane Massey & Vincent (Vincent Peter) Hogan, 2012. "Analysing Determinants of Match Attendance in the European Rugby Cup," Working Papers 201228, School of Economics, University College Dublin.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucn:wpaper:201228

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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. Nicholas King & P. Dorian Owen & Rick Audas, 2012. "Playoff Uncertainty, Match Uncertainty and Attendance at Australian National Rugby League Matches," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 88(281), pages 262-277, June.
    3. Jeffery Borland, 2003. "Demand for Sport," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 19(4), pages 478-502, Winter.
    4. Stefan Kesenne, 2007. "The Peculiar International Economics Of Professional Football In Europe," Scottish Journal of Political Economy, Scottish Economic Society, vol. 54(3), pages 388-399, July.
    5. Sloane, Peter J., 2006. "Rottenberg and the Economics of Sport after 50 Years: An Evaluation," IZA Discussion Papers 2175, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    6. Stefan Szymanski & Stefan KÈsenne, 2004. "Competitive balance and gate revenue sharing in team sports," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 52(1), pages 165-177, March.
    7. Vincent Hogan & Patrick Massey & Shane Massey, 2013. "Competitive Balance and Match Attendance in European Rugby Union Leagues," The Economic and Social Review, Economic and Social Studies, vol. 44(4), pages 425-446.
    8. Palomino, Frederic & Sakovics, Jozsef, 2004. "Inter-league competition for talent vs. competitive balance," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 22(6), pages 783-797, June.
    9. Szymanski, Stefan, 2001. "Income Inequality, Competitive Balance and the Attractiveness of Team Sports: Some Evidence and a Natural Experiment from English Soccer," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 111(469), pages 69-84, February.
    10. Johan Fourie & Krige Siebrits, 2008. "From Competitive Balance to Match Attractiveness in Rugby Union," Working Papers 09/2008, Stellenbosch University, Department of Economics.
    11. Stefan Szymanski, 2003. "The Economic Design of Sporting Contests," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 41(4), pages 1137-1187, December.
    12. Liam J. A. Lenten, 2009. "Towards a New Dynamic Measure of Competitive Balance: A Study Applied to Australia’s Two Major Professional ‘Football’ Leagues," Economic Analysis and Policy, Elsevier, vol. 39(3), pages 407-428, December.
    13. Vincent (Vincent Peter) Hogan & Patrick Massey & Shane Massey, 2011. "Late conversion : the impact of professionalism on European rugby union," Working Papers 201118, School of Economics, University College Dublin.
    14. Brad R. Humphreys, 2002. "Alternative Measures of Competitive Balance in Sports Leagues," Journal of Sports Economics, , vol. 3(2), pages 133-148, May.
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