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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.

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Paper provided by School of Economics, University College Dublin in its series Working Papers with number 201228.

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Date of creation: Oct 2012
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Handle: RePEc:ucn:wpaper:201228
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  1. Nicholas King & P Dorian Owen & Rick Audas, 2010. "Playoff Uncertainty, Match Uncertainty and Attendance at Australian National Rugby League Matches," NCER Working Paper Series 61, National Centre for Econometric Research.
  2. Frederic Palomino & Jozsef Sakovics, 2003. "Inter-league competition for talent vs. competitive balance," ESE Discussion Papers 96, Edinburgh School of Economics, University of Edinburgh.
  3. 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.
  4. Peter J. Sloane, 2006. "Rottenberg and the Economics of Sport after 50 years: An Evaluation," IASE Conference Papers 0642, International Association of Sports Economists.
  5. 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 F69-84, February.
  6. Stefan Szymanski, 2006. "The Champions League and the Coase Theorem," Working Papers 0617, International Association of Sports Economists;North American Association of Sports Economists.
  7. Brad R. Humphreys, 2002. "Alternative Measures of Competitive Balance in Sports Leagues," Journal of Sports Economics, , vol. 3(2), pages 133-148, May.
  8. Patrick Massey & Shane Massey & Vincent (Vincent Peter) Hogan, 2012. "Competitive Balance and Match Attendance in European Rugby Union Leagues," Working Papers 201226, School of Economics, University College Dublin.
  9. 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, 03.
  10. Stefan Szymanski, 2003. "The Economic Design of Sporting Contests," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 41(4), pages 1137-1187, December.
  11. Johan Fourie & Krige Siebrits, 2008. "From Competitive Balance to Match Attractiveness in Rugby Union," Working Papers 09/2008, Stellenbosch University, Department of Economics.
  12. Jeffery Borland, 2003. "Demand for Sport," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 19(4), pages 478-502, Winter.
  13. 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, 07.
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