A Die-Hard Aristocracy: Competitive Balance in Italian Soccer, 1929-2009

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Abstract

We present two measures of competitive balance in professional soccer, one based on the historical rankings of the club and one based on the points in the season. We illustrate their characteristics and calculate them for the Italian first division (Serie A) since 1929 until 2009. Using the cumulated rankings gained by the 60 teams which have taken part to Serie A we show that Italian soccer is characterized by a self-reinforcing mechanism of dominance that makes up a very strong aristocracy composed of at most 10 teams. We also show that increasing the number of promoted clubs has an innovative impact. Our results imply that each season is fiercely fought, and it might be even more so with a smaller number of clubs, given an appropriate turnover of promoted clubs. However, this policy would imply a dilemma between the desire to foster competitive balance in the season versus reducing the number of matches –a source of revenue. We comment upon one feature of the new sharing rule on television revenues, while awaiting for more extensive empirical research. Our results cast a doubt on the weight given to historical competitive balance in the sharing rule effective from season 2010-11. The relevance given to the club’s history does not contrast the aristocracy; hence, giving seasonal competitive balance more space inside the sharing rule could hamper the dominance of bigger clubs.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)13-39
Number of pages27
JournalRIVISTA DI DIRITTO ED ECONOMIA DELLO SPORT
Volume6
Publication statusPublished - 2010

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