The League System, Competitive Balance, and the Future of European Football

Tsjalle van der Burg*, Hanno Beck, Aloys Prinz

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
119 Downloads (Pure)


Research question: Which combination of league system and competitive balance in European men’s club football maximises welfare, and which policies can improve the combination?
Research methods: Qualitative analysis is applied that uses the sport economics literature and other sources. An encompassing number of factors, insights and empirical results are considered to analyse systematically the options to reform European professional football.
Results and findings: In the present league system, competitive balance is decreasing which reduces welfare. In a system with a Super League, competitive balance can be higher. The last system also has other advantages, as well as disadvantages, in relation to issues such as the quality of play, the role of star players, chances to lift important trophies, regional and national sentiments and rivalries, and sporting meritocracy. After discussing these issues, it is concluded that a Super League system may improve future welfare. If, however, the present system regains a higher level of competitive balance, it may well generate a higher welfare level than a Super League. Two measures for improving competitive balance are a more equal distribution of broadcasting revenues and a progressive luxury tax.
Practical implications: At present, the measures above may seem to be infeasible. However, this can change if the competition authorities accept our interpretation of EU competition law and act accordingly. More generally, the government should become better aware of its potential to improve welfare in the football sector.
Research contribution: The paper provides a systematic analysis of the welfare effects of different options to reform Europe’s professional men football. Because of its broad approach it sheds new light on pressing issues and it provides insights for policymaking.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-24
Number of pages24
JournalManaging Sport and Leisure
Early online date31 Oct 2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print/First online - 31 Oct 2022


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