Looking forward, glancing back; competitive balance and the EPL

Daniel Plumley*, Girish Ramchandani, Sarthak Mondal, Rob Wilson

*Corresponding author for this work

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The formation of the English Premier League (EPL) in 1992 heralded a digital and financial revolution within the game. Broadcasting fees rose exponentially, clubs became cash rich and English clubs became attractive purchases for foreign investment. Our paper examines the change in competitive balance in the top tier of English football since the inception of the EPL, focusing on 56 seasons between 1964/65 and 2019/20. Our analysis shows that competitive balance has declined in the EPL era and that the league has begun to be dominated by a select number of clubs. From a sporting economics perspective, received theory suggests that such a decline could harm the product. If competitive balance continues to decline, the EPL may face potential future challenges from the attractiveness of the product to broadcasters and the continuing emergence of financially (and sporting) dominant super clubs leading to the potential of breakaway European super leagues, such as Project Big Picture.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)466-481
Number of pages16
JournalSoccer and Society
Issue number4-5
Publication statusPublished - 31 Mar 2022

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