The European dilemma: evaluating the implications of Europa League participation on Premier League clubs

Adam Cox, Sarah Gilmore, Alan Graham

    Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


    For the three English Premier League (EPL) clubs that qualify for the Europa League by virtue of their end of season league position, participation in this competition (and its former incarnation, the UEFA Cup) generates a series of tensions and responses from stakeholders. The financial and other benefits of inclusion in this league outlined in a succinct analysis by football finance experts Deloitte (2012) are positively articulated. Whilst several UK broadsheet commentators concur with their view and make additional points as to the benefits of playing European football (e.g. Moore, 2012; Taylor, 2011; Turner, 2013), other football stakeholders point to the unavoidable problems and tensions caused by the Europa League. These have existed for some time and generally concern the strains on playing squads that have limited strength in depth compared to some of their Premier and Europa League competitors making them more vulnerable to potential player injuries (source). The balancing of EPL and Europa League commitments can be challenging as managers are frequently tasked with maintaining if not exceeding EPL performance. However, managers and players together with supporters often cherish the symbolic achievement bestowed by European qualification and engagement with such competitions is often a key means of attracting highly prized managerial and playing talent (source). However, team success can lead to manager and player departures as seen over the past decade where nine out of the ten clubs who won the trophy lost their manager immediately after their victory. For the clubs’ administration, whilst the Europa Cup can be a valued source of income during hard economic times (Deloitte, 2012), the amounts generated can be variable and it is uncertain as to its real value to clubs given the additional expenditure. In addition it is not clear what impact the league has on attendance for EPL games, marketing and corporate sponsorship. As this précis outlines, there is a lack of analysis based on reliable empirical data as to the impact of participation within this competition on these clubs. This paper attempts to fill this gap with a more rigorous cost – benefit analysis of the short term impact on a club’s finances. The paper takes a detailed view of a small number of EPL clubs that have entered the EL competition over a number of years. Concluding that entry into the EL, in light of new financial legislation, may not be a viable proposition for all those striving to achieve it.
    Original languageEnglish
    Publication statusPublished - 2013
    Event2nd Annual MMU Football and Community Conference - Manchester Metropolitan University
    Duration: 13 Jun 201314 Jun 2013


    Conference2nd Annual MMU Football and Community Conference
    CityManchester Metropolitan University


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