‘You can look, but don’t touch’: competitive balance and dominance in the UEFA Champions League

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

*Corresponding author for this work

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This paper examines the competitive balance of the Champions League between 1992/93–2019/20 focusing on both the group and knockout stages. The findings show that competitive balance has declined in the Champions League over time and that the competition has begun to be dominated by a select number of clubs. This situation has also worsened in the years following the inception of UEFA Financial Fair Play regulations in 2011. From a sporting economics perspective, the received theory suggests that such a decline in competitive balance could harm the product. If competitive balance continues to decline, the Champions League may face potential future challenges from the attractiveness of the product to broadcasters and commercial partners as well as the continuing emergence of financially dominant super clubs. This could also exacerbate the threat of breakaway European super leagues that would further damage the competition through the potential loss of elite teams within it.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages13
JournalSoccer & Society
Early online date28 Mar 2023
Publication statusEarly online - 28 Mar 2023

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