An economic analysis of spectator demand, club performance, and revenue sharing in English Premier League football

  • Adam John Cox

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Since its creation in 1992, the Premier League has sold exclusive media rights for live football matches to broadcasters on behalf of member clubs. The collective selling method removes any price competition between the clubs, whom would otherwise compete against each other to sell rights to their matches (commonly seen in other European Leagues). A key issue with monopoly power is that the Premier League could distort the market for its product or abuse its dominant position in the market as the sole seller of the rights (contrary to Article 101 and 102 of the Treaty of the European Union). In defence, the Premier League argued that matches broadcast live on television can be considered as a substitute for watching at the stadium. A Competition Commission investigation concluded that the potential benefits of collective selling arrangements are for the redistribution of revenue to promote solidarity at all levels of football. After some amendments to the auction process, collective selling continues.

Contributing to the applied industrial economics literature, this thesis examines the key arguments for using collective selling methods in the Premier League. Results from empirical economic analysis find firstly, that there is no evidence to suggest a negative impact on match day revenue from live broadcasting and the revenues from rights sales heavily outweigh such an impact. Secondly, that sharing revenue between clubs will only enhance solidarity (competitive balance) if the amount shared is much larger than at present, however, a greater uncertainty of match outcome reduces demand for spectating at the stadium whilst increasing demand for television viewing. Finally, the impact of investment in talent is far greater for weaker teams whilst participating in the Champions League and Europa League has no impact on domestic league performance. This thesis concludes that the Premier League should offer a greater number of rights to broadcast matches and should increase the amount of revenue shared (including revenues from European Competitions) in order to increase competitive balance. This would increase the number of television viewers for live football broadcasts but would likely reduce the numbers of fans spectating at the stadium.
Date of AwardMar 2016
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Portsmouth
SupervisorJoe Cox (Supervisor), Andy Thorpe (Supervisor) & Judith Rich (Supervisor)

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