An Economic Perspective on Football Wisdom

What happens when Simon Kuper, a columnist at Financial Times, and Stefan Szymanski, an economist who specialises in sport get together and write a book? According a book review by the Economist, “they combine their skills to entertaining and mostly convincing effect” while exposing many common myths surrounding modern football.

It is often claimed that football supporters are die-hard fans. From the analysis of the authors it appears that only about half of English fans are likely to support the same team, explained by the fact that people are likely to move to other towns.

Another myth they tackle is that clubs cannot buy success. Here they report that almost 90% of the variation in position (in the league table) is explained by wage bills, and so they conclude that it is possible to buy success, as long as money is spent on wages rather than transfers.

Although there appear many more interesting results in this book (have to admit I haven’t read it, yet), it is clear that economic imperialism is going strong and entering new grounds. In the least, this book offers a fresh perspective on the always debated and never concluded sports wisdom.



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