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A die-hard aristocracy: competitive balance in Italian soccer, 1929-2009

Paolo Di Betta and Carlo Amenta ()

Rivista di Diritto ed Economia dello Sport, 2010, vol. 6, issue 2, 13-40

Abstract: We will present two measures of the competitive balance in professional Italian soccer, one based on the a club's historical rankings and one based on points scored per season. We will calculate and illustrate their characteristics for the Italian first division (the Serie A) between 1929 and 2009. Using the cumulated rankings of the 60 clubs which have taken part in the Serie A we show that Italian soccer is strongly characterized by a self-reinforcing mechanism of dominance that has created an aristocracy of at most ten strong clubs. We also show that increasing the number of promoted clubs could have an innovative impact. Our results imply that each season is fiercely fought, and this level of competition could be further increased with a smaller number of clubs, given an appropriate turnover of promoted clubs. However, a policy of this kind would introduce a dilemma between the desire to foster a season's competitive balance and the reduction in the number of matches –a clear source of revenue. We'll look at one feature of the new sharing rule on television revenue still waiting more extensive empirical research. Our results cast some doubt on the weight given to historical competitive balance in the introduction of the sharing rule effective as of season 2010-11. The relevance given to a club’s history does not contrast with the extant aristocracy and so giving seasonal competitive balance more space within the sharing rule may hamper the bigger clubs' dominance. 1. Motivation and research question - 2. Literature review - 3. The database - 4. Two Herfindahl indexes to measure competitive balance - 5. A self-reinforcing mechanism? - 6. The innovative push from newly-promoted clubs - 7. Conclusions

Keywords: competitive balance; professional soccer; Herfindahl index; Pareto regression (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: C40 D40 L83 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2010
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