From Covid deaths to Usain Bolt: statistics are never black and white

Who is the greatest 100 metre male runner of all time? The answer seems obvious, even if you lack sporting common knowledge, it is only a quick Google search away.  Usain Bolt’s time of 9.58 seconds is unchallenged. Both Tyson Gaye and Yohan Blake are quite away behind with records of 9.69. This year’s Olympic […]

Economic theory can offer a lesson to struggling football clubs

In Memory of Bury FC

The expulsion of Bury FC from the English Football League last week continues to generate a huge amount of sound and fury.   Regardless of the apparently dodgy nature of some of Bury’s transactions, the simple fact is that the club overspent massively in order to gain promotion from League Two last season. The surge […]

You can’t take the economics out of football

Baku Olympic Stadium

The appearance of Liverpool and Spurs in the Champions League final and Arsenal and Chelsea in the Europa Cup one has generated massive interest. But the official ticket prices for the games are surprisingly reasonable. Liverpool and Spurs have been offered 16,613 tickets each. Five per cent of these are expensive, at £513 each. A […]

The economic answer behind superstar salaries

Twickenham Stadium

Rugby Union’s Premiership season is underway again. This is yet another professional sport which operates on the principles of socialism: the money all ends up in the pockets of what we might call the “workers”. In a sport which was allegedly only played by amateurs until the mid-1990s, earnings have boomed. The average salary in […]

From supply and demand to game theory, football is full of economics lessons

Premier League Football

The football transfer window closes tomorrow, and the opening days of August have seen the usual flurry of activity at all levels. The window in the rest of Europe stays open until the end of the month. Do we detect here the hands of Monsieur Barnier, in another dastardly European Commission plot to do us […]

Never mind who wins, the World Cup is a treasure trove for curious economists

World Cup 2018

Our boys make progress – and I don’t mean on Brexit. On a visit to Glasgow last Thursday, a popular Scottish newspaper had a mock-up photo of Harry Kane lifting the cup. In massive type, the headline shrieked “This Would Be the End of the World”. Yes, it would rather put the Highland Clearances into […]

Anyone for England? The World Cup and business stardom are both games of luck

FIFA World Cup 2006

The 2018 World Cup in Russia kicks off tomorrow. This time, at least, there is little feeling that our boys will emerge victorious. And yet. There is a great deal more randomness in the outcome of soccer games than is generally appreciated. A striking feature of games in the World Cup is that they are […]

Money talks in football, but all incumbents are displaced eventually

Neymar

The Premier League season opens on Friday against a background of stratospheric transfer deals, with Paris Saint Germain capturing the Barcelona striker Neymar for a world record €222m. With the exception of Cristiano Ronaldo’s transfer from Manchester United to Real Madrid in 2009, all the top 10 most expensive player deals ever have taken place […]