Reporter 404, 16 June 1997

Football provides rich field for research

Football is big business these days. Gate receipts have soared, as have players' pay cheques. There are plays, novels and films about football and now it is the topic of academic research. Dr Bill Gerrard of Leeds University Business School created a media flurry when he gave the first ever paper on football to the Royal Economics Society and revealed that, according to his economic model, transfer fees of over £20M can be expected for top players. A group is now to be established at LUBS to bring together researchers in the University with an interest in football.

Sport will be a major industry in the next century as people live longer and have more leisure time, but, Dr Gerrard argues, there is surprisingly little research into its economics in the UK. His next area of research will explore how football clubs have changed their behaviour since flotation on the stock market. There are now 18 clubs listed on the stock exchange and Manchester United is one of the UK's larger companies, worth more than £400m.

He will also be looking at the financial performance of clubs in the lower divisions and whether or not they can meet the rising salaries players demand. The Research in the Economics of Football group will offer undergraduate modules and liaise with other researchers in the fields of sport and leisure.

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