Between the Lines

"Of all unimportant subjects, football is the most important" – Pope John Paul II

Review: The Economics of Football

Posted by hakanrylander on November 10, 2008

economicsoffootballThis book is a sometimes enlightening, sometimes frustrating mix of the interesting, the obvious and the too complicated. The authors Stephen Dobson and John Goddard lectures in Economics at The Queen’s University of Belfast and at University of Wales Swansea respectively. They’ve attempted to analyse professional English football at club level, using a combination of economic reasoning and statistical and econometric analysis.

In previous posts I’ve touched upon two of the segments that I find most interesting; the increasing inequality between rich and poor clubs and how the length of a spell of wins/losses affects the probabilities of the outcome of the next game.

Another chapter deals with the highly interesting question of whether it’s possible to beat the bookies by using a statistical model based on historical results. This is of course crucial, not least from the point of view of personal wealthbuilding. The answer, sadly, is negative. Or perhaps I just have to construct a better model than these guys managed to.

Though some parts are very interesting others are boring (relating things I already knew) or incomprehensible (describing complex statistical models in detail). To a large extent it’s possible to skip these segments, but at times I found that my somewhat limited understanding of the finer points of econometrics hindered my ability to question the conclusions reached by the authors.

Despite these reservations the book increased my understanding of some of the factors that drive the development of football, and was well worth the effort.

2 Responses to “Review: The Economics of Football”

  1. Since my understanding of even the coarser points of economics is limited, do you think it’s worth my while if I I had the chance to borrow this book? Or should I just give it a rest?

  2. hakanrylander said

    You certainly don’t need a degree in economics or statistics to read this book, but in some parts it helps. Most of the time it’s enough that you are interested in the subject and prepared to read slowly now and again.

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