Estimating Demand for Aggressive Play: The Case of English Premier League Football by ProQuest


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									International Journal of Sport Finance, 2009, 4, 192-210, © 2009 West Virginia University

Estimating Demand for Aggressive
Play: The Case of English Premier
League Football
R. Todd Jewell
University of North Texas
R. Todd Jewell is a professor in the Department of Economics. His research interests
include the economics of sports, microfinance in Latin America, and Mexican
migration to the US.

This study estimates a demand curve for physically aggressive play in the English
Premier Football League (EPL), the highest level of professional association football
(soccer) in England. Employing a league-point-maximization framework in which a
team chooses its level of aggressive play as an input, optimum aggressive play is
assumed to respond to its price, where price is the reduction in the probability of a
win or a tie resulting from aggressive play. The results indicate that aggressive play by
EPL teams, as measured by total disciplinary points, is responsive to opportunity cost
for both the home and away teams in a given match, although the responsiveness of
the away team is shown to be much larger than that of the home team. Therefore, EPL
teams can be expected to respond to policies that are designed to reduce aggressive
play through increases in the cost of such behavior, and such policies can be expected
to influence the behavior of away teams more than home teams. If fans of EPL foot-
ball have preferences for less aggressive play, then the league may be able to increase
revenues by reducing aggression through increases in opportunity cost.

Keywords: English soccer, football, aggressive play, disciplinary points
The sport of association football (or “soccer” as it is know in the US) is played in near-
ly every part of the world. FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association), the
sport’s world governing body, has over 200 member countries, a quantity that surpass-
es even the number of United Nations members. FIFA establishes the rules of the
game for all competitions that it sanctions, including international matches and pro-
fessional club leagues in member nations. One of the primary laws of the game (Law
12) involves fouls and misconduct and the penalties for such offenses (FIFA, 2008).
The penalties range in severity according to the seriousness of the offense, and the ref-
eree is responsible for meting out appropriate punishment with input from two assis-
tant referees and a fourth official. The referee may award a free kick (direct or indirect)
against the offending team, he may choose to caution the offending player and award
a yellow card, or he may take the extreme step of sending off the offending player with
a red card if the misconduct is judged to be egregious enough.
                                                  Estimating Demand for Aggressive Play
   The purpose of FIFA’s in-match penalties is to promote fair play, punish violent play
that may lead to player injury, and generally negate any advantage that misconduct
may accrue to the guilty player or team. From the perspective of an economist, the
penalties also serve as an incentive mechanism; specifically, the penalty associated with
a given foul is the “price” that must be paid for committing said infraction. When fouls
and misconduct are beneficial to a team or player, penalties reduce the net benefit of
such behavior. Under an assumption of rationality on the part of players 
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