Skip to main content Accessibility help

Similar Economic Histories, Different Industrial Structures: Transatlantic Contrasts in the Evolution of Professional Sports Leagues

  • LOUIS P. CAIN (a1) and DAVID D. HADDOCK (a2)


Industries that have different structures in Europe than in America can teach useful lessons about industrial evolution. Despite similar initial histories, European professional sports leagues adopted team promotion and relegation, which facilitates much easier entry than is possible in North America, where leagues themselves create new franchises to sell to investors. By contrasting the histories of the English Football League and the National Baseball League, we show that their structures arose from differences in geographic compactness, the entertainment level of games, and territorial monopolies. As the evolution becomes more understandable, the persistence of the intercontinental difference becomes more problematic.



Hide All
Arnold Tony 1991. “Rich Man, Poor Man: Economic Arrangements in the Football League.” In British Football and Social Change: Getting into Europe, edited by John Williams and Stephen Wagg, 4863. London: Leicester University Press,
December 1899. Travellers' Official Railway Guide for the United States, Canada and Mexico. edited by W. F. Allen. New York: National Railway Publication Co.,
Baade Robert, and Alan Sanderson. (1996). “Field of Fantasies,” Intellectual Ammunition,
Baumol William J. (1982): “Contestable Markets: An Uprising in the Theory of Industry Structure.” American Economic Review 72, no. 1 115.
Baumol William J., John C. Panzar, and Robert D. Willig. 1982. Contestable Markets and the Theory of Industrial Structure. New York City: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich,
August 1882. Bradshaw's General Railway and Steam Navigation Guide, for Great Britain and Ireland. London: W. J. Adams & Sons,
British Broadcasting Company. (14 June 2005). Champions League Winners Liverpool Have Earned £20.5 m From Their European Run to Top the Tournament's Earnings Table.
Cain Louis P., and David D. Haddock. “Measuring Parity: Tying Into the ‘Idealized’ Standard Deviation.” Journal of Sports Economics, forthcoming.
Canes Michael E. 1974. “The Social Benefits of Restrictions on Team Quality.” In Government and the Sports Business, edited by Roger G. Noll, 81114. Washington, DC: The Brookings Institution,
Chandler Alfred D., Jr., 1990. Scale and Scope: The Dynamics of Industrial Capitalism. Cambridge, MA: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press,
Demsetz Harold (1968): “Why Regulate Utilities?Journal of Law and Economics 11, no. 1 5565.
Eckard E. Woodrow, (2005): “Team Promotion in Early Major League Baseball and the Origin of the Closed Sports League.” Explorations in Economic History 42, no. 1 12252.
2004. Football Grounds From the Air: Then & Now. Hersham: Ian Allen Publishing, 3rd edition,
Goldstein Warren 1989. Playing for Keeps: A History of Early Baseball. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press,
Harris Harold Arthur. 1975. Sport in Britain: Its Origins and Development. London: Stanley Paul,
Haupert Michael, and Kenneth Winter, 2004. “Pay Ball: Estimating the Profitability of the New York Yankees, 1915–1937.” University of Wisconsin, LaCrosse Working Paper,
Kirsch George B. 1989. The Creation of American Team Sports: Baseball and Cricket, 1838–72. Urbana: University of Illinois Press,
Knautz Robert, editor. (1997). “Franchise Free Agency.” Policy Spotlight,
Leeds Michael, and Peter von Allmen. 2002. The Economics of Sports. Boston: Addison Wesley,
Mortensen Dale T. (1982): “Property Rights and Efficiency in Mating, Racing, and Related Games.” American Economic Review 72, no. 5 96879.
Nichols Dan Major League Franchise Information,
Noll Roger G. (2002): “The Economics of Promotion and Relegation in Sports Leagues.” Journal of Sports Economics 3, no. 2 169203.
Okner Benjamin A.. 1974. “Subsidies of Stadiums and Arenas.” In Government and the Sports Business, edited by Roger G. Noll, 32548. Washington, DC: The Brookings Institution,
Poitras Marc, and Lawrence Hadley. (2006): “Do New Major League Ballparks Pay for Themselves?Journal of Business 79, no. 5 forthcoming.
Quirk James, and Rodney Fort. 1992. Pay Dirt: The Business of Professional Team Sports. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press,
Rader Benjamin G.. 2002. Baseball: A History of America's Game, second edition. Urbana: University of Illinois Press,
Robinson Michael, editor. 2004. Non-League Football Tables 1889–2004. Cleethorpes, Lincolnshire: Soccer Books Limited,
Ross Stephen F., and Stefan Szymanski. 30 September 2003. “The Law & Economics of Optimal Sports League Design.” University of Illinois College of Law, Illinois Public Law and Legal Theory Research Papers Series, Working Paper No. 0314,
Seymour Harold 1960. Baseball: The Early Years, 3 volumes. New York: Oxford University Press,
Stigler George 1968. The Organization of Industry. Homewood, IL: Richard D. Irwin,
Surdam David (2002): “The American ‘Not-So-Socialist’ League in the Postwar Era: The Limitations of Gate Sharing in Reducing Revenue Disparity in Baseball.” Journal of Sports Economics 3, no. 3 26490.
Szymanski Stefan (2003): “The Economic Design of Sporting Contests.” Journal of Economic Literature 41, no. 4 113787.
Szymanski Stefan, and Andrew Zimbalist. 2005. National Pastime: How Americans Play Baseball and the Rest of the World Plays Soccer. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press,
Taylor Matthew, and John Coyle. “The Election of Clubs to the Football League, 1888–1939.” The Sports Historian 19, no. 2 (1999): 124.
Vamplew Wray 1988. Pay Up and Play the Game: Professional Sport in Britain, 1875–1914. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press,
White G. Edward. 1996. Creating the National Pastime: Baseball Transforms Itself, 1903–1953. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press,
Young Percy M. 1968. A History of British Football. London: Stanley Paul,

Related content

Powered by UNSILO

Similar Economic Histories, Different Industrial Structures: Transatlantic Contrasts in the Evolution of Professional Sports Leagues

  • LOUIS P. CAIN (a1) and DAVID D. HADDOCK (a2)


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed.