Does the financial imbalance between the clubs erode the “beauty of sport”?

Financialization has killed romanticism in football

Jérémie Bastien, lecturer in sports economics at the University of Reims

The arrival of Messi at Paris-Saint-Germain (PSG) will increase Parisian supremacy at the national level, despite the Lille title in 2021. The sporting performances he will offer on the lawns of L1, but also the income that it will generate for the Parisian club can only reinforce the imbalance with other clubs.

Admittedly, Messi’s exposure will not have an immediate effect on Ligue 1 because the TV rights, shared by all the elite clubs, have been renegotiated until 2024. Unless advertisers who were not planned enter the dance. This could also have an effect on the international audience, which could increase, on sponsorship revenues that could be mobilized by the Professional Football League (LFP).

However, initially, it is PSG who will benefit from this arrival, probably winning all the national titles. With him, we can expect a domination resembling that of the era Ibrahimovic and Carlo Ancelotti – as coach -, who had won the championship with more than 30 points of difference on the second. A two-speed championship is emerging. This imbalance is not specific to France, the phenomenon exists in most competitions.

The financialization of football has unfortunately killed the romanticism on the pitch. Apart from very specific cases, where the glorious uncertainty of sport unfolds – we can think of Leicester, who won the English championship in 2015-2016, or Montpellier, French champion in 2011 -, this financialization has leads to the devitalization of competitions and the concentration of sporting victories in domestic championships, and even more so on the European scene. A very limited number of clubs – about 30, maybe even 20 – are capable of winning. We are also talking about an oligopoly.

Nevertheless, football continues to be very attractive to the public, even if groups of supporters have expressed their rejection of the excess of financialization during the debate on the “super-league”. This project to bring together the best clubs, in a closed league excluding more territorialized teams from this dynamic, had crystallized the disputes.

Of course, exploits can still occur in the national cups. Having noted that the championships are, in fact, completely out of reach, the second-tier clubs are betting on these competitions. But when we look at the recent palmares, we find few examples of epics like those of AJ Auxerre, Calais or Sedan, small teams capable of holding the dragee high at a top club, in the final of the Cup. from France.


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