Friday, January 14, 2011

Do professional sports teams belong on the stock market?

Professional sports clubs exist to win, but this often requires money. Different models have developed in this regard. The US model is private ownership of clubs within a cartel, where private ownership is meant to be a single person, or a small group of people. The European model is broad membership with few benefactors who do not own the club, and clubs operate within an open league system (promotion and relegation based mostly on sport results). But over the last two decades a good number of European clubs went public and are now listed on stock markets. This highlights a change of priorities, profits over sport results, although the two are clearly correlated. But how well do these clubs fare?

Michel Aglietta, Wladimir Andreff and Bastien Drut note that the performance of sports stock is rather weak, and thus has not attracted institutional investors as was probably hoped for. This weak performance is not that surprising, I suppose many hold such stock to frame it above the TV set. It may also be due, as the authors argue, to the fact that sports clubs have poor governance. So, maybe the next step is to run them like a business where the objective is to maximize shareholder value, and make sport results only a means to generate these profits.

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