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Ownership structure and financial performance in European football

Isabel Acero (Department of Business Administration, University of Zaragoza, Zaragoza, Spain)
Raúl Serrano (Department of Business Administration, University of Zaragoza, Zaragoza, Spain)
Panagiotis Dimitropoulos (Department of Sport Management, University of Peloponnese, Sparta, Greece)

Corporate Governance

ISSN: 1472-0701

Article publication date: 5 June 2017




This paper aims to analyse the relationship between ownership structure and financial performance in the five major European football leagues from 2007-2008 to 2012-2013 and examine the impact of the financial fair play (FFP) regulation.


The sample used comprises 94 teams that participated in the major European competitions: German Bundesliga, Ligue 1 of France, Spanish Liga, English Premier League and the Italian Serie A. The estimation technique used is panel-corrected standard errors.


The results confirm an inverted U-shaped curve relationship between ownership structure and financial performance as a consequence of both monitoring and expropriation effects. Moreover, the results show that after FFP regulation, the monitoring effect disappears and only the expropriation effect remains.

Research limitations/implications

The lack of transparency of the information provided by some teams has limited the sample size.

Practical implications

One of the main issues that the various regulating bodies of the industry should address is the introduction of a code of good practice, not only for aspects related to the transparency of financial information but also to require greater transparency in the information concerning corporate governance.

Social implications

Regulating bodies could also consider other additional control instruments based on corporate governance, such as for example, corporate governance practices, corporate governance codes, greater transparency, control of the boards of directors, etc.


This study tries to provide direct evidence of the impact of large majority investors in the clubs and FFP regulation on the financial performance of football clubs.



Financial support for this paper has been provided by the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness and FEDER project ECO2016-77843-P (AEI/FEDER, UE), the Regional Government of Aragón and FSE (project S125: Compete Research Group) and University of Zaragoza (project UZ2016-SOC-01).


Acero, I., Serrano, R. and Dimitropoulos, P. (2017), "Ownership structure and financial performance in European football", Corporate Governance, Vol. 17 No. 3, pp. 511-523.



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Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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