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Is Egyptian soccer well-positioned for business purposes? Assessing competitive balance in the Egyptian Premier League

Mohamed F.A. Ebrahim (Department of Sports Management, Mansoura University, Mansoura, Egypt)
N. David Pifer (Department of Kinesiology and Sport Management, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, Texas, USA)
Saad Ahmed Saad Shalaby (Department of Sports Management, Mansoura University, Mansoura, Egypt)
Karim Mohamed Mahmoud El Hakim (Department of Sports Management, Mansoura University, Mansoura, Egypt)
Hosam El Dien El Sayed Mubarak (Department of Sports Management, Mansoura University, Mansoura, Egypt)
James J. Zhang (Department of Kinesiology, University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia, USA)

International Journal of Sports Marketing and Sponsorship

ISSN: 1464-6668

Article publication date: 8 May 2018

Abstract

Purpose

The Egyptian Premier League (EPL) holds a prominent place in Egypt’s sporting culture and serves as the stage for some of Africa’s most competitive soccer clubs. However, the actual competitive balance in this league has come under scrutiny in recent years as the two historically dominant Cairo clubs, Ahly and Zamalek, continue to retain the EPL championship. A major concern is that the competitive imbalance of the EPL may actually be hampering the league’s progress and the progress of soccer in Egypt. In order to more closely assess this situation, the purpose of this paper is to use historical EPL performance data to conduct a series of competitive balance analyses on league results from 1948 to 2014. The findings revealed that competition in the league is almost nonexistent as Ahly and Zamalek continue to enjoy a number of direct and indirect financial benefits that are unrealized by their competitors. The dominance of these clubs has compromised the elements of match uncertainty and drama that are traditionally viewed as being important to the prestige and financial achievements of leagues and teams. Discussion is therefore offered for how the EPL could go about resolving some of its organizational and competitive balance issues.

Design/methodology/approach

This study adopted four basic measures of competitive balance to conduct descriptive analyses on EPL data that were collected from egyptianfootball.net and the Rec Sport Soccer Statistics Foundation. These analyses began with the EPL’s inaugural season (1948-1949) and extended to the conclusion of the 2014-2015 season. During this timeframe, seven seasons were canceled due to global and political tensions and four more went unfinished. Because these seasons were excluded, the total sample size consisted of 56 seasons, each of which contained between 10 and 24 EPL teams. The data were analyzed using variations of the following competitive balance measures: the range and standard deviation of winning percentages, the ratio of the standard deviation/Noll-Scully approach, the Herfindahl-Hirschman Index, and five-club concentration ratio.

Findings

The results confirmed that the league is largely imbalanced, leading the authors to recommend systemic and structural changes that could help promote competitive balance in the league. The call for competitive balance in the EPL was bolstered by a literature review of studies that advocated for parity in professional sports leagues. In the end, the researchers recommend the EPL to improve its organizational policies and consider a revised revenue-sharing system that would allow the small-market teams to survive and thrive.

Originality/value

The EPL holds a prominent place in Egypt’s sporting culture and serves as the stage for some of Africa’s most competitive soccer clubs. The primary purpose of this study was to perform a series of competitive balance analyses on EPL results from 1948 to 2015 in an effort to better understand the various degrees of competitiveness in the league during this time.

Keywords

Citation

Ebrahim, M.F.A., Pifer, N.D., Shalaby, S.A.S., El Hakim, K.M.M., Mubarak, H.E.D.E.S. and Zhang, J.J. (2018), "Is Egyptian soccer well-positioned for business purposes? Assessing competitive balance in the Egyptian Premier League", International Journal of Sports Marketing and Sponsorship, Vol. 19 No. 2, pp. 236-254. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJSMS-05-2017-0036

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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