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Scoring goals in multiple fields: Social media presence, on-field performance and commercial success in European professional football

Petros Parganas (University of Ioannina, Ioannina, Greece)
Roman Liasko (University of Ioannina, Ioannina, Greece)
Christos Anagnostopoulos (Molde University College, Molde, Norway)

Sport, Business and Management

ISSN: 2042-678X

Article publication date: 8 May 2017




Professional football clubs currently strive for a number of concurrent goals, ranging from on-field success to profit maximization to fan expansion and engagement. The purpose of this paper, theoretically informed by the social penetration theory, is to analyze the economics behind such goals and examine the association between team performance, commercial success, and social media followers in professional team sports.


A data set relating to 20 European professional football clubs that combines financial (revenues and costs), sporting, and digital-reach measures for three consecutive football seasons (2013/2014 to 2015/2016) was used. In addition, to elaborate on this data in terms of a descriptive study, the study constructs a range of correlation statistical tests and linear modeling techniques to obtain quantitative results.


The results indicate that all the three main sources of club revenues (match-day, commercial/sponsorship, and broadcasting) are positive drivers for Facebook followers. Staff investments (staff costs) are also positively related to Facebook followers, albeit to a lesser extent, while higher-ranked clubs seem to follow a constant approach in terms of their revenues and cost structure.


This study seeks to bridge the communication and sport economic research, providing evidence that Facebook followers are part of the cyclical phenomenon of team revenues and team performance. In doing so, it initiates a debate on the relationship between the digital expansion of a football club and its sports and financial indicators.



Parganas, P., Liasko, R. and Anagnostopoulos, C. (2017), "Scoring goals in multiple fields: Social media presence, on-field performance and commercial success in European professional football", Sport, Business and Management, Vol. 7 No. 2, pp. 197-215.



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