Can economics determine the performance of Football managers and answer the question of which manager is next to face the sack?

A recently published research paper by ICMA Centre Professor Adrian Bell, Professor Chris Brooks and PhD researcher Tom Markham is gaining national attention in both the finance sector and the football industry. The paper titled "The performance of football club managers: skill or luck?" is now available online and freely downloadable in an open access Journal.

A recently published research paper by ICMA Centre Professor Adrian Bell, Professor Chris Brooks and PhD researcher Tom Markham is gaining national attention in both the finance sector and the football industry. The paper titled "The performance of football club managers: skill or luck?" is now available online and freely downloadable in an open access Journal.

The paper develops a performance management tool and considers its application to the football industry. The paper then utilises the model to evaluate the extent to which the performance of football managers in the Barclays Premier can be attributed to skill or luck when measured separately from the characteristics of the team.

The authors note, “it is clear that appropriately evaluating the performance of football club managers is an important task, not just financially, but because of the impact that the manager's skill can have on the performance of his team.” The aim of developing the model is to determine whether a manager’s performance is improving or weakening, and hence, determine whether he should be fired.

The article assesses how sackings seem to be embedded in the culture of the sport, with the average managerial tenure in the four English professional years only 2.44 years between 1992 and 2005. In fact, as we approach the end of the 2012/13 football season several managers are looking over their shoulder and this season alone there have already been 3 sackings in the Premier League (EPL).

The high profile sackings of Chelsea managers in recent seasons and the repeated calls from some tabloid newspapers for the sacking of football managers have garnered the issue much attention. Yet the paper is one of very few academic studies that have attempted to evaluate a manager’s performance, by adopting a bootstrapping approach.

The research by ICMA Centre academic staff and researchers has featured twice in the Financial Times, on the cover of the prominent football industry magazine, FC Business, and has been presented at the European conference in Sports Economics. The authors have also spoken about the research on local radio stations and at several academic seminars.

Published 11th March 2013
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