Application of MCDA to evaluate financial fair play and financial stability in European football clubs

Angel Barajas, Oscar Castro-Limeres, Thadeu Gasparetto


This paper aims to design a methodology to evaluate financial stability in the football industry. Considering Financial Fair Play Regulations (UEFA, 2012, 2015), it explores how they have worked. This paper adapts Multiple-Criteria Decision Analysis (MCDA) to the football industry. A number of ratios and their corresponding weights are defined. Four MCDAs are used. The results from these four MCDAs are then taken into account to finally classify the financial situation of the clubs. The study was carried out on top European Football clubs for the seasons ending in 2011, 2012 and 2013. The main change in the financial situation of analyzed clubs occurred in season 2011/12, the time when FFP rules were enforced. The results show that big European clubs are financially stable. Moreover, some progressive improvements in stability and sustainability have been encountered. The tool applied in this study may be used by stakeholders in this industry. Moreover, it shows that financial control imposed by UEFA is being beneficial what encourages keeping in this line of action. The paper provides a fast and efficient technique in decision-making to the stakeholders in the football industry


Financial Fair Play; Financial Stability; Football; Multiple-criteria Decision Analysis; UEFA

Full Text:



Acero, I., Serrano, R., & Dimitropoulos, P. (2017). Ownership structure and financial performance in European football. Corporate Governance: The International Journal of Business in Society, 17 (3), 511-523.

Andreff, W., & Szymanski, S. (2006). Handbook on the sports economics. Cheltenham, Edward Elgar.

Arévalo, M.T. & Gutiérrez, E. (2000). Análisis financiero del sector eléctrico peninsular español a través del método multicriterio PROMETHEE. Anales de Economía Aplicada. XIV Reunión ASEPELT-España. Oviedo, 22 y 23 de Junio. ISBN: 84-699-2357-9

Ascari, G. & Gagnepain, P. (2006). Spanish football. Journal of Sports Economics, 7(1), 76-89.

Barajas, A. (2005). El valor económico del fútbol. Radiografía Financiera del Fútbol Español. Navarra: Ediciones Universidad de Navarra.

Barajas, A. (2007). Las finanzas detrás del balón. El negocio del fútbol. Madrid: Cie Inversiones Editoriales Dossat.

Barajas, A. & Rodríguez, P. (2014). Spanish Football in need of financial therapy: Cut expenses and inject capital. International Journal of Sport Finance, 9, 73-90.

Boscá, J. E., Liern, V., Martínez, A., & Sala, R. (2008). The Spanish Football crisis. European Sport Management Quarterly, 8(2), 165-177.

Chelmis, E., Niklis, D., Baourakis, G., & Zopounidis, C. (2017). Multiciteria evaluation of football clubs: the Greek Superleague. Operational Research, 1-30, DOI 10.1007/s12351-017-0300-2.

Deloitte (2007). The reign in Spain. Football Money League. Sports Business Group, February

Deloitte (2008). Gate receipts. Football Money League. Sports Business Group, February

Deloitte (2009). Lost in translation. Football Money League. Sports Business Group, February

Deloitte (2010). Spanish Masters. Football Money League. Sports Business Group, March

Deloitte (2011). The untouchables. Football Money League. Sports Business Group, February

Deloitte (2012). Fan power. Football Money League. Sports Business Group, February

Deloitte (2014). All to play for. Football Money League. Sports Business Group,January.

Deloitte (2015). Commercial Breaks. Football Moneu League. Sports Business Group, January.

Deloitte (2016). Top of the table. Football Money League. Sports Business Group, January.

Dermit-Richard, N., Scelles, N., & Morrow, S. (2017). French DNCG management control versus UEFA Financial Fair Play: a divergent conception of financial regulation objectives. Soccer and Society, 1-23, DOI:

De Montis, A., De Toro, Pasquale, Droste-Franke, Bert, Omann, I. & Stagl, S. (2000). Criteria for quality assessment of MCDA methods. 3rd Biennial Conference of the European Society for Ecological Economics, Vienna, May 3 – 6.

Dietl, H., Franck, E. & Lang, M. (2008). Overinvestment in team sports leagues: a contest theory model. Scottish Journal of Political Economy, 55 (3), 353-368.

Dimitropoulos, P. (2016). Audit Selection in the European Football Industry under Union of European Football Associations Financial Fair Play. International Journal of Economics and Financial Issues, 6 (3), 901-906.

Dimitropoulos, P. (2014). Capital structure and corporate governance of soccer clubs: European evidence. Management Research Review, 37 (7), 658-678.

Dobson, S. & Goddard, J. (2011). The Economics of Football. 2nd ed. Cambridge, University Press.

Drut, B. (2011). Economía del Fútbol Profesional. Valencia: Carena Editors.

Drut, B. & Raballand, G. (2012). Why does financial regulation matter for European professional football clubs? International Journal Sport Management and Marketing, 11(½), 73-88.

Eastman, J.R. (1997). IDRISI for Windows, Version 2.0: Tutorial exercises. Graduated School of Geography. Worcester: Clark Unversity.

Ecer, F. & Boyukaslan, A. (2014). Measuring Performance of Football Clubs Using Financial Ratios: The Grey Relational Analysis Approach. American Journal of Economics, 4(1), 62-71.

Fort, R. & Quirk, J. (2004). Owner Objectives and Competitive Balance. Journal of Sports Economics, 5, 20–32.

Fernández, A. (2011). Método para la localización óptima de centrales de energías renovables. Departamento de Ingeniería Eléctrica. Facultad de Ciencias Físicas y Matemáticas. Universidad de Chile

Fernández, G.M. (2002). Los Métodos PROMETHEE: una Metodología de Ayuda a la Toma de Decisiones Multicriterio Discretas. Serie Monográfica. Revista Rect.

Franck, E. (2010). Private Firm, Public Corporation or Member's Association Governance Structures in European Football. International Journal of Sport Finance, 5, 108-127.

Franck, E. (2014). Financial Fair Play in European Club Football: What is it all about? International Journal of Sport Finance, 9, 193-217.

Franck, E. & Lang, M. (2013). A Theoretical Analysis of the Influence of Money Injections on Risk Taking in Football Clubs. Working Paper Series ISSN 1660-1157, No. 160. University of Zurich.

Gabin, B. (2013). Financial Fair Play: Can it regulate European club football? An investigation into UEFA’s Financial Fair Play regulations, how they work and its potential success or failure in regulating European club football. Business School Athlone Institute of Technology. Dublin Road. Ireland.

García, J. & Rodríguez, P. (2003). From sports clubs to stock companies: The financial structure of football in Spain 1992-2001. European Sport Management Quarterly, 3(4), 253-269.

García, M.S. (2009). Métodos para la comparación de alternativas mediante un Sistema de Ayuda a la Decisión (S.A.D.) y “Soft Computing”. Tesis Doctoral. Departamento de Electrónica, Tecnología de Computadoras y Proyectos. Universidad Politécnica de Cartagena

García-del-Barrio, P. & Szymanski, S. (2009). Goal! Profit Maximization Versus Win Maximization in Soccer. Review of Industrial Organization, 34, 45-68.

Ginevicius, R. & Podviezko, V. (2007). Some problems of evaluating multicriteria decision methods. International Journal of Management and Decision Making, 8(5/6), 527-539

Ginevičius, R. & Podviezko, A. (2013). The evaluation of financial stability and soundness of lithuanian banks. Ekonomska Istraživanja-Economic Research, 26(2), 191-208

Gouguet, J.J. & Primault, D. (2006). The French Exception. Journal of Sports Economics, 7, 47-59.

Huang, D. (2013). TOPSIS Model and Grey Relational Analysis for the Football Evaluation. International Journal of Applied Mathematics and Statistics, 47(17), 148-155.

Kornai, J. (1979). Resource‐constrained versus demand‐constrained systems. Econometrica, 47(4), 801-819.

Kuper, S. & Szymanski, S. (2009). Soccernomics: Why England loses, why Germany and Brazil win, and why the US, Japan, Australia, Turkey – and even Iraq – are destined to become the kings of de world`s most popular sport. New York: Nation Books.

Lamelas (2009). Esquema metodológico para la toma de decisiones sobre el uso sostenible del suelo: Aplicación a la localización de suelo industrial. International Review for Geographical Information Science and Technology. 9, 28-66.

Leach, S., & Szymanski, S. (2015). Making money out football. Scottish Journal of Political Economy, 62(1), 25-50.

Liu, X., Li, H., & Zhang, Y. (2015). Application of modified TOPSIS for coach performance evaluation. Journal of Information and Computational Science, 12(5), 1739-1749.

Matheson, V. (2003). European football: a survey of the literature. Mimeo, Department of Economics, Williams College.

Morrow, S. (1999). The New Business of Football. Accountability and Finance in Football. Basingstoke: Macmillan.

Morrow, S. (2013). Football club financial reporting: time for a new model? Sport, Business and Management: An International Journal, 3(4), 297-311.

Mourão, P. (2012). The indebtedness of Portuguese soccer teams – looking for determinants. Journal of Sports Sciences, 30(10), 1025-1035.

Munda, G. (1995). Multicriteria Evaluation in a Fuzzy Environment. Heidelberg: Physica-Verlag

Munda, G. (1996). Cost-benefit analysis in integrated environmental assessment: some methodological issues. Ecological Economics, 19(2), 157-168.

Müller, J.C. & Lammerts, J. & Hovemann, G. (2012). The Financial Fair Play Regulations of UEFA: An Adequate Concept to Ensure the Long-Term Viability and Sustainability of European Club Football? International Journal of sport Finance, 7, 117-14.

Neale, W. (1964). The Peculiar Economics of Professional Sports. Quarterly Journal of Economics, 78, 1-14

Nicoliello, M., & Zampatti, D. (2016). Football clubs’ profitability after the Financial Fair Play regulation: evidence from Italy. Sport, Business and Management: An International Journal, 6 (4), 460-475

Peeters, T. & Szymanski, S. (2014). Financial Fair Play in European football. Economic Policy, April, 343-390.

Plumley, D., Wilson, R., & Shibli, S. (2017). A Holistic Performance Assessment of English Premier League Football Clubs 1992–2013. Journal of Applied Sport Management, 9(1), 1-25.

Podviezko, V. (2011). The Comparative Analysis of MCDA Methods SAY and COPRAS. Inzinerine Ekonomika-Engineering Economics, 22(2), 134-146.

Sakinç, I. (2014). Using Grey Relational Analysis to Determine the Financial Performance of Turkish Football Clubs. Journal of Economics Library, 1(1), 22-33.

Sass, M. (2014). Glory Hunters, Sugar Daddies, and Long-Term Competitive Balance Under UEFA Financial Fair Play. Journal of Sports Economics, 17 (2), 148-158.

Schubert, M. (2014). Potential agency problems in European club football? The case of UEFA Financial Fair Play. Sport, Business and Management: An International Journal, 4 (4), 336-350

Serby, T. (2014). British football club insolvency: regulatory reform inevitable? International Sports Law Journal, 14, 12-23.

Sloane, P. (1971). The Economics of Professional Football: The Football Club as Utility Maximizer. Scottish Journal of Political Economy, 18, 121-146.

Solberg, H.A. & Haugen, K.K. (2010) European club football: why enormous revenues are not enough? Sport in Society: Cultures, Commerce, Media, Politics, 13(2), 329-343.

Storm, R. K. & Nielsen, K. (2012). Soft budget constraints in professional football. European Sport Management Quarterly, 12(2), 183-201.

Szymanski, S. (2014). Fair Is Foul: A Critical Analysis of UEFA Financial Fair Play. International Journal of Sport Finance, 9, 218-229.

Szymanski, S. (2015). Money and Football: A Soccernomics Guide. New York: Nation Books.

UEFA (2012). UEFA Club Licensing and Financial Fair Play Regulations – Edition 2012. Nyon: UEFA.

UEFA (2013). Benchmarking report on the clubs qualified and licensed to complete in the UEFA competition season 2013/2014. Nyon: UEFA.

Vöpel, H (2013). Is Financial Fair Play Really Justified? An Economic and Legal Assessment of UEFA’s Financial Fair Play Rules. Hamburgisches WeltWirtschaftsInstitut. Juni 2013. Policy Paper Nr. 79.

Yue, Zhongliang (2014). TOPSIS-based group decision-making methodology in intuitionistic fuzzy setting. Information Sciences, 277, 141–153

Zavadskas, E. K. & Kaklauskas, A. (1996). Multicriteria Evaluation of Building (Pastatų sistemotechninis įvertinimas). Vilnius: Technika

Zopounidis, C., (1999), Multicriteria decision aid in Financial management, European Journal of Operational Research, 119, 404-415.


  • There are currently no refbacks.