Competitive Balance

Trends in competitive balance -- or the lack of predictability of competitions --  are widely discussed among fans, officials and academics interested in association football. The closure of new broadcasting deals, as in the case of the English Premier League, further intensifies this debate concerning financial power across and within leagues in Europe.  Rising financial inequality is also expected in Germany, possibly going in line with a strong increase in media revenue for Bundesliga clubs in near future.

Given the importance of the debate and the rich literature about this topic (e.g. Szymanski, 2001, or Flores et al., 2010), it is surprising that there are only few studies looking at disaggregated player data to assess the distribution of player talent across teams. Most studies simply rely on information about end-of-season league position to look at trends in competitive balance. 

To measure player talent, we offer a new measure based on individual level player performance to assess player talent and its distribution over time: The partial correlation of each player with the final score. Similar to the plus-minus statistic used in hockey, this individual performance measure captures a player's impact on a match by focusing on the team's net scoring. 

We measure competitive balance as the talent distribution of players across teams and its changes over time.

... in progress ...