One fact is undeniable: the Bosman ruling is at the heart of a more global trend of deregulation of European professional football. This application of liberal principles in such a singular sector is not without consequences.
First of all, the move towards deregulation has created an unreasonable concentration of resources in some championships and sometimes even within a small group of clubs, which leads mechanically to an extreme concentration of sporting talent. This affects the significance of competitions because financial disparities generate a reduced level of sporting risk. Indeed, many are increasingly frustrated with the low level of competitive stakes illustrated by the questions of whether FC Barcelona or Real Madrid will be champion in Spain, of who will be second behind Paris Saint-Germain in France, or of how many English clubs will be in the last four of the Champions League!
At the same time, there is a growing and worrying financialization of football undermining the sustainability of clubs. On the one hand, it favours the transformation of players into financial assets. On the other hand, it alters the quality of club projects through changes in governance that support short term projects, often flouting the clubs’ history.
Finally, the financial health of clubs remains a cause for concern in view of their recurring and almost generalized deficits, their level of debt, and their lack of equity.
These elements are all characteristics (among others!) of the crisis in European professional football and are cause for concern over the sustainability of the system. Is it not time to rethink professional football and its economic model? To make it fairer, more virtuous, to return to the heart of the values of this sport? To make club projects more human but also more sustainable?
In this context, it seems essential to bring about a new regulation of European football, the principles of which would be based on a heterodox analysis of the economy. This regulation should facilitate the development of a fairer football, with clubs whose financial health would be more independent from sporting results and players more involved in the decision-making process.
It is against this backdrop that we are launching a call for papers to participate in a webinar entitled "For a new regulation of European professional football", which will be held online on Friday 30 October 2020. This explicitly multidisciplinary webinar is open to researchers from all disciplines, journalists and, more broadly, anyone involved in the sector.
The topics covered should improve common knowledge, either with a view to completing the assessment of the crisis situation in European professional football or to proposing new regulations.
Please submit your contribution by sending a detailed summary (10 lines minimum) in PDF or Word format to firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, Jean-Michel.De.Waele@ulb.be by September 18th, 2020. Authors will be informed if their paper has been accepted on a rolling basis. All presenters will receive a final decision by September 25th, 2020.
- Jérémie Bastien, REGARDS, research associate CDES, University of Reims Champagne-Ardenne, France
- Jean-François Brocard, CDES, University of Limoges, France
- Jean-Michel De Waele, CEVIPOL, Université Libre de Bruxelles, Belgium