An analysis of the efficiency of football clubs in the Spanish First Division through a two-stage relational network DEA model: a simulation study

Abstract

Previous works that have analysed the efficiency of the management of professional football clubs have not paid much attention to the interaction between the sporting, social and economic dimensions of their activity. To bridge this research gap, a DEA model is developed and applied to determine the relative efficiency of clubs participating in one of the main football leagues while taking into account their multiplicity of objectives. The proposed two-stage relational network DEA model assumes that the financial resources of the clubs are distributed between social and sporting dimensions, contributing to generate results in both areas that, in the second stage, determine the business performance of the clubs. As the actual distributions of the primary inputs are unknown, two complementary approaches are used. First, the model is solved by assuming a parameterization of the distribution. Then, a simulation model is used to study the effect of the different distributions on the efficiency by means of contour charts. A final cluster analysis completes the study. The sample consists of the 20 clubs that played in Spain’s First Division in the 2016–17 season. The evidence shows that the efficiency of the clubs increases when a higher proportion of the primary inputs is allocated to the social dimension. In addition, the clubs are more efficient in converting their sporting and social results into income, than when turning their economic resources into sporting successes and social support. As a result, the model makes it possible to extend efficiency analysis to professional sports organisations which have multiple objectives.

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Correspondence to Pablo de Carlos.

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Pérez-González, A., de Carlos, P. & Alén, E. An analysis of the efficiency of football clubs in the Spanish First Division through a two-stage relational network DEA model: a simulation study. Oper Res Int J (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12351-021-00650-5

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Keywords

  • Professional football clubs
  • Multiplicity of objectives
  • Relational network DEA model
  • Efficiency
  • Spanish First Division