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Salary determination in professional football: empirical evidence from goalkeepers

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

E-pub ahead of print
  • David Berri
  • David Butler
  • Giambattista Rossi
  • Rob Simmons
  • Conor Tordoff
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>29/01/2023
<mark>Journal</mark>European Sport Management Quarterly
Number of pages17
Publication StatusE-pub ahead of print
Early online date29/01/23
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Research Question
We consider how elite European football clubs use available and measurable performance data to value personnel by focussing on the goalkeeper labour market. We test the determinants of goalkeeper pay and discuss if football clubs effectively separate goalkeeper performances from outfield players.

Research Methods
Matching an exclusive salary dataset with rich performance measures, we estimate a Mincer-type salary model for a sample of 260 goalkeepers from five European football leagues (Premier League, Ligue 1, Bundesliga 1, Serie A and La Liga). Our dataset covers seven seasons from 2013/14 to 2019/20.

Results and Findings
We find that clubs use primitive defensive statistics to determine goalkeeper pay. Goalkeepers are paid based on co-production and team outcomes rather than individual workload. Also features of goalkeeper ball distribution positively affect salary - this indicates the importance of goalkeepers to initiating offensive moves.

Our evidence suggests that decision-makers within clubs are not optimally decoupling individual performance from team qualities. As such, clubs could improve how they value a key team member. Identifying the failure to use advanced statistics is especially important as forming contracts in this setting is costly.