Despite the globalisation of European soccer, each professional league exhibits specificities. French Ligue 1 sometimes contends with the trading-off of financial performance against sporting performance of its teams in European soccer competitions, and its inner auditing body, the Direction Nationale du Contrôle de Gestion (DNCG), is in charge of controlling clubs’ financial accounts. Moreover, Ligue 1 operates with one of the best competitive balances in the Big Five, which is detrimental to its clubs’ success at the European level. However, the league and a number of clubs have not been able to curb payroll inflation and have not avoided being recurrently run in a deficit and accumulating debts, in particular payment arrears and player transfer overdue. Lax management occurs, since very few clubs have been sanctioned by a payment failure, even fewer by liquidation, and there has been no bankruptcy. The concept of a soft budget constraint theoretically encapsulates such empirical evidence. The novelty of the paper is to establish a link between the soft budget constraint and the players’ labour market where it crucially triggers market disequilibria: an excess of demand for superstars’ talents and an excess of supply for journeymen players are modelled. Data paucity about player individual wages hinders econometric testing of the aforementioned link and the model. However, a look at transfer fees that concentrates on a few of the top European soccer clubs provides a first insight into the arms race for talent that fuels an excess of demand for superstars and dips a number of clubs’ finance into the red.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited