Research and Publications

Off Pitch: Football’s Financial Integrity Weaknesses, and How to Strengthen Them

Off Pitch: Football’s Financial Integrity Weaknesses, and How to Strengthen Them
Faculty Research Working Paper Series
Financial Integrity and Transparency in Sport (FITS)

Report by Matt Andrews, Harvard Kennedy School and Peter Harrington, Harvard Kennedy School. March 2016. Independent research commissioned by ICSS Insight as part of the Financial Integrity and Transparency in Sports (FITS) global project.

This study argues that football’s financial integrity weaknesses have emerged largely because the sector is dominated by a small elite of clubs, players and owners centred in Europe’s top leagues. The majority of the world’s clubs and governing bodies publish no financial data, leaving a vast dark space with no transparency. The writers estimate that a majority of global clubs and governing bodies are at medium to high risk of financial failure. European tax debs have grown despite Financial Fair Play, and confederations and FIFA contribute to a pattern of weak fiscal responsibility. A new metric of financial concentration proposed by the writers find that the football sector is at high risk of over-concentration, posing existential questions for many clubs and even leagues. It is confirmed that football’s governing bodies face a crisis of legitimacy stemming from a failure to tackle moral turpitude, set standards and regulate effectively.

Note: The views expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the John F Kennedy School of Government or of Harvard University.

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