Attendance demand for soccer : a spatial cross-sectional approach
The cost of a return journey to a soccer match can often be comparable to, or even exceed, the admission price. However, in spite of the importance of travel costs, previous studies on the demand for live soccer generally exclude travel costs from the analysis. The thesis explores the consequences of this omission and shows that the likely effect is to bias estimates of the ticket price elasticity downwards. The thesis also argues that the previous estimates of the ticket price and income elasticities are likely to be biased due to generic problems with the time series approach and methodological problems with particular pooled studies. To overcome these problems, the travel cost methodology, developed in the economics of outdoor recreation, is adapted to permit analysis of demand relationships in professional soccer. Attendance at Premier League matches is modelled as a function of travel costs and other factors, such as the admission price and consumer income, using data from a national fan survey. From the results, ticket price elasticities are estimated that are more consistent with profit maximisation than previous estimates. Subsequent analysis on the relationship between attendance and income distinguishes between the decision to become a fan and, given that one is a fan, the question of the number of games to attend in a season. The first decision is shown to be positively related to income, via a social class proxy, and the second decision unrelated to income, giving a positive income elasticity of demand.