What are players worth? Transfer fees, player capital and performance

What are players worth?
Transfer fees, player capital and performance

Room G01 – Clore Management Centre,
Birkbeck College,
Torrington Square,
London WC1 7HX

Wednesday 11 th May, 6pm-8pm

Given by:

Dr Fiona Carmichael, School of Accounting, Economics & Management Science University of Salford


Most of the discussion in the popular media on the subject of sports player valuations is impressionistic and unscientific. Similarly, it is difficult to find evidence that the player purchasing decision-making of football team managers and their boards of directors is currently informed by anything other than hunch and instinct. Given the extraordinary implications of these decisions for both playing performance and financial profitability this lack of rigour is perhaps surprising. This raises the question as to whether there is a more scientifically rigorous way in which to assess player value?

Dr Fiona Carmichael is one of the UK ‘s leading academic analysts of labour market trends in the sports industries. In this seminar she will employ economic theory to address a number of key questions:

  • How are transfer fees determined?
  • What are clubs paying for when they pay a transfer fee and why is one player worth £40 million and another £10,000?
  • Do economic theories relating to human capital and production offer any insights that might help us to answer these kinds of questions or do they raise more questions that they answer?

She will conclude by speculating on what efficiencies might be derived for football clubs by employing a more scientifically rigorous approach to player valuation utilising systems of economic analysis.


  • Carmichael F. and Thomas D. A., (1993) Bargaining in the transfer market, Applied Economics, vol. 25, 1467-1476
  • Carmichael F. and Thomas D. A., (1995) Production and efficiency in team sports: an investigation of rugby league football, Applied Economics, vol. 27, 859-869.
  • Carmichael F., Forest D. and Simmons R., (1999) The labour market in association football: Who gets transferred and for how much? Bulletin of Economic Research, vol. 51, no. 2, 125-150.
  • Carmichael, F. and Thomas D. A., (2000) Institutional responses to uncertainty: Evidence from the transfer market, Economic Issues, vol. 5, 1-20.
  • Carmichael F., Thomas D. A. and Ward R., (2000) Team Performance: The case of English Premiership football Managerial and Decision Economics, vol. 21, 31-45.
  • Carmichael F., Thomas D. A. and Ward R., (2001) Production and efficiency in Association football, Journal of Sports Economics, vol. 2, no. 3, 228-243
  • Carmichael F. and Thomas D. A., (2005, forthcoming) Home field effects and team performance, Journal of Sports Economics.
  • Carmichael F. and Thomas D. A., (2005) Why did Greece win? Analysis of team performances at EURO 2004, Centre for Economics Research Working Paper 206/05, University of Salford ..

For further details contact:


Sean Hamil 
Football Governance Research Centre

E.mail: / Tel: 020-7631 6763

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