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Head coach change and team performance in the French men’s football Ligue 1, 2000-2016

Scelles, Nicolas and Llorca, Matthieu (2020) Head coach change and team performance in the French men’s football Ligue 1, 2000-2016. Economics Bulletin. ISSN 1545-2921 (In Press)

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Abstract

The purpose of this study is to analyse the impact of a head coach change on team performance in men's football. Its originalities are twofold: its focus on the French Ligue 1 over the 2000-2016 period; and the fact to consider the aforementioned impact in relation to expected performance as measured by betting companies. The method is based on regressions with fixed effects for team-season. The numbers of observations is 3,600 games (94 team-seasons). Team performance is alternatively measured by the number of points, whether the game was won or not, and the goal difference. The independent variables are home advantage, the positions of both teams prior to the game, the position of the opponent at the end of the previous season, a head coach change for team i and a control group, i.e. no coach change for the same team in another season despite a quite similar performance. Results show that both a head coach change for team i and its control group have a significant positive impact. They do not enable to conclude to a better impact of one of these two variables over the other. When controlling for expected performance before and after a head coach change and its control group, the dummy associated to the control group has no significant impact anymore. Since the paper provides some evidence that a head coach change may have a positive impact on team performance, it supports the idea of considering this option when looking for some ways to improve performance.

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