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    Topological network properties of the European football loan system

    Widdop, Paul, Parnell, Daniel ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-5593-0633 and Bond, Alexander (2020) Topological network properties of the European football loan system. European Sport Management Quarterly, 20 (5). pp. 655-678. ISSN 1618-4742

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    Research question: Following a network perspective, we present football's European loan system as an economic network and aim to answer the following questions; (i) what is the structure of the network? and, (ii) what are the topological properties of the network? Research methods: Using data on the top-5 European leagues in European football 8139 loan transactions between 31 December 2009 and 22 December 2017 were analysed using social network analysis. Results and findings: The results show that the loan system is embedded in ongoing structural relationships across Europe, more so in the Italian Serie A than other European leagues investigated. Additionally, our findings indicate that several elite clubs are extracting value from the loan system, while others are value creators. Implications: The implications of this research are fourfold: recommendations for executive-level professionals in the football industry and how to maximise the structure of the system; considerations for UEFA and FIFA policy around regulations applied to loan systems; application of economic network theory to the trading (loan) system in European football; and recommendations for future academic research.

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