In 1971, Peter Sloane published an article titled The Economics of Professional Football: The Football Club As A Utility Maximiser. It laid bare the ideological differences between the North American and European sporting cultures.
In the United States, there had always been an assumption that sports teams should be ‘profit-maximisers’, and therefore be organised as ‘closed’ leagues to protect the sports clubs against the economic penalty of relegation.
Conversely, in Europe, where leagues were ‘open’ and had promotion and relegation, ‘utility maximisation’ – the desire to prioritise sporting success – was the true objective. Profit, or underwriting losses, was only important insofar as it was necessary for a club’s long-term stability and survival. This economic concept is the bedrock behind the implementation of Financial Fair Play.