npsm 새물리 New Physics : Sae Mulli

pISSN 0374-4914 eISSN 2289-0041


Research Paper

New Physics: Sae Mulli 2015; 65: 402-409

Published online April 30, 2015

Copyright © New Physics: Sae Mulli.

A Network Approach to the Transfer Market of European Football Leagues

Sangmin LEE, Inho HONG, Woo-Sung JUNG*

Department of Physics, Pohang University of Science and Technology, Pohang 790-784, Korea


Received: December 24, 2014; Revised: March 25, 2015; Accepted: March 30, 2015

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

The transfer market for sport players presents an interesting issue both for the people who are directly involved with it and for the many fans. Although attempts have been made to understand it from a perspective of economy and management, an analysis from the view point of a complex system remains in the initial stages. In this research, we analyzed the transfer market of European football leagues as a weighted network in order to understand the detailed transfer patterns. A Google-based standard is used to quantify the value of the 436 transfers that occurred in the summer of 2014. The transfer patterns on a scale of both individual teams and whole leagues validate common sense intuitions about the capitalistic English Premier League. The log-normal distributions for players and teams imply that the network has evolved according to the Yule process. The properties of the network, such as assortativity, strength correlation, and betweenness centrality, provide several significant implications for topology. An assortativity coefficient close to zero represents a randomly-mixed transfer pattern on the league scale, which contradicts the intuitive assumption of disassortativity.

Keywords: Network, Complex system, Transfer, Football

Fig. 1. Visualization of European football transfers in the summer of 2014. A total of 436 transfers (arrows) among 114 teams (circles) are represented. The size of a circle and the width of an arrow are proportional to the strength of a team and the weight of a transfer, respectively. The location of a team refers to the geographical position of its hometown. As several teams have the same hometown (e.g., teams in London and Madrid), their locations are slightly shifted in the figure.

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