The present thesis examines the ‘upper echelons theory’ in the highest football division of Spain (La Liga). It evaluates panel data of professional football clubs that played in La Liga between the 1997/1998 and 2016/2017 seasons, where every club owns a president who is in charge. The main objective of the present thesis is to assess, by means of a three-segment model, whether presidential characteristics predict the performance of clubs within three areas, namely, the club’s on-field football results, off-field recruiting and off-field financial results. The six presidential characteristics considered are the presidents’ age, nationality, gender, former professional athletic experience, former education and former educational track. The main conclusion is that most presidential characteristics do not show statistical robustness with increased regression specification, thus have limited to no impact on the performance areas. Nevertheless, the presidential characteristics that showed reasonable robustness are whether the president completed a higher education degree and some of the educational tracks. To some extent, these predict better financial performance of La Liga football clubs through increased investment of a club’s human capital (wage bill). Overall, it cannot be concluded that upper echelons theory is present among the La Liga football clubs.

Upper echelons theory, Strategic sports management, Top management, Club performance
T.L.P.R . Peeters
Financial Economics
Erasmus School of Economics

S.R. de Wit. (2019, November 20). How influential are presidents in club football? A study of Upper Echelons Theory in the highest football division of Spain. Financial Economics. Retrieved from