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February 17, 2014


Will Davies

One might also apply a bit of Hirschman to the situation. In his famous analysis, there are two forms of power in economic situations: exit and voice. Clearly the general drift towards economic liberalisation leads to growing priority to exit over voice; the market's primary form of freedom is the freedom to withdraw from a relationship. So clearly that accounts for a lot of how Rooney (and his agents) have acquired power.

But I wonder if the sort of idiot savant element also helps, i.e. that 'voice' is probably not his trump card anyway. Arsene Wenger has always sought to manage players via dialogue, presenting them with an image of their future career. Supposedly this was how he lured Ozil. It never really works for more than about 5 years tops. Rooney does a very good impression of someone with whom it would never work for more than the duration of a single conversation...


Skill also determines p, not just A.

Socialism In One Bedroom

"Supposedly this was how he lured Ozil"

Ozil must have a very understanding agent!

Rooney is a prime example of market failure, ridiculously over-rewarded by any rational measure of merit.

Your equations are very abstract it should be noted, behind size of the pie lies a number of factors. Football's massive global popularity being one.

Dave Timoney

Amusing to see Will Davies elide the role of intermediaries like Paul Stretford.


@ Alfred - you're right.
@ FATE - the rise of agents can be seen as another institutional change that has raised the bargaining ppower of players since Finney's day.
@ Will - yes. Insofar as players have become more footloose because of neoliberalism (or the rise of narcissism or whatever) it's one of the cultural changes which has shifted bargaining power.


I'm interested in exactly how bargaining power is separable from the utilities of various outcomes.

Every time I see high bargaining power discussed people really seem to mean relatively high payoffs for no agreement (p).

Even in the example of the offer from Palermo it is just an instance of reduced value of opportunities for Finney available elsewhere - because of loyalty or otherwise.

Similarly, institutional factors such as minimum wage legislation should all be expressed terms of payoffs.

Is bargaining power really a clearly defined factor? I can think off a few complications that aren't encapsulated in the payoffs, but not ones usefully summarised as a single bargaining power coefficient.

Yours faithfully,


With regard to your point about players being more "footloose" these days isn't that more a function of technology & globalisation rather than narcissism.

1952 Palermo would have been a very strange environment for Finney. No recognisable food, drink, language, media (newspapers/radio), British ex-pats, British holiday makers etc.

A Wayne Rooney moving to Palermo today would probably speak the same amount of Italian as Finney (none) but could lead a lifestyle in an English ex-pat bubble. Skype-ing relatives at home, watching UK TV online, friends flying out on Easyjet every weekend.

Hence it is easier to be footloose today.

Same with bargaining power for footloose investment bankers. Moving from JPMorgan in Canary Wharf to a better offer at Citibank in Canary Wharf doesn't involve moving house, your spouse having to find a new job, or your kids having to move school.

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