Municipal subsidiary policy toward professional sports teams: A democratic deficit in the local government

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4 Scopus citations


Local authorities around the world provide different forms and different amounts of direct and/or indirect assistance to professional sport teams, which in most cases are owned by private business entrepreneurs. Findings from various studies indicate that professional sports teams do not make a significant contribution to a city in terms of its economy, tourism or even image. The purpose of this paper is to explore and question, from a local public policy standpoint, the justification for financial assistance from the local authority to privately owned professional sports teams that provide a public service or a public good. In order to shed light on the process, a two-staged study was used: an examination of the financial subsidies of ten cities in Israel, focusing in particular on Herzliya, an affluent community north of Tel Aviv. In the second stage, a representative sample of Herzliya's adult residents (18 years old and above) was surveyed with regard to the city's current policy on sports and the policy they would like to see enacted. The findings show that both public officials and professional sports officials place subsidizing popular sports rather than professional sports higher on their priorities. The study concludes that the combination of a number of processes has brought about a democratic deficit. Lack of transparency and the exclusion of the public in decision making processes has led to a democratic deficit in the local authorities. Once it was armed with empirical information and included in the decision making process, the public was able to reallocate the budget to meet its needs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)431-447
Number of pages17
JournalInternational Journal of Sociology and Social Policy
StatePublished - 20 Jul 2012


  • Democratic deficit
  • Israel
  • Local authorities
  • Local government
  • Sport policy
  • Sports

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • General Economics, Econometrics and Finance


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