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EU Control of State Aid to Professional Sport: Why Now?

 |  March 2, 2016

Posted by Social Science Research Network

EU Control of State Aid to Professional Sport: Why Now?

Ben Van Rompuy (University of Amsterdam) & Oskar Van Maren (University of Amsterdam)

Abstract:      In the aftermath of the Bosman judgment of the European Court of Justice (1995), the application of the EU free movement and antitrust rules to the sports sector rapidly intensified and deepened. Until very recently, however, the application of the EU State aid rules remained an anomaly in the story of ‘European sports law’.

This paper aims to explain why the public financing of sports infrastructure and professional sports clubs only in recent years started to attract State aid scrutiny.

Considering the general policy dynamics of European State aid control, it is argued that the late appearance of enforcement efforts is not as remarkable as it may appear. The extension of the reach of State aid control to new sectors or new forms of aid has typically been the result of external constraints on the European Commission’s independent agenda-setting abilities. In the case of sport, it was primarily the case law of the EU courts that triggered the sudden surge in formal investigations and decisional practice.