Many research papers have considered the impact of individual ‘stars’ on, for instance, ticket revenues, spectator turnout or television viewership.
Some of the earliest questions posed on this topic considered stars in the context of positive externalities - spillover effects in markets where welfare is positively affected by a third party (and no compensation is paid for this).
Much of this research can be traced to a paper by Hausmann and Leonard in 1997. They showed that Michael Jordan, when he played for the Chicago Bulls in the 1991-1992 season, increased ticket revenues at away games throughout the league and raised local advertising revenue. There has been more evidence since. Lawson, Sheehan and Stephenson's 2008 paper ‘Vend it like Beckham’ showed that Becks increased ticket sales as a share of stadium capacity by about 55 percentage points when he joined LA Galaxy in 2007. Beckham's star status was conferred by the fact that he was paid over the salary cap. As more recent work has shown, the effects of stars on MLS attendance tends to diminish over time (Jewell, 2017).
Given the salary rules, it is easier to determine a 'star' criteria in the context of the MLS. Measuring fame in European football is trickier. Should a criteria base itself on talent, celebrity status/popularity or both? The two sources of fame are correlated but it is far from a perfect relationship. I can think of many relatively more famous Premier League stars who have not delivered on the pitch for a long time.
For the last year, I have been working on a ‘star’ index for footballers. The idea is to capture star qualities related to talent (ability/recent performance) and characteristics related to a player’s level of global media fame (celebrity status). Importantly, the aim is to discern the relative star power of each player. I have compiled a dataset using many objective measures and have developed a formula to condense on-and-off field attributes into one 'star score'. The tool is exportable and scores are comparable across leagues. It is designed so that it can be applied to any league in the world.
For 410 Premier League players this season, the top 10 ‘stars’ are below. The results are mostly intuitive, with the odd surprise. Mo Salah tops the list. Ngolo Kante coming in at no.2 is somewhat of a shock. My only big surprise was Mateo Kovacic coming in at 6th. Interestingly, there is no English player in the top 10. They enter the list at no.13 (Raheem Sterling) and no.15 (Harry Kane).