Best sports business books

May 3, 2023

The world of sport has become big business in recent decades, whether it’s the boom in health and fitness interest fuelling gyms and lifestyle brands, or the corporate sponsorship, events and money involved at professional level. But throughout the sports industry, there are people who have succeeded through talent, ability and shrewd decision-making, and all of them have stories to tell.

That’s why we recommend reading some of the best sports business books around, so that you can learn from the experiences of the people who have achieved their goals. In this guide, we’ve picked out five of our favourites that should be next on your bookshelf or reading app.

Our picks of the best sports business books

There are so many specialisms within sports business that it can be difficult to know which books are right for you. The five that we’ve picked out here are those that can either educate or inspire you in general terms, and are most likely to deliver insights that you can apply to your own operation:

Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game

This is perhaps the best-known sports business book ever written, and while you might think that it’s too American or too statistics-focused, there’s plenty to learn from it. Michael Lewis’s biography of Billy Beane, manager of the Oakland Athletics baseball team, explores how Beane used data and analytics well ahead of his time to gain the edge on his competitors. Beane was able to build a successful team on a limited budget, and set the example of how sports business owners can make informed, data-driven decisions.

Show Me The Money!

The title of this book suggests it’s all going to be about Jerry Maguire, but instead it’s essential reading for anyone focused on sports marketing. It’s written by Esteve Calzada, the former chief marketing officer of FC Barcelona, and uses the global growth of football as an example of what can be achieved if marketing is done right. He explores all the various ways that businesses in all sports can monetise themselves, across sponsorships, broadcasting, image rights, merchandising and much more.

Goal: The Ball Doesn’t Go In By Chance

Sticking with FC Barcelona, its former general manager Ferran Soriano wrote this book in 2011, before he became CEO of Manchester City. He draws on the experiences of football managers and how they have to approach decision-making and strategy to succeed under pressure. The book is full of both anecdotes and detailed research, which shed light on what it takes to manage people and help them maximise their potential.

Athletes Are Brands Too

While the athletes at the top of their games are earning millions from image rights and endorsements, for those at lower levels it can help them fund their sporting endeavours or even just pay the bills. Jeremy Darlow explores how every type of athlete can maximise their personal brand in this book, especially in the age of social media where they can connect to fans, sponsors and media like never before.


A book by someone whose leadership has led to unprecedented greatness will always inspire – and there are few people who fit this bill better than Sir Alex Ferguson. The Manchester United legend wrote Leading in 2016, three years after he finally retired from the manager’s role at Old Trafford. In turn, he covers several topics that he feels are important to managerial and leadership success, from discipline and motivation through to data analysis and dealing with failure. It’s a fascinating and detailed read for all sports enthusiasts, whether you support Man Utd or not.

Get sports business insurance with Protectivity

Sports business is a very broad industry, and we hope that some of the best sports business books listed above can give you useful advice and inspiration for your enterprise. But whatever the nature of your business, one thing you must never overlook is the value of having good-quality insurance cover in place.

Protectivity provides comprehensive cover for every kind of sports businesses and has been doing so for more than a quarter of a century. For businesses big and small, we can cover you for Personal Accident, Professional Indemnity, Equipment Cover and Employer’s Liability, so that you can achieve your goals with financial certainty and confidence. Take a closer look at all our sports business insurance options.