This study analyzes the effects of initial public offerings (IPO) on the performance of European football clubs. We use a unique panel dataset consisting of domestic and international performance data to investigate a football club’s on-field performance before and after going public. The study finds that the performance of football clubs does not improve on average with or after an IPO. Only football clubs in lower divisions benefit from a stock market listing. At the international level, there is no evidence of an improved performance associated with the IPO. The findings are consistent with shareholder ownership imposing tacit restrictions towards excessive debt and investments.