The field of sport is frequently offered as both a direct and metaphorical example of how to perform in business. It is therefore very interesting that evolutionary biology may give an advantage to teams wearing red shirts in evenly matched contests. This further confounds our ideas that skill alone should win out.

It is clear that some games, like knock-out football contests, can produce lucky results. The randomness of colour choice represents an additional maverick factor, alongside bad referees and other excuses that bad losers will bleat about.

The researchers at the University of Durham were building on findings that testosterone levels are reduced in players when playing away from home. The suggestion is perhaps that wearing red induces more testosterone production in the wearer, or suppresses it in the opponent.

They cite examples in nature where red is a sign of vitality and fertility.

However, others argue that this is not universally the case and that the vervet monkeys’ sexual vitality is defined by the blueness of its genitals.

Lead researcher Dr Barton is a Chelsea fan, and as students of bias, we can’t help wondering if this is a case of looking for a pattern in the statistics and finding it. He clearly has a sense of humour about this, and we recommend his approach: “as a Chelsea supporter, I would say that once you can control statistically for the unfair advantage of colour, we actually won the championship last year.” By contrast, Chelsea owner, Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich, coming from a colder climate, perhaps subscribes to the blue testicle theory, and so dispatched the losing manager.

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