Being a winner in the Beautiful Game doesn't necessarily make you profitable, and South Africa won't exactly be saying "my cup runneth over" from hosting the World Cup. At least that's what Stefan Szymanski and Simon Kuper say in their new book, Soccernomics.

Following in the footsteps of Michael Lewis' Moneyball, which shone a critical light on the business of baseball, economics professor Szymanski and sports writer Kuper set about deflating a lot of assumptions about who makes money in soccer, who doesn't, and how the landscape of the most popular sport on the planet might change in the future.

For example, the authors point out that some of the world's most famous clubs aren’t the economic powerhouses their fans may think. The average 2008 revenue for an English Premier League club was $150 million, just slightly ahead of the $100 million that a typical Tesco (NASDAQ:TESO) supermarket took in during that period. Even if chatter about Chelsea might fill the U.K. airwaves, "Chelsea cannot charge us for talking or reading or thinking about Chelsea," the authors state. In fact, Chelsea and Manchester United, despite their success on the pitch, are among the least profitable teams in the Premier League.

As for South Africa, where one of every three people lives on less than $2 a day, the World Cup won't do much more than temporarily raise the country's image. The book argues that playing host to a big sporting event such as the Olympics or the World Cup does little in the long term to boost a nation's economic prospects.

Meanwhile, certain rising stars around the world could shift the balance of power in the sport. One of the nations the authors have their eyes on? The USA -- provided the Americans don't resist "the transfusion of European knowledge into the game," Kuper says.

Are you surprised by the authors' findings? Do you think sports can help an economy grow? Sound off in the comments box below.

Fool online editor Adrian Rush prefers rugby to soccer, truth be told. Kick around any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. The Fool's disclosure policy is often heard singing "Glory, Glory, Man United" in the shower.