With last season’s Premier League caught up in a global pandemic, it meant football like so many other sports was mothballed for a number of months and causing the 2019/20 season to finish far later than planned. After the pause button was pressed, with 92 league fixtures still left to be played, there was a question regarding what happens next and although some camps were pushing for the season to be rendered null and void, a conclusion to the campaign was finally agreed on the proviso that matches would be played behind closed doors. As such, it was questioned whether the lack of fans would impact results and whether the Premier League would no longer contain home advantage.
So has home advantage in the Premier League eroded since ‘Project Restart’ and in the early stages of this season? That’s a question that can be answered by a simple piece of analysis and one that looks at the 92 result outcomes once the English top tier had resumed.
First up, lets take the first 92 overall results of the 2019/20 season before any COVID-19 measures were in place. Here is the overall result split between home and away wins as well as draws.
Then, by comparison, here are the 92 post-Project Restart fixtures in the 2019/20 season.
Despite the assumed notion of home advantage being finished for good, it didn’t quite ring true and of the 92 Premier League clashes, 43 (46.74%) were won by the home team and 29 (31.52%) were won by the away team. Both were actually an increase on the previous fixtures, with the draws the only metric to drop.
Of course, this is just a data sample in isolation and doesn’t tell the complete story. With the current season having now surpassed the magic number of 92 fixtures played, it provides us with an ideal opportunity to compare and contrast even further.
So if we take the overall results from the first 92 fixtures of this season, they are as follows:
As you can see there is a marked difference, and although the number of draws has continues to drop slightly, the biggest shift comes between home and away wins.
While home advantage was still dominant during the restart phase, this is evidently no longer the case. Of the first 92 fixtures that have been contested this season, 40 (43.48%) were away wins, an increase of 12%, and only 34 (36.96%) were home wins, a drop of just undr 10%. So at this stage in the Premier League season, away advantage has actually been more beneficial than home advantage.
Considering that home advantage is the bedrock of competitive football, it is staggering to see the Premier League turned on its head this season. So why are there more away wins this season?
One possible explanation is that it could just be a quirk of the fixture list, with stronger sides playing more away fixtures against weaker sides so far. If this is the case, as the season progresses and the reverse fixtures are played, you might expect the phenomenon to balance out somewhat.
With the lack of support within stadia effectively balancing out home advantage. those who are welcoming a Premier League counterpart to their ground are ceding the initial supremacy that they would have possessed 12 months ago.
This is set to change rather quickly, as a handful of clubs will be permitted to have 2,000 supporters cheer them on which could see the balance tilt back in the home dressing room’s favour.
To see if such equilibrium is in place, we will need to wait another 10 weeks and by doing so, we will then collate another data sample of 92. While at this point, we can see just what effect a minimal roar of the crowd has had on Premier League results.
When we look at these data samples, we can see there is not a great deal of difference between the start of last season and the Project Restart phase. However, football has certainly changed direction in the first quarter of this season and with more away wins being recorded, the lack of voice within stadia and the fixture list has been the vehicle for change in the Premier League, with home advantage seemingly gone for now.
Which is why the opening of the stadium doors is not only important for club chairman looking to recoup some long overdue revenue but also those managers who are in desperate need of a home win or two.