The Decline of the Homefield Advantage in Football

When it comes to betting on football, the home team advantage has a huge influence on odds, but what happens when there are no fans in the stadiums? The lack of fans has really shaken things up, with many of the biggest football leagues seeing a large decrease in home wins and bookmakers losing profits due to plenty of unpredictable outcomes. 

It will still be a while until crowds are permitted back into stadiums, so when you’re betting on football at online bookmakers like Bovada, you should take this into consideration. 

Home Win Stats

Since football leagues around the world stopped fans from being able to spectate in person, various organisations have studied what effect this move has had. The results are quite shocking, highlighting the importance of fans in the home advantage. 

A study by CIES Football Observatory Weekly Post took a look at home wins before and after the pandemic in various football leagues. Across all international leagues, the vast majority have seen a decline in home wins since fans were barred in stadiums due to the coronavirus pandemic.

In France’s Ligue 1, Strasbourg is a good example. The team, which is sponsored by online poker operator Winamax, saw its home advantage slide from +26% in the 2019/2020 season to -2% currently. Their average match goals also dropped from 2.77 to 2.38. 

Here is a quick illustration of the biggest leagues in the world that have seen a significant difference in the number of home wins.: 

League % of Home Wins Before               % of Home Wins After         Difference
La Liga (Spain) 47% 40.9% 6.1%
Championship (England) 43.3% 38.1% 5.2%
Bundesliga (Germany) 45.8% 31.7% 14.1%
Serie A (Brazil) 50.3% 48.9% 1.3%
Super League (China) 38.5% 38.8% 9%

Of course, there are also some larger leagues that has actually seen an increase in home wins. For example, the Premiere League (England and Wales) saw a 0.8% jump, while Italy’s Serie A saw a 0.1% increase. However, these figures still don’t compare to the steep decline in home wins seen by other leagues. 

Why Does the Homefield Advantage Matter?

Up until now, researchers have not had the opportunity to study the phenomenon of the homefield advantage. Previously, it was tenuously attributed to home players feeling more comfortable on their turf, but researchers have found that the effect of stadium crowds on referees has a lot to do with it. 

According to a study by researchers at the University of Reading, games that don’t have crowds tend to favour the away team. With no noise from home team fans, referees are less likely to penalise the visiting team. 

“The referee is normally affected by the social pressure of a predominantly home-team-supporting crowd, punishing the away team’s players more severely”, the study’s findings read. 

Until we see begin to see fans back in the stalls, football betting is going to be a little bit trickier than it used to be. Teams that would have been favourites may not do as well on their home turf without noise from supporting fans, and you might want to give your punt a second thought before you bet. 

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