Thursday, 7 March 2019

Stop The Press: Spurs Draw

So Spurs finally draw a league game, ending the streak at 32, their first 'Big 6' Draw in 11 months.

Qualifying Big 6 matches are now +3.62 points from 14 matches, with six games remaining this season.  

Before I departed for another work trip last month, overall the Draw in the Premier League was striking this season at exactly 20%, but since then has declined still further, currently at 19.4% which is the third lowest in top English division since the Second World War, and the 5th lowest in 100 years, in fact since the game-changing 1925 change in the offside law. 

For those who can't remember that time, the impact on goals per game, and thus on the probability of a Draw, was dramatic, In the 1923-24 season, the goals per game average was the lowest it had ever been at 2.474 with no less than 55 goalless draws. 

As attendances dropped, the FA looked at changing the offside law and the current rules, albeit with a few subsequent tweaks, were introduced in the summer of 1925. The result was that the 1925-26 season saw the average goals per game jump to 3.686, and goalless draws drop to just 15.

Averages (mean) can be a bit 'mean'ingless when there are outlier results such as 5-5, 8-3 and 11-2, but a more useful indicator perhaps is that the median goals per game doubled, from 2 to 4.

As readers of this blog and of my articles on the Draw elsewhere will know, the strike rate of the Draw has varied over the years. In the formative first eight seasons of the league, fewer than 16% of matches were Draws. As the number of goals dropped, so the number of draws increased, averaging 22% in the remaining seasons before the Great War stopped play. 

Draws increased after the war until the Offside Rules changed, and the higher number of goals of course meant fewer Draws.

Draws occurred in 29% of matches in 1920-21, a frequency not beaten until 1946-47, and coincidentally both seasons were just after a major war (something to make a note of perhaps, in the event that a Third World War takes place). That record was surpassed in the early days of the Premier League, with 30.74% in 1993-94 and the all-time high of 31.32% in 1996-97.

The first five seasons of the EPL saw Draws in 29% of matches, generally declining to this seasons EPL record low.

Backing the Draw in every EPL game this season (never a good idea) and you'd be down 74.43 points, a -26% ROI, but backing it in games where the difference in 'true' prices is less than 10% and you're again in profit (see above). This strategy is also profitable in every season in the Pinnacle era with an ROI of 20.6% from 159 matches.

Looking at the pre-Pinnacle years, using prices adjusted for the challenging over-rounds of those days (up to 112%), and it's interesting that when the Home team was the slight favourite, the Draw wasn't a value bet, but since Pinnacle came along, it is actually slightly more value then when the Away team is slightly favoured.

When the prices on both teams are exactly the same, the ROI is a rather impressive 96.6% in the Pinnacle era.   

As others have previously noted, in matches between evenly matched teams, backing the Draw is a solid strategy and the overall low strike rate for Draws this season shouldn't be of undue concern.

More interesting than that the Draws have dried up, is the question of where have they gone to? In a word, they have gone Away, with Away wins currently at 33.22% of matches which will be a record for the top division in England if it remains that way. 

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