Sunday 25 May 2014

The Draws Are Moving Away

Jamie A left a comment:

I'm not up to date with reading through your blog but I wonder if you could address something (you might have already done so).
There is the recurring theme of your XX draw selections being a bit 'unlucky' due to the decrease in draws across the various leagues this saeson - but I wonder where are these draws going and are they actually making your value selections a bit 'lucky'?
I can only assume that Jamie has been seriously ill, for what other good reason is there to fall behind with reading this fine blog?, so first, I wish him a speedy and full recovery.

This issue was first raised by Danny a few weeks ago, and was addressed in part here, although I wanted to wait for the season to end before drawing any conclusions.

Now that the season has ended, the draw count is in, and the decrease confirmed, the first question is why are the draws lower this season across all leagues?

Unfortunately I don’t have an answer to that. It is a World Cup season as discussed in this post here, but previous World Cup seasons have not seen this trend, and in the absence of any changes to the rules or allocation of points, I am putting it down to ‘just one of those things’. One season does not make a trend, and the Draws were up on their 10 year averages last season (2012-13) in both the EPL and Bundelsiga. 

Were this trend to continue, I might be tempted to posit that home advantage is diminishing and better (relative to the home team) away teams are not as willing to settle for a draw as they might previously have been. The increased professionalism of officiating might also be at play here. 

It is well known that home advantage comes from biased (albeit subconscious) refereeing decisions, but technology now means that not only are goal-line decisions out of the referees hands, but there is also better communication between officials, and the fourth official is there ‘helping out’ with the time added on, which traditionally would be longer with a home side losing than when it was winning.

As for the question of where are the draws going, and in support of my “diminishing home advantage at the top level” theory, the answer is that they are almost all becoming Away wins.

Of the 63 Draws ‘lost’ this (2013-14) season (based on 9 year averages because Serie A changed increased its membership in 2004-05), only one of them became a Home win, while a massive, and almost unbelievable, 62 (98.4%) became Away wins.

As Danny suggested a few weeks ago, Jamie also, not unreasonably, suggests that the Cassini Value Selections may have been beneficiaries of the draw drought. I accepted this possibility at the time, (obviously fewer draws means more homes and aways) but having looked at the numbers, since these value selections are almost always home selections in the 2.0 to 2.6 price range, it is obvious that if they have benefited at all from the dearth of draws, it is only by the minutest of margins.

The fact is that this season, anyone selecting anything other than away teams, would have struggled to meet expectations. The decline in draws is only one piece of the puzzle. The other side of this is why the Away win numbers are so high this season?

For those who like numbers, here are the 9-year averages across Europe, followed by 2013-14's results:
Away wins were at record (10 year) highs in England, France, Italy and Spain. Only Germany failed to set a new high, although they were still 8 wins above their 10-year average of 89.

One other observation is that except for Spain, in every other league the Home Goals Per Game (HGPG) minus the Away (AGPG) figure, i.e. the home advantage, is down on its 10 year average.

In Germany it is at 0.34 from 0.40, in France 0.37 (from 0.41), in Italy 0.35 (from 0.39) and in England 0.38 (from 0.42). Spain was at 0.51 (up from 0.42, in part because of the frequent thrashings handed out at home by Barcelona, Real Madrid and this year Atletico Madrid).

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