Friday, 3 July 2020

NYT Conclusions

An article in Wednesday's New York Times was titled Do Empty Stadiums Affect Outcomes? The Data Says Yes.

Perhaps a little premature, and as the article is behind a paywall, I probably shouldn't reproduce it here in full, but a few highlights are probably acceptable.

To set the stage, Home Advantage has existed since leagues were first formed. A 2013 study said:
The sample of 52 countries monitored during a period of 10 years allows us to study 520 leagues and 111,030 matches of the highest level in each country associated with UEFA. Home advantage exists and is significant in 32 of the 52 UEFA countries, where it equals 55.6%.
The byline of the New York Times' article was "Home teams were less likely to win without fans in the stands, an analysis of Bundesliga matches showed."

I mentioned in this post that Away sides had scored more goals than Home in empty stadiums, a fact corroborated by the NYT's article, but the latter also added that Home sides took fewer shots (a decrease of 10 percent), and that the shots they did take were of a poorer quality, which we could have guessed but nice to have confirmation.
"The probability of any given shot ending up as a goal dropped more than a point, to 11.11 percent"
Home teams also attempted fewer crosses, won fewer corners and tried fewer dribbles, and it also observed that goalkeepers performed better away from home than they did at home.
"The percentage of shots saved dropped noticeably for goalkeepers on familiar territory, but increased for those on visiting teams."
It has long been known that a significant element of Home advantage is the referee who, studies have found, tend to favour Home teams, albeit subconsciously, by not wishing to antagonise the more numerous Home fans.

With the fans gone, the article claims that home teams were now penalised more for fouls and there had been an increase in the number of yellow cards they were awarded. 

Other studies have noted that clubs moving to a new stadium often experience a reduced Home Advantage, with one suggesting that it is...
...estimated that about 24% of the advantage of playing at home maybe lost when a team relocates to a new facility.
In effect, this may be what is happening when teams are going from a packed stadium to an empty one.

The article has some interesting observations on the game being played differently with more passing, perhaps because some players are less motivated to try crowd pleasing moves, and concludes:
But the absence of fans — the cavernous stadiums, the oppressive silence, the sense of unreality — changed, somehow, the way the players expressed that talent, the way they approached the game. It created a more cautious, more mechanical approach, focused on the end result more than the process.
The Bundesliga’s return in May was confirmation that soccer was, first and foremost, a business, more than a game. What the experiment of the last six weeks has shown is that is precisely what it became.
As said before, it will be interesting to see if these observations are seen in other leagues and levels of football. The Bundesliga has always been an outlier, so perhaps these findings will be unique, but it's certainly an interesting experiment that we have been forced to witness, albeit from home.

One of its outlier features is of course the higher number of goals per game, and this table shows the numbers from 2014-15 for the top leagues and how the Away sides in Germany generally score more goals way from home, the major reason why Bundeslayga had such a good season. 
AGPG is Away Goals Per Game and at 1.549 is the fourth highest in my database, surpassed only by the first two seasons of the Football League (1888-90) and Division Two in 1892-93, a season that was previously famous for being Bootle's only season in the league. 

No prizes, but name the only other club to have played just one season in the league, and I'm not counting Salford City as I expect them to return next season! 

1 comment:

Unknown said...

New Brighton?