Saturday 26 March 2022

VAR - Victories Away Rising

TipTap commented on my recent VAR - Veritable Away Results post:

You say that VAR has removed some of the Home advantage - does this apply to league football as well? is there evidence for this? Although given it started 2017ish, then we had Covid and empty stadiums, may not be enough comparable data yet?
What data we have is pretty clear on the impact of VAR and of reduced attendances due to COVID. Lane Clark & Peacock (LCP), a firm of financial consultants based in the City of London, produced a report in December 2020 with the title "COVID-19 and VAR decimate 'home advantage' in football leagues across Europe".
LCP’s Football Analytics team who have developed TransferLab, an online football data scouting tool, have analysed results of football games across the big five European Leagues (the English Premier League, French Ligue 1, Germany’s Bundesliga, Italy’s Serie A and Spain’s La Liga), looking back over the past 6 seasons for comparative data.

The data shows that, while the introduction of the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) between 2017 and 2019 (depending on the league) reduced home advantage across Europe by around 14%, the remaining home advantage largely disappeared after there were no fans in the stadium following the pandemic.

For the first time in history, the top flight in English football saw more Away wins than home in 2020-21, and other top flight leagues to have their lowest ever home win percentage last season were France, Scotland, Germany, Belgium, Italy and the Netherlands. Portugal's lowest was in 2019-20, with 2020-21 not far behind. The EPL this season currently is the second worst ever for Home sides winning just 41.3% of games. 

Declining Home Advantage was already a trend I have written about before. In 123 seasons of top flight football in England, only nine times have Away wins exceeded 30%. The table below shows how many of those are recent with 1946-47 an outlier likely due to being the first season after the disruption of the Second World War:

VAR was introduced in the EPL for 2019-20, a season impacted by COVID in March of course, so there's an overlap for two seasons with the pandemic and restricted attendances, but the data so far seems to back up the logical rationale that Home advantage is reduced by goal-line technology and VAR. I'm sure there will be more on this in published studies as time goes on, but as investors we don't have the luxury of waiting for mathematical proof, since paradoxically by then the edge will no longer be there. 

If you had backed the Away in all EPL matches since the introduction of VAR, your ROI would be 9.4% (from 1048 matches) compared with -8.8% for the previous 19 seasons. 

Friday 25 March 2022

Pizza Without Cheese

This blog now enters its 15th year, with this post being #2887. Four comments are required to hit the 4,000 mark, although I've probably deleted several thousand spammy ones over the years and the 2,687,154 all-time hits means the monthly average is, albeit completely meaningless, a little under 15k.

I say meaningless because this blog is essentially a personal diary - a record of ideas and thoughts over the years, some of which have served me well and some of which were perhaps rather naïve - but if some of my ideas over the years have improved your decisions in some way, that's satisfying to know.

Inspired by an article at which claimed, with somewhat dubious logic, that by 2024, Elon Musk "could become the first person to ever accumulate a $1 trillion net worth" I took a look using similarly dubious logic at how long it might be before I might reach billionaire status, and while the bad news is it's a lot later than 2024, the good news is that it's a lot sooner than I intuitively thought it might be. By the end of December 2054 when I will be just 97, I "could" reach this milestone.

Unfortunately the calculations assume that my net worth will grow at the same rate has it has since 1992 (18.7417% annually in case you were wondering) which isn't going to happen, but this pointless exercise is a great illustration of the power of compounding. If spreadsheets had existed in my youth, some of my financial decisions would have been a lot smarter.

I find it quite fascinating and inspiring that Warren Buffett had a net worth of $1m when he was 30, and is worth $117b today, with 99% of that being earned after his 50th birthday. 
The secret to getting rich is to start investing early and live for a long time! 

The UEFA World Cup Qualifiers this week looked like the type of matches where the Draw might be value. In 2017 the eight matches produced four Draws and a 7.24 unit profit, but these were two-leg affairs and results from previous years weren't too promising. Two matches saw the home side as a big favourite but the other two generated one winner with the Sweden v Czech Republic game requiring extra-time. As a Cassini, it's most unfortunate that Italy miss out on a second successive World Cup. A World Cup without Italy is like a pizza with no cheese, as someone described it. 

No EPL Draw selections last week with arguably England's Big 4 all winning their quarter-finals and making it to a top quality FA Cup Semi-Final line up and no action this week either because of the International break. 

Thursday 17 March 2022

VAR - Veritable Away Results

In both the last post, and again last month, I touched on the topic of European club matches, and the differences between First and Second Leg games, and some of you may have noticed that over the last five seasons, backing the Away team in the Second Leg has been very lucrative, with an ROI of 33% from 186 matches.

Since 2004, following this unsophisticated strategy would not surprisingly have lost you 3%, so the recent profitability is interesting, and may be due in part to the introduction of VAR which removes some of the Home advantage.  

In 41 games where the First Leg was a Draw, the ROI over this time (past five seasons) has been 124%, with the score of the Draw not a factor. There is one game tonight in the Europa League that meets this criterion, and one in the new Europa Conference League where VAR is not being used. This match is also the first in spreadsheet history to follow a 4:4 draw.

In the NBA, my advice from January to back Overs on totals greater than 223 continues to be profitable, with a 95-69-1 record from February, an ROI of 13%. These numbers are provisional from GimmetheDog since Killer Sports seems to have a bug on the query. 

Tuesday 15 March 2022

Moving The Goalposts

With a couple of big anniversaries coming up later this month, I took a look back at March 2008 when I started this blog on the eve of my 51st birthday. Those of you with an aptitude for numbers, which is hopefully all of you, will realise that this means I am now on the verge of 65, an age which used to mean being an "old age pensioner" and it's little comfort that I technically still have another year before achieving that milestone in life.

I've mentioned retirement more than once in this blog, and in fact 14 years ago, back in March 2008 when I set up this blog I wrote in my profile:

I am at that age where I can start thinking about retirement and anything I make from trading sports will bring that day forward.
"Bringing that day forward" hasn't yet happened, although since I never specified a date I was looking to bring forward, maybe there's still a chance I can claim to have achieved this goal. Of course, what happens in life is that the goalposts keep moving.

While we may think that when we achieve a certain net worth, we will retire, maybe travel for a while and live happily ever after, the reality is that if we are fortunate enough to hit that number, we realise it's not the finishing line we thought it was, and we set our sights on a new one.

Personal circumstances are defined by Collins as "the conditions of your life, especially the amount of money that you have" and as the term suggests, they are not the same for everyone. For myself, I'm fortunate in that I can now stop working anytime I choose, but for now I'm in good health and being paid silly money for the amount of work I do, and with travel placed on hold for the past two years I'm quite happy to carry on "working".

I am, however, well aware of the saying that "life is what happens when you're busy making plans" - and no, it wasn't John Lennon who originally came up with that insightful quote, dating back as it does to at least 1957 which I might add, was a vintage year. 

A couple of years ago I did mention the subject of possible retirement to a former boss, who remarked that I shouldn't retire FROM something, but TO something. That was good advice, and with a pandemic arriving shortly after that conversation, I'm glad I held off on pulling that trigger since travel would have been seriously restricted. 

Before I get to the betting updates, a couple of observations about that first blog post almost 14 years ago. The first is that my very first comment was from the inspirational Graeme Dand who wrote:
I have no idea whether this Tiger guy won or lost, or indeed whether Graeme ever did spend more time on golf, but a Tiger Woods finished the Masters that year as runner-up to Trevor Immelman. When I first started tracking my sports investing in 2006, Golf was actually my top sport that first year but by the time I started the blog, MLB and NBA had taken over.

As many of you know, Graeme is currently dealing with more important issues than sports betting, and I encourage you to follow him on Twitter even if you don't care about horse-racing as much as Graeme does, which is a lot. 

It was looking like the MLB season might be shortened this year but the dispute between players and owners was resolved last week with a full 162 game season in tact, albeit starting a week later than originally scheduled. 

Unfortunately with the Killer Sports MLB page currently not working, my participation may be somewhat limited, but if you are playing, note that the National League will be adopting the Designated Hitter rule, extra innings will no longer start with a runner on second, and doubleheader games will be the full nine innings.   

After a few days away travelling for work, I thought I'd wait for this weekend's EPL games to complete before updating the numbers, and as I cautioned back in January, finding Draws in March is historically very tough, and this season appears to be following the same pattern with March nothing short of a disaster!  
If you took heed and lowered your stakes, well done. If you lowered them to zero, well done indeed. It was a fortuitous time to have a work trip. Why is the first quarter of a year so bad? Logically it does make sense that with teams playing each other for a second time, the market should be more efficient, but the consistent drop off over 22 years is still surprising. 

In European competition, in Second Leg matches where the Home team has more than a one goal lead from the First Leg the value historically is on the Away team, and neither Liverpool (v Internazionale) or Manchester City (v Sporting) won their Second Leg matches from this position last week, although City were able to Draw. 

There is also an edge on the Away team when the First Leg was a Draw, (10.25% ROI from 219 matches), but Bayern Munich were 1.19 to beat Salzburg and the edge isn't there on matches with a hot favourite.