Study reveals impact on home advantage of behind-closed-doors games

Tim Krul celebrates Norwich City's last victory at Carrow Road, a 1-0 win over Leicester in February

Tim Krul celebrates Norwich City's last victory at Carrow Road, a 1-0 win over Leicester in February Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

As Norwich City prepare for a return to Carrow Road action, David Freezer assesses an interesting study about the supposed loss of home advantage since football moved behind closed doors.

Has home advantage been lost without spectators? It’s an assumption that hasn’t necessarily held true since much of the football world was forced behind closed doors.

From a Canaries perspective, the drastic slump back to the Championship was easy to assess - losing all five of their Premier League home matches after the season had restarted in June, conceding 11 goals.

The only home goal scored was Todd Cantwell’s fine strike during the 2-1 defeat to Manchester United in extra-time in the FA Cup quarter-final at Carrow Road, all of which dragged their home win percentage for the season from 28.6 percent pre-lockdown, to 20pc by the end of the season - having beaten Newcastle, Manchester City, Bournemouth and Leicester at home earlier in the campaign.

Yet stats boffins in Switzerland, at the CIES Football Observatory, have crunched the numbers and looked at 63 major leagues worldwide that had to continue without spectators for at least 40 matches due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

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Their analysis found that the combined data of those 63 leagues had only seen the percentage of home wins drop by 2.1pc overall, to 42.2pc of wins being for the home side.

There were drastic impacts in some leagues. The top flights of Greece (down 15.1pc), Austria (15pc) and Germany (14.1pc) all saw fairly drastic downturns in home advantage but the top tiers in Switzerland (up 8.5pc), Hungary (6pc) and Romania (5.5pc) all saw more home wins behind closed doors.

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England’s top two divisions nestled in mid-table in terms of change, with the Championship dropping by 5.2pc to 38.1pc of games being won by the home side but the Premier League’s average actually rising slightly by 0.8pc to 46.7pc.

The opening weekend of fixtures last weekend saw the Championship almost returning to normal, with five home wins from 12 matches (41.6pc) - as clubs wait for government guidance on when they are allowed to start bringing fans back as part of reduced capacities.

City host Preston on Saturday and will be desperate to build on their opening weekend victory at Huddersfield, having won 15 of their 23 Carrow Road matches during their Championship title triumph of 2018-19 (65.2pc), losing just four games on home soil during that success.

- Click here to view the CIES study in full

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