There are numerous tools and techniques bettors can utilise when looking to gain a betting advantage over the markets. One of these is Home Field Advantage, which shows what advantage a home team has.
It’s widely understood that sports teams perform better at home than when they are away or at a neutral ground. For example, in the 2012/13 Premier League season 592 goals were scored by sides at home, while away teams found the back of the net just 471 times. That same distinction has emerged for every season since the football league’s inception in 1888.
Evidence of HFA in the Premier League
The table below shows a summary of every Premier League season, with home, away and draw percentages, as well as goals per game for home and away fixtures and the differential per game:
The numbers may not seem surprising at first glance, but it is the consistency across 21 Premier League seasons that stands out. Over that period, there was only a 9% variation between home win rates, a smaller variation for away wins (7%) and a rise in the range for draws (11%).
Therefore Premier League teams consistently win nearly half of all home games (46%), while there is a 27% chance of a draw, and 27% for an away win. In short, it shows that there is a lot of evidence for a home advantage in the Premier League.
HFA goal data for the Premier League
The table below showcases the HFA (in goals) of the 11 teams in the Premier League who have been present over the past five seasons. The figure represents the average goal difference for the teams when playing at home, and is predominantly positive:
A quick look at the above table shows some interesting points relating to teams’ home performances. For example, while the top performer at home over the last five years was Manchester United (winning by an average of 1.65 goals at home), the Red Devils had a comparatively poor season in 2012/13, winning by just 0.89 at home.
That was their worst record in the last five years by a notable margin – a strange results from a team that walked the league without much of a challenge. Could it be that Man Utd were excellent, but with some hiccups at home? Or perhaps they rested some of their best players for games at Old Trafford, knowing they were probably good enough to win with a less-than-full-strength team?
Liverpool have the fourth-highest HFA in the league, and therefore the much talked about “affect of the Kop” could be true
It’s also interesting to note Liverpool’s home performance. At 1.09 over five years, the Reds have the fourth-highest HFA in the league, and therefore it seems that the much talked about “affect of the Kop” could actually hold true. Their home form far outweighed their league position in those years.
The Merseysiders have had a poor last two seasons, however, at just 0.42 and 0.89 – is the Anfield effect fading? Or are Liverpool just getting worse, and even their 12th man can’t help them?
Stoke City are another side who are traditionally difficult to tackle at home, however their HFA is one of the worst in the league at 0.28. Are biases regarding their home form just a hangover from another time? Or could you consider a 0.28 home field advantage good for a team of Stoke’s ability in the tough Premier League? The above questions are important for you to answer if you want to correctly use HFA data to place bets.
Interestingly, every team that has been relegated from the Premier League in the past five seasons has had a negative HFA.
Goal-based HFA information has particular significance in Asian Handicap betting. If a team has a home handicap less than their Home Field Advantage, it might make a sensible bet – although this is just one of a number of factors to consider.
For a list of Premier League team’s HFA from last season, check out the table to the left.
Influences on HFA
There are many preconceptions on what influences HFA in soccer – crowd size, travel and weather are a few which have been proposed over the years.
Moskowitz and Wertheim who wrote Scorecasting compiled data to test a variety of these popular theories. What they found was that the most prominent influence was the referee. They found that home teams received small preferential treatment from the referee.
The authors make it clear that the bias is not done consciously, but rather being humans, the referees absorb the raw emotion of a home crowd, and sometimes make a decision subconsciously in favour of the close-by raucous crowd.
Harvard Research Assistant Ryan Boyko researched further proof for the influences on Home Field Advantage. Boyko studied 5,000 Premier League games from 1992 to 2006 to discern any officiating bias for home teams.
His conclusion was that for every 10,000 home team fans, home team advantage increased by 0.1 goals.
His study also showed that home teams are more likely to receive penalties, particularly from inexperienced referees. Therefore building referee profiles is also important when predicting a match’s outcome.