Sky Sports bust common football myths: Home advantage?

They often say a team has home advantage – but is there such a thing? We have checked every league result since 1888 to bust the myth…

You will often see managers rallying their home fans – but how much does home advantage affect results?

Home advantage has been on a steady decline since the Football League kicked off 132 years ago.

At its peak in 1895/96, home teams won 64.6 per cent of their games, when 480 games were played across two professional tiers.

From that summit, home win percentage hit an all-time record low in 2015/16 – crashing to just 41.1 per cent across all four tiers from 2,036 games. That same season, away win percentage hit an all-time high at 31.5 per cent.

So the value of home advantage plummeted more than 36.0 per cent, proportionately, between 1895 and 2016.

This season, home teams have won 43.7 per cent of their games across the tiers: Premier League (44.8 per cent), Championship (42.6 per cent), League One (46.3 per cent) and League Two (41.8 per cent).

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So what’s the reason behind the decline? There are likely to be a whole variety of reasons from the changing style of the game, modern stadiums and pitches and improved travel.

In fact, home advantage has hit record lows in each of England’s four professional leagues over the past eight years.

But a boost on home soil does still exist: teams have been 10.4 per cent more likely to win if they played at home this season, across the tiers on average.

To be precise, this term, home advantage has increased the chances of winning by 11.5 per cent in the Premier League, 9.3 per cent in the Championship, 13.0 per cent in League One and 8.5 per cent in League Two.

Liverpool are the only team to hold an unblemished record on home soil, followed by Wycombe in League One with a 72.2 per cent win rate. At the other end of the scale, Stevenage and Southend have won only 11.7 per cent.

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Behind closed doors

With the possibility the Premier League could play out the remainder of this season behind closed doors, would that affect home advantage?

Technically, if games were played at neutral grounds and without crowds, it would affect all teams equally.

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