Home comforts continue to decline in Premier League as stadiums remain empty

PA Sport Staff
·3-min read

A decrease in home advantage has the Premier League on course for an all-time first, with away teams outscoring home teams this season.

With almost every match this season played behind closed doors, teams can no longer rely on their fans to roar them to victory.

Here, the PA news agency takes a look at the continued decline in home comforts.

Make yourself at home

Precentage of goals scored by home teams in English top flight by season
Home teams have been outscored for the first time ever in the top flight (PA graphic)

Against the backdrop of empty seats, cardboard cutouts and club-branded tarpaulins, there have been 233 away goals in this season’s top flight compared to only 228 by home teams.

The difference is small but striking given that in every completed season since the Football League began in 1888, home teams have outscored their opponents by an aggregate of over 100 goals.

In percentage terms, home teams have scored 49 per cent of the goals having never previously dipped below 50 per cent – the closest season before this one, 2015-16, saw 567 home goals and 459 for away teams, a 55-45 percentage split.

The highest ever share for home teams was 70 per cent way back in 1901-02, and there is a clear pattern by era.

The percentage for home teams only twice dipped below 60 per cent in the years prior to World War Two but settled to an average of 60 per cent in the post-war era until the advent of the Premier League, since when it has only once reached above that mark.

United take Theatre of Dreams on tour

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer at an empty Old Trafford
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side have struggled at home but thrived on the road (Oli Scarff/PA)

Manchester United have been among the biggest drivers of this season’s lopsided figures, scoring 21 goals in seven games away from home but only 12 in nine at Old Trafford, despite a 6-2 home win over Leeds.

Leicester have 20 goals in nine away games, including a 5-2 win at Manchester City, compared to 11 in eight at the King Power Stadium and the league is neatly split overall, with 10 teams having a better goals-per-game record at home and 10 away.

Anfield and – despite Leicester’s efforts – the Etihad Stadium remain the toughest places to visit. Liverpool average 2.63 goals per home game and Manchester City exactly two, compared to 1.78 and 1.25 respectively on the road.

Dortmund highlight European trend

Home teams have won just 37.2 per cent of Premier League games this season, a significant decrease from 45.3 per cent last season.

And the pattern has been replicated across Europe, with a number of the continent’s traditional giants underperforming, especially on home turf.

Just one in three home teams have won in the Bundesliga, with Borussia Dortmund notably culpable – they have taken 16 points on their travels and only 12 at home, where they have won four games and lost three in the absence of their fabled ‘yellow wall’.

LaLiga has the highest home win percentage of Europe’s ‘big five’ leagues, but at only 39.9 per cent. Real Madrid have opted not to use an empty Bernabeu, instead playing home games at their training ground, and for the first time in a decade less than half of their points have come from home games – though a recent revival has brought four straight wins at the Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano.

Ligue 1 has seen 39.4 per cent of home wins, with Paris St Germain losing to rivals Marseille and Lyon at the Parc Des Princes, while in Serie A the overall figure is 35.9 per cent.

Nine-time reigning champions Juventus are seven points off the top and were beaten 3-0 at home by Fiorentina just before Christmas. Meanwhile, they have recently enjoyed big away wins at Parma and AC Milan, while the latter’s rise to the top of the standings has been powered by seven wins from eight away games.