Winners and losers if season resumes without crowds at stadiums
Monday 11 May 2020 15:28, UK
Project Restart could complete the season behind closed doors - but which teams would that affect most?
Top-level sport in England could restart behind closed doors from June 1 but spectators may not be able to attend venues until a coronavirus vaccine is found.
Premier League clubs remain committed to finishing the 2019/20 season, but this will only be possible if between eight and 10 neutral venues are used to play the remaining fixtures.
But which clubs would gain or lose if the league resumes in empty stadiums?
A Sky Sports study found Premier League teams were 14.6 per cent more likely to win if they played at home this season, compared with results on the road.
The key reason for this advantage is almost certainly the influence of home fans, in addition to less travel and more familiar surroundings.
But what happens when you break that figure down into points-per-game for individual clubs?
Rock-bottom Norwich have collected nearly three quarters of their points at home - averaging more than one point per game at Carrow Road, but only 0.4 on the road.
Aston Villa still have a realistic chance of avoiding the drop but rely heavily on home form, along with fellow relegation battlers Bournemouth, Watford and Brighton - as have Spurs in their hunt for European qualification.
Conversely, Southampton, Chelsea and Wolves are the only clubs to perform better away from home, while Sheffield United have received only a marginal boost at Bramall Lane during their sensational campaign.
Teams with more home fixtures remaining would lose a boost from their 'twelfth man', and teams with more away games to play would gain.
Aston Villa and Manchester City each have a league-topping six home games left to play. The data above suggests home form has a marginal effect on City - but it could still dent their slender four-point lead over Leicester.
However, it could be a decisive factor for Villa, for whom the margins are even slimmer in the battle for top-flight survival - losing home support against Sheffield United, Chelsea, Wolves, Manchester United, Crystal Palace and Arsenal.
At the other end of the table, Sheffield United and Arsenal would be the biggest benefactors with six trips on the road remaining - boosting their challenges for European qualification.
The Blades would avoid opposition fans at Newcastle, Manchester United, Burnley, Leicester, Southampton and Villa, but lose support for decisive home games against Tottenham and Wolves.
However, Chris Wilder's side are one of a handful of clubs who - regardless of venue - have achieved a similar level of form.
Arsenal have suffered on away days and would benefit from absent crowds against Manchester City, Brighton, Southampton, Wolves, Villa and rivals Spurs - but would also be without fans for the home game with Liverpool.
The champions elect have five away fixtures left to play, and those include Everton, Manchester City and Arsenal.
Chelsea could lose an edge in crucial games against Manchester City and Wolves scheduled at Stamford Bridge, while Spurs still have home games to play against Manchester United and Arsenal.
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Crystal Palace and Bournemouth have the toughest run-ins, with remaining opponents averaging at 8.2 in the league table - bad news for Eddie Howe's side who currently sit in 18th. Aston Villa, Brighton and Sheffield United also have tough schedules.
In terms of tough games on home soil, the Seagulls have the trickiest run-in with both Manchester clubs, Liverpool, Arsenal and Newcastle scheduled to visit the Amex - which would be compounded further if they were to lose home support in those matches.
Manchester United have the easiest fixture list with their average opponent ranking at 12.3 in the table - having only three top-half opponents left to play. Local rivals Manchester City, Wolves, Southampton and Newcastle also have easier run-ins.
There have been 11 games played behind closed doors due to the coronavirus outbreak across Serie A, La Liga and the A-League which are comparable with the most recent result between the same teams at the same stadium.
Interestingly, home teams fared marginally better without their home crowd in attendance, winning 1.55 points per game instead of 1.45 on average.
Those results buck the statistical fact that home advantage exists - assuming a home crowd is the influencing factor - but this is likely due to the small sample size and time lapsed between fixtures.