Thursday 30 July 2015 17:25, UK
In the Premier League's relegation battle, home fixtures are seen as key opportunities for teams to score vital points in their bid for survival. However, a new Sky Sports study shows that home advantage is not as important as it once was.
Data compiled by Columbia University professor James Curley shows that, in England's top tier since 1888/89, home advantage is now 25 per cent less effective.
In the opening seasons of professional football, around 60 per cent of matches ended in a home win. Now, that figure has dropped by around 15 per cent, with just 45 per cent of home games won in the 2013/14 Premier League campaign.
Last season, away teams were victorious in 32 per cent of matches, with 20 per cent ending in draws.
Home wins were most frequent during the 1895/96 season, when 65 per cent of matches went the way of the hosts. However, in 1988/89, teams won just 41 per cent of matches at their own stadium - the fewest recorded in the top tier's history.
In the same season, a staggering 29 per cent of games ended in draws. By trend average, games ending in draws overtook away wins in the 1940s - rising from just under 20 per cent in 1888/89 to just under 30 per cent in 2013/14.
The steady decline is also observed across England's lower three divisions and suggests that home advantage means far less than it once did – bad news for the likes of Hull, Leicester and Aston Villa, who may be banking on avoiding relegation with three homes games out of their final four fixtures.