Do things go bump in the night?

Article by Colin Sowerby

Do home teams have an advantage at night matches? 

I was listening to one of my favourite podcasts this week – The Punt. It’s a podcast by William Hill that looks at all of the Premier League matches. It features Ron Atkinson, who made a suggestion that intrigued me. Ron felt that the floodlit atmosphere of a night match favours the home team. Since this week’s midweek fixtures are all night matches, I thought it would be good to look at the statistics and see whether a night match really does provide an advantage to the hosts.

By trade, I’m a Six Sigma Black Belt (look it up), so I like my data. Let’s have a look at last season’s Premier League results (2012/13) and see what it tells us. This analysis does not include English cup games (FA Cup, Capital One Cup) or European matches (Champions League, Europa League).

So how do home teams perform in the night matches? Firstly I should point out that for this analysis, night matches are those which kick-off at either 7.45pm or 8pm. Here are the results of how home teams performed last season in night matches

This looks promising for Ron’s prediction. Home teams have a 42% chance of winning and add onto that the 33% draw statistics and you have a 75% chance of at least gaining a point. Only a 25% that the home team will lose.
However, to put this in perspective, we need to compare these stats against how home teams perform in day matches.
Day matches include midday games, afternoon and tea-time kick-offs (3pm, 4pm & 5.30pm).
Here are the results of how home teams performed last season in day matches.

The data suggests that home teams are more likely to win day matches than night matches. However, they have a lower chance of securing a draw and have a higher chance of losing the game.

The results seem similar, so let us compare how home teams perform in day and night matches. Here are the results.

Now we can clearly see how home teams performed in day vs night scenarios.

The red bars show the likelihood of a result in a daytime match. The blue bars show the likelihood of a result in a night match.

Home teams are 1.4% more likely to win day games than night games. However, home teams are 3.6% less likely to lose in a night match. The gamechanger is the draw. You are 5% more likely to secure a draw at night than during the day.

In a nutshell, as a home team, you are less likely to lose at night than if you played during the day. However, if you’re concerned about the all-out win and the 3 points, you’re better off playing during the day.

Before I gathered the data and ran the analysis, I personally thought that the results would show better figures for the night matches, but the stats are the stats! To be honest, there is little difference between a day or night match. The 5% increased chance of getting a draw at home in a night match is probably the most standout statistic.

I hope this analysis helps Lee Phelps, host of the William Hill football podcasts and ‘The Punt’ (that’s the name of their podcast) and it’s available here and on iTunes, it’s a really insightful listen and it’s free!

Colin Sowerby is a regular host on the weekly Man On The Post football podcast (also free!) and can be downloaded from the link at the top of the page and also on iTunes.