Home advantage in soccer: a retrospective analysis

J Sports Sci. Winter 1986;4(3):237-48. doi: 10.1080/02640418608732122.


The existence of home advantage has been established for all major professional team sports in England and North America. The advantage was found to be greatest in soccer, with the home team currently obtaining about 64% of all points gained in the English Football League. Home advantage has changed very little since the formation of the League in 1888 and there are only small variations between the four Divisions of the League. The advantage is less marked in local derbies, in the FA Cup and in nonprofessional competitions. It is greater in the European Cup and increases as the stages of the competition progress. The allocation of three points, instead of two, for a win in the Football League has not changed home advantage, but its effect has been greatly reduced in the GM Vauxhall Conference where an away win gains more points than a home win. The statistical evidence suggests that crowd support and travel fatigue contribute less to home advantage in soccer than do the less easily quantifiable benefits of familiarity with conditions when playing at home. Further possible explanations for the advantage are discussed in the light of findings in other sports.

MeSH terms

  • Competitive Behavior*
  • Humans
  • Mental Fatigue
  • Prejudice
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Soccer*
  • Social Environment*
  • Social Support*
  • Sports*
  • Travel