17 June 2020: football resumed behind closed doors, and the results changed

17 June 2020: After a pause of 100 days, the Premier League resumed, playing the fixtures that had been stopped as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. It was only the third time that matches had been stopped for anything other than the weather – the previous two occurrences being for the two world wars – those pauses being for four years and seven years respectively. 

Having had just one defeat in their last 13 games prior to lockdown Arsenal lost 3-0 to Man City on the resumption although overall their results in the remaining games was slightly better than previously. 

All 92 remaining Premier League games were broadcast live with no fans allowed and the change in the results pattern confirmed the effect of the crowd with away wins increasing by 10% in the Premier League.

When the break in play occurred Arsenal were ninth in the league with under half the points total of the leaders Liverpool.

2Manchester City28183768313757
3Leicester City29165858283053
5Manchester United29129844301445
6Wolverhampton Wanderers29101364134743
7Sheffield United28111073025543
8Tottenham Hotspur29118104740741

Arsenal had a points per game average of 1.43 before matches were suspended. Once the season had resumed in June all the games of the season were completed and the final table read

2Manchester City382639102356781
3Manchester United381812866363066
5Leicester City381881267412662
6Tottenham Hotspur3816111161471459
7Wolverhampton Wanderers381514951401159

After the resumption, Arsenal improved slightly with a points per game average of 1.60.

However, the really big news was what happened to the breakdown of home and away victories during the period without any crowds in the stadia.

During the period without crowds in the stadia the level of away wins in the Premier League rose by 10%. In the lower leagues there was also a rise but it was quite a bit less – in League Two it was an increase of 1.9%. Among statisticians and academics, this then started the debate as to why the presence of a crowd can have such an effect on results, and research showed that it was indeed the crowd’s influence on the referee that was the defining factor.

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