The ‘home advantage’ is an age old saying in the world of football, but what does it actually mean now that there are no fans to give that boost to their team?
In December some football teams were allowed to bring fans back to games in an attempt to regain some normality during the coronavirus pandemic.
However, not all teams were allowed this ‘boost’, and this posed a question around the fairness of some teams having fans and some not, depending on which tier area they were in.
SWL took a deeper look into the form of the teams in London and how fans may or may not have been a positive impact after teams had played behind closed doors for so long.
Brentford played nine games over the month of December this season, amassing a total of 21 points from a possible 27. This came in the shape of six wins and three draws.
Of these nine games, Brentford welcomed 2,000 fans to their new stadium, the Brentford Community Stadium, for two of them.
These home games saw two of Brentford’s more lacklustre performances for the month in some tough conditions, even though fans were in attendance.
When asked about the potential reasoning behind this, David Anderson of the Bees Tactical Podcast said, “Immediately, I would say that fans particularly for this Brentford side, do not provide the impact that they would for other clubs like Sheffield Wednesday, Cardiff or Birmingham who rely on a thumping tackle to suit their ‘up and at ‘em’ style and get their crowds going.”
David explained that Brentford have a more tactical approach to their game and rely more on quick interplay and communication, which is possible in an empty stadium as a manager can instruct all of his players from the touchline, something other teams do not choose to adopt.
This is what has helped Brentford enjoy a successful championship campaign so far and has led to them to sit fourth in the table.
Brentford have had to wait for their stadium and David told SWL about some of the experiences fans have had
He said: “I have been told by fans that it was a really novel experience, it’s a brand-new stadium, and they were really excited to see the new stadium at night under the lights.
“I think everyone was taken aback by just how incredible it looked, how high quality and vast it is, it’s very different to Griffin Park, all new and shiny, everyone was just ecstatic.”
Moving across south west London, we find Fulham, who have largely struggled this season after promotion through the playoffs to the Premier League.
It has not been all doom and gloom, when the cottagers welcomed fans back to Craven Cottage for their fixture against the title holders Liverpool, many were predicting a resounding Liverpool win.
Although that was not the case as Fulham took the lead in the 25th minute and held out until the 79th minute when Mohamed Salah fired home from the penalty spot to level the scores.
Fulham’s December was largely uneventful as they witnessed four draws and a 2-0 loss to Manchester City.
However, the game against Liverpool, could have been influenced by the return of the Fulham faithful who may have provided Fulham with a bit of motivation.
A team like AFC Wimbledon, who could not welcome fans due to the nature of their new stadium not being ready for crowds, meant that fans are yet to visit their new ‘home’.
Wimbledon did visit Charlton who had 2,000 supporters behind their backs to witness an emphatic 5-2 victory for the hosts.
After looking at these three teams, it does leave the question of whether a ‘home advantage’ exists in the Covid-19 era of football, or whether it all depends on a team’s style of play, like the case of Brentford.
Featured image credit: AndyScott, CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons