The size of the goal has never changed, the length and width of the pitch has never changed, the ball is the same - although the ball was significantly different when I was a young boy. It was made of leather and soaked up water. It became as heavy as a brick and was no fun at all if it hit you in the face! But fundamentally, whether the game is played in the English Premiership or Scottish League Two, everyone is playing with the same equipment. How and why do the leagues differ?
From our perspective, we're primarily concerned with betting returns from these outcomes as opposed to actual home, draw, and away win rates, but win rates in each division is where we'll start.
The returns shown in this article are based on the best odds available from five leading UK bookmakers at 12 o'clock on Monday (for games played between Tuesday and Thursday) and the best odds at 12 o'clock Thursday (for games played between Friday and Monday).
The details shown cover all games assessed by my Winabobatoo service since 2006-07
The table on the left shows the detailed win percentages for each outcome; the table on the right shows the win percentages by rank.
The data is limited for the Scottish Lower Leagues. We need to be cautious with their numbers. The English Premier League shows the greatest percentage of home wins with the lowest percentage of away wins. The English Championship come eighth of the nine for away wins, and tops the draw rankings. Notice how the draw rankings drop as we come down the leagues.
We can create a slightly different 'rank' table to see how home advantage appears to decline as we come down the leagues. The next table adds the home and draw ranks together, and adds the draw and away ranks together:
Returning to the original rankings:
Fewest away wins occur in the top two leagues. The likelihood of away wins increases as we drop down the table. I feel this is quite telling in that home advantage appears to count for more when the quality of the football is higher.
The key for bettors isn't primarily to know which league produce the most or fewest homes, draw, or aways, the key is to know whether the bookmakers are under pricing or over-pricing these outcomes. The next table looks at the home returns in each league:
Quite surprisingly, all home teams could have been backed in the English Premier League with a profit made. Backing home sides in the other leagues shows varying degrees of losses. Covering a large sample size, League Two has shown poor returns for home backers.