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23/01/2009 No.55
Kevin Pullein
Friday 23 Jan 2009
In the FA Cup, away wins occur more often than they do in either the Premier or Football League – ground advantage is simply less important. The statistics show that in the past 15 seasons in the Premier and Football Leagues, away teams won 27% of games, drew 28% and lost 45%. In the FA Cup, away teams won 30% of games, drew 27% and lost 43%.

We can see that the frequency of away wins in the knockout ties was three percentage points higher. If you thought this increase might be connected in some way with the greater number of mismatches that occur in the FA Cup, think again. In the Premier League, away teams won 27% of games. In FA Cup ties featuring two representatives of the Premier League, away teams won 31% of games. In other words, the increase in away wins was even greater in contests of the highest quality.

Differences of 3-4 percentage points are quite small but in result-related markets, prices are hardly ever wrong by more than a small amount. In practice, successful betting consists of being able to identify small influences on results that bookmakers sometimes overlook. And this is one of them.

Imagine an FA Cup tie between two teams of equal ability. Assuming ground advantage to be worth what it is in the Premier or Football Leagues, a bookmaker trying vainly to build a profit margin into his prices might quote an away win at 5–2. The true odds would be 23–10 – in your favour, if only slightly.

Why should ground advantage be worth less in the FA Cup? On Monday 2,985 Everton fans were at Anfield for the draw with Liverpool in the Premier League. On Sunday, 6,100 will be there when the teams meet in the FA Cup. Away teams receive more tickets than they do in the Premier or Football League and being roared on by a greater proportion of the supporters inspires teams to achieve better results.

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