How stadium design affects football results

A research paper co-authored by a University of Salford academic has statistically confirmed that the decision to take out the running track at England's new Wembley stadium can help the home team win more games. After studying over 350,000 individual minutes of Premier League and German Bundesliga football, Dr David Forrest from the Management and Management Sciences Research Institute and his colleagues from Lancaster and Central Lancashire universities have confirmed that the crowd’s pressure on a referee’s subconscious leads to him producing fewer red and yellow cards to the home team - but that this effect is reduced when the stadium has a running track around it.

Previous studies into refereeing decisions have looked at the number of yellow and red cards awarded to each team during a game, but Forrest felt that this did not include sufficient detail. Instead, the researchers have calculated the probability that a card will be awarded during each minute of a game - allowing other factors which may influence the referee to be considered.

“We’ve been able to take into account the increased tension of a derby match and factors such as the away team having to defend more and having to chase a game late on. Even then, the referee still shows bias towards the home side," Forrest said. “Interestingly, it seems that stadium design can also affect the referee - in the Bundesliga several stadia have an athletics track around the pitch. We have shown that the home team there receives less favouritism from the referee as the fans are further away and unable to exert so much psychological pressure. The stadium architecture can really affect the home team’s results.”

Dr David Forrest is a media expert specialising in the study of gambling - notably lotteries, sports betting and sports economics. His associates were Babatunde Buraimo of the University of Central Lancashire and Robert Simmons of Lancaster University.