Back in 2018 we addressed the proposed issue of the removal of the "away goals" rule in European club football. We again addressed the issue a number of times last year (here, here and here).
When the latest hardcopy version of the Journal of Sports Economics arrived at my house last week, it was great to see - and start reading - "About the “Away Goals Rule” in Association Football. Does Scrapping the Rule Increase the Fairness of the Game?" by Francisco J. Bahamonde-Birke and Ramón Andrés Bahamonde-Birke.
The abstract reads "The present study analyzes all major international football tournaments organized by UEFA and CONMEBOL during a period of 30 years to assess the impact of the away goals rule (AGR). The study takes advantage of natural experiment given by the differentiated application of the AGR by both confederations, in order to assess the efficacy and the consequences of the rule in terms of both the total amount of goals being scored (the original intention of the rule) and the teams that progressed onto the next stages."
The results are very interesting. The authors report that "the AGR seems to have failed to fulfill its original goal of increasing both scoring by teams playing away and scoring in general...[and] is found to have a significant impact favoring the chances of the team starting the series at home."
The authors continued by stating "However, it still does not translate into a higher probability of progressing onto the next stage than the team closing the series at home. Closing the series at home has an intrinsic advantage, which is only countered, although not completely, by the impact of the AGR."
Should a game require extra time of penalties the author find that "we observe that closing the series at home has a positive impact no matter whether overtimes with AGR or penalty shootouts are used as tiebreakers. However, playing an overtime, when no AGR is set in place has a determining influence favoring the team closing the series at home."
The full paper can be found here.