By David Butler
On Tuesday I presented data that suggested the inequality gap in European International football is on the rise since the 1980’s. The measure I used to judge inequality is the margin in goals scored across the 180 minutes of play between the top and bottom seeded teams in European Championship Qualifiers (1984 – 2012).
I’ve decomposed the average goals margin between the differences observed in home and away matches for the bottom seed below.
As expected travelling away to the top seed has always been more challenging, with an average margin of over 3 goals consistently observed (e.g San Marino have lost to England by over three goals when playing on English soil since 1984). Interestingly, the bottom seeds appear to be getting weaker at home since the 1980’s, with the average margin of defeat at 2 goals in the 2012 qualifiers. This changing home dynamic seems to be driving the increasing inequality.
It seems that Andorra, Malta, San Marino et al have always been comprehensively beaten away to the top seed but are getting worse at home. Of course, this insight just begs the question, why are these bottom seeds getting worse at home? In a chat with John Considine about these trends he suggested this may relate to the quality of the playing environments and that historically bigger seeds may have found the pitches far more challenging when travelling to bottom seeds.