It was recently reported (see here and here) that UEFA intend to hold a discussion about the future of the "away goals" rule in European club competitions. Introduced in the mid-1960s, the rule is used as a tie-breaker where, in the event a two-legged match remains level, goals scored away from home count double. For example, if Team A and Team B drew 1-1 in the first leg (with Team A at home), and 2-2 in the second leg (with Team B at home), the 3-3 deadlock would be broken by virtue of the fact that Team A's 2 away goals exceeds Team B's single away goal.
Football has changed dramatically since the 1960s, with coaches and managers now suggesting that scoring away from home is not as hard as it once was. The costs associated with travel have collapsed in recent years, while labour mobility has shot up. Once unknown and distance places are much easier to now play in. Those in favour of the move also argue that an unintended consequence of the rule, is actually more defensive play, with teams afraid to concede away goals. Similar rule changes in rugby, to encourage more tries with the use of a bonus point, have had the same perverse effect.
What does the data suggest? Below are the number of away goals scored in the UEFA Champions League, since the move in 2003/4 to the current competition structure.
In the months ahead it will be interesting to see what UEFA decide to do. A removal of the rule will allow for a nice comparisons in the years ahead, to see if teams (especially those are home) become more offensive.