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Aug 18, 2017
Aug 18, 2017

Part 1: Is a new stadium a disadvantage?

Does a new stadium have a negative impact on performance?

Do teams struggle in new surroundings?

Part 1: Is a new stadium a disadvantage?

Tottenham Hotspurs’ year at Wembley will be an unfamiliar hurdle for Mauricio Pochettino. Whilst their new stadium is built at White Hart Lane, we ask whether a new stadium can be a curse for a soccer team and what kind of impact it has on Premier League betting. Read on to find out more.

Tottenham is the only the second Premier League club to relocate in the last decade, although many have done it before and numerous clubs have plans to do so in the future. Similarly to when basketball and football teams move to a new city, the worry is that it can take players a while to familiarise themselves with new surroundings and maintain previous levels of performance.

Before Tottenham, West Ham was the last club in the English top flight to change stadia. The move to the London Stadium in 2016 marked the end of a 112-year stay at the Boleyn Ground. But do these new facilities have a positive effect on performance or do teams sacrifice the benefit of home field advantage?

West Ham United

Given that West Ham have only played one season at the London Stadium since moving from Upton Park, the sample size available is too small to analyse any significant impact that playing in a new stadium has had on the Hammers’ performance.

However, after finishing 7th in 2015/16 and only losing three games at home in the entire season, the 11th place finish and eight home loses last season would have certainly been a disappointment for Slaven Bilic’s side. Bettors will have to wait and see how West Ham perform at home in the next few years to see how important the change in stadia is but other teams’ experiences certainly provides some interesting insight.

Arsenal

Renowned for their ‘invincibles’ season (going unbeaten for the entire 2003/04 Premier League season), Arsenal and their fans have regularly been mocked for their lack of success since. Upon closer inspection, moving into a new stadium may have had a bigger impact than many expect.

Some teams have thrived when moving to a new stadium, whereas others have really struggled and taken years to recover.

In the years that followed their famous title-winning campaign, Arsenal finished 2nd and 4th before moving into their new 60,000-seater stadium. Since playing their home games at the Emirates, the Gunners have finished no better than 3rd whilst enduring a nine-year wait for any kind of silverware (winning the FA Cup in 2014).

A 2nd place finish in 2015/16 pointed to some kind of recovery, but last year's 5th place and the failure to qualify for the Champions League for the first in 20 years highlights how far Arsenal are from the team that played at Highbury - bettors may struggle to see the value in their odds of 12.000* in outright Premier League betting.

Swansea City

Since their first ever season in the Premier League in 2011/12, Swansea City is now widely accepted as an established top flight team. In truth, the meteoric rise of the Welsh club begun back in 2003/04. As they climbed up the leagues in English soccer, the Swans moved from Vetch Field to the Liberty Stadium in 2005.

After improving their league position in the two previous seasons, Swansea won promotion from League 2 the year before moving into their new stadium. Two years of consistent performances were followed by winning League 1 in 2007/08, before finishing a credible 8th and 7th in the next two campaigns.

Swansea featured in Premier League betting for the first time in their history after winning promotion from the Championship in 2010/11. Could the new stadium be one of the main influencers in their journey from the bottom of the Football League to the Premier League?

Manchester City

Although Manchester City moved from Maine Road to the Etihad Stadium in 2003, it is by no means the biggest change in the club’s recent history. While this move may have had an effect on their performance, Sheik Mansour’s takeover in 2008 and the £900m+ spent on transfers makes analysing any potential impact a difficult task.

The first season at their new ground saw Manchester City narrowly avoid relegation with a 16th place finish in the Premier League (they finished 9th the year before). However, after fluctuating around the lower end of the league table, the Abu Dhabi United Group takeover was completed and there was a great change in terms of personnel and team performance.

In just one season, the vast investment in Manchester City was evident after they finished 5th in 2009/10. A 3rd place finish in 2010/11 was followed by the club’s first league title since 1968 thanks to a dramatic stoppage time winner on the final day of the season. A second league title followed in 2013/14, before a 2nd place finish and a disappointing 4th in 2015/16. 

Despite finishing 15 points off of Premier League winner's Chelsea last season, Manchester City are currently favourites in the Premier League Winner odds at 1.900* but it is almost certainly the amount of money spent at the club, not the new stadium, that has caused this.

Hull City

Since moving from Boothferry Park to the KCOM Stadium in 2002, Hull City have been promoted five times and relegated three times in thirteen seasons. Although they managed to reach the Premier League for the first time in their history in 2008/09, staying there has proved to be a difficult task.

Following relegation in 2009/10, the Tigers could only manage two mid-table finishes in the Championship, before earning promotion in 2012/13. Having avoided relegation by four points in 2013/14, they were relegated in 2014/15, promoted in 2015/16 and relegated once more in 2016/17.

Hull City’s new stadium was certainly part of big changes at the club that have provided some form of success. After their relegation last season to the Championship, expect it to take a little while longer to achieve the stability fans are after.

Leicester City

Thanks to the notorious underdog story that saw them crowned Premier League champions 2016, soccer fans across the world know who Leicester City are. However, few will have knowledge of the fifteen years that led to such an unbelievable achievement.

Sheik Mansour’s Manchester City takeover in 2008, and the £900m+ spent on transfers since then makes analysing any potential impact a difficult task.

The move from Filbert Street to the King Power Stadium in 2002 got off to the perfect start when the Foxes won promotion to the Premier League in 2002/03. But only one year later, they were relegated back to the championship and a steady decline resulted in relegation to League 1 in 2008/09.

An instant return to the Championship was followed by three top half finishes and a multi-million-pound takeover in 2010. The investment paid dividends after Leicester won the Championship in 2013/14 and of course, the Premier league just two seasons later.

Leicester was the central figure in one of the biggest success stories in the history of soccer. Leicester's regression to the mean resulted in a disappointing finish last season, can they reach similar heights of their Premier League winning campaign? Was it the change of stadium that brought on the Foxes' fairytale story? Or did the Thai takeover play a bigger part in their success?

Southampton

Although Southampton is considered a stable Premier League club after finishing no lower than 14th since their first season back in the Premier League in 2012/13, it has been an arduous journey to get there. When analysing their performance since moving from The Dell to St. Mary’s Stadium in 2001, it could be said that this change greatly affected the team’s performance.

Within two years of moving to St. Mary’s, the Saints finished bottom of the Premier League and were relegated to the second tier of English soccer for the first time since 1978/79. Less than four years later, they suffered a second relegation and found themselves playing in League 1.

By 2010/11, the tide began to turn for Southampton and they won back-to-back promotions thanks to 2nd place finishes in both League 1 and the Championship a year later. Southampton's recent campaigns have produced stability and although their handicap performance hasn't been as good as it should be, the Saints aren't one of the contenders in Premier League relegation betting.

Things to consider

This is obviously an incredibly small sample, but it still provides several interesting points to reflect on. Some teams have thrived when moving to a new stadium, whereas many have really struggled and taken years to recover. One thing is for certain; a new home ground has an impact on a soccer team, sometimes good, sometimes bad. 

Several factors could contribute to this apparent effect on performance. A new location means players have surroundings and changes in routine to get used to, the pitch and its size will be different, changing rooms and other facilities will be different and of course, the atmosphere won’t be the same as at their previous stadium.

In addition to everything the players have to deal with, the development costs of a new stadium could influence budget allocations and the potential to improve the squad with transfers.

Read part two of this article, where we analyse how and why these factors can make such a big difference to a team’s performance.

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