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Separating the crowds: Examining home and away attendances at football matches


  • Brad Humphreys

    (Department of Economics, College of Business and Economics, West Virginia University)

  • J. James Reade

    (Department of Economics, University of Reading)

  • Dominik Schreyer

    (Wissenschaftliche Hochschule für Unternehmensführung (WHU))

  • Carl Singleton

    (Department of Economics, University of Reading)


The number of people consuming sporting events has long interested economists. Although imperfect, it is a measure of the demand for a ‘peculiar’ type of good or service — the sporting event. It also provides some measure of the social pressure on individuals performing. That pressure can be supportive, but it can also contribute to negative outcomes like choking on the part of performers. The extent to which a crowd is supportive or otherwise, however, is not always clear. In this paper we introduce a novel dataset detailing reported numbers of away fans at matches in England over recent years. We spend time characterising the dataset, and considering potential uses for it. We find evidence suggestive of different preferences for home and away fans; public holidays are a much stronger driver for away fan attendance, as is a team’s league position. For away fans, whether or not the team remains in contention for end-of-season prizes matters much more than for home fans, and away fans are attracted by the novelty of a fixture more than home fans. We find some evidence that the expected number of away fans may have a small impact on match outcomes.

Suggested Citation

  • Brad Humphreys & J. James Reade & Dominik Schreyer & Carl Singleton, 2022. "Separating the crowds: Examining home and away attendances at football matches," Economics Discussion Papers em-dp2022-11, Department of Economics, University of Reading.
  • Handle: RePEc:rdg:emxxdp:em-dp2022-11

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Jeffery Borland, 2003. "Demand for Sport," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 19(4), pages 478-502, Winter.
    2. Bryson, Alex & Dolton, Peter & Reade, J. James & Schreyer, Dominik & Singleton, Carl, 2021. "Causal effects of an absent crowd on performances and refereeing decisions during Covid-19," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 198(C).
    3. Vincenzo Alfano, 2022. "COVID-19 Diffusion Before Awareness: The Role of Football Match Attendance in Italy," Journal of Sports Economics, , vol. 23(5), pages 503-523, June.
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    More about this item


    Sport; home advantage; attendance; demand;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • Z2 - Other Special Topics - - Sports Economics
    • R42 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Transportation Economics - - - Government and Private Investment Analysis; Road Maintenance; Transportation Planning
    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making

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