The Football Research Group has just produced its latest research paper from one of its projects, through members James Reade & Carl Singleton. It has been published as a working paper in the Department of Economics Discussion Paper Series and is joint work with economists at University College London, Alex Bryson, University of Sussex, Peter Dolton, and the WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management, Dominik Schreyer.

Experimental effects of an absent crowd on performances and refereeing decisions during Covid-19

A brief summary:

The Covid-19 pandemic has induced worldwide natural experiments on the effects of crowds.  We exploit one of these experiments currently taking place over several countries in almost identical settings: professional football matches played behind closed doors.  We find large and statistically significant effects on the number of yellow cards issued by referees.  Without a crowd, fewer cards were awarded to the away teams, reducing home advantage.  These results have implications for the influence of social pressure and crowds on the neutrality of refereeing decisions.

Read more about it here.