How the data suggests playing behind closed doors might affect Sunderland, Portsmouth and Coventry City's promotion hopes

The fate of the 2019/20 season remains unclear, but what is known is that should the campaign resume, it will be played behind closed doors.

Wednesday, 29th April 2020, 5:49 pm

As it stands, the EFL remain determined to try and play the season to a finish, with Chairman Rick Parry warning fans that they will have to watch at home if they get the go-ahead to do so.

With so much still on the line in a fiercely contested League One promotion battle, how this major change will affect the dynamics will be fascinating to watch.

The logistics remain unclear, with some suggestions that ‘neutral venues’ may be required.

Home advantage remains crucial in football and the numbers throughout the divisions underline it.

Some clubs would clearly suffer from losing their vociferous home support, while others have used their unique surroundings to forge a major competitive advantage.

Going behind closed doors or to neutral venues could have a significant impact.

By the same logic, it could work as something of a saving grace for those normally poor on the road and who still have some difficult trips to make. Could this prove to be something of an equaliser?

We look at how each club still firmly in contention could be affected...

COVENTRY CITY

HOME GAMES LEFT TO PLAY: 5

PPG HOME v AWAY: 2.24 v 1.71

Coventry City have been forced to play their games at Birmingham City’s St Andrews this season, but have nevertheless built a formidable record that stands up to the very best in the division and serves as one of the many impressive elements of their rise under Mark Robins.

They have some key home games left to play, including against fellow promotion contenders Wycombe Wanderers, Peterborough United and Oxford United, but given they also have the second-best away record in the top ten, they will feel comfortable about their prospect wherever they are asked to play.

ROTHERHAM UNITED

HOME GAMES LEFT TO PLAY: 5

PPG HOME v AWAY: 1.71 v 1.83

Rotherham are one of only two teams in the top ten (the other being Ipswich Town) who have a better record away from home.

Two crunch home games against Portsmouth and Sunderland, which is set to the last game of the season, were likely to be defining in the push for the top two.

Their proficiency at picking up points on the road could prove to be particularly vital as they still have to face Fleetwood and Wycombe.

OXFORD UNITED

HOME GAMES TO PLAY: 5

PPG HOME v AWAY: 2.12 v 1.33

After a tricky period following the sales of Shandon Baptiste and Tariqe Fosu to Brentford in January, Oxford had pushed themselves right back into promotion contention with an excellent run of form.

Their home form was likely to prove key, with five of their nine games left to play at the Kassam.

PORTSMOUTH

HOME GAMES TO PLAY: 3

PPG HOME v AWAY: 2.33 v 1.06

Portsmouth’s away form, alongside Wycombe, is comfortably the worst of the promotion contenders.

They have been exceptional at Fratton Park, which has been the toughest awayday of all this season.

They did, however, have only three of their remaining nine games on home turf.

FLEETWOOD TOWN

HOME GAMES TO PLAY: 4

PPG HOME v AWAY: 2.06 v 1.35

Fleetwood will feel confident about their promotion chances if the season does resume.

Based on the average PPG of their opponents left to face, they have the easiest run-in of any team in the top nine.

They have four games left at home, with three of those against sides struggling in the lower reaches of the table.

On the road, they faced tricky ties against Gillingham and Oxford, both of whom have been excellent at home in ordinary circumstances.

PETERBOROUGH UNITED

HOME GAMES TO PLAY: 5

PPG HOME v AWAY: 2.29 v 1.11

Chairman Darragh MacAnthony has been the most vocal advocate of playing the current season to a conclusion on the pitch.

His team are well placed, though playing behind closed doors could lessen some of the advantage from playing five of their remaining games at home, where only Portsmouth and Wycombe have a better record this season.

SUNDERLAND

HOME GAMES TO PLAY: 3

PPG HOME v AWAY: 2.00 v 1.24

Sunderland’s home form has been particularly key since Phil Parkinson took charge, and some disappointing results on the road before the postponement of fixtures served as a check on their promotion ambitions.

They have just three games left scheduled to be played at the Stadium of Light. Of those they face on the road, the likes of Blackpool and Burton Albion have had ultimately disappointing seasons but remain formidable on their own turf.

WYCOMBE WANDERERS

HOME GAMES TO PLAY: 4

PPG HOME v AWAY: 2.33 v 1.06

Superb form at Adams Park has been absolutely central to Wycombe’s unlikely and quite remarkable push for a play-off spot.

They have struggled away from home and losing any advantage from their four home games, two of which are against Oxford and Rotherham, could potentially prove costly.

DONCASTER ROVERS

HOME GAMES TO PLAY: 3

PPG HOME v AWAY: 1.84 v 1.27

Doncaster are very much outsiders for the promotion places, but the fact that they would have ten games left to play if the season resumes means that they cannot be discounted entirely from the reckoning.

They have just three games left on home turf but their record on the road is better than many they need to get past.

All stats courtesy of soccerstats.com