Coronavirus: Its Effects on Football Matches & Results


With the current outbreak of Coronavirus spreading throughout the world, many punters are very worried about the effects this may have on football tournaments and results.

Illustration Coronavirus Effects on Football Matches

Will match results be more volatile? Can past statistics still be applied to predict the outcome of a forthcoming match? May leagues be abandoned mid-term?

Value and System Bettors… All having the bland main question in the back of their heads:

How will this virus effect my betting?

What we know at the moment of writing is that the starts of the new league seasons in China, South Korea and Japan have been postponed. Many of Italy’s Serie A matches are currently being played in empty stadiums. Which leagues will follow suit?

The problem is that no-one truly knows in which direction things will develop. There is a great amount of uncertainty everywhere and the press is filled with reports about new outbreaks and rising numbers of infected people. It is no wonder that many of us feel a slight sense of panic creeping up.

But please remember, the Soccerwidow website is purely about numbers and we will, therefore, look at the statistics pragmatically (although always with a sympathetic nod to the growing situation).

Current Trends of the Coronavirus

As per 26th February 2020, some countries have started to mass test for the Covid-19 virus. At the time of writing, the UK had concluded 7,132 tests, 13 of which, were positive (0.2% positivity rate). Italy had concluded 9,462 tests, 470 of which, were positive (5.0% positivity rate). France has also been carrying out mass tests as well as Austria and the United States. No doubt more countries will follow.

The virus has the potential to reach pandemic levels and, therefore, every single country in this world is taking this threat very seriously and working very hard to reduce the risk faced by their populations in order to halt the spread of the virus.

Despite the apparent hysteria, as per the 26th of February…

  1. Worldwide, the number of newly recovered patients has been greater than the number of newly infected patients every day since February the 19th (for the past week).
  2. The number of serious and critical cases, as well as of deaths attributed to the virus, is declining worldwide.

[Source]

The Facts We Know About the Coronavirus

  1. In China and other parts of the world, 82% of the infected people don’t show any or only very mild symptoms; the majority of them don’t even notice that they are infected by the virus. 10% come down with stronger symptoms, and only 8% of all the infected people show such severe symptoms that they have to be hospitalised.

    The group of people with severe conditions are mainly elderly persons or people with pre-existing medical conditions.

  2. At the time of writing:

    China: 78,514 cases total >> 1.386 Billion population = 0.0057% of China’s population affected by Coronavirus

    South Korea: 1,595 cases total >> 51.47 Million population = 0.0031% of South Korea’s population affected by Coronavirus

    Italy: 470 cases total >> 60.48 Million population = 0.0008% of Italy’s population affected by Coronavirus

    To put these numbers into perspective: In the UK 364 players won the National Lottery in 2019 and became millionaires – that’s a millionaire for practically every day of the year [Source] >> 66.44 Million population = 0.0005% of Great Britain’s population become National Lottery millionaires each year (and this is only one of the many lotteries in that country).

You can see from the numbers above that the risk of catching this virus is as low as it is to win the lottery and become a millionaire. It is a cold fact that there is a statistically lower chance of dying from Coronavirus than winning at least a million on the UK National Lottery.

Then Why Is There So Much Hype?

The really serious problem with this highly infectious virus is the very high amount of people (82%) that are carriers of this potentially deadly infection but don’t notice it because they don’t have any symptoms. That’s a real big problem because if not controlled it will lead to a massive spread of the virus and collapse the medical systems in the countries affected.

Hence, the very strong control measures that are currently being observed all over the world. And strong control measures include high public awareness and, therefore, mass-media press coverage. That’s simple cause and effect, a phrase you may be familiar with.

However, please remember that high-level press coverage doesn’t mean that the real risk is higher than the actual statistical numbers show.

Therefore, in my opinion, as a scholar of numbers, there is absolutely no need for panic (on a personal scale).

With all of the precautionary measures currently being put in place (closing schools, closing towns and even regions, limiting travel, self-isolation, putting places into quarantine, etc.), it is very unlikely that the virus will spread in an uncontrolled manner.

No Need for Any Panic. Life Will Go On as Usual!

I have been criticised for the title of this chapter but it is a cold fact that life will go on as usual, just with a few more precautions in place.

Look to The Facts We Know About the Coronavirus and, as per its date, just 0.0057% of China’s population is affected by Coronavirus, with the trend in decline. There is a sharp increase in cases outside of China and the two trends need to be analysed separately. For example, 0.0031% of South Korea’s population is affected by Coronavirus and, as harsh it may sound, these numbers will rise but are very unlikely to topple China’s figures.

Looking at all of this statistically, what can be probably said is that the maximum expectation is an infection of 0.01% of the population of any country and, the good news is that from these infected people, 82% will only suffer from very mild symptoms.

The numbers for each country with stronger symptoms:
0.01% * 18% = 0.0018 %

A maximum of 0.0018 % of a country’s population may come down with severe symptoms from this virus outbreak but probably far less.

0.0018% means that of 100,000 people there may be up to 2 cases. As stated previously, it is much more likely that you (or your favourite football player) will win a substantial amount on the UK National Lottery than suffer severe symptoms from Coronavirus.

There Shouldn’t Be Any Notable Effects on Match Results

Of course, all these quarantines and lock-downs do affect the economy and businesses but the psychological effects of the situation are probably worse.

However, please always keep in mind that professional football clubs are businesses and, like every other sound business, they will do everything possible to continue performing at the same high level as usual and not be affected by any virus outbreaks and panic.

In Italy, for example, many Serie A games have recently been played behind closed doors. However, there shouldn’t be any noticeable adverse effect on match results.

Do you remember the Japanese Tsunami in 2011 that caused a mighty number of 15,899 deaths? Although the league was halted after one round for seven weeks this pause had no effects on the statistical patterns of the J1 League during that season. And neither will Coronavirus; not in Japan or anywhere else.

Please be careful about making hasty judgements! At this stage, with comparatively low numbers of virus-related severe illnesses in each country, it is very unlikely that the virus will have any effect on the long-term outcome of a group of matches.

Currently, the newspapers are full every day with this topic (public awareness has to be raised! Newspapers have to be sold!) but please force yourself to think statistically and put everything into perspective.

Precaution and Risk Management

Please bear in mind that seasons always have the habit of starting somewhat unpredictably, with or without Coronavirus. It always takes six to eight rounds to start rolling ‘statistically correctly’. Just have a look at our League reports each season.

People who calculate matches individually, using the Value Calculator or the Coursebook and its Cluster Tables, should find that any effects of Coronavirus (if there are any) will be taken into account when following the calculations as usual. The odds offered will always be a measure of the possible outcomes whatever the extraneous circumstances may be.

System betters, using the HDAFU Tables, also don’t need to worry. There shouldn’t be any impact on the distribution of the results, neither for the 1st or 2nd half of season systems.

As a suggestion, perhaps pick your Summer League systems this year in a normal way but only monitor them for a while without committing big money. It doesn’t do any harm to start betting with real money a little bit later.

My general advice is: The first 6-8 weeks of every season always tends to be a bumpy ride, with or without something like Coronavirus in the background. There is no shame in abstaining from betting during this period and using the time for paper testing.


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Last Update: 28 February 2020

Categories:Betting Advice Betting Systems Statistics & Historical Data



10 Responses to “Coronavirus: Its Effects on Football Matches & Results”

  1. 10 June 2020 at 9:44 am #

    Hi, actually I’m in a very different industry than yours. Mine is more about lottery and prediction.

    Anyway Im always interested in football. As you know some leagues are starting their football. English and Spanish football will start next week. What are your thoughts on their decision to start the league again? What about the French and Dutch league (As we know, they decided to cancel the league) ? Will people who already put their bet at the very beginning of the season on who will win the league, get their money back from Betting Company?

    Cheers and Stay safe.

  2. 24 May 2020 at 2:54 pm #

    Dear Soccerwidow,
    After three months from the beginning of this catastrophic event I have decided to write, after all I was just in the middle of the pandemic (I write from Verona – Italy, one of the most striken City in Italy) and, at that time I was just seeing the first good results from my betting portfolio built according to all your teachings and after two years of studying. Anyway, now that some leagues are resuming I have decided to quit my winter portfolio and starting just with the summer one. Even if I know quite well your way of thinking and I can guess your answer, I just wanted to ask you if the playing with no spectators might influence the results, i.e. in the leagues where the equilly quoted results led to a rising curve for the home result, could it be that much more results could turn into a away?
    Another question, do you think that for the statistics for the next year it would be better cutting the second half of this year and use only the previous five years?
    Thank you and best regards.

  3. 2 May 2020 at 4:02 pm #

    What are your thoughts concerning football matches played behind closed doors with no fans present? Would this likely affect anything like home advantage or refereeing decisions? I have been pondering this question for a while now.

    I would just like to say what a great website you have built here, it has helped me a lot with my betting, and I am now consistently turning a profit, so thank you Elena.

    • 7 June 2020 at 11:37 pm #

      Hi Soccerwidow,

      I’ve been quietly pursuing my winter league portfolio this season. 1st half of the season went very well with a decent profit made. The 2nd half of the season started off poorly and by March the 1st half season profits were almost wiped out, and of course everything then stopped with the coronavirus pandemic. Since the restart, results seem erratic and my portfolio has dropped into an overall deficit very slightly – so I’m at a crossroads really – call it quits or press on and see what happens.

      Now that football has started up again, it seems that the home win results are coming in at a really low percentage. Bundesliga for example is 27% home wins since the return from lockdown. I don’t know if this is just a random thing happening in the first few weeks back following an unexpected break. I get that players may not be 100% match fit right now, but then surely that would affect all teams and not just home teams. I truly wonder if playing without crowds is going to have a long term effect on home teams and their win percentage.

      Reasons for home teams not to perform well without crowds could be the referee bias is diminished due to lack of pressure from the crowd i.e. the home team loses the 12th man. The home players are normally urged on by the fans, and that motivation won’t be there now. Normally home teams hate losing in front of home fans, and without fans there, again motivational edge and desire may be lost to a small but noticeable degree.

      Away teams of course are used to having little support away from home, and so I can see the home teams in this unique situation being most affected and unsettled by this.

      Incidentally, the 2nd half systems still in play for me, 6 are home win (some of which are underdog systems), 3 favourite, 1 away win, and 1 draw – the rest have been cancelled.

      Doubt is now creeping in and making me wonder whether its wise to press on and continue wagering especially as my portfolio is home win system heavy.

      I also prepared a summer league portfolio, and again, am wondering if I should press ahead given the circumstances and uncertainty surrounding the effect of games being played with no spectators. Referees behaving differently, and teams behaving differently is literally a game changer in my opinion

      These of course are unprecedented times….any advice would be greatly appreciated.

      Thanks.

  4. 29 April 2020 at 3:22 pm #

    I like reading your site. Many thanks!

  5. 10 March 2020 at 1:57 pm #

    Hi SW,

    Do you think that the lack of data looming around the corner (Switzerland and Italy already cancelling games) will have an effect on future HDAFU tables, or will you just work with the data that you can obtain?

    • 11 March 2020 at 5:29 pm #

      Hi Alain, we will have to work with the data we can obtain. However, once the panic is over and life returned to normal, statistical patterns will also fall back to normality. Nothing to worry.

      I am currently writing an article on the effect of the Tsunami on the Japanese league. The Japanese tsunami occurred on 11th March 2011, after the first round of games in the new J-League season. The league didn’t recommence until 23rd April that year, a break of seven weeks.

      What effects this had on the statistics? You will find out soon.

      • 15 March 2020 at 10:46 am #

        Hi, and thanks for your answer. I hope you also address the lack of data, as I was not merely talking about break, but about cancelling leagues altogether.

        I don’t see any time in the calendar to make up for cancelled matched in the european competitions, especially with the European Championships around the corner.

        Looking forward to your article!

  6. 28 February 2020 at 11:14 pm #

    Thank you Soccer Widow.

    This question has been burning in my mind. While some might be sensitive to this issue, I found this article very informing and comforting, on and off the field.

    Stay safe.

    • 29 February 2020 at 8:51 am #

      Hi Sam, thanks for your comment. We almost didn’t publish this article as we weren’t sure at all if we can dare to look at this very sensitive topic from a purely statistical perspective.

      If you wish to share the message, e.g. via social media, feel free to do so because my personal point of view is that with all these raise of panic around the world there is need to put a little bit calm to the storm.

      Nevertheless, listen and follow all the precaution advice and stay safe too!

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