Open Access

Is Home Advantage Diminished When Competing Without Spectators? Evidence From the Israeli Football and Basketball Leagues


Sports spectators are one of the factors that affect home advantage. The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic created unique conditions under which most of the leagues in the world played matches without crowds for over six months. This situation facilitated an analytical comparison of two different periods: before and during the coronavirus pandemic. The current study sought to examine home advantage in the Israeli sport domain in general, and specifically the impact of the absence of a crowd. The study consisted of 4,030 matches played in Israel’s top football and basketball leagues, of which 3,589 took place with crowds from August 2015 to March 2020, while the others were held without spectators from May 2020 to February 2021. Descriptive and analyses of variance procedures indicated a home advantage independent of crowd size, density, geographic region, league level, and type of sport. However, higher-quality teams demonstrated a higher home advantage ratio for the goals conceded. The findings of the study indicate that in the Israeli context, the crowd plays less of a role in home advantage than other potential factors.