Investigating whether moving stadium affects HQ form after Spurs lost opener

In Depth

Tottenham lost to Chelsea in their first Premier League game at Wembley on Sunday, but do they need to worry about their home form for the rest of the season?

Spurs won 17 and drew two of their 19 league games at White Hart Lane last season as they finished second behind Chelsea, but plenty of people questioned whether they would be able to maintain such strong home form at the national stadium this season.

However, though the omens do not look good after the defeat at the weekend, is there any reason to panic? Do the facts back up the theory that teams tend to struggle after moving home? We decided to investigate.

In total, 16 current or former Premier League clubs have moved stadiums since 1990, but we’ve excluded the teams that played in different divisions in the seasons either side of the move, and also Hull City, who moved into their stadium midway through a season.

Here’s how the remaining nine clubs fared in the seasons immediately before and after moving stadiums…

West Ham: London Stadium, 2016

Home record 2015-16: W9 D7 L3 – 47.4% wins. 1.79 Points per game

Home record 2016-17: W7 D4 L8 – 36.8% wins. 1.32 Points per game

West Ham’s home form was the seventh strongest in the Premier League in their final season at the Boleyn Ground but only the 16th strongest at the London Stadium in 2016-17, with only the three relegated teams losing more games at HQ.

However, the Irons also took eight less points on the road than they had done the previous campaign, suggesting they had issues other than needing to adapt to new surroundings.

Cardiff City: Cardiff City Stadium, 2009

Home record 2008-09: W14 D5 L4 – 60.9% wins. 2.04 PPG.

Home record 2009-10: W12 D6 L5 – 52.2% wins. 1.83 PPG.

Cardiff finished seventh in the Championship in their final season at Ninian Park, winning more home games than all but two teams and missing out on the play-offs on goal difference alone.

Their home form was not quite as impressive in their first season at the Cardiff City Stadium, but they improved overall, finishing fourth, and were promoted to the Premier League three years later as champions.

Arsenal: Emirates Stadium, 2006

Home record 2005-06: W14 D3 L2 – 73.7% wins. 2.37 PPG.

Home record 2006-07: W12 D6 L1 – 63.2% wins. 2.11 PPG.

Arsenal’s move from Highbury had huge implications for several years as the club sought to balance the books, but they lost only one Premier League game in their first season at Emirates Stadium, albeit they claimed less home points in total than in their final campaign at Highbury.

The Gunners finished fourth in both seasons but went one better in 2007-08, ending third without a single home defeat. Things certainly went better than during their two Champions League campaigns at Wembley, where they won only two of their six fixtures.

Coventry City: Ricoh Arena, 2005

Home record 2004-05: W8 D7 L8 – 34.8% wins. 1.35 PPG.

Home record 2005-06: W12 D7 L4 – 52.2% wins. 1.87 PPG.

Coventry’s fortunes following the move to the Ricoh Arena eventually declined to the extent of them being forced to play home games 70 miles away at Northampton Town’s Sixfields ground while in administration in League One.

Initially, however, the Sky Blues prospered rather than suffered on the pitch after the move, winning four more home games in the Championship in their first season at the Ricoh Arena than they’d managed in their last at Highfield Road.

Manchester City: Etihad Stadium, 2003

Home record 2002-03: W9 D2 L8 – 47.4% wins. 1.53 PPG.

Home record 2003-04: W5 D9 L5 – 26.3% wins. 1.26 PPG

Manchester City have enjoyed plenty of great moments at the Etihad Stadium, none better than on the final day of the 2011-12 season, but it was not always the fortress it is today.

In their final season at Maine Road, despite it being their first season in the Premier League after promotion, City finished ninth, with nine wins from their 19 home games. They regressed following the move, however, winning only five home league games in their first season at their new ground and finishing down in 16th.

The City of Manchester Stadium, as it was known then, was used for the 2002 Commonwealth Games initially, but unlike at the London Stadium, the running track was dug out and replaced by extra rows of seats to ensure fans were closer to the pitch.

Southampton: St Mary’s, 2001

Home record 2000-01: W11 D2 L6 – 57.9% wins. 1.84 PPG.

Home record 2001-02: W7 D5 L7 – 36.8% wins. 1.37 PPG.

Southampton were founder members of the Premier League but perennial strugglers. It was hoped a new stadium could help them progress – The Dell had a capacity of less than 16,000 – but the move to St Mary’s coincided with a hugely turbulent period for the club which saw them relegated to the third tier within eight years.

Saints took only one point from their first five games at their new home and even called in a Pagan witch to ward off evil spirits, but they recovered from a poor start to finish 11th, only one place lower than the previous season, albeit with a much worse home record.

Wigan Athletic: DW Stadium, 1999

Home record 1998-99: W14 D5 L4 – 60.9% wins. 2.04 PPG.

Home record 1999-00: W15 D3 L5 – 65.2% wins. 2.09 PPG.

Wigan had just finished sixth in the third tier when they left Springfield Park for the JJB Stadium. At the time it was the highest finish in the club’s history, but just six years later they were promoted to the Premier League.

Incredibly, they spent eight years in the top tier and even won the FA Cup before eventually being relegated, though it must be said their home form was consistent just before and prior to the stadium move.

Derby County: Pride Park, 1997

Home record 1996-97: W8 D6 L5 – 42.1% wins. 1.58 Points per game
Home record 1997-98: W12 D3 L4 – 63.2% wins. 2.05 Points per game

In their final season at the Baseball Ground, Derby finished 12th in what was their maiden Premier League campaign. The Rams improved on that in their first year at Pride Park, finishing ninth with more home wins than all but five teams.

Their home record would likely have improved even had they stayed at the Baseball Ground, with a season of top-flight experience under their belt, but the move certainly did not harm the East Midlanders.

Stoke City: Bet365 Stadium, 1997

Home record 1996-97: W15 D3 L5 – 65.2% wins. 2.09 PPG.

Home record 1997-98: W8 D5 L10 – 34.8% wins. 1.26 PPG.

Stoke City finished 12th in the First Division in their final season at the Victoria Ground, seven points off the play-offs with more home wins than every other team bar champions Bolton Wanderers.

They fared significantly worse in their first season at the Britannia Stadium as they finished second from bottom and were relegated to the third tier. Only two teams won less games at home.

Conclusions

Of the nine teams, only Derby and Coventry enjoyed significantly improved home form in their first season following a stadium move, and in the Rams’ case that may have been expected anyway after a year acclimatising to the Premier League.

Wigan’s home form was also better but only marginally, while Arsenal and Cardiff suffered only marginal dips and still had good home form compared to most of the league.

West Ham, Southampton and Manchester City’s home form suffered more seriously, while Stoke’s took such a hit that they were relegated, but only four strugglers out of nine suggests a season of problems post-move is far from certain.

We must now wait to see which category Tottenham will fall into come next May.

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