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.
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:
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).
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…
- 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).
- The number of serious and critical cases, as well as of deaths attributed to the virus, is declining worldwide.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 systems in a normal way and 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.