Estimation of final standings in football competitions with a premature ending: the case of COVID-19

P. Gorgi, S. J. Koopman*, R. Lit

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


We study an alternative approach to determine the final league table in football competitions with a premature ending. For several countries, a premature ending of the 2019/2020 football season has occurred due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We propose a model-based method as a possible alternative to the use of the incomplete standings to determine the final table. This method measures the performance of the teams in the matches of the season that have been played and predicts the remaining non-played matches through a paired-comparison model. The main advantage of the method compared to the incomplete standings is that it takes account of the bias in the performance measure due to the schedule of the matches in a season. Therefore, the resulting ranking of the teams based on our proposed method can be regarded as more fair in this respect. A forecasting study based on historical data of seven of the main European competitions is used to validate the method. The empirical results suggest that the model-based approach produces more accurate predictions of the true final standings than those based on the incomplete standings.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)233-250
JournalAStA Advances in Statistical Analysis
Issue number1-2
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, The Author(s).

Copyright 2021 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Bivariate Poisson
  • COVID-19
  • Paired-comparison models
  • Sport statistics


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