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Are Premier League matches fixed? A review of the evidence

By Tony Attwood

Consider Mark Clattenburg.    He is 35, and one of 16 select group officials that run EPL games.

He is the guy who failed to punish Wayne Rooney for the elbow against Wigan Athletic’s James McCarthy.   Then he gave Fulham a penalty against Blackburn Rovers that not everyone was convinced by.

If this was a one off incident we might shrug and let it pass.  But it is not.  We have endless revelations of bad judgement by refs week after week not just on this site, but by radio commentators too.

So what’s going on?  In answering that question there are several possible routes you might take.  Each has implications, but each can be misused to represent an argument that is incomplete or can easily be set aside.

The first explanation is that yes, the refs are fairly incompetent.  If you listen to commentaries on Radio 5 Live from the BBC you will hear endless statements to this effect.  They never seek to explain why refs are incompetent, but they just say they are.  As such it is incomplete – if you believe the refs make mistakes more than they should you need to say why.

The second approach might be that refs do get a lot of things wrong, but by and large that is the nature of the beast.  Football is fast, judgements need to be made instantly, there are no replays, and so it is never surprising that mistakes are made.   In such a scenario mistakes should even out – a bad decision for Man U one week, a good one the next.  Such an explanation doesn’t explain why there is not more technological help for refs, it just accepts that this is how it is.  Such an explanation doesn’t explain why we have so few refs in the elite group, or why those who seem to make a particularly large number of errors don’t get removed for re-training.  Nor do the approach ever release proper stats to show that the errors do even up, and that they are evenly spread among refs.

The third view is that actually there is nothing wrong.  The standard of refereeing is high and all is ok with the organisation behind it.  This view doesn’t explain any of Walter’s comments on this site, where the detailed event by event analysis shows that things are not being well run.  Nor does it explain the figures that Dogface comes up with week after week and through which we are able to predict what the ref will do to Arsenal.  What’s more they don’t explain the inadequacies that Walter has pointed out that exist within the organisation running top class refereeing in England (the lack of referees, the failure to deal with refs who consistently refuse to implement Fifa rulings, the lack of transparency about marking of refs, the failure to deal with refs who regularly fall below a reasonable standard etc etc).

The fourth view suggests there is something seriously wrong, and that in effect the refs are being bought through a system similar to that being used in Italy a few years back.   In my view this is the only one of the four explanations that covers all the issues and observations that we know about, and which doesn’t have the gaps in which the first three views have.

The fourth explanation is not complete and can be challenged, I admit.  There are a lot more stats to be presented.  But simply pointing to gaps in our analysis so far does not make the fourth explanation wrong.   Rather it points to the extra information needed.   To my mind the first three explanations fail to answer the vast majority of points, and if we are going to question any explanations it should be these three.   If we are going to work to complete the theory we need to do more on the fourth explanation.

I’ve decided to come back to this issue at this particular moment because of two things.  First, because despite the fact that the first three explanations are always incomplete they are now being defended through an extraordinary selection of mis-directed arguments.

One of these has always been with us: Arsenal complain about the refs because they are losing games.  They don’t complain about refs when they are winning.  (A variation is, stop talking about the refs and let us focus on winning matches – the ref issue is a distraction.  Some Arsenal web sites are really getting into this argument now).

But now consider this approach.

Alan Leighton, head of the referees’ union, Prospect, recently said that match officials feel beleaguered.  “These are people who are used to pressure day in and day out – it’s not like they’re some kind of weaklings who can’t take it. But at this time of the season, we’re getting to a stage where it becomes very difficult for anybody to sensibly do a job. I think more and more referees will get to a stage of thinking: “Do I really want to put up with this?'”

He then went on to explore the argument that a bad decision one week often means a good decision the next week – without in any way exploring if this is a valid argument.   To excuse bad judgements by saying it all balances out in the end seems ludicrous.  We don’t say this about marketing students’ exams – sorry I know you did poorly in your maths exam and got less than you should, but you got more than you should in physics so it is ok.   Even in the barbaric days of the death penalty in the UK we didn’t say, yes sorry, we hanged the wrong guy this time, but we let a guilty man get away last week so it is all right.    You can’t excuse one error by making a second error.

Yet such an argument seems ok – and as such the whole Prospect piece is a clever ploy, since it not only fails to deal with the key issues, but it suggests the key issues do not exist.  It takes it as a starting point that all is well with the referees and that it is the managers and fans and players who are out of order.  If they would only shut up and let the refs get on with their work, and their mistakes, we would be ok.

And just in case you are not convinced, here’s Leighton’s actual words:  “It would be nice if some managers recognise when they slag off a referee for having missed something, that they actually benefited from things that weren’t seen in a previous game.”

So refereeing as a mish mash of errors – hardly the way such a huge industry is run.  Can you imagine what industry would say if HM Revenue and Customs (the UK tax collector) used this approach.   “Yes Mr Attwood I know we demanded £250,000 too much tax from your company last year, but the year before you paid a bit less than you should, so its all right really.”    I think not.

To try and unravel this, and get behind the smoke screen that the referees themselves are now putting out, we need to decide where the evidence takes us.

Part two will appear here shortly…

Photographic evidence that the ref in the Barca match was utterly bent

Arsenal v Sunderland – the Untold ref report

Further proof of match fixing; our predictions about the ref are proven

Yet more match fixing proof: the Rooney Affair

Arsenal on Twitter @UntoldArsenal

Untold Arsenal on Facebook here

56 comments to Are Premier League matches fixed? A review of the evidence

  • walter

    The things Leighton has said is a bit shocking. Like you said covering up a mistake by another mistake is just wrong.

    I know mistakes will be made. But we have to see that we can ban mistakes as much as possible. Technology, challenges, whatever is needed should be done. And not say ” it will even out over the season” as for the moment it is far from even if I look at the mistakes in Arsenal games. But I will get to that later at the end of the season. Unless you want it now based on temporary numbers… 😉

    Like you said Tony, the taking mistakes for granted and being part of it is a very wrong starting point. That leighton tends to give the impression that all is under control and that we can all relax. Well if you are a ref on the field and you think you have it all under control and if you start to relax then this means that you can get in deeeeeeeep trouble witing seconds. But if that is the attitude of some official organisations then it doesn’t surprise me that we see far to many wrong decisions…

  • Malaysian Gooner

    “To excuse bad judgements by saying it all balances out in the end seems ludicrous. We don’t say this about marketing students’ exams – sorry I know you did poorly in your maths exam and got less than you should, but you got more than you should in physics so it is ok. ”

    I am gonna use this line next time whenever someone tells me that “last week you decisions against you, this week you get decisions for you.”

    Thank you for this great article.

  • A couple of point of order here…

    Firstly I received a bill from HM Customs & Revenue this morning for over a grand (a figure that they pulled out of their back passage) for VAT unpaid – this was because they had somehow started sending correspondence to an address registered 8 years ago and thus, when I didn’t reply, ‘estimated’ what I owed them and informed their solicitors to collect… who seemed to work out where my company was registered PDQ.

    Upon calling her majesties finest I was informed that I don’t owe anything… but I did pause to wonder how many accounting departments would have just paid up in these circumstances?

    What I am saying is that what we are seeing in the EPL is pretty much a microcosm of the world around us and yes it is all a confusing shambles that somehow ‘conveniently’ benefits some more than others.

    Also… and no disrespect to Walter who has amalgamated and championed this into his cause (you know I think your great Walter, the time and effort you put into this site are fantastic and your Ref Review articles are the nuts) – but, on top of my statistical prowess (which is to be improved yet further with some ‘corking’ statistical analysis in weeks to come); my fragile ego insists on a teeny bit of kudos for pointing out the basic flaws with the PGMOL and its lack of regulation in an article right about here:

    http://blog.emiratesstadium.info/archives/9682

    So come on, throw DogFace a bone!

    😉

  • bergkampfan10

    from memory Clattenburg was also the referee in Arsenal’s 3-0 win at Manchester City earlier this season. From memory he did an impeccable job, correctly sending off Boyata and also keeping a correct eye on clumsy challenges. UNLESS of course United paid him to ensure city lose 😉

  • walter

    catch, dogface, catch it…

  • terry

    @Tony – I see you have very cleverly shifted the blame away from wenger and back onto the refs. In my op Wenger has to take blame for A) not buying a quality shot stopper who you badly need. B) a better center back and c) a consistent striker who is not injury prone.. if you spend 30 mill£ you will have the strength to actually win “the Quadruple” which you now, likely miss out on all four…

  • terry

    To be honest this forum never ceases to amaze me, especially some fan’s fixation with anything to do with United. Rooney elbows MCcarthy and there is a debate on here for a week about the fact he should be banned for at least 4 matches. MCcarthy carried on playing, no damage, most United fans agreed it was a sending off offence, but the debate went on and on. Carragher takes Nani out after the ball has gone, causing a gash to his leg which caused him to be stretchered off and be stitched and many state that it was “one of those things”, “Carragher didn’t mean to do it”. United state that Nani will miss 4 games because of the “fear of infection” not the wound itself, but when United then state he has progressed well and is in contention to play earlier than expected, it’s like the Carragher challenge never happened and in fact Nani should be banned for feigning injury. Anyone with any modicum of knoweldge knows that the shin has very little protection, if you feel your shin you will see the bone is very close to the surface hence shin guards, if for any reason the shin guard is bypassed you are very likely to tear the skin which will reveal the bone. Nani has recovered, get over it, the tackle deserved a greater puinishment, just be happy Carragher didn’t get it as many United fans are happy Rooney didn’t get red carded for his challenge – whihc by the way may I remind you was exactly the same as Gerrard’s challenge on Michael Brown – which received the same punishment as Rooney’s
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-1258335/FA-probe-Steven-Gerrards-swinging-forearm-Liverpool-star-faces-ban-showdown-Manchester-United.html

  • lol Walter – Mmmm, horse – my favourite!

  • terry

    Arsenal have a quality defender in Vermaelen who they have been missing through injury, but I agree they do need a quick poacher upfront to compliment RVP’s quality. Wenger has a great model for finding and developing youth, but personally I think he continues to have the problem of blending strength and experience with youth. Arsenal have a team of technically gifted players, but they lack mental strength which young players get from having experienced players along side them. They need an Adams, Gerrard or a Terry, someone who will lead by example and kick players up the backside when they need it. Arsenal are so close to having a great team and if they can get that first trophy then everything may fall into place, but as soon as they see the finihsing line, for some reason this team decides to implode, that’s when they need someone tpo step in and focus the players on the pitch and I dont think Wenger has that approach with the players.

  • Just reading that last comment I wrote (on the PGMOL/Lee Mason Article I linked) – I can’t remember writing most of that, I do recall I was ‘off my face’ on a surprisingly strong local ale and I could hardly focus on the keys… didn’t come across too bad considering.

    Nice to see our pet troll dancing for our attention again – I’m growing quite fond of him!

  • Prick

    Can someone pls feed the troll?

    I am sickened to the core by the PL’s weak governance in the ref department. But to worry of things that we have no power to change is an exercise in futility. I’d rather enjoy seeing our beloved gunners lift the trophy even when the refs r against us. It makes it all the more sweeter.

    Still an excellent article, but if i may say, we seem to be too obsessed with judging the ref. Surely there are better things to discuss?

  • @Prick – I think the idea is to raise awareness, catalyse a paradigm shift in perception, apply pressure and utimately effect change.

    Little acorns… etc.

  • blacksheep

    as usual interesting and provocative. You suggest the Sherlock Holmes approach – once the impossible is removed, what remains – however improbable – is the solution. I don’t think English refs are being bought but I do think the modern game has left the officials behind. 16 refs for the prem is far too few (as you have pointed out)and further down the leagues the standard is worse. I used to watch non-league Cambridge utd on occasions and decisions were shocking. So we need technology and a proper training facility/programme to recruit new officials. But as a stop gap why not rotate UEFA refs so that they officiate in the prem and visa versa? After all given taht all the prem teams have foreign stars why not foreign officials?

  • walter

    The (r)evolution has to start somewhere…

  • goooner

    Hi Tony,
    great piece again. The German commentator mentioned on Sat that United have conceded a whopping 4 penalties over the last 15 years at OT. That is an amazing 4 penalties in more than 400 games. I wonder if one of your stats gurus could verify this, and maybe compare it to other teams over the same period.

    The officiating this year has been an utter disgrace!!

  • Simon Bailey

    how about a spare-rib dogface?

    i like the similarities between the 4th explanation and the fossil record, we know there are gaps, but all the evicence… I just hope we dont find any rabbit bones in the pre-cambrian.

  • Simon Bailey

    terry, of course we are pissed off at rooney not getting punished. you tell me which is the worst offence: rooneys elbow or van persies kicking the ball away at barcelona?
    and if you look at the penalties and consequences, it makes it all the more obvious. rvp wasnt allowed to finish the tie, which we were winning, rooney didnt get a 3 match ban, wigan could have held out for a draw or a win against your 10, rooneys goals in subsequent matches wouldnt have counted, it goes on and on.

    the rooney decision and the FA’s lack of balls after the event are huge in the grand scheme of PL football this season..

  • terry

    Have read reports that Blackburn are looking to buy Bendtner for £15m, if they pull that deal off they should make Wenger Chancellor – if anyone can turn the countries finacnes round it’s a man that can sell Benndtner for £15m. And kudos to the man for selling oure and Ade to the Arabs,

  • @Simon Bailey – well… ok, as long as it’s going spare!

  • terry

    I would love to hear from Arsenal fans who still believe in Wenger, why do you guys still think he’s the right man for the job? What is it that you guys can still see in him that rest of us cannot? Do you honestly believe you are on ‘brink of greatness’ or have your expectations dropped over last few years? Is it question of loyalty?

    Hope we can have reasonable debate over this.

  • A Casual Observer

    Lovely weather we’re having today!

  • Marcus

    Great piece Tony. I love the analogy…..”everything evens itself out in the end” logic.

    “Sorry mum and dad , I failed my exams, but don’t worry everything will be alright, everything will even itself out in the end….”

    Unfortunately in this country we tend to have to wait for a catastrophe before we recognize a problem.

    The biggest problem with the FA seems to me that it is not transparent in its dealings, and it is not accountable. Of course the Terry’s will squeal when they feel their eagle’s nest being shaken.

    The entire football hegemony is based on cozy monopolies. Monopolies of Tv rights, monopolies jurisdiction, monopolies of winning the Prem (sic).

    Sad but true

  • Marcus

    When will you give us an edit button?

  • Marcus

    The referees should really be the catalysts for change….
    they are at present lackeys to the system.

    I also fear for their safety…because the sense of injustice is so strong now, and they are left completely exposed by the bastards at the FA.

    They need to form a union, and demand technological parity with what we see, i.e the sort of technological resources used in other major sports- cricket, tennis, American football etc etc -and a Premiership referee should be on a starting salary of £200,000, minimum.

    At present the Premiership product is being severely vitiated by poor standards of refereeing. Market economics demands a better end product.

  • JohnW

    Take the example of Scholes’ tackle the other day. Had he broken one of our players legs, would we say it’s ok because sooner or later ManU or indeed Scholes himself will break a leg the next time round? What is the probability that such a thing will even out? Scholes would have missed a game, what would happen if he scored the winning goal on Saturday, which then went on to win the EPL?
    Remember the Stoke game? Because of the referee’s mistakes we lost both Theo and Cesc ( He failed to clamp down on bullishness) and as a result we lost two points against Sunderland.
    So yes, Tony’s point of contention is so sound only some one blind cannot be able to see it.

  • jbh

    Barca were strong favourites to win and are ranked no. 1 team in Europe. So no humiliation in going out, and despite Guardiola saying that Barca beat Arsenal 11 vs 11 and 11 vs 10, they did not win 11 vs 11, and were losing on that basis (3 – 2) after 150 minutes.
    MU are ranked no 2 team in Europe and were also favourites for the FA cup game since they were playing at home and did not have a midweek away game (at Barca) before the match. So no humiliation there, Arsenal were expected to lose.
    Arsenal were strong favourites to win the CC, but lost in the last minute. This happens, so what. Better to be in the final than not, even if you lose as you build experience from those things. But CC is 5th target of the season.

    All pundits were questioning whether Arsenal would be in the top 4 this year, let alone be 2nd by 3 pts and with a game in hand. Is this not over reaching expectations? Over achieving – not under achieving? (in terms of cost of squad to assemble Arsenal should be about 7th in the league)

    Arsenal currently ranked 5th in Europe, slow climb from 38th position when Wenger joined. Is this not over acheiving based on the budget and building a new stadium?

    Arsenal have won top prizes every year of Wengers time – either cups, championships or qualification for Champions League. CL qualification is definitely more important than CC and FA cup (ask Spurs). Is this not over acheiving based on Arsenals record before Wenger?

    Arsenal play top quality football which is admired around the world and attracts much of the best young talent in the world who know they get a chance to play at a young age (current average age of the team is 23). They are attracted to the opportunity of working with AW who is rated as one of the top 5 coaches in the world and recently got coach of the decade by FIFA. Arsenal is very fortunate to have him.

    Arsenal are virtually sold out every game, even CC matches to lower league opposition due to the style and quality of football. Again down to Wenger.

    The media and opposition fans know that the greatest strength of Arsenal football club is Wenger, hence he is attacked repeatedly. Its rather tiresome, boring and totally lacks objectivity, but the Arsenal fans and board are not stupid.

  • Mandy Dodd

    I think there is certainly a league table of bias by officials in the EPL.
    We all know who is top of this league within a league ie the team clearly most favoured.
    I would make a guess at the teams around second, third and fourth as well.
    Where Arsenal stand – clearly on the decisions we get , near the bottom.
    Refs should let the game flow, or at times mediate or even intervene, not intefere.
    Wenger and Arsenal are going in a new, radical direction. This always arouses suspicion, threat, jealousy, intrigue. Many who take such paths away from the crowd come up against huge obstacles, everything can appear to go against them. With us, injuries, the media, refs, luck of the draw…you name it. Just seems to be an unwritten law of the universe that when you attempt to drastically change something, that same universe seems to throw its worst at you. But when we come through this, there will not be a red ref around that will be able to stop us – we will be that good!

  • JohnW

    terry,
    In case you have not noticed, the EPL is now fought between ManU and the Arsenal. When Rooney is rightly sent off because of his transgressions, Arsenal benefits because he’s one of their more important players. So we have every right to debate that. All we want is a fair execution of the rules, if its an Arsenal player who’s in the wrong and has to walk, then yes, he walks. But the way it seems, ManU gets more nods from refs that us.
    Why is it that every time we’re about to catch up with Manu or pull clear, then refs make their timely mistakes against us? That’s what we are asking, is that too much to see? It has not been happening this season alone, it has been happening all along. Remember Benitez losing his cool the other time he thought Liverpool were finally going to take it? His team started experiencing these ref mistakes and in the end he lost out.
    To our disadvantage, Arsenal does not have many England players, so the sympathy we get is almost negligible. We are looked at as a team full of foreigners. Yes, i think this has been one of the reasons why we have spent 6 long years without a trophy.

  • Shard

    My my..the troll had a lot of material today.. Our little pet is growing up??

    Good article Tony. But probably of more value to someone new to the site, or to the concept of refereeing ‘errors’ having a disproportionate affect on the results. At this point for us though, it doesn’t bring any suprises. We know they are inefficient, we know they are not held to account by anyone, we know that they are aware which side of their bread is buttered, and we know they’ll resist change. We also know that they HATE being called into question, and be asked to explain.

    So what to do? Apart from writing here and trying to spread awareness, what can we do? That is an article that I’d like to see at this point.

  • walter

    Shard, a very good point you bring up there.
    I would say that I will be banging on the door, and bang some more, and more and more…

    And when more and more people start banging at the door, one day they will have to open that door.

  • Shard

    @Walter

    I’d like to think that but it doesn’t always work out that way. Of course, people asking questions and spreading awareness through their words are important. But that doesn’t directly result in everyone joining them in banging the door as you put it.Even if they agree with everything.

    I think, it is very important, that after finding out about something that they don’t like, when people ask themselves “what can we do?”, that they have at least some options.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Do you think all this will change when Fergie has retired and we have Jack, Theo, Gibbs and maybe others regularly in the England team? Certainly hope something changes it.
    I am still not sure if the bias is in favour of Utd or due to their manager. The lack England players issue is also depressingly intriguing if there is anything in it.

  • walter

    Shard, I think it is first important to gather as much “evidence” as possible.

    And I am thinking on trying to gather more “evidence”.

  • dy

    Bias exists in a person’s mind. A preconceived notion out of personal preferences, stupidity or pure ignorance. No matter how you educate and retrain the refs, you can’t brainwash them.

  • Shard

    @walter

    I’m not being critical of Tony, yourself, Dogface, and everyone who contributes to this site. That isn’t my intention at all. In fact, I appreciate all the effort you put in. It’s just that it occurred to me that despite having that theory (as you say, lack of evidence)there is actually little we can do.. I suppose we aren’t at that stage yet.

  • Marcus

    “There is actually little we can do”…?

    Well, there is a lot we can do.

    Every team feels that they are the victims of refereeing injustice. Even the little red devils, bless ’em!

    So if all the supporters’ clubs could get together, they could hammer out an agenda for change, and present it the FA.

    At least then we could see for real whether the game is run for the people, or for big business interests.

    Agenda for change:

    1) No player can argue with ref. Only Captains

    2) Video technology for key decisions. E.G. Goal-line goals.

    3) A sin-bin – the ‘orange card’ – 15 mins or 30 minutes off field

    4) A fourth ref to make instant reviews

    5) Each team’s Captain has 3 renewable calls against a decision.

    6) No red card for goalkeeper fouls

    7) If a player gets a red, his match bans apply to the team against whom he made the infringement, unless the team in question requests an immediate ban

    8) The power to ban dangerous players for long periods of time. e.g. 20 games for a Shawcross.

    Add your own …..

  • Marcus

    plus…

    A set of rules which constitute a code of ethics for referees.
    Infringement of this code should mean serious punitive action, if not a lifetime ban from refereeing.

    I.E. If a referee is shown to be compromised, he should be banned from refereeing ever again.

  • Shard

    @Marcus

    All good suggestions, and the idea of all supporter groups getting together while a little difficult, is probably workable. However, the main problem is that all you are doing is going to the FA. They in all probability will hide behind FIFA laws or something.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Marcus, I would add a point 8 to your list – Send Messrs Webb and Riley into retirement from their respective roles with immediate effect

  • Shard

    I somehow have a feeling that this sort of change in the game cannot come from below..It’ll have to from the top. Or rather from people approaching the top.But who is that? Legally I mean..
    At the moment, the FA are the executives, and are the judiciary as well. I mean don’t they have full control over who to charge and who not to, with many punishments being.. well..inconsistent? Who are they answerable to? UEFA? FIFA? The Government? Can the government interfere without the possibility of sanctions from FIFA? If not, then will they be likely to?

    Does anyone know what country’s laws are applicable to UEFA and FIFA? Since they are based in Switzerland, I would presume it was the Swiss law. Someone said the other day (after the Barcelona game) that Swiss referees shouldn’t be awarded such a high profile game. And that there have been other instances also in which Swiss referees have been involved in controversies.. Is this true? Any chance there is a co-relation?

  • Dogface, can I say that the article here was mine, and Walter didn’t see it before it went up. The lack of respect shown to your work was entirely my fault and deserves an apology to you.

    As I believe you know, I am knocked out by what you do, and your service to the site. My only excuse is that because of pressure work at this end, the article was written over three days with lots of revisions en route, and somehow a fulsome acknowledgement to you which I am sure was there at the start, got lost. If the editor wasn’t me I’d blame to bloody editor.

  • jayj

    I firmly believe in the past Arsenal never got the decisions based on the lack of english nationals. I would even go onto to say Liverpool got more of the decisions than Man u, has anyone else noticed?

  • jayj

    Corrutption in the FA (never!!!)
    Well looking back over the years I always thought the 2001 FA cup final was rigged.
    Arsenal had soooo many bad calls by the ref (Steve Dunn), why would the FA let Steve Dunn take the final.
    He was only a childhood liverpool fan and the fucking club mascot in 1969. That year liverpool won 3 cups all celebrated by dodgy decisions,
    Carling cup – Birmingham blatent penalty denied
    Europa Leagie – D.Murphy’s hand ball but the ref allowed play on in Roma’s 18 yard box, and the final had so many fucked up pro LFC calls.
    FA cup Final – God Damn Ref!!!

  • Gunz

    @ Walter, Tony + Dogface + fellow gooners

    When we do get to that time, collected enough evidence, wouldn’t an online petition – wanting more improvement + transparency of the PGMOL – help our cause. I’d sign today.
    Could send it to the Goverments ‘Department for Culture Media and Sport’.

    How many games a week do Refs officiate?
    Knowing already how much effort you put in.
    Would it be possible to track the Ref, in the different games he does. Would be interesting to see how much the Ref Review percentages may vary, depending on which games he does.

    Anyway keep up good work. Waiting for the revolution.

  • jayj

    @Shard
    Just a thought but wasn’t Barcalona founded by Swiss?

    Could UEFA SWiss based Ref be influenced by this?

    Connection?

  • “Everything evens itself out over the course of the season”.

    It’s such an easy thing for someone to say. However, it is said without any factual proof and, thus, is invalid as an argument.

    Walter’s analysis of the referee’s performance after each game shows that, in Arsenal’s case, these decisions don’t even themselves out over the season.

    Next time someone uses that argument, point them to this website.

  • Marcus

    I notice Chelsea have a pretty easy run in….I wouldn’t discount them entirely….in fact they might have a lot to play for at OT

  • DogFace

    @Tony – I am humbled by your respect for my oft alcohol-imbibed Friday night ramblings… now – if only I can get a picture of the back of my head in the banner with you and Walter!

    😉

    I am currently doing some research with a hard-core stats man – mind-blowing collaborative articles to follow…

  • C4

    I wonder what our pet thinks of H. Webb?
    Would it even be willing to discuss the guy, or debate whether or not he wears manure boxers?
    I doubt it, because he will never admit that his beloved devils are helped along a whole hell of a lot, and the decisions they get tend to SAVE them points rather than COST them. Sure, there’s the (extremely rare) odd decision against them, but 9 out of 10 screw ups are in their favour.
    Purely by coincidence, of course.

  • Johnny Deigh

    @bergkampfan10 I remember Clattenburg refused to send off the last defender when a Huddersfield player fouled Bendtner who was going to tap in the ball from a Cesc pass late in the match. Clattenburg gave the penalty, but inexplicably didn’t send off the Huddersfield player. This is even more shocking when you consider he sent off Squillaci earlier in the match for an obstruction almost halfway up the pitch.

  • Anne

    I think that what Walter is doing here is very important. I personally think that match fixing goes on at all levels of football, and much more often than even the readers of this blog would suspect. It’s kind of a fact of life that, whenever such large sums of money are changing hands, corruption will always be kreeping in. But the profitability of the match fixing is also contingent, to a large extent, on keeping it secret from fans. There are a couple of reasons for that.

    First, the fans are the primary revenue base for the business of football in general. If fans lose faith in the fairness of the sport, they’ll spend less money on it, watch fewer games, etc, and the profit margins of the match fixers will suffer as a result. It’s important to them that they don’t lose their fan support.

    Similarly, the profitability of match fixing for betting reasons rests on the “honest” bets made by people who aren’t in on the fix. Thus, the persons who are aware that the fix is in are able to clean up against the odds. If the public begins to suspect that the matches are rigged, that would also become less profitable, because there will be fewer “honest” bets. There are more reasons than this, but you get the general idea.

    I personally think that the Newcastle match is viewed as an unmitigated disaster by those who are “in the know” (a match fixing EPIC FAIL, if you will :)). Because the fix was so obvious that it blew the operation open in front of a huge international audience (to all of the neutral, educated observers at least). If the corruption has gotten so out of hand that it’s THAT obvious, they’re going to be forced to do SOMETHING to reign it in, because it will begin to cut into their profit margins. And blogs like this one that are working to expose it even more are helping that process along. So, good work Walter, and keep it up!

  • Anne

    Another important question about possible EPL match fixing is to what extent persons OTHER than referees are involved in it. For example, are certain teams and/or players deliberately throwing games? Because if you have match fixing involving the referees, you can pretty much guarantee that other types are present as well.

    The reason I ask this question mainly comes from watching ManU this season. I’m not trying to rip on them here, but honestly, after watching them, I’m at a complete loss to understand exactly HOW ON EARTH they win so many games. They’re just not all that good! In almost every match that they play, the opposing team looks threatening against them and capable of winning. Yet, AGAINST ALL ODDS (emphasis on that part) they always seem to pull out a victory. It’s gotten to a point where it’s a little too much “against the odds” for me to accept it without skepticism.

    And you can’t attribute all of it to the referees, either. Some of it, but not all of it.

    Also, while it’s pretty widely accepted that ManU’s football is “boring,” very little effort seems to have gone into figuring out exactly what MAKES it boring. Well, I’ve thought about it, and for me, I think it comes down to the lack of passion in their game. I just don’t see them hustling and fighting it out the way some other teams do. It’s more like they’re just going through the motions.

    And I could say exactly the same thing about a lot of other teams in the EPL as well. Honestly, the only ones I can really stand to watch are Arsenal and Blackpool (and Tottenham to a lesser extent). And when you consider why certain teams would consistently play “boring” football, and not show any real passion in the game, I can’t help but think that one possible reason for that would be that the players know it’s not a real contest. That they’re not motivated, and their hearts aren’t in the game, because they know the outcome is predetermined.

    This is really just speculation at this point, but I just can’t help wondering… Does anyone else have any thoughts on this?

  • jitty

    @ Anne

    If you want to look at a thrown game, then look at Chelsea vs Wigan from earlier in the season.

    That entire run of Chelsea results spanning the two seasons is bizarre.

  • jitty

    @ anne re fixing

    the majority of betting volume is not via the main stream european outlets

  • For anyone needing evidence of a ‘smelly’ refereeing performance type in ‘Manchester United kicking Arsenal off the park’ to Youtube. It’s Mike Riley at his finest during our 2004 game at Old Trafford, seemingly determined to end our 49 game unbeaten run. Incompetent & petrified of whisky nose, or corrupt? Neither is welcome.