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The Untold weekly ref review

By Walter Broeckx

Well we have had our first week of ref reviews. And apart from some mistakes that were made while publishing a review your original ref reviewer is feeling a bit satisfied.  Not all that came online this week was 100%. But this is the building process. And as Rome wasn’t build in a day, let alone in a week also Untold Ref Review edition 2 will need time some to build it in to the perfect product we would like it to be. So for anything that went wrong this week, please consider this is a starting work and a job in progress. And I take the blame for those mistakes: I wrote the song, don’t shoot the piano player (ref reviewer).

So in short what will we be trying to do in this season. First of all the basic stuff. The ref reviews themselves. I would say the most important part of it. And I find myself lucky that I have a small team of ref reviewers at my disposal. If there are other refs around who want to join them please contact us. The more people on board the better our work can become. And I also would like to encourage readers who are refs but who support other teams and who came here because they saw the name of the team they follow or support to join us.

So this first weekend we managed to have 5 reviews from the EPL games. And we could include Arsenal, Utd, City, Chelsea and Liverpool. And of course we also have some numbers of the other teams involved. So if we can keep this up we will have a lot of data at the end of the season. And we will be able to have not only the top 5 or 6 covered but also have 10 or 12 games covered from the smaller teams.

In another article I have given a look at possible things we could do with the data. Like seeing if there is a player that is fouled a lot. If there is a player that commits a lot of fouls. If there is a player that makes a lot of fouls but that aren’t given by the ref or refs. Some kind of player bias by the refs. But you could also see if you can find the opposite. A player that is being penalised for doing nothing wrong. And this also can have something to do with some kind of anti-player bias from some refs.

You could try to look for trends. I’m not suggesting anything but if we for example find that refs punish red haired players more than blond players we can assume that the ref or refs in question don’t like red haired players. To answer to the why question is not that simple if we find such data but we will certainly try to keep an eye on this and report if we notice something unusual.

Another thing I will be trying to do is analyse the refs each week. With the data gathered from the games I will try to point at things that become visible when looking at the numbers. And I will try to compare this with other weeks and so we can try to build this up and see if we can find trends. Trends not only in Arsenal games but also in other games. Trends we can see from certain refs. But as this is new territory I don’t know what we will find at the end of the week, month or season.

To show you what I mean I will try to do this with the first games we have done this week. I know it doesn’t contain a lot of data yet but we can only work with the things we have for the moment and that is 5 games.

And the first thing I will show you is the overall score table from these games

Ref Important Overall Weight Average
Dean 77,78 80 83,72 80,5
Halsey 57,14 65 64,56 62,23
Dowd 83,33 89,13 91,53 88,00
Jones 80 79,59 82,26 80,62
Walton 50 55 63,16 56,05
Av week 1 69,65 73,744 77,046 73,48

The overall score of all the refs is 73.48 % and this is enough to stay in the league. But there are some differences because 2 refs didn’t make the 70% score. 3 did make more than 70%. But this is only from one week so not really to say much about it.

But what I can do is to see if there are any differences between the first half numbers and the second half numbers and see if there a trend hidden in the numbers. So the first half score for the same games is

Ref Important Overall Weight Average
Dean 50 90 91,67 77,22
Halsey 83,33 76,92 78,13 79,46
Dowd 80 91,67 87,88 86,52
Jones 100 85 88,89 91,30
Walton 80 70 70,83 73,61
Av week 1 78,67 82,72 83,48 81,62

And when there is a first half there is also a second half score table :

Ref Important Overall Weight Average
Dean 85,71 75 80,65 80,45
Halsey 46,15 55,88 55,32 52,45
Dowd 100 86,36 96,15 94,17
Jones 77,78 75,86 77,14 76,93
Walton 41,18 57,58 59,62 52,79
Av week 1 70,16 70,14 73,78 71,36

Now this is only based on one game for each ref so it is difficult to draw any definite conclusions on this. But nevertheless I will try to do it so we can see later on that what I said now will actually be confirmed or not.

All the refs have a better first half than a second half, apart from Dowd. There is a 10% gap between the first half and the second half for most of the decisions. Now this is in fact a normal thing because the ref is the person who has to cover the whole field during the whole game. And so he will be more tired as the game goes on. And the more tired you are the more your decisions will suffer.

This is a well know fact by all the refs. And this is also the reason that Fifa and Uefa and many countries have the rule that a top class ref should be maximum 45 years old. Now I have passed that age a few years ago and I think most of us who did will have felt that well things do come down a bit around that age. This summer I have been training harder and longer than ever before and I can say that for my age I am in a really good condition (I flirt with the notion excellent at the cooper test) but it cost me a lot more trouble and pain than let us say 10 years ago. So the first game week shows that this is the same for most refs: the later on in the game the more the decisions suffer.

Another statistical fact we will be watching is the wrong calls. Because these things can hide something as most us know right now. And we will be having a look at how many calls were wrong and most of all how they were divided between the two teams. Because making mistakes can happen. But making the same mistakes all over again against one team and not against the other is something that could point at something suspicious. So here is the statistic for this week

Wrong calls against Nr %
Arsenal 16 84,21%
Newcastle 3 15,79%
Game total 19
Man City 1 20,00%
Swansea 4 80,00%
Game total 5
Chelsea 12 57,14%
Stoke 9 42,86%
Game total 21
MU 2 20,00%
WBA 8 80,00%
Game total 10
Liverpool 1 25,00%
Sunderland 3 75,00%
Total 3

Now I don’t want to go in to this too much for the moment as well this is only after one game but I think it will be very interesting to also keep a close watch on to these numbers.

Later in the season I will certainly come back to this and we will also be monitoring possible game changing decisions. And how much points it could have cost a team. But that is something for the future.

27 comments to The Untold weekly ref review

  • Charles

    This is brilliant. Interesting to see already man u and liverpool being favoured. Be very interesting to see at the end of the season!

  • bob

    Walter, Dogface, all:
    Further on Le Bad Calls: Yesterday, kentetsu offered us an important link (below) to the Daily Mail’s Nick Harris’ assessment of how bad calls were, indeed, ruining us, and that current accusations that Arsene’s “lost the plot” are dead wrong. Wenger was often portrayed as being paranoid or having ‘lost the plot’. “But research shows that if all the key decisions had been called correctly, with no refereeing bloopers on penalties, goal-line decisions and offside calls leading to goals (or not), Arsenal would have finished second to Manchester United, with Chelsea third and Manchester City fourth. City would have had to endure a Champions League qualifier, not Arsenal.” Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/article-2028340/Is-Arsene-Wenger-right-feel-paranoid-Nick-Harris.html#ixzz1VeuL2P8R

    @Walter, Dogface:
    In addition, Nick Harris has been using the potentially very important research of one Tim Long. It’s to be aired on BBC Radio Manchester AND elsewhere at 2PM today – which would be GREAT if someone on UA could listen to and report on? Harris is crediting “Tim Long, a broadcaster and sports journalist. His radio documentary, Beyond The Goal Line: Football’s Technology Debate, is airing among other places on BBC Radio Manchester at 2pm today.” Again, video replay is the best disinfectant for ref-shite.

  • mick

    As well as the refereeing situation we seem to be suffering from an incredible run of bad luck and fluke goals against us. I thought luck was supposed to even out as well as bad decisions!

  • bob

    Walter,
    (Sorry to double-post this but I was confused between RefPreview and RefWatch:) It’s being pointed out a little bit that the linesman Andy Garratt was involved in both the bad Newcastle decisions on Gervinho last week and on last year’s bad decision on Arshavin in our draw vs. Sunderland. This to say that game changing decisions might have a sub-watch, as in which linesmen are involved. Remembering how when Sagna was stomped on 3 times in a match last season and none of the incidents were penalized. This meant, of course, that either linesmen weren’t reporting them, or were reporting them and the ref overruled or ignored them, or both ref and linesmen were collaborating in the ref-shite. Anyway, just something to think about and possibly to table-ize at least on an ad hoc basis?

  • bob

    Walter, all,
    If, as Nick Harris/Tim Long say, and implied or more in your Ref Reviews that we would have finished second last season, then this factor should be kept in high profile these days. If readers on UA, let alone outside UA, would take the bad ref decisions only half as seriously as the rest of the factors (players, tactics, etc.) that we argue about, then everyone could have a far more accurate and better discussion about what we are witnessing and what is to be done. N’est-ce pas? It’s both aspects – the ref-shite and the rest – that paint a full picture. (As in chewing gum and walking a straight line at the same time.)

  • walter

    Bob,
    thank you very much for this link.
    I must say this is something amazing. To think that in fact a newspaper is actually looking at things we have been doing for the last year.
    I wonder where they got the idea from. 😉

  • Johnny Deigh

    Interesting that the two refs who are in their 50’s had very poor 2nd halves in their matches.

    You know even a non-contact, non-physical sport like chess often has a senior categories for over 50’s for example because the older players have more difficulty maintaininging a high level of concentration over a long period of time.

  • jbh

    One key element is consistency. I’d agree with the first yellow for Frimpong yesterday if that is applied all the time – but I doubt it is (there would be 100 extra yellows every week in the EPL). The only way one can assess this is within each game ie is the ref applying the same standards to each team.

    Also I think it important to look at where fouls are committed. I’m of the view Arsenal concede more set piece goals because they concede more fouls in the final third (and naturally if the ref gives more fouls against you there then your numbers will be high – but are the refs consistently giving fouls in both final thirds?)

    Lastly I raised the point about early yellows. For Frimpong to get his first after 7 mins means that he has a long time to commit another (yes he was stupid with the second justified yellow) but this is an obvious area for potential bias.

  • Simon Bailey

    just listened to the show you highlighted above on radio manchester. Apart from a few interesting statistics which basically mirror the ref reviews we had on here las year, it was all doom and gloom really. The jist of it is that nothing will happen under blatter and even if something is suggested after that there will be so much arguing about who is paying for it that it probably wont happen anyway. quite depressing really.

    The idea of open play video reffing worries me slightly. who owns the cameras that are used? Is there any chance that sky or espn could affect the decisions being made? how does this work in rugby?

  • bob

    Admin, Walter,
    A link to this essential article isn’t yet at the top of the Homepage under “Latest…” It makes it easy to confuse with the RefPreview which is there, but this article isn’t there yet.

  • bob

    Simon Bailey,
    Many Thanks for listening to that program. From your description, I agree with the view that Bladder is totally obstructionist and will block it until he’s no longer a the top. This may not be as impossible as it may sound because there’s a lot of inquiries into football corruption worldwide that have begun, and if there’s anything on his watch that’s ever turned up, there’ll be a housecleaning – so don’t be totally without hope on that score. As for who pays, FIFA, UEFA, FAs, SuperLeague, etc., all of them are private for-profit corporations with budgets and stakes in the well-being of the game. The problem is that these groups currently appear to like the game just as it is, thank you. That said, only a massive fan petition and perhaps a one game boycott could raise their eyebrows and the pressure on them for video review. As for video review, there’s a lot of it in various forms and it works without undo delay. Rugby, US pro baseball, football, hockey, and no doubt others not on this list and outside my limited knowledge. My point about football is that – with enough fan support and petitions and more – (1) a trial (pre-season, half-season, invitation cups, etc.) run could be implemented to see how it worked out; and (2) include review of diving (contested by either manager, perhaps two calls each per game, on per half, say) resulting in a red card would put an end to that practice which, above all else, slows down the game with fake rolling about, physio visits and stretcher bearing. There are clearly other possibilities that far more knowledgeable minds than mine could bring to bear. This is not impossible and brings fairness to the game. There’s also a drama in waiting for the result of the fair review. However people might sneer at that idea, the false drama of futilely screaming about bad calls and non-calls is our eternal plight without video review. Some doubtless like that kind of futility, so unfair play to them. But, given the amount of money that is sloshing throughout world soccer, the temptation toward the bent call/non-call will be irresistible in any league and none are immune. Goal line technology is a weak substitute that they can afford – as the FA itself has called for it, and Platini and Bladder nodded assent; so that’s the money source. And lastly, as for the photos – they’re obviously instantly available with no waiting time as every televised match will prove every day. And, if a play under review is too close for the designated review-ref-in-the-booth to decide, then fine, the call stands on the field. This works well in US pro baseball and pro football, and the fans at home get to see the same video replays. It seems not perfect, but far better than the review-free zone – with no ref press conferences and no published PGMOL post-game report, and now, no pre-game announcement of whose the ref and assistants – that is a decided blight on EPL football.

    As for what an online petition might look like, well here’s a current example which one blog has just put up in support of Arsene Wenger, to be sent to the club when they get enough signatures: http://www.petitiononline.com/Gunners1/petition.html Fans could do likewise for video replay, and anyone could propose some wording, get a response, adjust it accordingly, and find a blog – or combination of many blogs – that are willing to post it online. Then publicity will help and we see what’s the upshot. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. And any reform on the pitch would be a godsend to most fans except those who love billionaire purchases for their sides and screw the rest of football. That, however, will screw the rest of football on most any level you can imagine.

  • Stevie E

    @all
    Critics link above is vital viewing for all, I’m delighted that we at untold aren’t alone in our beliefs of Wenger and Arsenal. Please go to and sign your support.
    I just want to say, personally Im ashamed to be an arsenal fan today. Not because we lost to Liverpool, but because when the club really needs the support and backing of the supporters, we get booing in the stands. Shameful

  • sad

    http://www.sportingintelligence.com/

    think more than you agree on the biased ref thing guys…

  • sad

    go have a look, interesting article..
    City was given 9 points more than they should last year…

  • bob

    Walter, sad, Dogface, UA/all
    What’s very important thanks to sad’s supplying this link is that it reveals a major piece that was missing from Nick Harris’ summary in the Daily Mail. Please click on it and scroll down to the complete EPL table, corrected for ref-shite, that the researcher Tim Long has compiled. If/when Tim Long publishes his full study and methodology, we have his table to think about. But it’s an audacious piece of research with far-reaching claims and worth our collective assessment – right, wrong or otherwise. Please have a look…. Again, it’s here thanks and kudos to sad: http://www.sportingintelligence.com/

  • bob

    p.s. obviously, but I forgot to add, the table corrects for last season’s results. One shudders to contemplate the table to be for the Rednose XX.

  • bob

    Walter, Dogface, All:
    For anyone interested in a follow up to Tim Long’s research on the results of bad calls/non-calls last season, the mobile phone number that he posts on his website is: +44 (0)795 850 9799 and his email is: timtjlong@googlemail.com
    I don’t find more of this study as yet on his website, but maybe that’s just me. Anyway, here goes: http://www.thesportscaster.webs.com/
    Hopefully he’s on to something of major importance that holds up and perhaps it will sync up with Walter’s End of Season final reports to provide a shift in perceptions on the pervasive power of improper calls/non-calls on football table results.

  • bob

    All,
    For anyone interested in a follow up to Tim Long’s research on the results of bad calls/non-calls last season, the mobile phone number that he posts (and clearly invites contact) on his website is: +44 (0)795 850 9799 and his email is: timtjlong@googlemail.com

  • Diaminedave

    Walter all credit to your work. I think with all these stats you will be making a fortune at the bookies;)

  • jayj

    Jose Manuel Jurado – watch this space.

  • walter

    Diaminwedave, and then to think we have no bookies in my country. Not that I really know in fact…

  • jayj

    juan mata – valencia reach an agreement with chelsea.

  • walter

    Interesting is that Tim Long comes up with a number 70% IMPORTANT calls that were wrong in the whole EPL.

    I came up with a number in the Arsenal games of 62% important calls that were wrong.

    And as you can see in his table that Arsenal were the team that suffered most from the top 4 teams it looks that my number isn’t that far away.

    I think this is giving credit to what we are and have been doing over here last season and this season.

    Oh and for those waiting: the ref reviews are on their way. But please keep in mind we are doing this in our spare time and we also have wife, children and other obligations…

    Thanks for the link, Sad. It has brought me joy. 🙂

  • bjtgooner

    @ Walter, Bob, Sad et al

    Great work and interesting link to Tim Long. I am pleased that Andy Garrett was identified in Tim Long’s work.

  • Kentetsu

    bob, thank you for crediting me for the link, but unless there is a doppelganger, you have credited the wrong person. Nevertheless, it’s an essential read and might open the eyes of the larger public – and hopefully the governing bodies – that the level of refereeing is off the mark. Beyond a doubt news reporters do read blogs and it could very well be that due to Walter’s excellent work last season, Tim Long had decided to dig a little deeper. Regardless of that, it is good to know that Untold is not alone in keeping a close watch on the refs. The BBC article last season and the Daily Mail this week show that the work done by Walter et al is very much worth the effort.

  • Jitty

    @dogface

    What are you using for data source on the asian markets?

    I wonder if you could/should be trying to use ‘sense making’ analysis – e.g. take known rigged ingame events, and then using a matrix approach, to seek out other similar patterns.

    Let me know if you want to discuss this.

    Jitty