Untold Arsenal has a team of qualified referees who have reviewed more than 40% of the EPL games from last season. The reviews themselves were based on full match video footage with the advantage of video technology features such as slow motion and pause.
By reviewing those 155 games we have made a database of more than 7000 decisions that have been judged by our panel of dedicated and qualified referees.
The numbers you will see are based on those decisions and those reviewed games.
Stoke City (Potteries, I know, but we had to put them somewhere)
West Bromwich Albion
With 4 teams from the lower half of the league table it is clear to see that those teams are not TV stations favourites. They only are shown when playing the big boys. Something we have to keep in our minds. To see if there is some kind of big team bias in the bias numbers later on. But only 18,42 % of their games were reviewed and this is down to the fact that the TV companies don’t show them a lot. Stoke and Wolverhampton Wanderers have been shown 8 times. Aston Villa and West Bromwich Albion only 6 times.
So we do have to work with a smaller number of games for this region. Of course this could be done better next season. If you are a ref or know a ref who would want to help us let us know so we will have more games reviewed next season.
The total score of correct decisions is lower compared to the league average score. Just above the 70% and when we put weight in the decisions even under the 70%. Then we are starting to talk about bad numbers. Like was said before 70% is what should be considered an absolute minimum. This region is flirting with this minimum.
What is absolutely mind blowing is the very high number in the weighted decisions in favour of those teams in the high decisions. Just under 24%. I think this is very out of line compared to the overall score and the other regions we have checked until now.
If we look at the goal decisions it is clear that the average has gone down compared to the overall league number. It goes below the 90% mark. In this we don’t examine if this was in favour or not (it can be both ways) but just look at correct or wrong in the games involving those 4 teams from the Midlands. The offside decisions are also slightly worse than the overall league average.
The other decisions are not that far out of line with the overall average in the league. The same goes for the penalty decisions and the red cards in a way. In the yellow cards we see that the decisions in those games are a bit worse compared to the overall league average.
A remark from my part is that after seeing the bad numbers for a while we kind of accept them as normal but I think I should state once again that some of these numbers are unacceptably low.
Let us move on to the bias numbers. And compared to the league average home bias of 1.826 the bias in favour of the teams in the Midlands is more than the double! And the away bias is almost the what we could say “normal away bias”. Please not that there should be no away bias but well it exists so we could find it normal in a way.
If we put weight on the decisions we see that the away bias is again very much in line with the general away bias teams can expect in the PL. But again the home bias is mind blowing high. The highest of all the regions we have checked so far. And I really doubt we will find another region with such a score. This is more than the double of the average home bias one could expect. And this is going in favour of the teams from the Midlands. With all respect not really the teams one thinks of when we speak of bias from the refs. But the score is what it is. Let us see if we can see more strange things in this part of the country when we look at the teams.
And it sure is starting to become stranger with every new graphic we open up. So far no other team has had such a high negative bias score as West Bromwich Albion. And also one of the other two teams in the Midlands is suffering from a minor negative bias. Wolverhampton has a slight positive bias. And then we have Stoke. Who is coming up with a score that we haven’t seen before. In fact we could say that the score of Stoke itself overshadows the whole region. This is totally amazing to be honest.
If we bring in the weight from the refs we see that West Bromwich has a big negative bias against them. Also Aston Villa and Wolverhampton Wanderers manages to just get under the zero line and receive a small negative bias. The negative score from West Bromwich Albion goes even up compared to the unweighted score and can be considered as real bad.
And the score from Stoke plummets to the sky and is the highest weighted bias in favour of one team that we have found so far. In one word: Amazing!
If we look at the refs we see that we had 16 refs doing these games. 4 of those refs had a negative bias towards the Midlands teams. Kevin Friend and Mark Halsey are showing a big negative score against the Midlands teams in this.
And we had two refs who had a zero score in total meaning that their mistakes were even out after doing their one game with a Midland team involved.
So we keep 10 refs who have had a positive bias towards the teams from the Midlands. And with leading the pack the refs Chris Foy and Stuart Attwell. We have seen them before on the right hand side of this table (in the North West)
And if we put weight on the decisions we see that the score from Kevin Friend and Mark Halsey is really out of line. We now have 5 refs with a negative bias score against the Midlands teams. And one ref Phil Dowd with an absolute cracking even score of zero! You see it can be done to do games and make mistakes without giving advantage to one team.
The positive score form some refs if we put weight in the decisions is remarkable. Chris Foy and Stuart Attwell have given it all to some of the Midland teams when they came over.
THE FINAL CONCLUSION:
The bias to one team from the Midlands is mind blowing. It is one of the results you never expect to see when you start such a survey. West Bromwich Albion is a team in the same region that is suffering from the opposite. So it really cannot be that it is purely a regional bias.
With 10 refs out of 16 having a positive bias number to the teams from the Midlands it is a rather complicated region to really understand. It looked as if there was only one team that could enjoy a positive bias in this region and they surely got plenty of it. And yet they also got some big calls against them. A little theory is starting to grow but we will come back to Stoke in the next articles when we look at club level.
Next article in this series: Is there any bias towards teams from the “other” region?