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.
Queens Park Rangers
First thing is that this is the highest reviewed region in percentage terms. And in this region we have a team that has been reviewed all 38 games, Arsenal. Chelsea has been reviewed 32 games, Tottenham Hotspur has been reviewed 21 games. So 3 teams we have reviewed for more than 50%. Fulham has been reviewed during 10 games and Queens Park Rangers, being a newcomer in the PL has been reviewed across 8 games.
Before we go further in the numbers we must point at the fact that there are no referees from London or the Greater London area in the PL. We think it is strange that from the most populated area in England there are no refs who make it to the top. Is there a problem with recruiting? Or is there another problem? A problem where the little circle of refs wants to be kept a little circle?
But those questions are for later, let us now go and see how the non-London refs did the London teams and how competent they were.
This is the lowest regional number of correct calls. Just below the Midlands number. And some 2% below the league average. And the same goes for the weighted numbers. The lowest overall and 2% below the league average.
So at first sight the refs didn’t perform at their best when refereeing London teams. Let us now look at the different type of decisions and see if there are any strange things to see.
The goal decisions are slightly worse than the normal number, but there is not much difference to be seen. Apparently the officials did their best when they were judging the offside decisions. Slightly fewer mistakes were made or could be judged, and thus given as correct by our referee reviewers.
In the other decisions we see that the number is not as good as the league average. Not by much but still just under 30% of the general decisions were wrong. Also the penalty decisions were not as good as the league average.
For the yellow and red cards there is only a slight difference between the overall league average and the London region numbers. So now let us try to look at how the wrong calls were given. Who benefited and who not?
The Bias Against London
And now we get to see a real strange thing. If we look at the away bias we see that London teams are facing a big away bias. The highest of the whole league. Twice the usual away bias a team could have against it compared to the league average.
That being already amazing (the highest away bias against the London region teams) then the home bias is maybe even more amazing. Because when London teams play at home there seems to be no home bias any more. There is a negative bias against the home teams in London.
When we put weight to it we see the same strangest things. The away bias is the highest visible from any region. And the home bias is still a negative one for the teams from London. So when we look at all the London teams combined there is no such thing as a home bias in this region. Let us move on and try to see if we can see differences between the teams.
And now we see that two teams got a very high numbers of decisions going their way. Queens Park Rangers and Fulham had rather some big decisions going their way in the games we reviewed. Tottenham was also on the good end when mistakes were made during the season.
Chelsea is one of those teams that looks to come close to what we could call ‘even out’. In fact all the numbers rather close to each other both in their favour or against them.
The bias against Arsenal
And then we have Arsenal the only London team where there is a big negative bias swing in the wrong decisions.
When we put weight to the decisions we see the same image. Queens Park Rangers and Fulham having a nice positive swing in the numbers and lots higher compared to the non weighted decisions. Tottenham also has a higher positive bias number.
Chelsea has gone down a little bit but not by much and they stay in the positive area.
And Arsenal remains Arsenal. The highest negative bias swing of all teams in London and beyond. If you can give it against Arsenal, just give it seems to be the word amongst referees.
If we look at the referees we see that we have had 18 referees in the London games. And only 4 of them had a positive bias score for London teams. This means that 14 had a negative bias when doing London teams. Anthony Taylor seems to be the worst ref for London but he only did one game with a London team so this could be not really reliable. The same could be said about Stuart Attwell with only 2 games. But then we have a string of referees who did more games like Mason, Dowd, Foy and a few others with clear negative bias against London teams.
And again if we put weight the picture remains the same with around 77% of the refs having a negative bias number when London teams are involved in their games.
The final conclusion:
Poor overall numbers for the refs in general at first sight with some of the lowest totals in general and well below the league average. But still the negative result are mainly due to one team. So it seems that there is not a general anti London feeling amongst the refs.
Queens Park Rangers seems to have a rather good relationship with the referees. Well at least in the games we reviewed. And also Fulham doesn’t have much reason to complain about the refs in last season.
Tottenham also had a few things going their way but maybe if all goes well we could shed some perspective in to that when we talk about the individual teams. Chelsea came closest to even out one could say from last season.
And Arsenal? Arsenal should move. Moving to the North West maybe would be helpful.
Next article in this series: making a first round up after the regions