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REF REVIEW 2012: Fulham. Unacceptable refereeing.

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Arsenal, the club that changed football.

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By DogFace and Walter Broeckx

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.

Fulham ended in 9th place in the league.  But how did the referees do in their matches? We will try to find out of course.

Untold Vs PGMOL - Fulham 2011/2012

Fulham is another team of which we managed to review 10 games. This represents one in 4 games of their season. It is a good number in a way but if you find this should be higher and better you and if you are a ref you can always try and join our team. It would result in being able to do more games and make these surveys more complete.

Let us see how the refs in general did in the Fulham games.

PGMOL Vs EPL - Basic Competency - Fulham 2011/2012

Well this sure doesn’t look good at all. This is a bad result for the referees in general. I would say this is an unacceptable result. We don’t want a score below 70% in general decisions. This is more than 7% worse than the league average which itself is already a very low number.

Does any team in the league has to be satisfied when refs in their games make one mistake in every 3 decisions they have to make? I will repeat it to make sure you get the picture: 1 in 3 decisions was wrong.

Let us see how these numbers look when we dig deeper in to the different type of decisions.

PGMOL Vs EPL - Basic Competency Breakdown - Fulham 2011/2012

The goal difference is lower than the already too low league average. This is a really bad number I think.

The offside decisions are almost the same as the league average. Just under 90%. So 10% short of what the PGMOL claimed earlier this year.

The other decisions is with just under 66% some 6% lower than the league average. I think anything below 70% is not acceptable in the PL. That might be acceptable in a pub competition but not in the PL.

The penalty decisions are looking ridiculous. With only 33%. Compare this with the already unacceptable 62% of the league average and you see that this is a number that must get higher.

The only number that is better than the league average is the red cards decisions. But again do we have to accept 33% as good enough? Not in my book.

The yellow cards are close to 50%. Again  I ask would it change a lot if we would throw up a coin to decide if we give a yellow card or not?

These numbers are a big shamble and a disgrace. And something that we should not accept in the PL.Regardless of who is playing in these games: this is too low. Up to now we don’t know if there is anything wrong with these numbers apart from the fact that they are disgraceful.

The next thing to do is to see if there was someone who benefited from this?

PGMOL Vs EPL - Incorrect calls Breakdown - Fulham 2011/2012

Well obviously someone did benefit. The normal (non-existing according to Mike Riley) negative away bias turns in to a positive bias for Fulham when playing away from home. Granted this was only done on 4 away games of the 19 but still a remarkable result.

And the home bias is almost 3 times the normal home bias! This leads to a positive bias overall of more than 3.600 bias points for Fulham. This was the result of doing almost 1 in 3 home games from Fulham.

If we put weight on the decisions we see that the normal negative away bias of -2.619 changes in a positive bias for Fulham of 1.500. That is a positive swing of 4.119 bias points away from home.

And the home bias is also very high in their favour. That is also almost 3 times what you normally could expect at home as an overall average.

The final outcome gives a positive bias swing of some 4.800 points in favour of Fulham.

Let us see which refs are involved in this farce of refereeing?

EPL vs PGMOL - Incorrect calls Breakdown by Referee - Fulham (Un-Weighted) 2011/2012

We had 7 refs in the Fulham games. Two had a negative bias result. Michael Oliver with a rather big negative swing and Howard Webb also had a bad score.

Mark Halsey had a zero score, so that is good for a ref who rarely gets a zero bias score in his games.

Kevin Friend  had a moderate positive bias in favour of Fulham. And Mark Clattenburg enters the zone where I start to get an uneasy feeling.

Mike Dean had two games and a big positive bias for Fulham. But the master of Fulham when it comes to refereeing was Lee Probert.  I think one of the biggest biased numbers in total I have seen this season.

EPL vs PGMOL - Incorrect calls Breakdown by Referee - Fulham (Weighted) 2011/2012

If we put weight on it than we see almost the same numbers. This time 3 referees with a negative bias. The numbers going up (or down of course in case of a negative bias) and Mark Halsey joining the negative numbers but not with a high score. Kevin Friend and Mark Clattenburg also have a higher number. Mike Dean also rises to a very high positive bias.

Lee Probert goes off like a rocket and ends up with a score of 30 bias points. Unacceptable numbers.

PGMOL Vs Fulham - Incorrect calls Seasonal Handicap - Fulham (Weighted) 2011/2012

In this graphic we can clearly see the influence of the refs on their results. When the ref was clearly in their favour they got extra points.

One game they could complain about and clearly dropped points,  shows how important it is to have the ref in your favour.

We can ask ourselves what was the matter in some of those games?

FINAL CONCLUSION

What is the matter with the referees when they did Fulham games? This is one of those unexpected results from doing this referee review all season long.

I know that their chairman complained when he was entitled to complain after a bad decision going against them. But I didn’t hear him in all those games when they had the refs clearly on their side.

The refs were very very poor  in the Fulham games in general and they clearly favoured Fulham. This is a very bad example on how it shouldn’t be done.

Some games we reviewed:

Manchester City – Fulham
Fulham – Manchester United
Fulham – Arsenal
Fulham – Liverpool
Fulham – Manchester City
Fulham – Blackburn
Fulham – Chelsea
Manchester United – Fulham

Editorial Footnote: Occasionally readers wish to make the point that our figures or methods are themselves fixed or biased.  If you have such a view and wish to argue that point please do take a look at our article on data and conclusions first.   If you want to see past articles in this series they are at EPL REFEREE REVIEW 2012- An historic study on the refs in the EPL

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Follow Untold and the Arsenal History Society on Twitter @UntoldArsenal

15 comments to REF REVIEW 2012: Fulham. Unacceptable refereeing.

  • @babakrdaemi

    What I find interesting is that of the games viewed many were against top sides. So the bias could be not about fulham but who they were playing?

  • WalterBroeckx

    A very very interesting remark @babakrdaemi!

  • Mitchell Edwards

    Watched every Arsenal game last season and the worst for refereeing was vs Fulham away.

  • nicky

    On ESPN at
    1.45pm Tuesday v Malay XI and
    1.00pm Friday v Man Citeh
    You can watch Arsenal FC on tour!!!

  • Peter

    I very much enjoy the website and look forward eagerly to the ref reviews. One area that I think weakens the arguments in the review is that it is not clear in the individual ref section who the opponent is. I think this is particularly important when the opponent is Arsenal as this particularly match could be considered one where an element of bias is most likely to have crept in. To help reduce any claims of bias, if the Arsenal recordings have been kept, perhaps an independent reviewer could be found to validate the scores (or not) in a selection of the games. This would help reduce any claims of bias and would perhaps allow this work to gain a wider audience. Perhaps you could invite a European ref to do this, perhaps you could also offer the opportunity to the papers and the PMGOL to also review the matches using the same scoring system!

  • Nick

    I don’t fully understand the methodology and as a season ticket holder at Fulham I’m not sure I can agree with your general conclusions – and have to say that Mark Halsey is a shocking referee.
    Of course no one complains when decisions go their way but we all want to feel that games have been refereed fairly overall – yes there have been games when we chuckled about decisions but they were outweighed by games where a few key decisions tipped the game to the oppo’s advantage.
    If this were the referee’s end of term report I think it would say ‘could do better’.

  • WalterBroeckx

    Nick,
    thanks for your reply.

    I can understand that for someone who is new to the site it all might be a bit confusing. The regular readers and writers of course who have been with us from the start know how we work and how things have been collected over the season.

    There are several links on the untold referee page that you can find on the right hand side or http://blog.emiratesstadium.info/referees

    The methodology itself is the result of a model that has been developed over the course of one season (the season before the last one).
    In short: we look at each second of each game we review and look at each decisions and non decision of the ref based on video evidence. So we don’t just judge the decisions because that is only half the job in fact. As a qualified referee myself I know that making no decision can be as bad/good as making a decision.
    This is gathered from all the games we have reviewed with our team of qualified referees and we managed to do 155 games (or more than 40% of all PL games).
    The games from Fulham is only 10 we could do so only 26%. This could lead to slightly different feelings because in the other 28 games things could have been different of course.
    The reason we do want to give the numbers also of teams we only did a few games is because we have published each review and are working in the open. Each decision of our referees can be questioned and talked about.
    Not including the smaller teams (small in the meaning not reviewed that much) would give the impression that we could manipulate our numbers.
    Of course the numbers of Fulham (in this case) are not as accurate as the numbers of let us say Chelsea will be as we did them a lot more.

    For Chelsea we can be pretty accurate, for Fulham we have to work with what we have and try to see patterns in the data we have at our disposal.
    Not perfect but we have to start somewhere.

    Last season we started and did 38 games. This season we managed 155 games (like said +40% of all games). Next season…? Who knows. 380 would be a dream come true…

  • WalterBroeckx

    Nick,

    Also I think the title more or less was written because of the very low score in correct decisions in general. In my country the refs have to score at least 70% or they are thrown out of the top division. So everything below 70% is not enough. And thus the title “unacceptable”.
    Regardless from who benefits or not, we should not accept anything less than 70% from the refs in the PL.

  • WalterBroeckx

    Peter,
    if someone wants to do this it would be greatly appreciated. In fact I know somebody did this already. Or at least I may hope they did 😉 Yep, the PGMOL should have the data available.
    We are always willing to review their findings if they would give us access. They can check our data of course. It is free available on this website.

  • anatra

    I know that you don’t have enough data (unfortunately) to make a match day to game day “examination”. But it would be interesting to see if one or a few judges will help any specific team to reach higher positions in the table, not just by reffing a certain team, but by reffing other teams.
    That is to say, team A has 10 points, team B has 11 points. The ref in question refferees the match where team B plays. But, he wants to give an advantage to team A. He would therefore ensure that team B gets a tough match. No matter if team A wins or not, team B (if successful), at least won’t get any more points. Cui bono?

  • anatra

    “Judge”? Gosh I’m tired today… 😉

  • Peter

    I’m very surprised, to the point of scepticism, that the only two away matches you analyse show “that the normal negative away bias of -2.619 changes in a positive bias for Fulham of 1.500.”

    Put it this way….we lost the Man City game 3-0 (so no points gained there), and the opening goal was a penalty that the TV pundits and most reports next day thought harsh. Meanwhile there was media unanimity that we should have had a last minute penalty (at 0-1 down) when Carrick felled Murphy at Old Trafford. So those do seem strange edifices upon which to construct the view that Fulham flourished away from home due to over-kindly refereering.

  • Stuart

    Peter,
    I don’t know this for sure as I don’t follow Fulham but could it be that the games reviewed were the only televised ones?

  • Peter

    That may well be Stuart, I’m just surprised that those two matches show that Fulham were treated unreasonably well away from home. They seem bizarre exemplars of that and no others are given.

  • Micko

    I can see why Peter’s confused because the 2 away games you have links to were both very biased ref performances against them (Manu & Man City away), checking out the reviews again. Unfortunately you haven’t supplied the links to the other 2 away games reviewed.
    Maybe you should be supplying the links to all the games reviewed (of that particular team) at the end of the article so that fans of those teams can easily find them.
    Sorry, I know it’s extra work.