This article is part of the series : REFEREE REVIEW 2012
By Walter Broeckx
Last season we analysed around 40% of the matches in the Premier League and looked at the referees in each case, what they did and how accurate they were. We threw up many cases of inaccuracy, and now we have reached the end of our reports.
I have said it before and I cannot point enough at the importance of the whole team in this review of the season we did.
This is not about me or about Dogface or about the referee reviewers. I would be nothing without Dogface of course. And he would have no data if it hadn’t have been for the reviewers. And we would have no place to publish if it wouldn’t have been for Tony Attwood. Because I started the reviews at the time (it seems a long time ago now…) and for my articles I somewhat became the face of the Untold referee review. But I never could have done it on my own. So I want to thank all who have made this possible from the bottom of my heart.
It has been a privilege of being able to work with you (and still are working of course). Some of the people who have made this possible, I have got to know in person. For a few others, this hasn’t been the case as they live very far away from where I live and far away from the Emirates. I hope one day in our lives we get the chance of meeting in person so I can thank you for all the work you have done for this project. And I would buy you a drink. Or 2 or more (as long as you don’t drive afterwards) to show you my appreciation for your commitment.
And believe me for the moment behind the scenes things are buzzing like never before. Even now when I write these final articles we have made a new step. You already know the new site we have set up. But believe me what we are doing now behind the scenes will change the referee reviews completely and make it THE standard on the internet. Be patient my friends for what will come at you in the next days or weeks when the last growing pains have been dealt with.
But back to last season. With all the results now published we should draw the conclusions and then present some things that we think is essential to make the PL really the best league in the world. Because for now…it isn’t the best league in the world in my opinion. Why? Well simply because in the best league in the world, they would have the best standard in referees. And we found that there are a lot of things that are not really like they should be. And we have and will prove this with the numbers we gathered in our hands.
I know “prove” is a difficult and dangerous word to use. I bet all scientists can have different opinions. I can imagine people not accepting more than 40% of the games reviewed as enough. But for us this is enough. What we found in the numbers can in most cases be extrapolated to the whole league.
So what did we prove?
1. Almost half of Premier League refs are not competent enough
From the 15 referees we took in to account (3 of them we didn’t count because not having enough games reviewed) we found that only 8 of them got a final score of more than 70%. Or in other words 7 refs didn’t make the 70% score. That is almost 50% of the referees who are not good enough! If you would translate this in to a football team and half of your team would not be good enough to play in the PL you would go down at the end of the season. The results can be found over here.
2. There is bias
During last season Mike Riley, head of the PGMOL, stated that as far as he is concerned there is no bias at all in the PL. But our reviews clearly showed there is bias. There is a clear home and away bias. And the statement from Mike Riley is all the worse because he claimed there isn’t and it now looks as if he is sticking his head in the sand. And the last thing you can do when you are head of the referees is sticking your head in the sand. How can you even think of improving referee standards if you say there is nothing wrong? This is negligent to say it in a friendly way.
So yes our reviews have proven the home and away bias that also has been found in other sports. Football referees are not immune to the pressure of the home crowd.
3. It does NOT even out
How many times have we heard it been said over the years. The hush hush sentence to shut everybody up: “at the end of the season it does even out”. This is utter nonsense. For only one of the teams we reviewed we have found a team where you can say it did even out at the end of the season. And for some teams the difference between good and wrong decisions was immense. “It evens out” is a myth. Kept in place by the FA, the PGMOL, the media. On the first occasion someone examined it we proved it doesn’t even out. Or well it did even out for one team. One team out of 20. This means that for 95% of the teams it didn’t even out.
4. Things aren’t like Mike Riley said they are
During the season, Mike Riley claimed that 99% of the offside decisions are correct in the PL. The number we found and remember our system has been very generous towards the refs is that only 90% are correct.
Once again we see that the PGMOL and well assisted by the not really critical media is throwing numbers around that cannot be backed up with the facts. And in case of doubt or when we had no clear replay of evidence we gave the decisions to the ref as correct.
And once again I have the feeling that the fact that the PGMOL claims a number is even worse than the actual fact of 10% offside calls being found wrong. How can you improve yourself and raise the standard when you think all is fine and well? Sticking your head in the sand is the worst thing you can do when you are responsible for any organisation and this also goes for the PGMOL: You will not improve the referees when you tell the world everything is fine.
5. Some teams are very favoured and some not
Some teams got a lot of things going their way and others not. You can see a few tables over here. We have proved this and we can point at other websites who have found the same things for many teams. We work different compared to debatable decisions but the top and bottom we found are the same. And even the claims that we are an Arsenal site can be swept aside thanks to the work from the Debatable Decisions website. Arsenal has been the hardest done by the referees in the PL. Stoke has been the team that got most from the refs.
6. Personal bias from some referees
One of the major surprises was that we also could point at some refs who clearly had problems with some teams. You can check out on each page of each ref who those teams are. And on this page you can see that some of those refs can be very unbiased with many other teams. This is a clear indication that something is wrong with some refs and some teams. What is the matter is something we cannot find out unless we get the chance to speak with the persons in question. But some referees must take a look in the mirror and try to examine themselves and make sure that whatever is bothering them with certain teams comes to an end, or ask the PGMOL to remove them from the games of those teams.
7. The influence of some referees is too big
Because the PGMOL does not have enough referees the personal weight and the personal bias of some referees can have a big influence on some teams. It is an unhealthy situation if some refs do more than 3 games the same team in one season. Yet we have seen one team having one bad ref for them 6 times in a season. And other teams had more favourable refs up to 5 times in a season.
And some top teams had a ref only once after they had a big defeat with that ref. Was that club influence? We can’t prove that but it is NOT acceptable for a club to keep having the same ref, or suddenly not get that ref at all.
In short we have proven that a lot of things are not as they should be in the PL. And that is why the PL cannot be considered the best in the world. If it addresses those remarks we can reconsider this but not for now.
All those things came out of reviewing 40% of the league. And for those not liking it…, for those brushing it aside as not enough… just wait in 12 months.
I have pointed out some of the things that are wrong in the referee world, not all as I could go on for a while. And of course for some of those things the referees are not responsible at all. We can’t blame them for the bad things their organisation does. Like having not enough refs or sending the same refs over and over. But it is those men on the field who get the blame when they make mistakes. Be they honest mistakes or not that honest mistakes.
So the next step is to make some propositions to improve the things we have found that are not good enough in the EPL in respect to the referees. This is something for the next article.
Looking for a terraced house in Northamptonshire?
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