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What’s wrong with the refs in the PL: Case study Aston Villa

By Walter Broeckx

Next in our series as we will cover each and every team we have Aston Villa.

Now before any Aston Villa supporters comes on here and wonder what we are doing reviewing their club I would like it if you would read the other articles on this first to understand what we are trying to do.

You can find them here and here

And then come back and have a look at the statistics we have found when we compare the overall results of Aston Villa with the results of each ref when he does Aston Villa games.

Of course you might have had bad experiences with some refs in some games but who (according to the statistics) are not really that bad in general, you can share your experiences of course. But this article is not really about those games in particular. It is more about the total picture of the referee and this team.

Under the table I will try to give a short explanation on what you see.

Total

won

draw

lost

won

draw

lost

% games

Aston Villa

797

287

249

261

36,01%

31,24%

32,75%

Atkinson

26

10

6

10

38,46%

23,08%

38,46%

9,19%

Clattenburg

27

8

9

10

29,63%

33,33%

37,04%

9,54%

Dean

30

12

11

7

40,00%

36,67%

23,33%

10,60%

Dowd

25

8

6

11

32,00%

24,00%

44,00%

8,83%

Foy

25

7

8

10

28,00%

32,00%

40,00%

8,83%

Friend

9

3

3

3

33,33%

33,33%

33,33%

3,18%

Jones

12

6

5

1

50,00%

41,67%

8,33%

4,24%

Halsey

40

12

11

17

30,00%

27,50%

42,50%

14,13%

Marriner no games
Mason

19

7

10

2

36,84%

52,63%

10,53%

6,71%

Moss

6

3

0

3

50,00%

0,00%

50,00%

2,12%

Oliver

10

3

3

4

30,00%

30,00%

40,00%

3,53%

Probert

16

7

6

3

43,75%

37,50%

18,75%

5,65%

Swarbrick

6

1

3

2

16,67%

50,00%

33,33%

2,12%

Taylor

7

3

2

2

42,86%

28,57%

28,57%

2,47%

Webb

25

8

11

6

32,00%

44,00%

24,00%

8,83%

The overall win percentage of Aston Villa in the PL is 36%. I think this season it might be a bit lower but this number is based on 20 years PL football.

The first remark is that we see that Andre Marriner has had no Villa games.   This is because of him being from Birmingham and they want to avoid the suggestion that he could be linked too much with clubs from Birmingham.

So if we now look at the win percentage under each ref we see that the best refs for Aston Villa are Mike Jones and John Moss. Each ref gives a win percentage 50%.

Now if we take a margin of 10% and say that anything above or under the usual win percentage is still acceptable we see that in this case Aston Villa has a nice score.  In fact 12 referees fall in to that margin!

If we go on the search for refs who have a really bad margin we end up with one ref…ref Swarbrick. His number is really out of line with the rest of the referees results.

But we must be careful with this as the result from Swarbrick is only based on 6 games. So it could be that in a few months time this number could rise to a more average number.  In fact one win in the next game would be enough to make it 25% wins. Like I said before one has to be careful when we only have a few results.

So from the total 15 available refs we have 2 good refs, 12 refs who fall in to the average category and 1 bad ref. In fact this looks like it should look for any team. Most refs in the average results category and very much in line with the overall results of this club.

Also if we look at the way the refs have been distributed we see that for Aston Villa we only see that there are just 2 refs who have done more than 10% of their games. One of them is Dean and under Dean Aston Villa has a slightly better score than average.

On the other hand the ref most used in games with Aston Villa is Halsey. He had  40 games and that is around 14% of their games. And his average is slightly below the team average.  But as was said before the margin is rather small.

But still doing 14% of the Aston Villa games is way too high for my liking. I have said before in the articles that the individual influence of each ref should be as small as possible. In this case one could say that Halsey could be responsible for 15 points in a season. That is too high as I think this should be a maximum of 6 points per ref at the most.  With 13 refs doing less than 10% of their games this is very much the case for Aston Villa so that is good. But the numbers of those two refs (Dean and Halsey) should be kept under control a bit.

But then again we come to my initial point: there are not enough refs in the PL. And so the influence of some refs is getting too big to be healthy.  There are enough refs like Friend, Jones, Moss, Oliver, Swarbrick and Taylor who could do more of their games and thus reducing the possible influence of Dean and Halsey.

All in all with a rather small change in the appointments Aston Villa can be seen as how it should be done. Most refs evenly spread in the number of appointments and also most refs who fall in to the category of average results.  And if you compare this with the results of our reviewing of some of their games last season we notice that we found that in most of the games we reviewed the refs were rather fair when we look at the total picture.

We did noticed that Mark Halsey had a negative bias in their games. So let that be the only worry for Aston Villa and the referees.

So 2 good refs, 1 bad ref and lots of average results with the 12 other refs. As it should be!

Recent posts…

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The books…

The sites from the same team…

20 comments to What’s wrong with the refs in the PL: Case study Aston Villa

  • avatar avfcgoodie

    Brilliant article and read, Halsey has always been a dick to us, in a strange way you’ve highlighted it more. Be interesting to read Utd one.

  • avatar Gunz

    @ Walter

    ‘So 2 good refs, 1 bad ref and lots of average results with the 12 other refs. As it should be!’

    For those that don’t understand where you are coming from(not including myself). Is the use of ‘good’, ‘bad’ and ‘average’ labels the best way to describe each refs influence. It should be pointed out that too much ‘good’ is ‘bad’ and that ‘average’ is what we’re looking for, which is ‘good’.

  • avatar Gunz

    BTW……great work!

  • avatar WalterBroeckx

    Agree Gunz with that. I will try to write that in the next reports somewhere as it is like you say. A “bad” ref is bad of course but a “good” ref is in fact also “bad”.

    The only good refs are average refs.

    But then again…a good ref is better than an average refs when we only speak of decisions. LOL. New people will have probably lost me by now ;)

  • avatar Rupert Cook

    But don’t forget in the parlance of the young bad equals good. And I think average means stinking awful. Have to check next time I’m hanging around the gates of the local girl’s school.

    Does the fact that Villa are utter crap have any bearing on these results? That is to say that they are usually on the back foot in games and therefore more likely to commit fouls, I would imagine.

    Wouldn’t it be easier if there was 200 refs allocated to the PL? Surely then corruption would be virtually ineffectual?

    Also couldn’t ref’s pay be linked to their performance? An independent panel judges them and then decides on their salary for said game.

  • avatar swallavfc

    If you look at the loss percentage no surprise to see Dowd and Halsey with the highest percentage (except Moss who is new this season so is unfair to use such a bad season!).

    My hatred for Halsey in fact goes back to an Arsenal game at VP when Henry was allowed to take a quick freekick after Halsey told the wall to go back and the second goal was an penatly that wasnt!

  • avatar WalterBroeckx

    They just could use our reviews to decide their salary. Maybe Mike R. is using them :)

  • avatar Rupert Cook

    @Walter, not such a crazy idea.

    But when you think how many matches there are each weekend in the four main divisions then in theory you could have 200 superbly trained refs who had to ref in the PL one week and then say League 2 next week. Would it be beneath them? Some might think so. And yes pay would have to be readjusted but though costs might rise isn’t there plenty of money swimming around in British football?

  • avatar Rufusstan

    Walter– What we’d give for that spread (and mix of refs)

    Rupert — Not touching the first paragraph, there’s ne good (or is thad bad) was to comment on that.

    Walter obviously could answer the stuff about fouls better, but I’ve assumed the results are less about the offenses and more if the ref consistently penalizes them (Actually just realised if you are comparing missing 1 of 5 fouls opposed to missing 1 of 25 fouls; you might have a point).

    200 refs would be great, but since no one in London or the South East is good enough; might be hard to achieve.

    The performance related pay thing could work, but it could well require a degree of openness that neither Mr Reilly of the FA seem happy with.

    Worse, you have a bottleneck for corruption/bias. If you have 200 refs, it is the panel that you target if you want to skew things (pressure, bribes etc). If the refs know what the panel want, and they decide how much they are paid…

    Not saying it would end up like that, or even that it would be worse than the current system, where prestige/career needs could be having the same effect. Working well it could be a good thing, but you’d have to be sure it was working correctly (watching the wathers and all that).

  • avatar Rufusstan

    Rupert typically missed the second post while typing.

    Agree completely with shifting the refs around, might even raise the standard in the lower divisions.

    They’d just need to get away from the current situation when refereeing the lower division holds a stigma — right now they see it as demoting refs, reffing league 2 is a punishment for screwing up under the current regime. Get rid of that….

  • avatar Rupert Cook

    @Rufusstan, agree you’d have to have watchers watching the watchers. I think you’d have to change the panel every year.

    This thing is getting complicated. But I believe it could be workable.

  • avatar nihirealist

    The PGMOL is supposed to be an ‘independent’ panel. The problem isn’t independence. It is transparency. Have a clear, specified, and advertised set of norms for choosing referees, allocating them matches, and deciding on their promotion/relegation, and their evaluations. Also, stop treating the refs as infallible, accept that mistakes can be, and are made, and start by setting them right, as well as providing refs all available means to get it right.

    There’s nothing complicated about it. I don’t care if the ref is from the North or not. As long as he’s following the prescribed rules, and is being appointed matches in a fair, transparent manner.

  • avatar Rupert Cook

    @nihirealist, I totally agree. That’s what we were saying though forgot to stress the transparency part.

  • avatar Norm

    I would quite like to know exactly what the criteria is to get from the lower leagues on to the (so-called) elite panel. I have watched several Championship games lately (albeit on TV) and have commented that, ‘Hey, we didn’t notice the ref in that game.’ To me that means he has done just fine. He didn’t act like it was an audition for the Hollywood Set at PGMOL and didn’t have the whistle in another orifice. I guess this level of honest and able performance is not what MR is looking for.

  • avatar Rufusstan

    nihirealist– utterly agree. Would have to point the transparency might need to be on the process not the people (for the reasons I mention above). I would not care if I did not know who was on the panel, if everything they did was reported and published. Who you recruit for the panel is a whole different story.

    The decisions issue is completely true. We have to accept that a ref in real time is never going to get everything correct, considering the speed of the modern game. Once we get over that hurdle we can push towards letting technology help him, like it does in every other major sport.

    Take Walcott’s offside on Wed. As the ball is played through the linesman can see its close, hits a signal (buzzer), then flags. The ref does not blow up as he knows it is marginal, and lets the move play through.

    Upstairs the 4th official is using the tech to see what actually happened (video replay, hawkeye etc). Walcott scores. By that time the 4th official has had enough time to see what actually happened, informs the ref who can either award the goal or bring the game back.

    It doesn’t disrupt the game, and unlike the current system where marginal calls are banned, they can show the evidence on the big screens. Of course if even the replays/computer cannot make a decision, you go with the attacker as the rules tell you.

    By the way, could you imagine adding a rugby type system to that where the ref is not only miked, but everyone in the stadium can pick up the feed, and it can be broadcast to everyone at home. How long do you thing the refs would continue taking abuse from players

  • avatar nihirealist

    Rufusstan

    Not only would that cut out players’ misbehaviour (they should be punished for it), but it’ll also help the supporters understand where the referee is coming from. If he explains his decisions on the mic, a) people understand what he thinks he saw, even if he was wrong, and b) the referee can’t just make arbitrary decisions (or at least it’s a disincentive to) Say, when Rooney elbows the Wigan player, how does the referee explain not giving a red card?

    And apart from the observers, they should also have the referee evaluate himself and all the decisions he made, and overturn/change any where the video shows he made a mistake. That’ll preserve his authority on the game, and also not let referees hide. (He’ll have no excuse to not give a red card just because he gave a yellow in the game)

  • avatar @babakrdaemi

    I am a huge fan of this work.

    Three teams I am very interested in seeing are:

    1) Chelsea
    2) Liverpool
    3) FAn U

    Keep up the great work.

  • avatar Adam

    I take my hat off Walter & commenters. Very good read. cannot wait for some teams results, and those you would not expect.

  • avatar Dave C

    @gunz
    @ Walter

    ‘So 2 good refs, 1 bad ref and lots of average results with the 12 other refs. As it should be!’

    For those that don’t understand where you are coming from(not including myself). Is the use of ‘good’, ‘bad’ and ‘average’ labels the best way to describe each refs influence. It should be pointed out that too much ‘good’ is ‘bad’ and that ‘average’ is what we’re looking for, which is ‘good’.

    Or just label them consistent, bias for, or bias against. That seems pretty clear.

  • avatar Dave C

    Good work btw. For years now, the naysayers point to your bias and suggest you should do other matches, clubs, etc… Then when you do, they still complain about your bias. It’s much easier to critique then it is to take action yourself.

    Keep up the good work UA!