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So what is wrong in the PL: The Mike Riley Factor

By Walter Broeckx

In the last few weeks we have shown you how for each team we could make a division between good and bad refs based on the win percentage of each team.

In those articles I also referred on a few occasions to not only the numbers themselves but also I pointed at the fact that the appointments of the refs also plays an important part.

In fact it is an incredibly important factor but also an often forgotten factor. A factor that remains invisible for most supporters. But not for Untold Arsenal.  So let us make the invisible visible and see and expose the influence one person has on the league.

As Arsenal supporters we know that by sending a certain referee to a certain game we expect that we will lose the game no matter who we play. And the number of times this or these referees are sent over has a major impact on the final outcome of the league.

Sending good refs all the times is not ideal because you then have other teams that lose points because of this. But sending bad refs all of the time makes your own team suffer too much.

In an ideal world we should have a league where the influence of each ref would be limited to 2 games maximum. That means six points in total for each ref.  Maximum. We know that it doesn’t work that way. Because refs are not appointed in a random way. That again would be the perfect world. But nothing seems to be perfect in the referee world.

So the appointments of referees is what can make an even bigger difference than the ref themselves. If we had Dean for two games in the league each season we would risk losing 6 points out of a possible 114 points. But we know that in recent seasons we got Dean for around 18 points in the season. That is three times the maximum impact a ref should have.

And who sends out those refs? This is the (on Untold Arsenal) very popular (depending on how you look at it) Mike Riley. So I now would like to introduce to you a new expression in football world: The Mike Riley Factor.

This is the factor that shows how many points are at risk of losing because PGMOL send a bad referee to a team. Or a series of bad referees of course.

To make things complete in what follows I have included both the points that are to be won with good referees and the points that are up for grabs with average referees along with the points lost through bad referees

As you know the words good, average and bad do not refer to the decisions the ref makes on the field. They are just the names we use for refs under whom a team wins more than average, or loses more than the average win percentage of each individual team.

I have put them all in one big table so you can look for your own team. And I will explain the table with taking the Arsenal as an example.

In the column “% appointments” you can see how many times a good, average or bad ref has been sent to Arsenal games. In this case we can see that Arsenal had in 33,82% of their games from a statistically bad referee. And this results in the fact that for Arsenal it is very hard to win at least 39 points in a season.

One could say that those points are almost lost unless the team puts up a gigantic performance. I also would like to point out that the “average” means that we still could lose half of those points. And even the good doesn’t mean that those points are in the bag without having to play for them.

But this gives a nice indication on how many points are in danger for each team just by Mike Riley appointing the ref who he appoints to a game. Just look for your favourite team and see how the appointments affect the chance of your favourite team during the course of a season.

So here is the table with the Mike Riley factor

The Mike Riley Factor
Arsenal % Appointments Possible points
GOOD

24,36%

28

AVERAGE

40,36%

46

BAD

33,82%

39

Aston Villa
GOOD

6,36%

7

AVERAGE

91,52%

104

BAD

2,12%

2

Chelsea
GOOD

62,03%

71

AVERAGE

21,36%

24

BAD

13,90%

16

Everton
GOOD

17,48%

20

AVERAGE

68,29%

78

BAD

13,01%

15

Fulham
GOOD

21,01%

24

AVERAGE

70,82%

81

BAD

6,23%

7

Liverpool
GOOD

9,47%

11

AVERAGE

79,42%

91

BAD

9,05%

10

Man C
GOOD

19,41%

22

AVERAGE

59,34%

68

BAD

19,05%

22

Man Utd
GOOD

24,54%

28

AVERAGE

72,53%

83

BAD

0,00%

0

Newcastle
GOOD

2,52%

3

AVERAGE

61,76%

70

BAD

33,19%

38

Norwich
GOOD

20,74%

24

AVERAGE

52,59%

60

BAD

23,70%

27

QPR
GOOD

15,97%

18

AVERAGE

34,03%

39

BAD

50,00%

57

Reading
GOOD

47,33%

54

AVERAGE

34,35%

39

BAD

18,32%

21

Southampton
GOOD

30,16%

34

AVERAGE

12,70%

14

BAD

54,76%

62

Stoke
GOOD

29,96%

34

AVERAGE

50,22%

57

BAD

16,74%

19

Sunderland
GOOD

22,41%

26

AVERAGE

56,02%

64

BAD

21,58%

25

Swansea
GOOD

30,23%

34

AVERAGE

44,19%

50

BAD

19,38%

22

Tottenham
GOOD

32,63%

37

AVERAGE

60,70%

69

BAD

4,91%

6

WBA
GOOD

52,21%

60

AVERAGE

25,22%

29

BAD

22,57%

26

West Ham
GOOD

17,45%

20

AVERAGE

47,66%

54

BAD

23,40%

27

Wigan
GOOD

18,39%

21

AVERAGE

70,85%

81

BAD

9,87%

11

Note: Not all totals result in 100% or 114 points. This is partly down to the fact that not all the refs could be taken in to account (because some having not enough games) and also down to rounding off the numbers behind the comma.

So the teams with most points at risk due to having lots of bad referees are Southampton and QPR. Those are relatively new teams in the PL so the lack of data could play a big part in this.

Of the teams with a longer history in the PL it is Arsenal that risks losing most points closely followed by Newcastle.

I think the ideal numbers in this table are those of Aston Villa. They have their average refs for around 104 points on a possible total of 114 points. And reducing the influence from good and bad referees to around 9 points or 3 games.

The numbers of bad referees are also rather good for Tottenham and Fulham. Two London clubs and that is surprising, for it is in contrast with the North/South divide we see in the referees.  As we know only refs from the North appointed but a possible anti-London bias is not completely visible for all teams.

Talking about exceptions…. there is one team where no points are really at risk as they don’t have statistical bad referees. That team is Manchester United. You can draw any conclusions  of that number  you want yourself of course.

Arsenal receive amazing boost in their quest for a European place

The referee analysis

The full index of articles in order of publication is now available here.

Recent posts…

The books…

39 comments to So what is wrong in the PL: The Mike Riley Factor

  • Baz

    Percentages are all very well but Mike Riley will always be remembered by Arsenal fans for his gutless display at Old Trafford when he stood back and let United kick us off the park to end our unbeaten record.

  • soglorious

    Can’t he be removed?

  • John

    Riley’s display at Old Trafford was worse than gutless. He was blatantly and deliberately biased. He certainly didn’t lack the guts to book Arsenal players for ordinary fouls, whilst ignoring the need to send Ferdinand off for scything Ljungberg to prevent a goal, the Van Nistleroy attempt to shatter Cole’s leg and the series of fouls by the Nevilles.

    As for the Rooney dive for the penalty…!!!!!!!

  • ClockEndRider

    All the above comments are true.
    But this websites use of statistics as impartial evidence is far more powerful than partisan “whining” and shoyld be a source of massive embarrassment to the PGMOL, Premier League and Sky.
    Of course these vested interests will simply collude in ignoring it. Which is why it is so important that such evidence continues to be published and its power continues to grow.
    Great stuff, as ever, Walter.

  • AL

    John, and to add to that he awarded 8 penalties at OT in two years during that era. In fact the penalty you mention made it into this list of the 10 dodgiest penalties ever awarded at OT;

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-1173959/The-10-dodgiest-penalties-awarded-Old-Trafford–surprise-surprise-went-Manchester-Uniteds-way.html

    The surprising thing is he has openly admitted surporting united, but was let to officiate in many of their games, and now is head of the PGMOL. Its criminal;

    http://www.teamquitter.com/viewtopic.php?f=134&t=25447

  • Gf60

    Walter In the Ref Analysis summary, 3 teams are missing? Arsenal,(can be found at http://blog.emiratesstadium.info/archives/27769) ManU and Norwich? I’m sure I would have said something very rude about ManU having no “Bad” refs! 😮

  • AL

    I think this year instead of giving utd blatantly obvious decisions he and his cronies have tried to be ‘clever’ by robbing utd’s rivals as many points as possible as the bias was becoming too obvious. They didn’t play that well to justify the big gap between them and the rest of the chasing pack. Utd are the only team i’m struggling to remember having a dodgy decision going against them this season, while everybody else seems to have 2 or 3 or more.

  • Gf60

    Just found Norwich http://blog.emiratesstadium.info/archives/27812 but where’s MAN U hiding?

  • Gf60

    And the search engine eventually found http://blog.emiratesstadium.info/archives/27806

  • Andrew Crawshaw

    Walter

    This summary table contains some surprises – We potentially benefit more from “good” refs than I expected and that may mitigate against the influence of “bad” ones. QPR and Southampton seem to be really screwed by the present system. Newcastle are nearly as badly disliked by the system as us in terms of influence by “bad” refs but don’t get the same counter-balance by “good” refs as we do.

    The answer, as you suggest is simple, more refs.

    The PL need to insist on their Contractor providing a sufficient number of referees and officials to ensure that no team has the same referee more than twice a year, once in a home game and once away. All clubs should be pressuring the PL to sort out the matter. If the current supplier of referees cannot provide the correct number of qualified staff then they should invite other people to bid for the work.

    I won’t expect quick action though

  • AL

    Andrew, you’re right. The scenario you describe is the best one in an ideal world. But we all know there are people who will be opposed to this as they know it benefits them. Just much like video technology, everyone knows on paper no one should be against it as it stands to benefit all in the end, but you find it is being opposed by those who know the current flawed system benefits them. So like you say, there will be no quick action, if any action at all. There is so much money flowing in football for there to be a lack of match officials. The only logical conclusion is that there isn’t a lack of competent match officials, but there is a lack of officials that can be easily manipulated from the PGMOL’s view.

  • bob

    Walter,
    Please consider this idea for further displaying this data:
    Add an additional column that groups the referees for each team by category (Good, Avg, Bad), and shows the number of games each has been in charge of for that team (in parentheses)? This would display a lot of good information at a glance.

    NEW COLUMN:
    Good:
    xxxxxxx (2)
    xxxxxx(1)
    Average:
    xxxxxxx (2)
    xxxxxxx (2)
    Bad:
    xxxxxxx (2)
    xxxxxxx (2)
    xxxxxx(1)

  • bob

    Walter,
    Would you consider posting the link to your review of the Old Trafford crime scene where Riley cold-cocked us, just so people can read about the day when the bad seed was planted.

  • bob

    why is my comment at 4:22 in moderation?

  • AL

    This man riley is whats ruining football for many people. Why should we have to put up with this?

  • WalterBroeckx

    Bob, good idea will try to add it. Don’t know if the layout can keep up with it

  • Gf60

    Talk about ManU having no bad refs…Penalties conceded this season? Zero, Nada, f’kall.

  • Andrew Crawshaw

    Al,
    Maybe we need to start a ball rolling and write to our Chairman and Chief Exec suggesting that they take the matter up with their fellows at the appropriate inter club meetings. Maybe if enough of us do this they might get the idea that something should be done. As supporters we stand no chance, in their roles it might just be possible. I’m going to do it please join me.

  • Mahdain

    I have many unanswered questions in my mind about Riley and i just don’t seem to get any answers no wonder how much i try
    1. Who appointed him? Through what process?
    2. On what qualifications?
    3. Was there any other candidate for the job?
    4. Does he answer to anybody? Well apart from his master?
    The way PGMOL is running its operations its no different from FUFA/EUFA because for some reason they seem to be above any accountability and transparency. Heck they even have a man special for spreading misinformation aka Dermot Gallagher the perfumer( Where are you Anne? I miss you :))

  • bob

    Yes, is a disgrace: no publicly available post match assessments of the ref performance; plus no post match referee interviews or press conferences; plus no micing (as in rugby, etc.) no video replay; plus the minimal (but profitable to some) promise of goal line technology, which is a small percentage of calls and non-calls; plus the riley factor that Walter details. The sad part is that they have fans giving up before they’ve really tried to make a concerted dent. I applaud Andrew’s writing, but feel that a petition ought to be launched and circulated, spelling out all the particulars. Fans can then decide to sign on or not, and it could be forwarded to the press and the football powers to take a meaningful step toward a fair and level playing field.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Damning stats. Scudamore Et al needed a strong team as their flagship utd were to be that team and Riley was put in to keep them there . Riley is not just a compliant pragmatist terrified of fergie he is a utd fan. The owners of Chelsea and city knew what they were up against and spent Accordingly. Wenger has known he could not take this on with his finances post stadium. Riley is not the source but he is a huge part of the problem

  • bob

    Mandy,
    Would you agree that his performance at Old Toilet’s crime scene was ultimately the audition for future appointment to queen bee at the hives of riley? and Busacca (of the match theft at Camp Nous) gets to be supervisor of referees for UEFA. And not to forget the erstwhile Peter Walton whose demonstrated inadequacies paved the road to the ref supervisor atop the MLS league in america. We know the expression that the fish rots from the head; but, in these cases, the head is already shown to rotting before it is then attached to the fish. Perhaps a Walter Broeckx retrospective on how Good, Bad or Ugly this unholy trinity has proven to be against us would be in order.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Sure would Bob there seem to be rewards for refs who tow the line

  • WalterBroeckx

    Mahdain,

    If only I could find the answers to those questions. Those are really questions a investigation journalist should try to find out. Unfortunately I don’t have the resources to go after the answers.

    Maybe a little bird will come along and whisper it in my ear one day. But I have a hunch that only a few insiders will know how it all worked.

    I do seem to have heard that Keith Hackett the former boss of the PGMOL had to retire because he was turning 65 in 2009. Mind you other people in football usually stay in their job when they turn 65.

    But of course it could be that Hackett was tired of it and wanted to retire at the usual retirement age?

  • AL

    Good idea Andrew, and I think a petition might be better as Bob suggested simply because of the visibility factor; people can actually see the numbers who are for the idea helping the move gather momentum. Perhaps a link on a popular site such as UA to such a petition might not be a bad idea?

    This daylight robbery & obvious bias must be stopped. The whole thing is sickening, to know you’re defeated even before the season kicks off. Over the last few years I’ve found myself developing some kind of dislike of football because of this, and I know the only reason I’m still paying any interest is because of this deep sense of injustice that I want to see get redressed. Football is under the control of some dark powers, and it needs to be cleaned.

  • Mahdain

    @Walter i remember Fergie criticizing him due to the performance of Martin Atkinson in that Man utd v Portsmouth match where he sent off the ud keeper. Maybe that was one of the cause of Hackett retiring and Riley stepping up? and that wasnt the only time Fergie was unhappy with Hackett..Look at this http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport2/hi/football/teams/m/man_utd/7620692.stm

  • Mahdain

    and also this http://metro.co.uk/2006/11/11/ferguson-slams-mourinho-meeting-338643/
    Its either Hackett was tired of it or he was ordered by somebody to step down due to Fergie`s tantrums

  • Stuart

    Mahdain,
    I also seem to remember about that time Mourinho was interviewed saying he saw some interaction between a team manager and the ref in the dressing room and he couldn’t repeat what he had seen but I remember thinking at the time that it sounded like some kind of bribery had taken place.

  • anatra

    Man U is the only team to have had no penalties nor any red cards against them this season. Food for thoughts.

  • bob

    Mahdain, Walter,
    Two great links man. Some choice selections from them. First THIS:
    ” Hackett is yet to comment, but a spokesman for referees’ body the Professional Game Match Officials Board, of which Hackett is general manager, said he had nothing to do with the decision to rescind Terry’s red card.
    It is not the first time Ferguson has directed his wrath at Hackett.”
    Then THIS:
    “Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson insists it is “absolutely ludicrous” that referees’ chief Keith Hackett is to meet with Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho.
    Ferguson is furious that Hackett, the head of the Professional Game Match Officials body, is to consult with the Blues boss after the London club criticised referee Graham Poll’s handling of their defeat to Tottenham last weekend.”
    So, you see, Hackett departs and is replaced by Fergie’s Favorite, who just happened to have stopped our undefeated run to the howls and snarls of the nuremburg rally at old cesspool.

  • bob

    There’s a story now that David Dein has said that Arsene will spend big this summer. Does this signal that Tommy V, who’s the last player under Darren the Lesser’s sway (whether agent, lawyer or both) will be on the way out? Does the Darren the Wrecker need another big pay day off an Arsenal captain? Ears to the ground, the sound of kerching!

  • Timmy

    Manchester United are yet to bag any red card this season. Fair play? Coincidence? or plain bias?

  • Mahdain

    @Timmy they are yet to concede any penalty too…Make of that what you will

  • Mahdain

    @Bob yep..Fergie didnt like Hackett so he must have used his influence to make sure he is removed..Riley does all what he wants and i dont think he has ever criticized him which means he is doing his job perfectly

  • bob

    Mahdain,
    Good point: Lord Football has criticized specific referees under Riley; but, like you, I don’t know (though I haven’t looked) of any article that records such criticism. In the case of Hackett, his Lordship accuses both a referee and Hackett, then PGMOL boss, and it does make the newspapers. (This way, perhaps, significant other people might get the message that if you don’t do things the “right” way, you’ll be in the papers for having crossed Lord Football. Did any of the long-time fans here notice this pattern?

  • AL

    Ferguson has controlled football in England for a long time, from the FA, the refs and even the media who have coined passionate phrases to describe his antics; mind games, Fergie time, hairdryer, etc. He is the only manager allowed to have a rant, at anyone for that matter, and get away with it. Any other manager attempts to make even a half decent complaint and they round up on the unfortunate fella, while they all trip over themselves to do Ferguson’s bidding. Rafa tried to talk about this publicly and was ridiculed to the point of lunacy. The sooner this man retires & leaves football completely (wishful thinking) the better for all who love the game.

  • Micko

    @ AL

    But Manu have a ready made replacement for Ferguson (in the cheating and influencing refs stakes) in Mourhino.

  • bob

    Micko,
    Well, maybe. Mourinho said some very revelatory things last season about the dark side of Fergus-EPL. He may either have worn out his possible welcome for having said it; or will have passed his audition and be hired to keep him well under wraps, thank you very much. (Just a guess, but a big maybe, imo.)

  • @babakrdaemi

    Its blatant that Fergie has power over the refs. Its a joke it does not come up in the press.

    I believe it will come out in the future. However, as with guilty governments everyone guilty will be beyond reproach.

    I really despise football at the moment. Pundits congratulating Cheslea and City. A season in which the league was won by a team put together with millions of a mans money, blowing all competition out the window, only scraped it by the skin of their teeth and this is celebrated.

    Hanson, Shearer, Lineker, the FA, the press so many guilty parties in ruining our league.

    So quick to attack foreign leagues for being “corrupt” or racist. Look closer to home and you be devastated by the reality of the English Football Leagues greatest prize.