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Referee Review 2012-13: How competent were the refs?

By Walter Broeckx

This article is part of a series pulling together the huge number of referee reviews we did last season. You can find links to earlier articles on the bottom of this article.

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In this article we reveal how competent the referees have been in the games we reviewed in the season 2012-2013.

As you know we have had facts and figures about referees in the previous seasons on how competent the referees have been. But I must warn you that you cannot compare the numbers across seasons.   This is because the system we used and the number of decisions we reviewed are completely different, so we are talking of two different things. But when going through the numbers I will refer to those things we can compare with last season and see how things have improved or got worse.

To consider the competence of the referees we took all the decisions we reviewed during the season that finished last May (all 28,038 decisions in fact) and looked at the simple question of whether they were correct or not. And this is what we found in the 202 games we reviewed last season:

Call Correct Incorrect Total % Correct
2ND YELLOW

11

38

49

22,45%

ADVANTAGE

53

31

84

63,10%

CORNER

2253

72

2325

96,90%

DROP BALL

1

6

7

14,29%

FOUL

4493

870

5363

83,78%

FOUL THROW

2

1

3

66,67%

FREE KICK

4315

786

5101

84,59%

GOAL

528

45

573

92,15%

GOAL KICK

3524

72

3596

98,00%

IND. FREE KICK

5

17

22

22,73%

OFFSIDE

869

76

945

91,96%

OWN GOAL

27

2

29

93,10%

PENALTY

97

76

173

56,07%

RED

18

46

64

28,13%

STOP PLAY

1

1

2

50,00%

THROW IN

8700

74

8774

99,16%

YELLOW

593

335

928

63,90%

25490

2548

28038

90,91%

So if we look at the total numbers we see that the refs had just over 90% of their decisions being declared correct.  Last season we had in our review system a number of 72,49% as correct decisions.

So is all well and fine now? Have the refs improved dramatically this season? Well that is what we will find out in this series of reviews.

But first of all, the way we reviewed things has changed completely – or perhaps I should say that it is not so much the way we reviewed the referees, but the way we took notes. Last season we didn’t check throw ins unless they were blatantly wrong. In fact most of the time we didn’t mention them at all. And when you look at the percentage of correct decisions throw-ins got (99,16%) and the fact that they are responsible for more than 31% of the total decisions you will understand that this alone will have been enough to shoot up the total average score of correct decisions.

So on that one fact alone you can see if how accurate referees are considered to be depends largely on whether you consider the issue of throw-ins or not.  They are of course part of the game.  But in many regards they are fairly trivial when it comes to the question of who wins the game.

Another thing is that those decisions like throw in, goal kick and corner which together count for 50% of the total decisions they were not always easy to check and were given automatically as correct by our reviewing team. Needless to say that this also was rather helpful in making the numbers of correct decisions rise to this height.

So we will not draw any conclusions yet but surely in a way we must admit that the refs in general have done a decent job by the look of this total number. But as said before the difference in of including or not including throw ins etc means overall comparison with the previous seasons is  not always easy to do.

Now in a next step we will try to make the difference between important and not that important decisions. In a way I don’t like these words because in itself each decision is important. But the impact of some decisions is automatically bigger than those of the not that important decisions.

So next I will present you with a table of the not-that-important decisions and I include the offsides in these decisions. And as we also counted the offside decisions last season we have can really compare those numbers:

Average calls Correct Incorrect Total % Correct Last season
ADVANTAGE

53

31

84

63,10%

CORNER

2253

72

2325

96,90%

DROP BALL

1

6

7

14,29%

FOUL THROW

2

1

3

66,67%

GOAL KICK

3524

72

3596

98,00%

IND. FREE KICK

5

17

22

22,73%

OFFSIDE

869

76

945

91,96%

91,75%

STOP PLAY

1

1

2

50,00%

THROW IN

8700

74

8774

99,16%

15408

350

15758

97,78%

To start with the offside decisions. I hope you might still remember the words of Mike Riley, our beloved head of the PGMOL. He said last season (without offering any proof or evidence) that the offside decisions in the PL were correct for 99% of the time. In 2011/12 we found in our reviews that 91,75% were correct and this season we found that 91.96% were correct. Slightly better than last season but still far away from the self proclaimed 99% from Riley.

And again I like to point at the fact that most offside decisions are not shown on replay. I think that only an estimated 25% of the decisions are shown on replay and from different angles so we cannot judge 75% of the offside decisions and assume they are correct.   So on our tables the referee gets the benefit of the doubt in 75% of off-side decisions.

The same goes for throw in decisions that are only shown again for maybe 1% of the decisions.

The lowest number in this table is the dropped ball decisions. On most occasion the ref stopped the game after not giving a foul but then had to stop it to let the doctors on the pitch to take care of an injury. Refs then restart with a dropped ball and this might have been correct according to the laws of the game but as they foul was not given it was counted as a not correct drop ball. It should have been a free kick to restart the game.

In the next article we will go to the more important decisions and see how the refs did on that.

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Earlier articles:

1. Who reviewed the games

2. What we did and what next

3. How many decisions did we check

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7 comments to Referee Review 2012-13: How competent were the refs?

  • WalterBroeckx

    And some exciting transfer news….oops sorry wrong. 😉

    No I mean to say some exciting referee news coming out that I just heard about.

    Will football change completely? Will refereeing change completely? Soon on Untold Arsenal 🙂

  • The Awenger

    Looking forward to that article Walter!

  • The Awenger

    And, by Gods you were right Gedion is amazing! Can’t wait until he fully matures and is ready for the first squad, I am sure he will do well(Touchwood).

  • rantetta

    Actually, Walter, I find “exciting referee news” more delicious than “exciting transfer news”, because I don’t know which players are coming, whilst your little tempter, ‘will footy/referees change completely’, is something I look forward to very much.

  • iniez

    76 incorrect penalties! Bloody f***. Great stuff Walter, Dogface and co, can’t wait for the next one

  • Goona Gal

    The number of incorrect red cards and penalties are the stand out eye catching figures above. Though I would say all wrong calls matter as they can be the difference of a club staying up or going down, which was the sad case for Blackpool a couple of years ago.

    This has got me pondering three questions:-

    1. Are the refs even trying to improve?

    2. Is the introduction of goal line technology a red herring when we consider all the other incorrect decisions being made?

    3. What is the acceptable margin of error, after all refs are human?

  • The Awenger

    Can we have an article making fun of piers morgan, please?