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Home bias in the Premier League is rampant

Ref review 2012-2013: Home/away bias – part 2 .

By Walter Broeckx

 

This article is part of the series of the Referee Review 2013. You can find links to earlier articles on the bottom of this article.

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After looking at the home/away bias in the more important decisions we now will try to see how the home/away bias went for the less important decisions. Of course each decision can have a major influence on the next one. For instance you can award an incorrect throw that leads to a foul in he penalty area (which could be a correct decision) and then it leads to a penalty. And then you have one little error on a minor decision and the result could be a game changer. So each wrong decision, no matter how little it may look at that moment, can have a big influence.

So once again I will show you a table with those decisions and then will show you the possible home/away bias. And remember we only talk about incorrect decisions  in this article. The correct decisions don’t matter for this as they were correct.

 

Call Total incorrect Favoured Home Favoured Away
 ADVANTAGE  31

18

13

58,06%

41,94%

CORNER  72

45

27

62,50%

37,50%

FOUL THROW  1

0

1

0,00%

100,00%

GOAL KICK  72

40

32

55.6%

44.4%

IND. FREE KICK  17

11

6

64,71%

35,29%

OFFSIDE  76

49

27

64,47%

35,53%

THROW IN  74

43

31

58,11%

41,89%

Total incorrect Fav Home Fav Away
 343

206

137

60,06%

39,94%

 

If we see at the bottom line we see a difference of 20% between the home and the away teams. And this is what we could call a huge gap. And a bigger gap compared to that found with the more important decisions.

If we look at the decisions when it  comes to giving a wrong advantage we see that the home team has a big ‘advantage’ compared to the away team. Giving a good advantage might be one of the most difficult things for a ref and it backfires on a few occasions. And when it does it sure seems to benefit the home team. The home crowd pressure?

If we look at the corners we see that 62,50% of the wrong decisions are in favour of the home team. Now this is a decision where the “team of referees” comes in to it. Because this usually is a joint decision. And this is also a decision where the possible influence on the assistant can play a major part. Will come back to this later on.

The only wrong foul throw decision we found went in favour of the away team.  But we only could find one of those in the games we reviewed so not that important in numbers or in decision.

The wrong goal kick decisions also went in favour of the home team. With a smaller margin than other decisions but still much more compared to the more important decisions we covered earlier on.

The wrong indirect free kick decisions also was very much in favour of the home teams. This is where refs got it wrong most in fact.

Closely followed by the offside decisions. And this is a decision that is for 99,99% of the time down to the assistants in a game. I could cite the 99,99% correct decisions proclaimed by Riley. But as we know it is only 90% of the offside decisions are correct in the PL. But yet again it is amazing to see that the errors largely favour the home teams. Or maybe not that amazing as we have said this last year and this year just confirms our findings. Wrong offside decisions are the second highest errors in favour of the home teams.

And finally the wrong throw in decisions also favour the home teams in a big way. And to come back to my remark about the influence of the team we see that for the decisions that have a big involvement of assistant-referees the home/away bias is bigger than the other decisions that are most down to the referees.

So it looks as if the influence of assistants plays a bigger part than we had expected. Assistants who usually stay in the shadow a bit and make less controversial big decisions but they make errors and they favour the home teams.

What could be the reason for this? Can it be that having a big stadium with fans behind you, breathing in your neck, all have an  influence? In a way the ref in the middle of the field is further away from the crowd. But the assistant is so close at some grounds the crowd could almost grab them if they tried really hard. Is it possible that that assistants, because of the crowd behind them, can lose their concentration more easily? Or are there possible biases at work we don’t know about?

The final conclusion is that there still is a home and away bias in the PL at work. For some decisions it is only a small bias but for others it is a big difference.

Earlier articles:

1. Who reviewed the games

2. What we did and what next

3. All the decisions in numbers

4. The first at times astonishing numbers

5. Home/Away bias – Part 1

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