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Unbiased Referees Part 2: The teams

By Andrew Crawshaw

In Part 1 I looked at which referees delivered unbiased refereeing based on a series of criteria I defined.   I noted that nearly 1 game in five met the criteria for unbiased refereeing or to put it the other way 4 out of 5 games didn’t – which is not a very good number.

In Part 2 I want to turn the analysis round a bit and see which teams were most likely to see such refereeing.  I’ll also take a look at the 80% of games that failed my criteria in a little more detail.

As in Part 1, I am using the weighted scores from the Referee Analysis Results from Refereedecisions.co.uk.  Where quoted bias scores are against the home team first then the away team and they refer solely to the decisions that were adjudged to be incorrect (they add up to 100%).  I use the term key decisions for second yellow cards, red cards, penalties and goals being the obvious potential game changers.

List one had the eight games with perfect 100% scores. These featured the following teams :-

Wigan (three times), West Brom (twice) and Stoke (twice), West Ham, Liverpool, Everton, Southampton, Sunderland, QPRNorwich, Man United and Newcastle.

List 2 had the seven games where the referee scored 95% or higher.  these featured :-

Spurs (three times), and West Ham, Stoke, Man United and Southampton (twice), Man City, Aston Villa and West Ham.

So Teams experiencing excellence in refereeing were :-

West Ham (4 times), Spurs, Stoke, Southampton and Wigan (3 times), Fulham, Man United and West Brom (twice) and Villa, Everton, Liverpool, Man City, Norwich, Newcastle, QPR and Sunderland (once each).

That’s 16 out of the 20 teams – missing are Arsenal highest 92% (Swansea v Arsenal – 0-2) but bias 78/22 , Chelsea, highest 92% (Chelsea v Wigan 4-1) with bias 75/25, Reading 83% (Reading v Fulham 3-3) with a bias of 0/100 and Swansea 94% (United v Swansea 2-1) with bias of 33/67.  (Perhaps I should have added a further list of games where the scores were slightly lower than the 95% I used in list 2 but where errors weren’t significant – but I didn’t and simply haven’t time to do it now).

Adding in the games from Lists 3 and 4 and comparing with the number of games reviewed we get the following table :

 

Team

No of Unbiased games

No of games in review (h+a)

% of games unbiased

A Villa

3

14 + 8 = 22

13.6

Arsenal

4

19 + 19 = 38

10.5

Chelsea

2

16 + 12 = 28

11.1

Everton

3

11 + 11 = 22

13.6

Fulham

2

7 + 10 = 17

11.8

Liverpool

3

7 + 12 = 19

15.8

Manchester City

6

15 + 11 = 26

23.1

Manchester United

6

15 + 14 = 29

20.7

Newcastle

4

7 + 9 = 16

25.0

Norwich

1

6 + 5 = 11

9.1

QPR

3

8 + 7 = 15

20.0

Reading

0

4 + 5 = 9

0.0

Southampton

5

5 + 5 = 10

50.0

Tottenham Hotspur

7

17 + 16 = 33

21.2

Stoke

6

7 + 10 = 17

35.3

Sunderland

5

8 + 10 = 18

27.7

Swansea

3

5 + 8 = 13

23.1

West Bromwich

6

11 + 11 = 22

27.3

West Ham

8

8 + 9 = 17

47.1

Wigan

5

8 + 6 = 14

35.7

 

So here we have it – the team most likely to have had balanced refereeing last year was Southampton with 50% of their reviewed games meeting those criteria.

Good news too for West Ham with nearly 50% and Wigan and Stoke also far higher than average.

The biggest loser in this table are Reading with none of their nine reviewed games being balanced.  Other teams with far lower than the statistical average of 18% were Norwich, Arsenal, Chelsea and Villa.

Now if the results were unbalanced but in your favour, as a supporter you probably wouldn’t mind too much, so I am going to have a look at my full table of 199 results and extract the percentage of games where the bias against each team was.

Team

No of games in review

Percentage Bias against

100

99-81

80-61

60-40

39-20

19-1

0

A Villa

22

9.1

13.6

9.1

18.2

22.7

18.2

9.1

Arsenal

38

13.2

36.8

31.6

13.2

5.3

0.0

0.0

Chelsea

28

7.1

14.3

17.9

17.9

21.4

14.3

7.1

Everton

22

4.6

0.0

36.4

40.9

4.5

9.1

4.5

Fulham

17

5.9

23.5

17.7

12.0

29.4

5.9

5.9

Liverpool

19

0.0

21.0

31.6

21.0

10.5

0.0

15.8

Manchester City

26

11.5

3.8

11.5

42.3

3.8

3.8

11.5

Manchester United

29

0.0

0.0

6.9

27.6

34.5

24.1

6.9

Newcastle

16

12.5

0.0

6.3

43.8

25.0

0.0

12.5

Norwich

11

9.1

0.0

18.2

18.2

18.2

18.2

18.2

QPR

15

0.0

6.7

6.7

46.8

20.0

13.3

13.3

Reading

9

0.0

11.1

44.4

11.1

0.0

22.2

11.1

Southampton

10

20.0

20.0

10.0

30.0

20.0

0.0

0.0

Tottenham Hotspur

33

3.0

0.0

21.2

24.2

30.3

12.1

9.1

Stoke

17

5.9

0.0

17.7

41.2

29.4

0.0

5.9

Sunderland

18

5.6

0.0

22.2

33..3

22.2

11.1

5.6

Swansea

13

15.4

7.7

30.8

23.1

15.4

7.8

0.0

West Bromwich

22

13.6

9.1

4.5

31.8

18.2

18.2

4.6

West Ham

17

5.9

5.9

17.7

29.4

17.7

11.8

11.8

Wigan

14

7.1

7.1

21.4

21.4

28.6

7.1

7.1

 

OK there are a lot of numbers in this table so I’ll give some guidance as to what to look for.

Ideally the largest numbers in each row should be in the middle column headed 60/40 with smaller numbers as you go either left or right.

The numbers to the left and right should balance out – if there are larger numbers to the right, that team has benefitted from refereeing decisions during the year, if the larger numbers are to the left that team has not had ‘the rub of the green”.

Obvious winners were – Manchester United and, to a lesser extent, Norwich, QPR and Tottenham.

Teams for whom it balanced out pretty exactly were Chelsea, Manchester City, Newcastle, Reading, Stoke, West Ham and Wigan.

The obvious losers were Arsenal and, to a lesser degree, Southampton (so when the refs weren’t balanced for you they were against you) and Swansea.

_______________________________________

Earlier posts

10 comments to Unbiased Referees Part 2: The teams

  • nicky

    Andrew,
    I’ll put to you the same proposition I put to Walter (only he never answered). “There is no such thing as referees being biased against teams. Only wrong decisions made, solely due to mistakes or incompetence”.

  • Andrew Crawshaw

    Nicky,
    I’m sorry but I really don’t think I can accept that point of view – particularly when it comes to Arsenal matches as it flies in the evidence I have seen with my eyes. I find the evidence from the referee reviews is scrupulously fair and frequently give backing to referees in decisions where I initially believe them to be wrong. When you see similar fouls or infractions regularly treated in different ways for the two teams on the pitch them you have to question mere incompetence.

    Incompetence should even out with increasing data and would lead to a left/right balance in the second table in the article. Where that doesn’t happen another possibility has to be looked at.

    All referees have good days and bad days, some I think may be affected by other factors, home crowds, players reputations, on-field representations etc. further afield some have been shown to be influenced by betting syndicated and other criminals. To date there is no reliable evidence that those kinds of influence are factors in this country but we must all remain vigilant.

  • TJ

    I would disagree nicky. Do you seriously believe all of the refs in the PL are balanced and do not have allegiances to certain sides and dislike for others? These people grew up supporting football clubs the same as you or I. My opinion is not based on statistics, it is based on watching football and knowing what people are like. One startling thing about PL referees is how few of them hail from the south of England

  • TJ

    And I will add, the head of the PL referees, Mike Riley, was one of the most biased refs of all time against Arsenal. What he let them away with and gave against us for the 50th game was criminal. When he eventually booked Phil Neville after his umpteenth foul Neville laughed he had been getting away with it so long

  • nicky

    @TJ and Andrew,
    I wasn’t offering my opinion but rather seeking clear evidence that a bias does exist. The problem is that all the statistics and facts to date have led us nowhere and when you have the PGMOL nearly as dodgy as FIFA, the future does not look that encouraging.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Some interesting numbers and research here. Seems no matter how you dress it up, we are losing out with these refs

  • Mick

    @Nicky
    I am afraid your request for clear evidence that bias exists is asking the impossible. A bias is something that resides within a persons mind, thus its existence can only be guessed at, it cannot be shown or proved to exist. The results Walter’s hard work have provided suggest that something is seriously amiss. Some teams are consistently losing out whilst others are consistently benefiting. Until we have indisputable facts and evidence that something corrupt or dishonest has occurred our only option is to call these refereeing anomalies bias, whether deliberate or not.

  • Gord

    In this instance, I suspect proof of bias is hard to find, it isn’t always.

    For instance, if I calibrate a measuring tape at -100 Celsius, and give it to someone to use at +25 Celsius, the measurements will all be biased. Knowing the thermal expansion coefficient from -100 Celsius to +25 Celsius, it is possible to calculate what the bias is.

    Proving bias in this case, requires something like wiretapping. That presupposes it is due to a conspiracy amongst more than one person. But it could easily involve unconscious bias on the part of some officials.

    Stoke has taken advantage of exceptional throwing abilities in the past. What happens if say next year, Stoke finds a goaltender who can consistently kick from his hands and have the ball land within 10 yards of the opposition’s penalty spot? Stoke gets the ball, a defender brings the ball back to the goaltender, everybody else gets to the penalty area, and here comes the ball down highway 1.

    I’ve simplified it, but playing long ball like that can get boring and predictable, and can allow some teams an advantage. I can easily imagine fans and officials not liking to watch it.

  • mk

    Nicky,

    The referee reviews are showing you evidence of bias with mistakes consistently falling in an unequal pattern towards or away from certain teams.

    The logic of your question is inherently wrong, you can disagree with the reviews, claim bias on part of the reviewers etc, but they have shown in the aggregation of their reviews that there is bias that cannot be purely explained by incompetence alone.

    Unless you are arguing regarding the sample size or statistical significance of the bias etc?

  • nicky

    @mk,
    You have taken me back to my school days. Whenever I posed a question to my Headmaster he would pompously reply “The logic of your question is inherently wrong”. So I stopped asking him anything.