By Tony Attwood
Over the last couple of days I have been asking my colleagues on Untold who work on the referee reports whether overall referee decisions have been improving during the course of the season. I had hoped that with our exposure of referee ineptitude and with the news that there might soon be video refereeing in the Premier League things would be getting better, but the answer seems to be … no. In particular when we looked at three key issues we found these answers
- Are penalty decisions improving? Very slightly. Yes
- Are bookings and sending offs improving? Undoubtedly No, they are worse at an all time high.
- Are the decisions of fouls improving? No, not at all.
Of course it is much easier for the refs to not give a major decision than it is to give it, when it comes to yellows, second yellows and reds. Teams and players exploit and make full use of referees keeping their cards in pocket.
When we look at the numbers in the first 120 games (up to week 12) there were nearly 135 second yellow and direct reds that referees failed to issue to the players. That’s averaging nearly at 1.125 players not being sent off every game. This is how much dirty, foul playing “football” is being played. (And of course on our site every single of these yellows and red not given is backed with its respective clip.)
Of the 135 second yellows and directs reds that all teams and players have not been given, Manchester United and Tottenham have escaped from 36 punishments (18+18), which is 26.6% of second yellows and reds not given. Or in simpler words, these two teams combined have committed more than one quarter of the dirty foul play in the league up to Week 12. It is also a matter worthy of note when we consider the Telegraph’s analysis of the worst offenders in the League this season: Manchester United came out way ahead of every other team.
And of the 135 second yellows and direct reds that all teams and players have not been given, Arsenal and Bournemouth have been on the unfair end of it, with a total of 29 (16+13) second yellows and direct reds not given in their favour. That is 21.4% of the league total. More than one-fifth of the total.
And if you compare it with the correct number of second yellows and direct reds that have been in the first 120 games…. it’s only 8.
In an ideal league, teams like Man U and Spuds would be scraping the barrels of their academies to fill in players for all the suspended players.
But when we pull all the information together we find something just as appalling as the table below reveals…
|Wrong Second Yellow Cards||3||7||4||5||4||1||3||5||8||7||3||6|
|Wrong Red Cards||6||2||5||2||3||5||8||10||9||10||13||6|
|Total Wrong Major Decisions||15||19||14||14||16||11||19||31||23||28||22||21|
|Correct Second Yellow Cards||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||1||0||2|
|Correct Red Cards||1||0||0||0||2||1||0||1||0||0||0||0|
|Total Correct Major Decisions||8||12||10||21||12||16||10||14||12||12||11||21|
|Total number of decisions||23||31||24||35||28||27||29||45||35||40||33||42|
|Percentage of decisions right||34||39||42||60||43||59||34||56||34||30||33||50|
This is alarming. In only three categories is the number of accurate decisions more than half of all decisions made. In one category there is a 50/50 split and in eight categories the percentage of wrong decisions is over 50%.
Put another way, well over half of the important decisions made by Premier League referees are wrong.
In short, the football we watch each week is based fundamentally on wrong decisions, and the situation is not improving.
Tales from Untold