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This season the refereeing of 160 PL games was analysed in detail with video evidence. This is what we found.

A summary of the research by the Referee Review team

160 games researched in detail

It is commonplace for occasional visitors to Untold to write sarcastic comments about referees and our views thereon.  The view, usually expressed very simply, and occasionally rather rudely, says “you always blame the refs when it is obvious to anyone that it is Wenger’s (or the players’) fault.”

In order to overcome this, over the years Untold has published a whole range of material about referees, using a wide range of analyses to consider how they have performed.

One of the biggest analyses undertaken was one in which all the weekend’s premier league matches were analysed each weekend, and the analysis was presented with video evidence to back up our claims.

This was an utterly enormous task, and it ran for 16 weeks – enough to iron out any local variations because of referee inexperience, adjusting to new nuances in the rules, and of course to take into account the possibility that it all evens out in the end.  In short 160 games were analysed in depth, and the report showed on video exactly how and why our panel found errors where they did.

The analysis contained 11 sections:

  1. Details of match referees and assistants
  2. Matchweek 1 Summary
  3. Other Games where Referees arguably affected the Results
  4. Lucky players who should have been sent off but weren’t
  5. List of Major Errors on each Matchweek  (with links to video clips)
  6. List of Major Correct Decisions on each Matchweek
  7. Major Wrong Decisions Made by Referees
  8. Major Correct Major Decisions Made by Referees
  9. Major Wrong Decisions Against Teams
  10. Major Wrong Decisions in Favour of Teams
  11. Possible Change in Points Week-by-Week Due To Wrong Major Decisions

That final section – number 11 – is the only one that is based to some degree on opinion, rather than on detailed analysis with video evidence, for here we contemplated what effect there could have been if major wrong decisions had been reversed.   Of course the effect of a goal wrongly allowed is easy to analyse – you just take the goal away from the score.   But the sending off of a player which should have occurred according to the rule book but which did not, might or might not have had an effect.

So yes, at the end, our team’s personal judgement came in to a small degree, but the rest of the analyses – the vast bulk of each review in fact, were simply down to looking at  the video and applying the rule book – and offering you the video to look at so that you can see too how our team reached a decision.

In a typical weekend’s football in the Premier League our research – and yet again I must stress we present this throughout with video evidence – showed around 20 wrong major decisions – many of which had the potential to change the result.

Among the many factors found, we noted that each weekend ten or more players who should have been sent off according to the rules of the game were not – and regarding this and other incidents our research team found that it most certainly did not all even out in the end.  Some teams persistently got off lighter than others.

The conclusions

Quite why refereeing in the Premier League can be seen to be so inaccurate when analysed on video is not hard to understand – the game moves very quickly and by and large, some of the referees are not very good at making instant decisions.  That is why we have constantly supported the notion of the video referee.

Whether there is match fixing going on at the same time of the type seen in Italy we don’t know, because the work that was done there to catch the criminals involved phone taps and email interception on a scale massively beyond anything we can manage.  There could be wholesale corruption or could just be incompetence.  However the fact that the video evidence shows bias for and against certain teams suggests something rather nasty is going on.

But it is noticeable that the PGMO which employs the referees has never once responded to this analysis, and while several newspapers have attempted to copy us they have never undertaken an analysis even 1% as deep as our sixteen week review.

PGMO has also persisted in being utterly secret about its approach and methods, and has refused either to explain why it employs so few referees, why it does not employ a geographical spread of referees, why it is so secretive and why it alone works in a way reminiscent of the darkest days of Italian football – an approach long since abandoned by the rest of the Uefa countries.

Maybe the media has good reason for holding back from this subject.  Maybe PGMO has good reason for being as it is.  Maybe there is a perfectly good explanation as to why some clubs fare so badly under the current system while others do rather well.

“But you are all Arsenal fans – you’re bound to find in Arsenal’s favour.”

As a preliminary to this research we ran Referee Decisions, a web site that analysed matches across the League using referees who had no association with Arsenal – but without video evidence.  The results were the same, as you can see on the web site.

Now we’ve done it again and we have found similar results – this time with video evidence.  For anyone who still thinks all our evidence is biased, even after studying all the video evidence we can only suggest that you do some research of your own and present it against ours.

We did it – it is possible for a small group of interested people to do it.  So you could do it as well.

What next?

This review is presented at a time when the media is just starting to take a proper interest in refereeing and is beginning to question the competence or bias of certain referees.   The media does have far more power than we do, and their hesitation in taking up this theme – and indeed their tendency over the years to fall back on the “evens up in the end” argument – is to their eternal great discredit.

But maybe they are starting to change their view, and if they do start doing proper analyses of referees and start pushing for explanations for the extraordinarily bizarre behaviour of PGMO and its referees, and then take credit for the whole thing, well, that’s just par for the course.

We know that we were here first, but that doesn’t really matter.  The key point is to get this mess sorted out sometime soon, and if we have been instrumental in moving the process along then I think it is something everyone, from the review team through to every reader who regularly takes a look at Untold, can be proud to be part of.

The evidence in detail

Here are the 16 articles that carry all the analyses.

How the refs did last weekend (complete with video evidence). Referee Appointments and Results Matchweek #01

Referee Appointments and Results Match Day #02 with video evidence and the Alternative League Table

Halsey scandal latest plus Referee Appointments and Results Matchweek #03 with video evidence

The most comprehensive review of referee performance: Match Day #04 with video evidence

Referee Appointments and Results Matchweek #05 – with video evidence

Referee Appointments and Results Matchweek 06 – with video evidence

Referee Appointments and Results Matchweek #07 complete with video evidence

Referee Appointments and Results Matchweek #08 complete with video evidence. The worst week yet.

Referee Appointments and Results Matchweek #09 complete with video evidence

Referee Appointments and Results Matchweek #10 complete with video evidence

Referee Appointments and Results Matchweek #11 complete with video evidence

Referee Appointments and Results Matchweek #12 complete with video evidence

Referee Appointments and Results Matchweek #13 complete with video evidence

Referee Appointments and Results Matchweek #14 complete with video evidence

Referee Appointments and Results Matchweek #15 complete with video evidence

Referee Appointments and Results Matchweek #16 complete with video evidence

34 comments to This season the refereeing of 160 PL games was analysed in detail with video evidence. This is what we found.

  • Menace

    Truly wonderful dedication to the truth in the game. Somebody somewhere has to follow this up. Perhaps the MPs or the fraud squad, because there must be some large volume of money evading tax.

  • Nitram

    I really really hope you are right Tony, but the sceptic in me says it just wont happen, and even if it does it will not find the bias against us that we have found, and worse, any changes will still not level the player field for us.

    In other words, they’ll still find a way to screw us.

    As I pointed out last night, look at the massive difference in the way the BBC lot reacted to last nights goings on.

    Blatant yellow and red card offences ignored completely.

    -If we ever get away with a yellow card offence, and obviously it does happen on occasion, we never hear the end of it from the commentators. From that moment on every little thing he does gets highlighted. The intent of this of course is to give the impression that Arsenal players ‘get away with it’ when the reality is actually, the complete opposite.

    Costas antics indulged with glee.

    -If he was in a red and white shirt he’d miss half the season suspended, and I sure as hell couldn’t imagine anyone in the media praising him, as we got last night.

    The 2 managers squaring up being actually admired. Apparently it’s ‘because they’re winners’. So that’s alright then? Gullit said it was “fantastic”. Unbelievable.

    -Judge that against how Wenger is chastised for anything he does on the touchline.

    5 or 6 United players surround the ref. Screaming in his face. Putting hands on him.

    -Well we all know how that works out for us don’t we. What do we get in condemnation from the commentators/pundits ? Nothing.

    The problem is, the way the BBC treated last nights match, and the way BT Sport presented the Barca farce, is the way all the mainstream media will present them.

    By mainstream I mean.

    SKY Sports

    BT Sport

    BBC Sport

    TalkSport

    Radio 5live Sport

    The Sun

    The Mirror

    They all follow the same party line.

    I work in a very working class environment and I don’t know a single guy that gets his football fix from anything other than those sources.

    Until I see a something from any of those platforms will I believe there’s any chance of a change.

    Yes it is nice that the odd journalist is noticing the issues that untold have been highlighting, and more, at least talking about it, but it’s not mainstream and personally I don’t think it ever will be.

    I know I sound pessimistic about this, but the reason is I don’t believe for one moment that those guys watching and reporting on last nights match for example didn’t see what we/I saw. They are just not interested.

    Similar to the Barca farce. The media saw what we saw but they don’t give a f***, because they got the result they wanted.

    Again, could you imagine the fuss they would kick up should Arsenal win a match under such circumstances?

    Anyone remember the fuss over a perceived dive by Eduardo when we knocked Celtic out of the CL? Dive or no dive it had nothing like the overall relevance to the fixture that the Suarez dive had, yet the media went into overdrive about it for days. In fact he was never allowed to forget it, despite being cleared of it even being a dive.

    The agenda is set.

    The big money teams need to keep winning and the powers that be will ensure they do by fair means or foul.

    The odd romantic interlude such as that which Leicester City provided is okay, but as long as normal service is resumed asap then no drama.

    The work that Untold carries out is phenomenal. Despite it’s many detractors that come here hooting and hollering not one has ever presented an iota of counter evidence.

    You have requested they do so. I wouldn’t hold your breath. I’ve been asking for one of those sorts to produce evidence to back up one accusation, and still I wait.

    But as I say, despite the mountains of evidence produced, the agenda is set and I cant see it changing a jot any time soon. Hope I’m wrong.

  • Norman14

    Just a thought..

    Why not put it into a book and get it published?

    Don’t wait for the self glorifying media morons to grab your research.

  • John L

    Forgive being somewhat off-topic, but I watched our U23 match with Man City on Arsenal.com last night.

    It was a pleasure to watch two very good teams competing fairly, playing attractive football, without the annoying background of media / commentator shite. It was a hard but fair competition, without dangerous fouls, no organised cheating and with the benefit of match officials without any evident bias.

    Man City looked a very strong team overall and looked likely to dominate during the first half, but Arsenal grew in confidence and had periods of being in control. Our second half performance out-classed City for long periods and their penalty award was just about their only scoring opportunity. It would have been no disgrace to lose 2-3, but the last-minute equaliser was the very least we deserved.

    I am glad that I chose this in preference to the boring, fouling, cheating display of thug-football at Stamford Bridge being shown on BBC,

  • WalterBroeckx

    John L, I also watched the U23 match.
    And I enjoyed it completely.
    Two teams who only wanted to play good attacking football and did it. The attacking players from both sides were excellent (not all I’m afraid one from Arsenal in particular…) and the skills they showed were fantastic to see.

    City has some amazing talents but alas for them they will never be able to show it on the highest level for City. As for Arsenal I really enjoyed Nelson and Willock. When they have the ball something can happen. A great match of football.

    Arsenal will also broadcast the match against Manchester United in a few weeks time. I will be watching.

    By the way the stream from Arsenal was excellent! As if I was watching it on my TV. Thank you Arsenal for showing this.

  • MickHazel

    I enjoyed your post Nitram and agree entirely with you. The Eduardo dive or the Pires one, against Portsmouth I believe, are the two ‘go to’ examples referred to when the evils of diving are discussed by mainstream media. The serial offenders from other teams are largely allowed to escape scrutiny, especially if they are good honest Englishmen.
    I fear that when video replay technology is eventually introduced the official who will be making those on screen decisions will still be subject to the same media pressures, either deliberately or subconsciously, as the referees currently are so I do not expect things to suddenly improve for us. Especially so if they do not show the reviewed incidents on a big screen as they do in other sports. The reviewing official will still be under the PIGMOL/Riley umbrella after all is said and done and if the replays on which he is basing his decision are only seen by him then we will continue to be screwed.
    Would the situation be better if we had a different manager or is it an Arsenal thing that we are continually stitched up by officialdom?

  • Norman14

    Following last night’s debacle at Stamford Bridge, why is it that Rugby League and AFL (Aussie Rules) ( a relatively small sport compared to football), make it an offence to touch the referee, even accidentally – yet we saw hustling bustling and grabbing of Oliver last night, without punishment?

    That’s the same Michael Oliver who red carded Di Maria for touching him when we played Manure a couple of seasons back.

  • Nitram

    MickHazel

    Thanks

    “I fear that when video replay technology is eventually introduced the official who will be making those on screen decisions will still be subject to the same media pressures, either deliberately or subconsciously, as the referees currently are so I do not expect things to suddenly improve for us”

    My thoughts exactly.

  • markyb

    And will be backed up by the ‘Toy’ Ref in the studio and the assembled muppet pundits at the break no doubt.

  • Nitram

    markyb

    Again, exactly.

    We see it all the time now.

  • Nitram

    A question.

    Can anyone recall the media EVER making a fuss about a bad decision that went AGAINST us, or FOR our opponent?

    If there are occasions, I’m finding them hard to recall.

    But woe betide a bad decision goes FOR us, or AGAINST our opponent, and we never hear the end of it.

  • MickHazel

    Nitram

    ‘Can anyone recall the media EVER making a fuss about a bad decision that went AGAINST us, or FOR our opponent?’

    I don’t even have to think, the answer is a resounding NOOOOOOOO.

  • Goonermikey

    Well said everybody. Thanks to UA for the brilliant work.

  • Nitram

    MickHazel

    It will be interesting if the usual suspects who infest this blog with there constant accusations against us of delusion and Myopia, can enlighten us?

  • Tom

    Nitram
    I have a question for you. What was the name you used to post under before you changed it to Nitram, and why did you change it? 🙂

  • Nitram

    Tom

    I’m sure I don’t know what you mean?

  • MickHazel

    Nitram
    ‘It will be interesting if the usual suspects who infest this blog with there constant accusations against us of delusion and Myopia, can enlighten us?’

    I think they will be searching for a very long time, it would be like looking for a needle in a haystack.

  • MickHazel

    I think Tom may be referring to a chap who used to post on Untold with a name which reminded me of a fruit preserve and an insect like invertebrate.

  • Nitram

    Poor chap that’s all I can say.

  • Josif

    Oliver is a mixed bag. He gave a red card to Di Maria for grabbing him (excellent decision, one that serves as an example of how the ref should protect his own integrity) but he also failed to give a red card to Joe Hart when Hart almost headbutted him (awful decision, one that serves as an example of how the ref makes a fool of himself and invites players to disrespect him). A major disclaimer: I didn’t make a deep research but examples of Dier and Hart getting away with things Coquelin and Di Maria were punished for might suggest he is a pro-English biased referee.

  • Menace

    Tom – which part of chicken are you? If you think Nitram was posting under another name then ask him with honesty. There is no shame in being honest.

    MickHazel – if you mean Jambug then say so. It’s not an issue. In my opinion both Nitram & Jambug have a lot of good things to say about Arsenal & have a similar outlook towards ‘them’.

    Josif – most of the PGMOL referees are naturally biased toward English players. It’s because of being able to converse. Unless there is a shirt request as was the case with TH14 many times. There is an arrogance where some do not like being questioned by foreign voices. It is not unnatural & I have seen it at lower levels of sport in UK. At a professional level it is unacceptable & should be dealt with by law because the FA do not have either the intelligence nor the temerity to do so.

  • MickHazel

    Menace
    Have you lost your sense of humour for goodness sake.

  • Norman14

    Menace…

    Thank you, I’ve been wondering why “Kick it Out” is a failure!

  • finsbury

    Asking “Tom” to be honest?

    LOL!

  • Not afraid gunner

    Nice piece of work. This should be archived in a section on this blog. Compulsory reading.

    But still believe Wenger should go.

  • Leon

    Nitram
    The media were very supportive of RvP when sent off against Barca.
    The Gibbs/Ox sending off mix up.
    It depends where you look. The Guardian is generally on our side, while the Mail seems to hate us.

  • OlegYch

    thank you Untold team for amazing work

  • OlegYch

    Leon, how about Gabriel sending off, Vardy penalty or Bellerin knockout?

  • OlegYch

    or assorted offside decisions which didn’t go our way?
    or Lamela and Dier incidents?

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Thank you guys for the volume of evidence that you have produced , as well for the time taken and the patience to sift through it all.
    Well done.

  • OlegYch

    speaking of bias – Sevilla penalty was similar to the one not given against Barcelona on Di Maria
    and Juve penalty was similar to one not awarded to Arsenal in first Bournemouth game

  • Leon

    OlegYch

    So yes, we do get some media support despite what the Untold Arsenal perception is.
    And referees DO get it hard from the media when they cock up.

  • finsbury

    What kind of turd masquerading as a football fan (that rates Andross Townsned loooooool!) upon someone else’s blog defends the kind of devotees of Alan Partrdige that spent the best part of twenty years ignoring Andrew Jennings’ work?

    Anyyone with two football brain cells to rub together knows what the answer is!

    Emma Pooley on Sir Dave Brailsford and British Cycling:

    “A fish rots from its head”

    “It doesn’t mean that everyone in British Cycling is flawed like that. I’m sure some of them would have liked to have done things differently, but were fearful of doing so.”

    http://road.cc/content/news/219039-emma-pooley-sir-dave-brailsford-and-british-cycling-fish-rots-its-head?utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=postplanner&utm_source=twitter.com

  • omgarsenal

    Excellent and insightful work done lads! It is a shame that some officials seem to have an agenda and some seem unfit for purpose but what can one expect from such a political organization as the PIGMOB and the head porker Riley?