by The Referee Review Team
According to PGMO 98% of all decisions made by referees are correct. Unfortunately they don’t give us access to their data to enable us to verify the point. So we have to do our own research – which is what we did by analysing the first 160 games of the season, and supplying our analysis along with video coverage of the key incidents so you can check for yourselves.
In this article we look at some of the decisions as they relate to individual referees, players and clubs. You can find links to the previous articles in this series, and the end of this piece.
Here is a reminder of the breakdown of Important Decisions (both correct and those we judged to be wrong) by Referee and type of decision
|Ref||Games||All Decisions||2nd Yellow cards||Red cards||Pens||Goals|
Firstly the good news with referees
- Two referees have shown that they are capable of taking charge of matches and not making more than 1 wrong decision per game. These are Paul Tierney and Neil Swarbrick. Why Tierney has not been given more games is a mystery. Neil Swarbrick is one of the older referees now 51 and at an age when he would have been retired from a number of other European leagues.
- There are three referees who have made more correct than incorrect decisions – Mark Clattenburg (24/23), Neil Swarbrick (14/8) and Paul Tierney (7/4).
- Stuart Attwell has the same number of correct as incorrect decisions (7/7) from his four games.
Now the not so good news
- None of the rest of the referees should be employed in the Premier League without further training and/or assistance, they all make far too many mistakes.
- By far the majority of the wrong decisions relate to sending off offences 66 second yellow cards and 118 straight red cards.
Some surprising facts
- In the 16 weeks neither Tottenham nor Manchester United had a player sent off.
- The 186 wrong sending off offences involved 121 players, of whom 39 were repeat offenders and six players should have been sent off four or more times.
- The new ruling to referees regarding a red card being mandatory for a foul against an attacking player when the ball is long gone has been applied only once against Granit Zhaka. No similar foul has been awarded more than a yellow card and many have had no card at all.
These six serial offenders are :-
- Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Man United) with 6 straight red cards not given (weeks 7 twice, 8, 11, 14 and 16)
- Robert Snodgrass (Hull) with 2 double yellows and 2 red cards (weeks 8, 12, 14 and 16)
- Marcus Rojo (Man United) with one double yellow and 3 red cards (weeks 10, 13, 14 and 16)
- Eric lamella (Tottenham) with 2 double yellows and 2 red cards (weeks 1, 3 and 9 twice)
- Diego Costa (Chelsea) one double yellow and 3 red cards (weeks 1 twice, 2 and 4)
- Scott Arfield (Burnley) two double yellow cards and 2 red cards (weeks 9 twice, 11 and 15)
Tottenham, who didn’t have a single player sent off in the 16 week period remember, also had Wanyama, Vertonghen and Rose each with three, Alli with 2 and Dembele, Dyer, Janssen, Sissoko and Walker with one not given sending off offences. That’s a total of 23 players in 16 weeks who should have been sent off and not one given.
Man United had Pogba and Herera with 3 not given sendings off, Rooney, Fellaini, Bailly and Darmian with two each so their total comes to 24 players in 16 weeks who should have been sent off and weren’t.
There are question marks with how wrong decisions affect teams at both the top and bottom of the current league table:
In this table we show how teams in the upper and lower parts of the league are dealt with by PGMO referees….
At the top of the Premier League table Chelsea have a broadly neutral Nett value, Tottenham in second place have a substantial positive score of 10, then City (-8), Liverpool (-12) and Arsenal (-27) with increasingly large negative scores and United in sixth place with a massive plus score of 22.
At the bottom of the table Sunderland are bottom despite a large number of wrong Important Decisions in their favour. Middlesbrough, Hull and Swansea are broadly neutral, Crystal Palace have a negative score. Leicester like Sunderland have a score of +13 and Bournemouth a massive negative score of -16.
There is no immediate link between the success of teams in the league and the way they are treated by referees, but it is clear that certain teams are being hit far harder by wrong decisions from referees than other teams.
Of course there are three possible explanations. One is that our figures are seriously wrong, and it is to counter this idea that we provided video evidence for each decision we have recorded (see the earlier articles noted below for links to all the evidence). Until someone comes along with a detailed analysis of where we have got this wrong, this explanation seems less likely.
Second, this could be down to just plain randomness. This however seems unlikely, given the number of years this seems to have been going on.
Third this could be down to Type II match fixing (in which a team persuades a referee to see things in their favour) and Type III match fixing (in which in order to make the match fixing much harder to spot, a team persuades a referee to act in a way that harms the rivals of the team engaged in the match fixing.
Of course we don’t have the resources that existed in Italy at the time when the Type III match fixing ring was broken there, and without any willingness on the part of anyone other than ourselves to investigate this, there seems to be little chance of finding out exactly why the accuracy rate of decisions is so varied between teams.
Some more thoughts on these figures will be published later but here are all the facts and figures, plus initial findings…