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So is the EPL fixed? Taking the argument forward

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By Tony Attwood

If you have been paying attention you will have seen a couple of extremely insightful pieces on this site over the Christmas period from Walter Broeckx.  I’ve put a link to them at the end of this note.

As mentioned before, suggesting that a ref is not doing his fulsome duty is a dangerous business because immediately it brings sniggers from every other quarter.   Indeed on the day when it looked to many of us that the ref at the Birmingham game was behaving in a most bizarre and eccentric manner, a Birmingham fan wrote in the Observer that “the ref wasn’t doing us any favours”.

Since then we have heard that Bowyer has been arrested and charged with manslaughter – no sorry I exaggerate a bit – but it seems the FA will give him a three match ban for his assault on Sagna.

Which looks like a little move forward, except it ignores the other incidents that the ref missed and which were also fairly clearly sending off offences.  A six match ban from the FA for two sending off offences missed?  Probably not.  The fact that Paul Davis once got a nine match ban isn’t being taken into account.

But back to the broader issue: my thought is, how do we take this debate forward?

Untold is extremely fortunate in having two expert commentators looking at the refs before and after each game, with the analysis of previous activity by the ref written up by “Dogface”, and then Walter’s analysis after the game.

Since no newspaper, TV station, club or other blog gets within a zillion lightyears of this type of analysis, we are very much out on our own here, breaking new ground.   And that means that we are more than likely to be laughed at by those not going into this much detail.

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Indeed I think it is worth looking at why there will be such reactions.

First, as noted above, all fans complain about the ref. It is part of being a fan.  So saying, “yes I know everyone complains, but in this case, the ref really is hopeless” just seems like special pleading.   That’s why the analysis before and after each game is so vital.

Second, the media and the clubs have a vested interest in there being nothing wrong with football.   The moment there is a real  concern that betting syndicates have fixed matches, or that following the Italian model (The Calciopoli) the clubs have their favourite refs who they “see all right” in return for favours given then interest in football commercially declines.

This is bad news for Sky Sports who spend millions, EPSN (the laughing stock of broadcast sport), BBC, ITV, the EPL with its overseas rights sales, the clubs who make so much of their money from broadcasting, and even the papers who fill up pages at the back of the paper at no expense at all by making up each day’s unattributed rumours.

In short, even the clubs that don’t benefit from the English version of “calciopoli” might think twice about pushing for prosecution of the clubs that do benefit because of the losses that would result.

Take a team like Everton, and imagine a scenario in which there is match fixing but Everton are not part of it.   Everton lose millions upon millions each year as it is.   If TV interest at home and abroad in the EPL declined, Everton’s income would drop so much they might well go out of business.

All very well being squeaky clean, but probably from their point of view, better to play in a bent league than be wiped out by debts.

Likewise, because the media has a vested interest in everything being ok (having paid for rights and through using it as a free way to fill up space) then the media is certainly not going to report any suspicion that something is wrong.  Much more likely that they would either ignore it, or laugh at it.

Indeed when something is obviously wrong (as with Carlos Vela being done for diving in Portugal when he was so clearly fouled in the area, and with the ref, two linesmen and a fifth official a few yards away) they laugh at these funny foreigners who are bent.   “No English ref would give that decision”.

But – and this is where it gets interesting – just look at the different standards in the English league from the Champions League.  Fouls that are commonplace in England are not allowed in the Champs League.  Why is that?   As Mr Blatter preaches all the time, it is the same game where ever it is played, at whatever level.

In fact the current state of referee activity in England provides us with a strong suggestion (not proof, just a suggestion) that something is wrong.   The lack of action on rotational fouling and timewasting, the acceptance of appalling fouls that would not be accepted in many other countries – this all suggests something nasty is going on.

Now when Walter wrote his first article about this, one or two correspondents replied by saying it was not scientific enough, that there were not enough examples, that good science needs 30 examples not 15 etc.

I am not sure where these examples come from, but this is not how I understand science (and there was a lot of science in my psychology degree, so I feel able to offer a comment here).  To be scientific one makes predictions based on a theory, then examines the evidence to see if the predictions turn out to be valid.   The theory of gravity says that if I drop two balls of different weights from the top of the Leaning Tower of Pisa they will hit the ground together.   I do it, it works – another point in favour of the completeness of the theory.  (I also get arrested for endangering the public, but that’s a different issue).

So, here’s the science.  My observations lead me to develop the theory that says that there is something akin to the Italian system of looking after the ref going on in the EPL, and that there is also some interference in Champs League games going on across Europe – probably at the behest of betting syndicates (given that it seems to relate to individual matches). Using Walter’s observations I develop the view that the interference in the EPL is to do with who wins the league – which explains why things seem to be getting worse the more we force our way into contention.

I also develop the theory that the media and many clubs (including those not benefiting) will deride such views, because they have far too much to lose if they were to turn out to be true.

Because my theory says that the match fixing is of the Italian type then nothing particularly overt will be seen, but rather odd decisions will go the way of certain clubs.  One might look for the penalty given at the end of the game, the player sent off or not sent off, the number of perfectly good goals given or not given (and remember Walter has already shown us that 10% of EPL goals are wrongly given or not given).

And we should expect these “odd” decisions constantly to favour one team rather than another.

It doesn’t mean that a team not involved in the fixing doesn’t ever get the benefit of wrong decisions – of course not.   Refs make mistakes – that is not being disputed.  It is the level and consistency of mistakes that we need to look at.   The fact that Van Persie didn’t give away a penalty when he might have been so penalised against Birmingham isn’t here or there in this debate.   Some things will be given wrongly, and in a truly balanced league they will work out equally over time.

No, what we should look at are the clubs that ceaselessly get the benefit of odd decisions.

There is of course some interest in this from little clubs like Birmingham City – their manager is complaining that while his club gets punished for the fouls by Bowyer, big teams don’t.   And that’s a point worth considering it is another statistic.

We’ve got a long, long way to go before we can be sure that match fixing is rife in the EPL, but thanks to our two regular reporters we have made a major step forwards which no one else has been able or willing to take on.   We have started to gather the data, and so far that data is suggesting that there is something to investigate.

As I have said, no one else is going to take this on, so its up to Untold.   Give us time, and I think we’ll be able to say exactly what is going on.

The articles that started this series off…

There is something seriously wrong with refereeing in the EPL: Part 1 of our investigation

Referees: conspiracy theory or practice – Part 2 of the special investigation.

There’s an index to all the recent Untold articles here

68 comments to So is the EPL fixed? Taking the argument forward

  • Andy Kelly

    Taking the Bowyer incident a step further…

    During the game, Bowyer was allowed to commit two fouls that warranted a red card without punishment.

    Bowyer now gets a three match ban based on retrospectively looking at the evidence.

    The problem here is that Arsenal do not benefit from this. Arsenal still had to play against 11 men when they should have been playing against 10 men for a considerable amount of that game.

    Birmingham lose out for the next three games and their next three opponents gain some advantage – mainly in that there is one less thug kicking their players.

    The team that is wronged don’t gain an advantage – what is the point in that.

    Going back a few years, after one of the most inept refereeing displays ever that had both sets of fans singing “you don’t know what you’re doing”, Thierry Henry flounced around Graham Poll after the game as Poll pontificated on the pitch. Henry picked up a 3 match ban for his little exhibition. Fair enough, although I’ve seen other players show similar outbursts and nothing is done.


    That game was played on 18 December 2001. Thierry Henry’s ban statrted on 17 March 2002. Why did it take FOUR months for the FA to ban him? I’m sure it had nothing to do with Arsenal looking like they were going to walk away with the title and the later in the season the ban, the more likely it would be to hit the club.

    There seem to be loads of incidents like this throughout Arsenal’s history but whenever a similar incident happens at another club, no action seems to be taken.

  • bob

    Kudos, Tony!
    What, you say, gambling in Casblanca!? Does a fish rot from the head!? Indeed! And, Meanwhile, back at the Klavern, here’s what Klan Fergus is now getting away with (again) in plain sight: from the very bowels of Brum crime scene, a capo brays Forth his master’s voice: “We accept the decision and will now have to move forward into the next three games without the services of Bowyer.” (Did the man say it: “Services”!) “We have got a good discipline record at this club and stress to the players every week how important discipline is.” Discipline? yes. And we know who holds the Leish as well as he who has them credulous press stenographers in his keep as, today, he literally praises Pulis for defending his tactics so well (broadside vs. Arsene); this even as he, Sir F-word the Manly, is about to face Stoke. What a Man(ure), I say! (Not like that whinging foreigner). Any names, fellow sleuths, of even one of those very good boys who actually do that Scheduling Service? I can’t imagine their holiday bonuses. Then again, maybe it’s to keep working in hard times – no small thing.

  • Wrenny

    Excellent article Tony.

    There are too many parties with a vested interest in keeping the league’s image as squeaky clean for anybody to go ‘rocking the boat’. What also worries me is that so many fans are also complicit in this! The majority of supporters aren’t even willing to entertain the notion that a single referee might be crooked. To mention the possibility is treated as ludicrous – it’s a topic that is simply not open to discussion.

    You could have also mentioned Rupert Murdoch, whose ownership of Sky and several British papers would no doubt make any revelations of deep seated corruption in the Premier League and its officials….. unlikely.

  • Andy Kelly

    Here is an example of the media bias. Go to Google and search for:

    “Arsene Wenger” “Paul Taylor” Sunderland

    You will find plenty of stories of Arsene Wenger being given a 12 match ban for allegedly pushing Paul Taylor after a game against Sunderland in 2000. Taylor was the 4th official.

    There are one or two articles saying that Wenger was cleared after an appeal.

    However, there are lots of articles written after the successful appeal (many from the last two years) that use the original story to damn Wenger but none mention that nothing came of it. None of them mention that Taylor was thrown off the Premier League’s list at the end of that season and none that ask the question “why was Wenger’s appeal succesful and why was Taylor thrown off the Premier League’s list?”

    There is a good reason why the FA have kept it quiet and, after having read Tony’s article, a good reason why the media, with so much invested in the Premier League, also want it kept quiet.

  • IvoryGoonz

    Just one comment about science to be precise.
    Both objects would hit the ground same time if there was no air. Air resistance being what it is, depending on the shape of the object, I will not hit same time.
    This said, scientific method is what it is. It needs a counter-example to deny the findings.
    And that’s where you can’t find any, so even with a small amount of trials, if you can’t find a counter-example, it makes it a certainty.
    It’d clear there’s something rotten inside English and Italian refereeing atthe moment.
    How can you explain De Jong’s tackle on Alonso went unpunished, while it was a clear red?
    Everybody sees it. But not the ref!?
    Ask Platini the real reason behind refusing video, and you can be sure you won’t have a tangible answer…

  • IvoryGoonz

    For giving a related example to the scientific method:
    I don’t need to throw 30 people from a 20 storey building to know they will all die, if after the first 5, the result is the same, and you cant find at least one that survives…

  • StoneRoses

    The problem I have with Walters analysis is that he assumes he is right. Case in point, the highest % a ref gets is Clattenberg against Man City. Now, I am not sure about the sending off, but I guarantee the Man City version of Walter would have Clattenberg in the mid 30 percent mark. Sometimes decisions come down to interpretation.

  • nicky

    Tony, Don’t knock ESPN. There are many Arsenal fans, unable to watch their heroes in the flesh, who have to rely on Sky and ESPN for viewing rights. I see nothing to criticize between the two broadcasters, we can ignore the commentaries and, at least with ESPN, we haven’t got to put up with Andy Gray!

  • bob

    @stone roses: Walter gives us a self-aware referee’s analysis of other referees. you may have trouble with his interpretations, what else is there, but all interpretations are not equivalent and some are based on knowledge of the rules, applying knowledge of the rules, real life experience on the pitch, and a carefully weighed but burning hunger for the truth. he does not say he is absolutely right, but careful puts layer after layer before you, week after week. you may not want to connect the accumulating dots, may not grasp what a working hypothesis is, may not grasp that high probability does not have to be absolute certainty to have predictive value that helps clarify if not explain real behavior. I don’t mean to be a snob here, really, but I have trouble with the trouble you have in Walter’s ongoing inquiry. how about putting some analysis of your own on the table? make some contribution…

  • hi

    i think there is definitely something in this

    possibly some of it would be in the way in which refs are allocated, i haven’t looked into this but it does seem that the system is susceptible to a bit of manipulation from certain clubs so that they get the refs they want more often than not

  • Always Manchester United is the winner 2010/2011, because consistent team. it will win the title.
    Cos their are always a contender and Predator to other team… with some old and new players in this season, like Giggs, Nani, Carrick, Ronney, Vidic, Evan, Hernandez, Bebe and Smalling will change the team movement. There always challenging and just have quality and they are a tight team, they play as a team with under Sir Alex’s master plan, they can continue to do so. Gloy Man Utd

  • IvoryGoonz

    Randall: consistent? Man U? In what? Berbaflop who only shows up when Rooney can’t fire anymore?
    Only consistency in Man U is their referee owning tactics.
    Wanna just look into the latest Preston North End saga and discover Ferguson is a Godfather?! When scandals of games arranging where publically brought upfront in Italy, it had huge consequences.
    I’m just praying UK will not blindlessly keep doing the same over and over again.
    Hopefully again, secret services are looking into the matter and will bring it to a just conclusion…

  • critic

    u have given me one good reason to not to watch arsenal or for the matter of fact epl anymore.

  • IvoryGoonz

    Critic: that’s sad, personally it gave me even more reasons to watch arsenal fight against those hurdles and win the title…

  • Phoenix Gunner

    I think the above proves (yes, proves) why you can’t make assumptions from watching 5 people fall 20 stories to their death. Read ‘Fooled By Randomness’ by Taleb for more on the Black Swan idea. People make a lot of money betting against that logic!

    Tony, what was actually said was good STATISTICS needs 30 data, not good “science”… your breakdown of scientific theory is all well and fine, but that’s completely different to analysing statistics to draw wider conclusions.

    Don’t you get the nagging feeling that Walter sometimes takes too many liberties with the data/info he has? I know he’s trying his best to elucidate trends and tell a story, but all I can tell you (as someone with a master’s in statistics) is that you simply cannot extrapolate from so little and present it as ‘statistics’. If you want to say; “it looks like”, “it feels like”, and so on, no one will argue… if you want to say “it’s obvious that”, “we have proved”, and so on… well, you just don’t know what you’re doing, no offence.

  • critic

    randall is ex AAA who has now joined criminal’s…oops!! ferguson’s bandwagon coz he can influence referee to win title and play with small club’s fortune coz his son was sacked.

    And shebby singh on espn says he has every right to influence refs becoz he is an institution?!!it’s like saying president of china can rape any woman b’coz he is president.

    Steve mcmohan(on espn) has accepted he has a right to do it and nobody criticizes standards of refs in supposedly best league in the world.

    U r right tony espn is a pathetic channel.

  • IvoryGoonz

    Phoenix: good one. Although he didn’t hit the ground but a dodge which is a modification of parameters.
    So let’s make it “if you jump from a 50 storey building and there is no dodge below, you will die”, statistically, will happen 99.9% of the time. This doesn’t mean a dodge will save you any time, could be a Mini Cooper! in any case, the only conclusion to that is that you shouldn’t expect in “normal” conditions to survive, reason why you shouldn’t do it.
    Well. Statistically speaking this is not too different from “if you play against Man U at old Trafford and say Webb is ref-ing you won’t win”, even if there is the odd probability of winning.
    You’re probably right on terminology needs to be used with all precautions on Walter’s analysis as to not say it proved it, but he actually invites others to the search for the truth, which is part of the scientific method.
    I don’t see any attempt from the various football organisations to answer it… Which is what comforts me also in those thoughts.
    Webb himself admits Man U is his favourite team.
    Why is he allowed to ref them is beyond my understanding, and there can only be few explanations, to which Tony’s interpretation seems the closer to the current situation in my opinion.

  • Nicky, I do appreciate how fortunate I am to have the season tickets, and to be able to get to games at the Ems, plus the occasional away fixture. And I am absolutely not one of those people who says you have to be there to be called a supporter.

    I have had times in my life (eg living in Devon with two very small children) and the year in Algiers, when I had no chance of seeing the team personally, and I valued every second on TV (and that was in the days before satellite).

    But my comments about ESPN relate to the way they present football – to me it is a sort of throw back to the BBC coverage of the cup final in the 1960s – look at these lovely folk all making their happy way along to watch the match – oh and look here’s a pair of goalposts all ready for the big off.

    OK, I parody, but that seems to me to be the way ESPN presents itself – forgetting that most people watching known infinitely more about at least one of the teams than the so called experts.

    They reached the all time low (as I have said many times before here) with Everton 1 Arsenal 6 in which they spent the second half showing us pictures of ex Everton players and saying how sad it was that Everton could not put on a better show for these fine stalwarts – without a word about one of the great Arsenal performances of recent years. They were stuck because the studio and the commentary box were stuffed with Evertonians.

    Of course I do want live football on TV, and when i can’t get to a match I watch Sky or ESPN. It is not the fact that football is on that I dislike. It is the way Sky and especially ESPN cover the games.

  • IvoryGoonz

    How about a “free” lodge for journalists paid by both teams?
    That would be fair init?

  • ugandan goon

    hi tony and walter,
    although we have already touched on this, i am interested to see how tonight’s match between stoke and IOU will pan out given puis’ willingness to obey his master’s voice? and then that ’69’ of press conferences( i loooove you fergie! reply. if you love me so much, go out there and maim in my name bitch..puuuly). will stoke put a dent in sir alex’s title tilt? play their usual aggressive football? so far it has got them 1 goal to united’s 14 maybe a change of tack today, rollover and let uncle fergie tickle your b…. steve bruce’s sunderland and allardice’s blackburn have been very obliging already, so go puuuly, show sir who really loves him! Seriously, though the media fallout from the nobbling of Preston north end by those two was underwhelming, lets see if this latest looovefest yields anything in terms of team selection, general aggression and of course refereeing, there is nothing like decisions going for you when you are at the top of the tree.
    i loved the article tony, and i think in moving forward we should have a league for misleading punditry, ti seems everybody ahs a particular corner and a script, the same old half truths and complete bollocks to spout about the team or indeed anything that happens around football. Since they wont declare their positions openly, perhaps we could. recently andy gray defended one silly statement by saying that he had been assigned that position for the evening’s broadcast! perhaps just in the interests of moving meaningful debate forward( and the kids, think of the kids tony….he he) we should expose these pronouncements as disingenous. beside a lot of the hyperbole that comes from the AAA is a direct regurgitation of this cozy coterie of codswallopers (CCC?..still needs work, i know) who do it for money, and it is a lot of money so hey, but why are people paid so handsomely to misinform?

  • walter

    Stone Roses, I could give you the example of the second highest score in my ref reviews. The game we lost against WBA. The ref had a score of 88 in that game. I don’t know if there is a WBA ref out there who is doing the same as me? But I don’t know if his score would be higher than mine or lower?
    I never pretented to be the one and only who knows it all. But I do would like to ask anyone who can do better than me to try to do the same. Two know more than one, not to say even more.
    But as there is no one around but me for the moment I just keep on doing it in this way.

    But I am always open to be corrected. I could point at the not given penalty against Birmingham against Arsenal. I found it a penalty and some other Arsenal fans said it was not a penalty.

    So yes I could be biased but I can admit when we are on the lucky side of decisions also.

  • walter

    And just have taken a look at the WBA ref and he lost his points for not giving a yellow card for a late tackle on Sagna and for not giving a foul against Nasri which lead to Rosicky making a foul and getting a deserved yellow card.

  • A Casual Observer

    @Pheonix Gunner – I think some of the issue is also that we are not flipping coins here – we are dealing with human behaviour (which is far more predictable in some ways) – so it would probably, imo, allow for a smaller sample group when you are analysing the specific in terms of ‘motive’ – although this coin is two sided and we as the analysts of the data we collect need to avoid falling into the same trap and projecting our desires and assigning too much meaning… lies, damn lies – etc.

    Whether this is ‘statistically valid’ (when we are dealing with the individual will) is another point and the start of a another debate entirely.

    In walter’s defence though his sample data grows week by week… it’s just a shame we don’t have a walter for every team in the league so we can contrast/compare, take mean figures and analyse.

  • RedGooner

    This subject is like scratching an itch thats been there for years.
    The only way I could ever see anything changing is by someone like Walter or a panel of Referees who are interested in improving things, reviewing every single performance of the referees for a whole season and looking at the ammount of mistakes made over that period of time.
    The results would of those consistently not performing or constantly having poor performances would then have to be sent to the FA etc and questions raised as to why they are still in the premiership and championship refs have not been promoted in their place.
    There is no accountability you can be crap year in year out and still Ref the premier league.

  • fred

    Strange Tweet???????????

    Don‘t be scared if tomorrow you see a new player in the squad…… 39 minutes ago via web

  • bob

    @RedGooner, It’s not just someone like Walter, but those of us who find his growing analysis compelling that need to make noise, contribute insights, produce a body of evidence, launch it as a working hypothesis that at the very least eliminates the alternative – “Coincidence Theory” – which is what Klan Fergus and his media acolytes hide behind. Enough examples and sound analysis and more stats will make it a laughing stock, rather than the other way around. And believe me, once it gains enough traction, the media stenographers will be on it like white on rice. That means that we are making headway and breaking the silence around this serial hijacking of our beautiful game.

  • bob

    @Phoenix Gunner: There is something important between “it feels like” and “absolute proof” and that’s what is going on here, and that is the way that observing human behavior operates. It’s called a working hypothesis. There are no pure statistics, and there is more than enough at hand to continue to see where this working hypothesis leads. There’s a paradigm shift underway from “all is good in the kingdom” to “something is rotten in the state of denmark” and it’s based on the fact that there’s too much evidence accumulating to hold to the fairytale you may or may not prefer.

  • critic

    bad refs may be due to corruption, lack of efficient review system, or may be ppl in fa r just plain incompetitive.

    Whatever be the reason we fans r suffering…

    P.S- hey rhys if u want a realistic blog of arsenal then desigunner is the place to be…he has written quite beautiful article about tackles regarding bir.

  • GoonerOz

    Anyone see Warnock on Goals on Sunday saying that Man Yoo would never concede a penalty in the Neville situation. Everyone looked at him as if he had broken omerta.

    Don’t like the man but fair play to him for saying it like it was.

  • ugandan goon

    strange indeed, do you reckon the verminator will be back? ooooooohh…i am hoping about like a teenage girl( ahem …in my heart.)
    better than a new signing eh?

  • bob

    @critic: but if there are patterns to the bad refereeing that can be uncovered, and they hold up to criticism, then something is proven beyond that tired old “bad refereeing” which then has a chance the relieve suffering fandom, unless they are wedded to the suffering.

  • Wrenny

    @fred, ugandan goon

    Ramsey perhaps? Vermaelen is suppose to be 3-4 weeks away still.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Anyone watching the Utd Stoke game?Stoke have hardly made a tackle. They did have the affrontary to equalise but managed to rectify that mistake rather quickly

  • WalterBroeckx

    I just have seen the final 10 minutes of the Utd-Stoke game. This was shocking…

    1. I haven known Stoke playing so many ball back without attempting to kick it forward. It was as if they were defending the lead. Oh, they did but it was Utd who was leading.

    2. I have never ever seen it when a player (Rafael) hurt himself and was lying outside the field that the keeper of the team that was supposed to be chasing the game would take minutes before to restart the game. The player was well outside the field. There was no need to wait to restart the game and still it took the keeper more than a minute before he kicked the bal in play.

    The only player who was trying something seemed to be Pennant but for the rest most of the time the Stoke players just passed the ball as they had still a few hours to make an equalizer.

    I think SAF will serve his good and dear friend Pulis a nice bottle of wine at this moment and thank him for his co-operation.

    Off to wash my mouth now and hope to get rid of the bad taste.

  • WalterBroeckx

    Based on the way the teams of the big friends (Bruce/Pulis/Allarduce/…?) of SAF play against MU most of the time I think it is a miracle that even a team can come close to them.

    He just doesn’t have rather a few refs in his pocket, if you have a few managers of other teams listening to the tune SAF is playing it is no wonder that they are where they are.

    Based on this: yes the EPL is bent and fixed.

  • Mandy Dodd

    That Utd / Stoke was incredible. The lack of tackles, fight and bookings – Stoke!
    Looks like anyone who wants to stop Utd winning the title this year are up against:
    1/ several managers who may at least try against Utd at home maybe even get a draw, roll over at OT and kick seven bells out of Utd rivals when playing them. We all know these managers, Arsenal faced one at Brum
    2/ Several refs. If we are in contention on Apr 30th against Utd, you just know Howard Webb awaits
    3/ The media – ok maybe a correction needed, a lot of them might actually want Spurs to win. The media cannot do so much but they can influence fans perceptions and behaviour – ie the AAA
    The thing is, in a close season, titles can be won on fine margins. Utd seem to have a lot of help from refs and other managers, a rival will have to counter that.
    But the great thing – Utd are not that good!
    This site, to its credit has been highlighting all these issues

  • Wrenny

    Stoke were like pussycats, it was embarrassing to watch. They were pulling out of 50-50s and just letting Man Utd have it, absolutely no fight in them at all.

  • ugandan goon

    seems the only player that didnt get the memo was an ex arsenal lad.

  • fred

    RE: Cesc………..Song has a new hairdo according to other blogs?

  • DC

    It’s embarrassing to watch such matches! Sadly, we’ve all seen it before and we’ll continue to do so until Ferguson and his cronies all bugger-off!

  • ugandan goon

    bloody spanish sense of humour! really had me going….

  • walter

    Just a thought crossed my mind: is it any coincidence that we had Walton the ref who allowed Stoke more and more until Ramsey got his leg broken last season for this game at Birmingham who are known to be a team that sticks the foot in?

    Was it maybe the thought of: We let Walton do this game so with a little bit of “luck” they might brake another leg and Arsenal will suffer once again?

    As my notes are correct it was the first time we had Walton again since that horrible day at Stoke…

  • bob

    Capo Pulis already got his pre-match reward from Sir God-F’er by being well praised in the press for ably defending his goon’s tactics against the foreign style of play. In Fergie-Speak, this meant NOT today. Pulis showed his civil side by being an obedient puppy. I say we bring Pennant and Hleb to the public tribunal for testimony – once they are out of harm’s way. If the esteemed Mr. Poll can make a kinda-culpa, then so might these lads, someday. Them and Anthony Taylor, the 4th official at Brum Crime Scene can surely add their grains of truth to the gathering mountain of evidence. Today’s “match” between Pull-this and Manure was a service that Pull-this simply could not refuse.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Know what you mean Ugandan Goon.
    Not trying to go over Walters ground here but with surely common consensus – the following managers would do anything to help Fergie
    Pulis, Bruce, Hughes, McLeish, Big Mick Macarthy, and of course Big Sam and Curbs should they return to the EPL. Arry might be a friend of Fergie and a LMA stalwart but prob more concerned with his own aims.
    That lot could represent a lot of points in Fergies favour.
    Then the refs – rivals to Utd have had to face up to the likes of Riley, Bennett, Dean, Probert, Mason and WEBB over the years!
    The reality is how did anyone ever beat Utd to the title in recent years – this is clearly not a level playing field.
    Maybe they all know Fergie is on his way out and want to give him one last hurrah – sure looks like a lot of people on his side from where I am sitting!

  • rajeev

    Tony, statistical science has different rules. if you are drawing conclusions based on data, you need at least 30 cases to have a 95% confidence in your conclusion.

  • rajeev

    sorry! I just read Phoenix’ comment and the follow-up comments. let me try and explain using tony’s example of dropping differently weighted balls from a tower.

    so you’ve come up with this brilliant theory of gravity. you climb a tower and start dropping balls to see if they land at the same time. if it happens once, it could just be luck. if it happens 30 times, you can be 95% sure that your theory is right. however, if it doesn’t happen just once, your theory is wrong. the sad truth is a theory can never be proven to be completely right, but it can be (and has been, by Einstein) be proven wrong.

    in our case, the data and analysis by Walter is brilliant. I love the articles, btw! however, it only provides us a working hypothesis. to validate this hypothesis, we need a minimum of 30 cases ( the more cases we have, the stronger our hypothesis becomes). we could easily be missing a bunch of factors ( referee fatigue over the x’mas period?) in the current analysis.

  • DC

    Nice points Ugandan Goon & Mandy Dodd! Totally concur!

  • DC

    Definitely think that Walton should be added to your refs’ list too Mandy Dodd!

  • ugandan goon

    CCC- coterie of cuckolded codswalloppers,
    @mandy i read in some reports of the game that sections of the crowd were having a go at pennant b’se he is ex liverpool, and that the game was comfortable for united b’se they had an eye on this weekends fixture with liverpool. poor woy seems to be isolated up there.
    thanks for the links, the report about points shaving is fantastic and well researched we can aspire to the same thing as long as we choose a feasible intelligible hypotheses.
    however i think it is important that we speak out and discuss what is in plain view until such time as we can commission such a report. Are we supposed to wait for proof after events such as what happened in manchester today, wait for the SUN to tell us the league leaders were at their imperious best and thats it? we see whats going on and they could’nt have made it simpler but as long as none of us set the agenda all we are left with is “wenger goes off on a tangent” and this on a day when right thinking folk are wondering what these two managers discussed at their last meeting. the football world is littered with money and power and by default corruption, all we are saying is pull(is) the other one. As long as we can discuss football acknowledging all the above, we cannot make any steps towrd meaningful discussion. i have watched football with a jaded eye and the commentary off for two years now and still enjoy it but i also watch the pundits analyses and managers’ statements. the level of debate in all things football is dire and it is incumbent that where an effort is made to alleviate the tedium sympathetic people lend a hand. a lot of comments have been made about walters’ analyses but what is needed is reciprocity he has taken time out to write his thoughts, if you respect that then put yours down in a manner that will make him and us revise his. i am certain that any suggestions will be taken up by a lot of us on the site b’se we love it. victoria concordia crescit

  • ugandan goon

    Psst tony, the banner…. crescit.

  • Gooner Gal

    Firstly since I have been away for a bit can I say a very belated Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to everyone out there.

    Secondly I want to say a big thank you to the Untold team whom have posted some amazing articles which I am steadily working my way through.

    Thirdly I wanted to add to very good points that have been made by quite a few blog commenters.

    1. Wenger was right to rotate squad, the Arsenal team selected were more than capable of beating Wigan.
    2. Alex McLeish is still a slimy albino toad that is constantly whining and a poor manager whom increasingly doesn’t seem to be able to control his players when they play Arsenal.
    3. Chelsea have gone from being the assured EPL champions to sitting in 5th place. I hope that everyone that listened to the biased media comentators and put a bet on – looses a lot of money.
    4. I have said it before, but its worth repeating Theo Walcott is a big game player and I hope he scores against Citeh.
    5. All football clubs that play 1/2 decent football & not in the evil grip of slur alex, should be banging on Arsenal’s door to see if they can get a loan player. Two players I want to single out for special praise are Vito Mannone(joined Hull when they were 20th in the league, left them in 15th place and they never lost a game in which he played) and Henri Lansbury(I watched a few Norwich games and I would say that he was really good in every one. His energy, off the ball movement, defending, passing and general on field attitude was excellent) this was big improvement on his efforts at Watford.
    6. I think Vela would benefit more from playing at Wigan under Martinez than at Bolton, Lansbury should go to Blackpool – he needs EPL experience, would slot in quite easily and give Blackpool options as they have become overly reliant on Charlie Adam’s distribution of the ball, JET should go to Aston Villa to me they are still struggling and JET is versatile = more playing time for him. He would settle in quite well and would learn from Houllier, who knows a thing or two about developing midfielders.

    7. Finally on to my comments that relate to this article…. I am in total agreement with Mandy Dodd’s points and Slur Alex in my opinion runs a EPL cartel. Wenger is of course his arch nemesis, as he is the only one strong enough to take him on. Even Mourinho bowed down and kissed his ring because he thought that Slur Alex would name him as his heir to the United throne.
    Phil Brown – gone thankfully (does anyone remember Boateng’s dangerous tackle on Sagna and eye gorge of Bentner in March 2010?) His team began to get increasingly more violent towards Arsenal each time we played them. Declared war against Arsenal and Slur Alex goes to the media praising Hull and Brown’s management ability. Phil Brown’s Hull never beat Man U.
    Fat Slab – gives what ever team he is in charge of clear instruction to maim, kill and destroy Arsenal players. I have previously highlighted the strange Blackburn 7-1 loss this season. I reckon it got him sacked haha! Clearly not as indispensible as he thought. I hope the after match drink was one that he savoured because he is of no use to Slur Alex now.
    Also the fact that only struggling championship teams want him should give this delusional man a jolt into reality. He never was, is or will be on Arsene Wenger level. I don’t think any team fat slab has managed has ever beaten Man U.
    Mick McCarthy – fingers crossed will disappear for at least a season when Wolves go down. Karl Hendry is simply a disturbed man who should be playing in a much lower league. The lap dog made 10 changes for ManU game and was fined £25,000 for being far too obvious, but was singled out for special praise from Slur Alex following the game. McCarthy’s Wolves have never beaten Man U.
    Alex ‘the slimey albino toad’ – could beat the drop with the quality in his team, but I really hope not, it would be great to see him go down again. He was the architect of ending Eduardo’s Arsenal career. He couldn’t stop praising and defending Martin Taylor’s commitment to the cause. After Taylor’s departure he drafted in Lee Bowyer as replacement thug. The toad has never beaten Man U, but the recent draw left Slur Alex seething.
    Tony Pulis – Scum. I have done the math and he can still take Stoke down, but I doubt it. When he is not taking naked showers with his players, he is picking fights with Arsene Wenger, which are egged on by the media and slur alex aka the puppet master. Ryan Shawcross should be in prison, but instead got a call from slur alex a couple of hours after smashing Ramsey’s leg to bits, which was reportedly very encouraging. There seems to be a Pulis/Slur Alex love-in going on as Slur Alex can’t stop praising Pulis in the media. Stoke of course have never beaten Man U. But I think today’s game was extra special because I think today was the 1st game under Pulis, that Stoke did not pick up 1 single yellow card….yes I checked Huth, Whitehead and Shawcross played. this is very suspect as I am sure the dirty foreigners like berbatov, nani and hernandez wouldn’t like the English grit up’em. Pulis meanwhile in his BBC interview today seemed quite happy that his club was beaten 2-1 (he didn’t make the same mistake as the toad).
    I’m loathe to include Steve Bruce, who has up until recently looked like he was actually trying to give Man U a game. But I am wondering with the ‘big carrot’ of loan players being dangled in front of him, how long he can avoid going over to the dark side.
    So you could argue that last season Man U were gifted 18 points, this season 12. Its a considerable leg up on the rest of the league. With no money in the bank Slur Alex has been forced to use more Machiavellian tactics to win. Personally I haven’t had any respect for Slur Alex since ’99 and I am glad that he is slowly but surely losing apologists and defenders by the day. His interferance at Preston North End was childish and petty.

    My body is still adjusting to GMT, hence the long post.

  • Gooner for life

    I agree with your comments on the the odd decision making and referring. Sometimes before a match starts and i see a certain referee i just know that his calls will be skewed to influence the result in favour of a certain team. Note that this certain team might not be playing in the match that is being refreed but the result of the match allows this favoured team to advance up the league. Too many times for it to be a coincidence in my opinion

  • bob

    @Gooner for Life: Can you give readers a specific or two or three of the too many times? It all adds up…

  • A Casual Observer


    Err… how exactly can you gurantee that i.e. aren’t you just assuming that “you’re right” except without any kind of analysis whatsoever?

  • Rhys Jaggar

    Mr Attwood

    I’m afraid I’m going to pull rank here about what is or is not scientific. I’m going to be fairly brutal because, like you, I don’t want bent refs, but you won’t get rid of them by making accusations which can’t stick.

    1. The first key issue you have to prove is that what is happening to Arsenal is not ‘natural variability’. This is important because referees are human beings working in a very fast, split-second environment and they are going to get some decisions wrong. I had to work as a line judge in club tennis finals as a boy and I can tell you that when the close calls come, you get some right and some wrong. Reality. So the first thing that has to be done is to set the baseline for what is ‘natural variability’. This requires an analysis not only of Arsenal but at least 5 other clubs. Preferably 10. Ideally all 20. Because only then will you have a true picture of ‘natural variability’ and currently ‘normal standards’.
    2. The next requirement is to show that, over a significant period of time, that the performance of referees is detrimental to Arsenal in a way which is statistically significant. That means that the variability Arsenal suffer is consistently worse than, say, Stoke City suffer, that Spurs suffer, that West Ham suffer etc etc. If your hypothesis is also that Man Utd enjoy special treatment, you need the data to show that too.
    3. The third key requirement is to show that the time period you choose to analyse over is ‘statistically significant’. We’ve seen from climate change nonsense that temperatures can go up quite significantly for 30 years, then come down again. The assumption that that which is going up will do so forever was, quite simply, crap. The system had oscillations in it which certain folks chose to ignore. Not clever………so you’d better produce the stats to show that the Arsenal performance’s difference from the mean is statistically significant and not just ‘natural variability’.

    I’m on your side, Mr Attwood, but the analysis presented to date is COMPLETELY UNSCIENTIFIC. All that can be said so far is that Arsenal have had some bad decisions. And they scream about them quite loudly. And when they get outrageously good fortune, as I have seen at least 10 times in the past 5 years of attending games, they are cynically silent about it…..

    I told you to analyse Stoke City because Tony Pulis was on MOTD week after week highlighting completely shocking refereeing decisions. I’d like you to document all those decisions and the effect on Stoke’s results and ask whether that is worse, the same, or better than Arsenal fared. You’ll note that his bad run of decisions is now over. And at no stage did he claim that there was a conspiracy against Stoke……..

    I’ve seen plenty of Arsenal games where Arsenal got the decisions. Wigan at home a couple of years ago comes to mind: Arsenal won 2-1 but Wigan were denied a stonewall penalty at 0-1 which would have killed the game off. Refs make bent decisions in favour of Arsenal too, Mr Attwood….

    So, I would suggest to you Mr Attwood, that the standard needed to prove your case is as follows:

    1. You follow 6 clubs, preferably all 20 clubs, for a whole season.
    2. You analyse the decisions of all six clubs and have it independently audited by a qualified referee who is NOT an Arsenal fan.
    3. Your analysis will focus on key game-changing or strategy-changing decisions such as:
    i. Awarding of penalties.
    ii. Decision to send someone off.
    iii. Fouls committed per minute off the ball (as Arsenal have the ball more than most, of course they will be fouled more).
    iv. Injury-inducing tackles.
    v. Assaults and the ref’s reaction to them.
    4. Your analysis will determine whether Arsenal’s position is statistically signficantly different from the expected.

    This analysis will need to prove the following:
    i. That Arsenal consistently get the worst decisions and that this is magnified in close games.
    ii. That key rivals consistently get the best decisions and those decisions are magnified in close games or key game-changing decisions.
    iii. That there are referees who consistently make decisions detrimental to Arsenal.

    This analysis can only really run for one season within one dataset, but it can be started again the following season and every so often the data can be combined to see if things are getting better or worse.

    A few pieces of advice for you:
    1. Two matches by one referee is not evidence of bias. It’s evidence of a poor performance.
    2. More fouls against Arsenal is only indicative of Arsenal having the ball more. You don’t go fouling your opponents when your team mate has the ball………
    3. Changing the rules to suit Arsenal is just as much cheating as keeping them as they are to suit Man Utd or anyone else. It’s just that the rigging will then favour Arsenal……you want all teams to play Arsenal Arsenal’s way and lose 8-3. Why should they?
    4. Rotational fouling is a difficult thing to prove unless you bug the opponents to listen in on their team talks, conversations and training ground discussions. You are convinced of it, I am solely convinced that Arsenal have the ball a lot and so get fouled more.

    The easiest ways to prove this without resorting to science are:
    1. Bunging a referee who was bought to tell all. Which will turn Arsenal into a bunch of bribing bastards……
    2. Bugging the networks who set up this rigging. This is illegal but hey…….if you get the evidence, who cares?
    3. Threatening to beat up Mike Riley if he doesn’t spill the beans. If there are any beans to spill. Which will turn Arsenal into the thugs you claim to despise in others……
    4. Infiltrating the referee’s network to collect the evidence like a traditional investigative journalist. Which is probably acceptable but will take time……

    As I said, Mr Attwood, I’m on your side, but please don’t tell me you’re presenting science.

    You’re not. You’re presenting information which has not been analysed scientifically.


  • DogFace

    I agree with a lot of what Rhys is saying here and I just wish I had all this data to model. We need a pool of experienced referees examining every game (I mentioned this in a previous comment on one of my articles), unfortunately the only people who have these kind of resources and the will to action them are large bookmakers, market makers and gambling syndicates… this in the sphere of interest at present – other than that it is under the radar and will not become mainstream until people such as Walter and Tony stick their necks out and apply pressure for transparency from the powers that be by raising public awareness.

    In my RefWatch article I do not try to scientifically prove a hypothesis – rather I just present and model what is there and wring the data for information based on theory and the results they produce… I too try and use scientific method in my approach and I will discard any analysis that is reasonably proved false (I just need a good argument against for this) or does not show trends – for it is trends that I am searching for, whatever they may be, and I do not apologise for this.

    It is hard to be scientific about corruption – it comes down to a question of psychology, reason and theory. We must instead try to be detectives and use Occam’s razor to define our assumptions… my example of this would be – if I had a plumber round and he overcharged for his time and replaced parts that weren’t in need of replacing then I would declare him a bent c&*t and tell everyone I knew to avoid him like the plague… I would not utilise his services for 30 more times to statistically prove he was dishonest.

    The fact that it is hard to be scientific when it comes to the metaphysics of motive, gain and corruption does not, however, rule out the application of the scientific method or a statistical approach to our research… these pages are little acorns and I believe you are missing the point entirely in what this blog is trying to achieve.

    May I suggest we look more to ‘game theory’ as our base approach rather than statistical viability – or at least try not confuse the issue too much with semantics?

  • imagooner

    Another insightful and amazing piece of article Tony 🙂
    I don’t think we need scientific and statistical information to prove the the ref bias towards certain (games and) teams. Just simple common sense and a general view of football could help anyone to understand the nature of the refreeing.

    I am a die-hard Gooner and i feel lots of injustice happens to my team from the refs. But the same happens for other teams too which goes in favor of (few) teams in the entire English league (except Arsenal, offcourse). Being far away from England i try to watch most of the Arsenal matches through live TV broadcast or online streams under the continuous bashing of the so-called commentators or pundits of football. And apart from that everytime we have to play against 12-members(or more depending on the line refs performance) that day. One simple scale to measure the incosistency of refs to check the number of decisions that go for/against Arsenal that entire season and i am sure i wont be surprised to see the scale weighing more in against.

  • goonergerry

    Walter I have to agree about the United/Stoke game. Stoke were pathetic in that game. That game stank. Rhys- how do you measure the lack of commitment of Stoke in that game mr superior intellect?

  • WalterBroeckx

    Was it my imagination but I seem to even recal a Stoke official making a ‘slow down’ gesture to his players in the final minutes of the game?

  • bob

    Ahem, dear Mister Attwood (did I get the tone just right, Rhys?), I fear that one of the (intended or unintended but de facto) consequences of Jaggar’s high-toned criteria for what constitutes a valid analysis is to pressure Untold Arsenal to drop the drive for accumulating circumstantial evidence, to undermine the idea of a working hypothesis that has begun to raise awareness (including his), to postpone a proper “study” for which there is neither money nor manpower (unless he should like to be an angel and contribute) and to postpone serious pursuit and in-depth inquiry beyond this season – possibly (yes? no?) Sir F-word’s last hurrah. Marshaling evidence, putting specific instances up for inspection and analysis, and not being bullied by “pulling rank” out of a very productive endeavor, which all fans at all blogs could try at their own affiliated blogs only has the “danger” of enabling everyone to contribute to a necessary cleaning of the stables. And, having the ball more does nothing to disprove the MANY assaults witnessed and documented at, for one example, the Brum Crime Scene. Methinks the Jaggar doth protest too much. Or, as the Bard put it, “So foul a sky clears not without a storm.” Onward and upward (this season!), continue to Tell the Untold, Go Gunners.

  • bob

    @Rhys Jaggar: Mister Jaggar, you say “I’ve seen plenty of Arsenal games where Arsenal got the decisions.” Perhaps, for the sake of contributing and sharing your specific insights, you could provide more than one of the “plenty” of these decisions that you invoke. I would especially implore you to provide the specific assaults, like those at the Brum Crime Scene (admittedly not a “scientific” label, this, but true nonetheless) in which Arsenal players launched assaults, intended or merely negligent, and in which Arsenal players were not carded. Can you do that? Would you do so to help the current effort to identify cases which would show that Arsenal is not being discriminated against? An honest inquiry would welcome your specific list of offenses to which you appeal. Please, Mr. Jaggar, be good enough to provide your evidence and help us all see more clearly.

  • bob

    @Rhys Jaggar: It’s more than interesting that in the name of “science” you bash what Mr. Attwood and Co. are doing whilst you denounce what the vast majority of scientists agree on as global warming “nonsense.” Perhaps a bit of self-serving use of the club of science, Mr. Jaggar? (And, please don’t “pull rank.” You’re not talking to children here.)

  • GoonerTerry

    Wow Rhys even by your standards you have stirred up the ire of the Untold faithful with your comments…for the record I happen to agree with your setting out of a process for a proper inquiry. But when I read Tony’s article I discerned a bit of “tongue in cheek” so I decided he was just provoking discussion. Which is always what he best at. But I believe that this article, your comments & a lot of the ensuing comments are barking up the wrong tree: Its a fact that a lot of the Managers we love to hate don’t like us for whatever reason. I dare say quite a few referees don’t like us either. We know that we have a dedicated few jurnos that don’t care for us as well…but so WHAT? We need to just get on with it and try to win our games – even if we face wrong decisions. It is true that we have benefited from a few decisions but we’ve also suffered as well. But ask any supporter and they’d tell you the same thing about their club. By the same token everyone will tell you that Man U seem to get more of their fair share of luck…but does this fact prove that SAF is controlling the whole EPL? I doubt that very much. What I believe is that SAF is a master of mind games and uses it on his players, opposing managers as well as match officials for decades. The latest example was his praise of Pulis even as he plotted his downfall. What that shows is that Pulis is a mug and there is a long list of other mugs out there. But Wenger is not one of them – never has and never will be. So that is why SAF has to be extra clever to rile him. That he succeeds in beating us is down to his craftiness rather than any implicit corruption on his path I believe. Look I hate him as much as any other Gooner but I don’t want to build him up more by attributing to him more power than I believe he really has.. Anyway must go warm up for the game (0;

  • patAgen

    hi Tony, Walter,
    conspiracy theories ultimately just sap the energy from those that hold them, but it’s good exercise for the mind of the person who gets the ball rolling, they can also be very entertaining and some people, like John Grisham,can make a living from them.
    I think the divide you are highlighting over the ref issue but also the bad Sir Alex against the good “chevalier” Arsene can be seen from a cultural viewpoint and the way in which football has changed in the UK over the last 20years with different parts of the football world moving at different paces.
    Arsene is portrayed as the outsider, the foreigner who doesn’t understand our ways. He plays teams with no English players, wanst to play tiki-taki football like Barcelona, hates physical up and at ’em long ball tactics.
    Sometimes the attack on Arsene/foreigners is frontal sometimes it’s deflected into criticising players wearing gloves/snoods or “play acting”.
    Whether direct or indirect it rarely lives up to close scrutiny. Just from last night games there are plenty of examples which undercut this approach: Arsenal probably have the best hope for England’s future in Jack Wilshere, a player who has been with Wenger since the age of 9, a player who may well have been kicked, in all senses ofthe word, out of many teams as he grew up; Man utd win their game with goals from Nani, Hernandez, star players are Vidic, Evra etc etc. , even your arch enemy Sam Allardyce staffed his recent teams with plent of non English/Bristish players – see Blackburn from last night.
    Today the premier league is extremely cosmopolitain, both in players and managers. But it is very British/English in that it is obviously played in the UK and is reported on, for UK audiences, by the UK press/television/radio and very importantly it is organised by the English FA and matches are reffed by 100% English refs.
    This is one big area where football isn’t travelling at the smae speed, which gives us the disparities between refereeing of CL games compared to PL games.
    Finally my 2cts of how to get away from all of this?
    A couple of ideas: 1) get foreign refs to do PL games alongside UK ones, 2) ban player loans between PL clubs, if ever there was a green light for making “friends” this is one.
    But the best way to get this monkey off your back would be for Arsenal to win something big,ie PL or CL, preferably with a humiliating defeat of Man Utd thrown into the mix.
    The Arsenal team that played last night against Man City is capable of this – let’s hoe it comes soon.

  • bob

    @patAgen: Great cultural analysis. However, conspire simply means to sit in a room and make a deal that is not publicized. it literally means to breathe with, more than one person breathing the same air. If there is evidence of this activity, it is a conspiracy. To insinuate that this is just an intellectual exercise fails grasp that the effort on this blog has been to accumulate and exam evidence. If it passes inspection and accumulates that people are acting in concert in a demonstrable patterns that random coincidence cannot explain, then what would you call it? To slag it all off as “conspiracy” is, IMO, condescending at best, eyes wide shut denialism.

  • bob

    @patAgen: Sorry, last sentence should read:”To slag it all off as “conspiracy theory” is, IMO, condescending at best, eyes wide shut denialism.”

  • Limestonegunner

    I think 7amkickoff has been doing some close studies of referee records on Arsenal games that have been pretty revealing.

    What would be helpful is to compare a referees record in ManU games to their record refereeing Arsenal games. I think we all assume ManU gets the benefit of a pro-United bias. Do the refs actually favor them, not just in our head to head matches but throughout the league season? That would be helpful to be able to demonstrate with evidence of a systematic bias in their favor.