Everton v Arsenal: why fair play and balance is not what we can expect from the referee



Referee: Simon Hooper. Assistants: Adrian Holmes, Simon Long. Fourth official: Anthony Taylor. VAR: Stuart Attwell. Assistant VAR: Nick Greenhalgh.

Referee data based on figures from WhoScored

18 referees have been used so far this season in the Premier League, with two having been given four games and six having one game each.   Our call has been for no referee to see any club more than twice in a season, once at home and once away – in order to avoid “accidental” bias and any hint of downright corruption.  But it seems we are nowhere near even a move in this direction.

Mr Hooper has overseen two games this season and both have been home wins.  Last season it was 55% home wins, 17.2% away wins, 27.6% draws.  

This season the number of fouls per game by individual referees ranges from 25 to 13, suggesting that once again we are in for a season of no balance or regularity when it comes to the way games are refereed.   We need to see more games of course to get a clear indication this year, but last season the referee who spotted the most fouls on average per match was Tim Robinson with 28.5 fouls per game.  He has eased off this season and is on 24 fouls a game and has been overtaken this season by Andy Madley with 26 fouls per game.

Simon Hooper, the referee for this weekend’s game is so far averaging 22 fouls a game.  Last season it was 20.66 so not too far off last season.  So let’s look at last season to see how Mr Hooper treated home and away teams.

And these figures are really interesting because they appear to be contradictory.  Simon Hooper took control of 29 games last season, only one short of the top number of league games for a Premier League referee.   So clearly he is one of the PGMO’s trustees.

In every way one can imagine Mr Hooper was a home team referee last season.  The home teams in his games got 4% fewer fouls given against them than the away teams.   But the away teams’ tackles were 9% more likely to be seen as fouls than those of the home team.    The home team got double the number of penalties as the away team.  And the away team got 50% more yellow cards than the home team.

So on every measure that we have for Simon Hooper, (fouls, fouls per tackle, penalties and yellow cards) he favoured the home team.  They get fewer fouls against them, fewer fouls per tackle, more penalties, and fewer yellow cards.  It is a case of total referee home team bias, and it would not be unreasonable to think PGMO have given him this Everton game in order to help Everton’s cause.

However this season Mr Hooper has only overseen two games, and it is possible that he has been undergoing a forcible re-education and training programme, because this season in contrast he has been giving 59% more fouls against the home team than the away team, and 87% more tackles as fouls.

So on those two measures (fouls and tackles) he is now favouring the away team!!!   Thus this looks like a balancing up programme gone mad – but this is PGMO and there is no consistency here, because although the home teams with Mr Hooper in charge are seeing 84% of their tackles given as fouls, it is the away team that has twice as many yellow cards per game!!!

The only way these figures can be interpreted in terms of logic or sense would be to assume that Mr Hooper was sent away on a re-training course to show him how biased he was last season against the away team, but then he got a phone call and had to leave the course have way through!

What we can say is that Arsenal cannot rely on this referee to be balanced in any way.  He might be, but if so it would be by pure chance.   The most likely description that one might give to his performance after a match is “wholly erratic”.

Of course this business about training and re-training is all speculation.  We don’t know if referees get any training or re-training as a result of biased performances, because everything in PGMO is utterly secret.

One final point, Mr Hooper is right at the bottom of the table of referees who have seen at least two games this season, in terms of yellow cards.  He is currently on three per game as an average – under half the number of yellows per game of referees like Madely and Attwell.

So on this basis, it looks like being another season of either pure randomness or total bias among referees, depending on how you read the figures.  The one thing we can guarantee is that fair-play and balance are not likely to be on the agenda.

2 Replies to “Everton v Arsenal: why fair play and balance is not what we can expect from the referee”

  1. You forgot in the ‘ home team bias’ to mention the unbelievable incident at old Toilet with ONANA & a clear sending off which of course Var overlooked too.Earning himself & Var ref a suspension & yet another apology from Webbo & his cartel.Expect more of the same come Sunday.Hsving said that ,I honestly thought they were going to drag up Paul Tierney or David Coote to ensure all 3 points for Everton.So could be worse.We’ll see.

  2. These people have no shame and the Premier League is run by a bunch of gamblers who are waiting to see how long it will take the refs to doom the League. There is no limit to stupid.

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