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By Bulldog Drummond
Simon Hooper is the referee for today’s League Cup fourth-round game between West Ham and Arsenal.
He is in the top ten in terms of Premier League appearances but has only overseen five league games so far this season which suggests he may have been hauled off for “re-training”. The most active referee this season at the moment is Anthony Taylor who has run nine league games.
In terms of fouls per game he is pretty much mid-table calling out 22.60 fouls a game on average. But the range among referees is huge – from an average of 18 fouls a game to an average of 27 fouls a game. Which clearly shows some referees perceive tackles as fouls a lot more than do others, when really at this level that should not be the case.
The yellow card figures per game are even more varied. For while some referees are handing out 50% more fouls per match than others, with yellow cards the difference (excluding those referees who have only handled under five games this season) is between 5.86 yellows per game, and 3.40 yellows per game:
That difference is 72%, meaning that for example a club getting Andy Madely as referee is 72% more likely to get a yellow card than a club being refereed by David Coote.
Which makes the point very clearly: getting fouls against a team or yellow cards for team members depends, very much on who the referee is.
So let us delve a little more into Simon Hooper this season. Here we can see that the number of fouls called against the home team across all his games this season (12.40 per game) is 22% more than the fouls called against away teams.
And yet really oddly, the away team get more yellows and reds than the home team! 44% more in fact for yellow cards. What we show below are tonight’s referee’s figures for home and away teams, but then also Andy Madely’s figures for away teams by way of contrast.
|Referee||Fouls pg||Fouls/Tackles||Yel pg||Red|
|Simon Hooper home teams||12.40||0.73||1.80||0|
|Simon Hooper away teams||10.20||0.63||2.60||2|
|Andy Madely away teams||14.43||0.78||3.43||0|
|Madely/Hooper difference for away teams||+41%||+24%||+32%|
Of course Arsenal don’t have Madely tonight, but the figures are presented here just to show how different each referee’s position on the away team can be. Madely gives 41% more fouls against away teams than Hooper, and sees 24% more tackles as fouls than Hooper. As a result of this more aggressive stance he gives 32% more yellow cards against away teams than Hooper.
As a result of this any club manager worthy of his job must approach each game by looking not just at his team but at which referee is involved and adjusting the play to meet the foibles of that referee – and that surely cannot be right.
Results according to referees
So far this season 43% of games have ended as home wins, 21% have been draws and 36% have been away wins. If we look at the statistics of Anthony Taylor, the referee who has overseen more Premier League games this season than any other referee (nine), his figures are very close to this. He has overseen 44.4% home wins 22.2% away wins and 33.3% draws.
But what of Simon Hooper, our referee for tonight? He has overseen 60% home wins, 40% away wins and no draws.
Of course there are going to be variations – not every referee is going to be overseeing games that give the exact statistics of the average overall, but Hooper, with his figure of 60% home wins is extreme.
But let us also consider Simon Hooper’s figures for last season. In 2022/23 he oversaw 29 Premier League games, and then gave 55.2% as home wins and just 17.2% as away wins and 27.6% as draws.
We might compare this with Craig Pawson who took control in 21 Premier League games last season, and these resulted in 33.3% home wins, 47.6% away wins and 19% draws. Thus yet again we see that which referee each club gets has a huge influence on the result.
Now obviously most clubs are not run by idiots and so just as we look at referee results so do the clubs, and they then adjust their performances accordingly. In fact, the only people who don’t bother with this fundamental issue within the Premier League, in terms of the results, is the mass media, who utterly and totally refuse to consider the notion that any referee might have an impact on the final outcome.
Fortunately for us, Arsenal do clearly note who the referee is and adjust their style of play accordingly.
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