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By Tony Attwood (with the help of a map)
61% of all active PL referees come from the north: none come from London and the home counties.
23 referees have been used this season in the Premier League, and one might assume that the PGMO would take care to ensure that there is a reasonable geographic spread of the location of these referees.
This would be beneficial in two ways. One would be to ensure that there is no accusation of referees having (for example) a “northern bias” and the other would be to ensure that while referees don’t actually oversee matches involving teams from their immediate vicinity, they are able to ensure that referees don’t have to keep driving from one end of the country to another to oversee games. (This point is important, since PGMO insist on keeping the number of referees low. 23 referees have been used this season but seven of these have had eight games or fewer leaving just 16 referees covering most games.)
So we thought we would have a look. Of course this is not because we would say that all northern referees are biased in favour of northern teams, or that all London referees are biased in favour of London teams, but a rough geographic balance would be helpful – not least to ensure that the referees do not get tired out from the travelling, given that they obviously should not be overseeing matches from teams close to where they live, or of games involving teams they support or their immediate rivals.
And the results we found were rather alarming. There are 23 referees registered as suitable for games in the Premier League this season and 61% of them comes from the north! 22% of them come from the midlands, 9% come from the south. 9% are from outside the UK.
And a grand total of zero percent are from London and the south east. Indeed the only other region excluded in this way, is Wales – which has no teams in the PL this season.
So 32% of the population of England lives in London and the south east and NOT A SINGLE PREMIER LEAGUE REFEREE can be found from among that population of nine million people.
Now of course we are not saying that referees will all be supportive of teams from their home region, but it is surely utterly ludicrous not to have ANY referees at all in the Premier League list who are from London and the home counties.
That is not to say I am looking for London referees to be overseeing matches involving Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur, Chelsea, West Ham United, Fulham, Brentford, or Crystal Palace, but London is the centre of Premier League football, and so surely should have some representatives doing the rounds for PGMO.
London has 35% of all Premier League football clubs in its boundaries. And if we were to look at the whole of the south east we would also include Brighton and Hove Albion and Luton Town which would then mean that the south east has 45% of all the Premier League clubs within its area.
So let’s pull this together: London and the south east has 45% of all the current Premier League teams within its boundaries. What’s more 32% of the population of England lives within London and the south east.
And yet London has no referees wihtin PGMO and the south east has just one referee on the PGMO Premier League books: Tim Robinson from Sussex.
I really cannot see how this is right. Even if it is argued that referees have no bias for or against their own locality, how can it possibly be right that 61% of the PL referees all come from the north of the country?
Of course it could be argued that it happened “just by chance”, but really, do you think so?
Here is the list of referees by region with the county of origin of each referee noted…
Northern Referees (14)
- Cheshire: Anthony Taylor
- Cleveland: Tony Harrington
- Doncaster: Darren England
- Lancashire: Darren Bond
- Lancashire: Paul Tierney
- Lancashire: Chris Cavanagh
- Lancashire: Michael Salisbury
- Merseyside: Robert Jones
- Merseyside: Peter Bankes
- Northumberland: Michael Oliver
- Sheffield: Samuel Barrott
- South Yorkshire: Craig Pawson
- West Yorkshire: Andrew Madley
- West Yorkshire: Samuel Barrott
Midlands referees (5)
- Cambridgeshire: Josh Smith
- Leicestershire: John Brooks
- Nottinghamshire: David Coote
- Oxfordshire: Graham Scott
- Warwickshire: Stuart Attwell
Southern referees (2)
- West Sussex: Tim Robinson
- Wiltshire: Simon Hooper
Non-UK referees (2)
- Jarred Gillett (Australia)
- Bobby Madley: (Norway)
This century the only London teams to win the Premier League are Arsenal (twice), and Chelsea, (five times) – and now we have just found that a number of those Chelsea championships are as questionable as the titles gained by Manchester City.
So let’s pull this together. Each season at least 30% of the Premier League clubs are from London, which is not surprising since just over 30% of the English population lives in London and the south east. And yet none of the Premier League referees are from London or the south east.
22% of the population of England living the north, and yet 61% of the referees come from the north.
And now the poor PGMO is going to make an example of Arteta for speaking out about the failure of northern referees.
Well, of course they are. I mean, it is not as if anyone is trying even to suggest that refereeing is balanced and fair in the Premier League.
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