The great Premier League refereeing scandal – revealed




The Athletic has gone referee hunting – at least in terms of investigating their salaries, and within their investigations they have discovered something rather interesting.   But, either because they have been warned off the implications by PGMO or because they didn’t actually see the point their own research revealed, they headed off in a different direction.

Indeed the direction they chose to consider was salaries, telling us that Premier Leagues referees are not all paid the same, but paid according to their “level of experience and rank”.

I found their descriptions of the money earned somewhat confusing.  For example they are “paid on a sliding scale between £73,191, £105,257 and £147,258 depending on their level of experience and rank.” Their match fee works out at £1,116 per game, or £837 for working as the video assistant referee.”

So is the match fee in addition to the salary?  And are there two sliding scales, one between £73,191, and £105,257, and one between £105,257 and £147,258?   Sadly, PGMO have no web site so we can’t look it up to check.

Premier League referees also receive a bonus based on the quality of their performance and how many ‘key match incidents’ they get right.   And what of people like Thomas Bramall, Tony Harrigton, and Darren Bond who have overseen nine, six and four games respectively?  Are they getting the full salary?  We are not told.

Given the confusion, it is not surprising that PGMO when asked “said it could not comment on specific salary figures.”

But now to the big points that the Athletic either missed or refused to consider.  First why do some referees see the same club over and over again?  Arsenal have had Michael Oliver four times this season, Anthony Taylor four times, Paul Tierney three times, Simon Hooper three times, but John Brooks not at all.  All referee data us from,Who Scored.

Oh, but Tottenham Hotspur have had John Brooks four times!   Arsenal have never had Andy Madley but Liverpool have had him four times in charge of their league games.

The numbers go on and on like this all the way through the records – some clubs getting the same referee four times – and it will undoubtedly be five times by the end of the season, while other clubs not seeing that referee at all.

Of course one club not getting a referee ever in a season could be excusable – if I were a referee no one would want me refereeing Arsenal matches.   But that does not excuse the same referee seeing the same club four times already – and indeed we can be sure that by the end of the season this will be up to five times.

There really is no valid reason for this, but there is every reason for this not to happen, and primarily that is  in order to reduce the chance of any allegations of corruption, even if it comes in the form of subconscious bias.

And this is especially so when the variation in the statistics that the referees leave trailing behind them are so great.

Here we take seven PGMO referees who have each overseen between 11 and 20 games and for simplicity we look at just four attributes of their refereeing: fouls witnessed, fouls per tackle, penalties awarded and yellow cards waved (for any reason).


Referee Apps Fouls pg Fouls/Tackles Pen pg Yel
Michael Oliver 20 9.80 0.52 0.10 1.65
iSmon Hooper 19 10.42 0.62 0.00 1.84
Tim Robinson 18 12.39 0.71 0.06 1.94
Jarred Gillett 17 11.35 0.57 0.12 2.65
Samuel Barrott 14 9.43 0.61 0.07 1.29
Craig Pawson 14 11.07 0.74 0.07 1.79
Michael Salisbury 11 11.00 0.67 0.36 2.00
Variation 31% 52% *200% 91%


*Since Simon Hooper doesn’t wave cards the gap between him and the rest is infinite. The gap between Robinson and Salisbury is 200%.

The key line is at the foot of the table.   When Arsenal have Tim Robinson they are 31% more likely to have fouls given against them as when they have Samuel Barrot.

When they have Craig Pawson they are 52% more likely to have their tackles judged as fouls than when they are overseen by  Michael Oliver.

When they have Simon Hooper there is no chance of getting or giving away a penalty.  But when Jarred Gillet is in charge there is a 91% increase in the chance of a yellow card than with Simon Barrot.

Of course these numbers apply to both teams in a game – we are not alleging an anti-Arsenal bias, but rather rampant inconsistency in PGMO employees.   And if you are  a regular reader you will know that for several seasons Arsenal have followed the Manchester City approach of cutting out tackles in order to wrest away control of the game from the referee and give it back to the players.

But these variations are ludicrous and do not befit a body of men paid decent salaries to carry out their job.   If, however, consistency is completely beyond their ability they should at least have the decency to come out and admit it.

However PGMO don’t do any such thing – and it is their desire to hide these figures away that probably best explains their lack of a website.

2 Replies to “The great Premier League refereeing scandal – revealed”

  1. From footballisfixed:

    Liverpool v Brighton

    As ever when there is a major event in the Premier League, the associated match(es) are entangled with the main course.

    This event also has PGMOL officials who repeatedly get Liverpool events.
    Since the home match versus Man United, the refereeing teams (Referee, 4th Official, VAR) on the dozen Liverpool events have been:

    Kavanagh Pawson Coote
    Tierney Scott Hooper
    Taylor Madley Attwell
    Madley Scott Tierney
    Tierney Madley Brooks
    Oliver Scott Coote
    Madley Bramall Hooper
    Tierney Scott Attwell
    Taylor Pawson Coote
    Robinson Bramall Attwell
    Oliver Coote Attwell
    Coote Pawson Tierney

    This is not normal and Attwell Taylor Kavanagh get the next Liverpool game in midweek.

    Plus 5 Liverpool supporting PGMOL referees of course…

  2. Does anyone know if the assistant VAR official is drawn from the elite Pgmol pool as well. If so the figures could be even more damning.

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