Tottenham v Arsenal: it’s the 5th time we’ve had the same referee, and this time….



By Bulldog Drummond

It has long been a point made by Untold Arsenal that each club in the Premier League should only have matches overseen by each referee twice  in a season – never more.  In this way the Silent PGMO could at least give an assurance to the clubs and the fans that they are at the very least taking the issue of possible corruption, incompetence or simple variation in handling the rules, seriously.

Have they taken any notice?   No of course not.   They plod along letting the same referee see the same club over and over.  And of course the media kowtow to each and every decision without even mentioning the issue.

So here we are with Match 5 under Michael Oliver.   That the previous games resulted in four wins for Arsenal  is neither here nor there, nor of course is the fact he was in charge of the West Ham game in December which Arsenal lost 0-2.

Tottenham get Oliver slightly less – this will be his fourth game for them.  But our point has never been that this or that referee is biased.  Rather it is simply that restricting referees to two games per club per season is an utterly obvious way of reassuring the public that PGMO are taking steps to ensure that referees are not able to influence the results of a certain club.

That PGMO don’t do this and the media refuse to debate the point is telling.

Here’s the full officials list

  • Referee: Michael Oliver
    Assistants: Stuart Burt, Dan Cook
    Fourth official: Andy Madley
    VAR: Jarred Gillett
    Assistant VAR: Darren Cann

In the table we can see how Oliver differs from other referees who have undertaken a similar number of games this season.


Referee Games Fouls pg Fouls/Tackles YelLOW pg
Michael Oliver 21 20.81 0.57 3.86
Thomas Bramall 10 24.60 0.66 4.90
David Coote 14 24.21 0.69 5.29
Tim Robinson 20 22.90 0.70 4.25
Chris Kavanagh 17 21.65 0.53 4.06


The range of actions among these few referees, all of whom are taking multiple Premier League games and are seeing the same clubs over and over again, is huge.  For example, OBramall sees 18% more penalties than Oliver.

Robinson sees 23% more fouls than Oliver.   Robinson see 32% more tackles as being fouls than Kavanagh.  Coote sees 37% events to be worthy of a yellow card than Oliver.  It is, as ever, quite clear that how well a club does is dependent on which referee the club gets.  And it doesn’t even up in the end, because some clubs get the same ref over and over again.

Indeed each club should only have the some referee twice in a season.  But inevitably under the current ultra-secretive PGMO and the eternally compliant (when it comes to referee matters) media, we are now seeing Michael Oliver determine Arsenal’s fate for the fifth time.

The same man who oversaw the 2-0 defeat to West Ham United in which both West Ham goals were what even the utterly compliant media recognised were “controversial”.

We should however also note that Oliver along with Robert Jones are the only two referees to give out five red cards so far this season.

So as ever our argument about referees is not so much that they are biased (although they might well be but we can’t prove that,) but they are inconsistent in terms of what they see.  That might be inevitable, but if so it is all the more reason for ensuring that each referee only sees each team twice, so that each team is hampered by the referee’s inconsistency no more than twice.

So let us consider his results, and this is where Oliver can give Arsenal a boost for 42.9% of the games he has overseen have been away wins. Only two referees who have seen 15 plus PL games this season have a higher rate of away wins.

This is significant for if you have been following Untold over the years you will know that we highlighted the way that during the pandemic when matches were played behind closed doors, the away results shot up.  (This issue is described in full here.)

Academic research involving having professional referees watch matches on screen, some with the crowd noise and some without, showed that this was because of the level of influence of the home crowd on the referee.

It is to minimise this that we argue for no referee to see the same club more than once at home and once away per season, but if Oliver follows his normal pattern (38.1% home wins, 19% draws and as noted 42.9% away wins), that could be rather helpful.

Of course he is not the highest “away win” referee – that is Tierney on 45.5% but we might compare this with Anthony Taylor who sees 25% away wins or Simon Hooper who sees 22.7% away wins.

So if the referee follows his normal approach he should not be interfering with the result that is predicted from recent games and indeed from the games all season, an Arsenal win.

3 Replies to “Tottenham v Arsenal: it’s the 5th time we’ve had the same referee, and this time….”

  1. I have always thought that the referees should do 1 home game for each team, but I have also always thought the PGMO top up their pension plans with their ability to control games.

  2. Positive Pete

    And you were right to be. I thought there was nothing in their penalty shout, and it should of been looked at by VAR and concluded as not a clear and obvious error, but he asked Oliver to have a look, and as soon as they do you know what comes next.

    Given Gillet’s history with Arsenal I very much doubt he would of done the same the other way around.

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