Just how many refs would the EPL have left if we adopted the same refereeing standards as…. Belgium?

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Victory Through Harmony

Walter Broeckx continues his series of articles on the standard of referring in the Premier League.  You can read Walter’s last article (The shocking figures that show the Premier League is bent) on this site, and we have an introduction to the series examining how bent the Premier League is, on the home page.


As I showed in my previous article the standard in refereeing in the EPL is poor. In fact very poor.

In Belgium there is a system in place where refs get a fixed amount of money to help them financially for their efforts of being a ref. But as the KBVB (Belgium FA) is not as rich as the FA and the EPL and so there are in fact no full time refs. Most refs have another job (mostly part time but I know personally one Jupiler league ref that is working the whole day and does his training in the evening after work) and then they get some money for their games. A nice addition to their normal (part time) wages but it will not make you rich.

So the KBVB gives a fix amount of money to a limited number of refs. The Fifa refs and the best refs in the league. But this money doesn’t come for free.

No, the refs must reach a certain quality to keep that money in the next season. To keep their money they have to get an average score over the whole season of  7/10 or as I put it in my Untold Scoring chart after each match: 70%.  So refs who do their games within the laws and do what they are supposed to do will get this score and get some kind of financial bonus.

So I was wondering, and maybe you start wondering now: what would happen if this were to be applied in the EPL? How many refs would still be in the game next season. Or would still be in the EPL? Because in Belgium if you don’t get the 7/10 you will lose your position in the ref charts and will drop down to a lower level.

Now I do know that some refs get dispensation from being relegated. Because after all the ref world is a closed world. I know you and you know me and if we all keep together and if we all keep our mouth shut we will cover each other.

But let us see based on the games I have reviewed, and which are of course only Arsenal games, how much points the ref would get and how many refs would make it if the same system as in Belgium would be put in place.

So here we would have the refs that we would see back in next season in the EPL

Ref Total points %
Oliver 88 88,00
Clattenburg 305 76,25
Mariner 144 72,00
Atkinson 280 70,00
Halsey 139 69,50

That’s it folks. That is all what would be left. So far the best ref we had this season was ref Oliver. And for those who say: Oliver? Who? Yes this was the ref who did our home game against WBA. You know the game we lost 2-3.  In a way you cannot imagine how happy I am with this outcome. I, as an Arsenal fan with my system of marketing refs, come up with a ref as the best so far this season and he did a game we lost. The only thing is we had him only once so far so I cannot tell you much more about him. This could change if he would have a bad game in the future.

But aside from my personal joy on this I would give credit to Clattenburg. He had 4 games so far and he has a very good score in total. Also Mariner is good enough as is Atkinson. Even if he had one bad game which we won.

Now if you look carefully you will have noticed that I included Halsey also even if he misses out with one point. I will take him on board as I think that missing one point is sometimes down to a bit of bad luck and I will give him the benefit of the doubt.

Let us now take on the people who have just missed and who should prove themselves worthy of being allowed in the game still.

Ref Total points %
Atwell 68 68,00
Jones 197 65,67

There are two refs which I would give another chance in this. Atwell has only one game in this so I think he can be brought back if he has another good game this season. For Jones I would recommend him to make an extra effort. He still is close to the required level but he has to work on some things.

But now let us see at the refs who were not good enough and who should lose their status if they would have been ref in Belgium

Ref Total points %
Friend 59 59,00
Dowd 233 58,25
Dean 159 53,00
Probert 104 52,00
Foy 96 48,00
Mason 47 47,00
Walton 44 44,00
Webb 86 43,00

If the rules that apply in Belgium were to be used in the EPL, these refs would be in serious trouble.

There are currently 16 refs in the Select group of referees, the top flight in referee land in England. But half of them wouldn’t be in the league next season if they had to pass the 70% marker.

In fact half of the referees in the EPL not only don’t get the needed score, they fail miserably. And at the bottom we find the world’s best ref.

This really is outrageous in fact. This is just silly. In fact it is a shame. People who are responsible for the level of the refs in the EPL should be ashamed of themselves.

And who is responsible for this sad state of affair? The body that is responsible for the refs in the England and their leading figures: Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL) and their leaders: The General Manager – Mike Riley, National Group Manager – David Allison and FA Head of Senior Referees – Neale Barry. Keep those names in mind. They are responsible for the refs in the EPL.

So again the same question is: why? What are the reasons for this. And what can be done about it.

The series will continue and we will try to find answers to this. Or suggestions to the problems that cause this low score.

Untold Arsenal – the index on corruption

The History of Arsenal

Making the Arsenal – a little light relief

48 Replies to “Just how many refs would the EPL have left if we adopted the same refereeing standards as…. Belgium?”

  1. Mike Riley, isn;t he the same ref who was incharge of the 50th game of the invincible which we lost. who allowed the thuggery of the neville brother(cunts) the same match in which Reyes was kicked number of times by neville brother without even getting a card.
    he is the GM of PGMOL?. no wonder the ref’s in EPL are so poor.

  2. that’s just the pointadam, it is as serious as raising the VAT, or austerity measures or income tax breaks for the exceedingly wealthy- you take it and like it, the smug bastard are certain you cannot do anything about it.

  3. what are the semantics behind your rating system? how can we trust the model that has given you these percentages?

  4. Una,
    you can check this every game in my ref review. I give the points and I also tell you why a decision is good or wrong.
    I even gave all the numbers in an article on 30 or 31 december of last year. You can find them if you click on the calender and look for december.

    And in fact my system is very mild for the refs. Even milder than the system that is used in Belgium. An example Dowd has not given 2 red cards which he should have given according to the rules and instructions last weekend. In my charts he loses one point for not giving a red card. The other red card should have been Nolan. Again one point.

    In Belgium if a ref does this (in this cased doesn’t give them) he loses 30% of his total for missing one red card. If he misses two red cards his maximum score can only be 40 % as he will have 2 x 30% taken from his maximum total points which is 10.

    As a result this leads to more protection to the players. We had one terrible incident last year with a broken leg from real dangerous play. The player got the red card and was banned for 10 games if I remember right. A player of the defending champion Standard it was. A Belgium international. So not a little boy that they punished. No, the Belgium Fa decided that such things should not belong on a football field and put out an example.
    And instructed the refs to act firm against such tackles. And the refs keep on doing it, much to my delight and much to the benefit of football in general.

    Compare this to the soft reaction in England where they call leg breaking people and give them a place in the national team and hardly punish them. In fact they punish him like the punished Diaby for his push at Barton.

  5. Can someone tell me why the worst refs gets the big games? I’m from Sweden and here Martin Hansson is our most incompetent ref and he got some big games. Thankfully I think his career ended when he screwed Ireland in the world cup qual. But before that he handed Porto a win against Arsenal in the CL. About them Belgium refs, I really like Frank De Bleeckere. He’s My favourite.

  6. walter,
    thanks to your articles i am spending quite a bit of time on the PGMOL site and i am glad to report dowd is twiddling his thumbs/counting his money this weekend!

  7. I’ve said elsewhere that the Uefa should seriously consider a system of exchanging refs with Europe to officiate in Epl games and vice versa. This should be no problem, bearing in mind modern travel and would lessen complaints of local favouritism.

  8. I think something is just wrong in the game when fans have to spend so much time analysing and worrying about referees. It wasn’t so bad earlier.. sigh…

    On the article itself, it really is suprising. Most of the bigger name referees are the ones that finish near the bottom on your list. Makes you wonder if that is exactly why they are the better known refs 🙂

  9. Maybe PGMOL should adopt a national testing level for officials and maybe (doubtful) FIFA would also adopt a similar measuring stick for National team play (including the World Cup). Just like in school, anything below passing would demote officials and officials can either be relegated to lower levels or formally sacked for incompetence/inability to do the job.

    Playing football should be about the efforts and skills of the players on the field and not be about bad officiating. For premier league games, there should be an officiating referee who is able to use advanced video technology (similar to instant replay) to review all red & yellow cards issued and also be able to overturn the decisions of the head referee when questionable or controversial decisions are made. This would level the dirty play on either team on the pitch. Said official could also initiate a red/yellow card on a player looking at all angles to determine offenses. We use this type of technology in American Football so the technology is there – its just a matter of PGMOL & EPL to choose fair play and adopt the advanced technology.

  10. Great article, and I dont mean to nit pick, but didn’t you mention that these are only from arsenal games. Can we still come to the same conclusion about them even though those are the scores from our games only? I can definitly believe it but still, we can’t continue to say refs are biased against us if we’re biased against them (even though one is a result of the other)

  11. Robby, you might find an answer in my next series. You should be able to pick one or more reasons…

  12. Walter

    hats off, great information, i just hope that somone somewhere is taking notice!!!

    Gazidis in particular, and making huge noises behind the scene.

    FA declared unfit for purpose today by last Chairman. Who is it that administers Refs, the FA!!!!

    What level do you ref at in Belguim.

  13. @arsene-al,
    there is a misconception that it is just us at arsenal that are bearing the brunt of the incompetence of the PGMOL teams sent out to various stadia every week, the efforts of untold raise awareness of the incompetence of these officials and what it costing in terms of our enjoyment of football, if you consider that week in week out,the very same officials somehow balls up, you have got to question why the EPL would risk it’s reputation and what sort of quality control they have in place- the structure seems sound enough and the refs and their assistants understand the rules, they are evaluated and trained regularly enough. before, at half time and after the match the refs meet with an assessor who evaluates their work and guides them on how to do better etc. however when you look at the calls each week you notice the most glaring incompetence, if the system is’nt working change it, if as we suspect it is working just fine FOR SOME AND NOT OTHERS then we need to let them know WE THE PUNTERS KNOW AND IT WONT DO!- all we ask is a level playing field- can you imagine if at wigan / newcastle the refs had actually done a reasonable job? or conversely whichever MAN U match you choose to name?(Bar Wolves). if you saw MOTD last weekend, it seemed to me that the crims were out in force, sunderland stoke was appalling!- I REMEMBER ONE GOAL WHERE THE KEEPER (GORDON)COULD’NT CATCH THE BALL B’SE HUTH WAS PULLING DOWN HIS ARMS!- OR DOWD DECIDING AFTER NEWCASTLE HAD SHIPPED FOUR GOALS HE WAS GOING TO BALANCE THINGS OUT A BIT?- the ref and his linesmen might miss all this in the heat of the moment but the assessor has the benefit of DVD’s etc and has time to let the ref know at the end of the game what he might have missed, considering all this is then sent off to PGMOL, why no sanctions against cheating/ incompetence? there is the stench of corruption and you don’t have to be an arsenal fan to want change, we as fans are treated like nitwits b’se we stand for it and the first step is just to wake people up to the fact that it is your hard earned and you want what you pay for!

  14. I really hardly can understand what is going on, I absolutely believe in your evaluation, of course let me say you can always take -5%, as as much as you hard try to be objective you are still Arsenal supporter,so lets say 5% discount for little subjectivity (though I believe its even less) what still gives horrific picture of refereeing in England.

    What even more worries me is that it is not just Arsenal games, obvious mistakes now can be seen on almost every game, and what surprises me they are done buy same people. Few refs who from week to week repeat same ones. So obviously FA don’t care.

    This situation reminds me a bit on situation in German football 5 years ago just before it collapsed. Collapsed in meaning of quality, look except rare episodes Bayern manage to get a bit further in CL, German teams dont play any important role in Europe.

  15. Great video Aaron. Thanks for making this and sharing this.
    I actually missed the attempted stamp on Szczesny from Nolan. He was bringing his foot down in an not natural angle in fact. Doing such things should bring a card out of the ref his pocket and this should be a red one. Damned even I missed it. Should lower his score even more..

  16. @Armin

    Yes, the quality in the Bundesliga collapsed. I understand that there have been convictions, with at least one referee admitting to gambling on results of matches he was refereeing.

    Something in English football really stinks at the moment and it’s going to knock the EPL off its perch and ruin it when it eventually gets blown into the open.

    I was a season ticket holder at Highbury from 1997 to 2003 and I have some fantastic memories from my time at the Clock End (cancelled my ticket when I got made redundant), but what we see happening now leaves a really foul taste in my mouth.

    It’s reached the point where I’ve stopped watching football on TV, the net or listening on the radio because I get the feeling it’s transforming into something as scripted as WWE wrestling.

    I hope i’m wrong but I’m a cynic by nature so I won’t hold my breath.

    Great work btw, I read your articles and found them all very interesting and most enlightening. Certainly made me think.

  17. @ Walter i should clarify that the stamp was actually best. Just the way the editing on sky as Szcz kicks the ball out for the foul against RVP for the ball hitting his head, it shows Nolan. So i should clarify that… Maybe i should re-edit the video slightly.

    One that really amazes me, is the tackle from Simpson on Whilshere. Gets none of the ball and all of Jack. Yes it was a foul but no card….? Jack did a 360 for goodness sake.

    But i just wanted to say that this video was from the great job you guys do here. After the ref review. I knew exactly how i wanted to show and edit the video. And one of the best points i thought you brought up.. which i can’t take any thing for was the fact Phil Dowd raises the whistle to blow and then doesn’t. I think that is a very telling point. Why raise the whistle to blow if you don’t think what Barton just did was wrong. But anyway thanks for watching it Walter.. It was in some way made for this blog and the fantastic refereeing job you do here.

    Some people have said i should send it into the FA.. with a little tightening it might be a good idea. Though not sure what is the best way to go around it?

  18. A great video but

    follow up the tackle on Arshavin, Diaby and Barton go in 50-50

    Barton jumps up and lands on Diabys ankle, then plays dead.

    The Ref (sorry to call him that) awards free kick to Barton. dad joke!!!!!!

  19. Great work Walter! Some refereering is simply due to incompetence but what about factors like pace and intensity of the English game v Belgium making the former harder to call? Also with English teams pushing defense line up high means patch of pitch is more crowded and therefore higher likelihood that ref line of sight is simply more often physically obstructed? E.g. watching other Eur league games often distance between defense lines means lower intensity and better line of sight for refs?

  20. I would have liked too followed it up. But there is nothing on the live television screening of the incident, apart from what you see there.. The close up doesn’t follow abou’s tackle. Now i have studied the video and honestly. It is difficult to really say if either of them are hurt in all honesty. Joe Barton holds his chest.. why i have no clue, nothing on his chest was touched. and Diaby holds his face not ankle. Also Barton lands more on the upper torso area than he does the lower. He might have caught him, but i cant honestly say he did.

  21. Walter great article again. Is it wrong to hope we would get Oliver in few matches (like ManIOU) I know that will never happen but still…

    Nicky I kind of like that idea of referees going other FA’s too. But I’m not sure that travelling around is that much easier. Well for lot of countries in EU it is apart England. I mean when I flew for the first time to London about 2 years ago (before I had travelled there with a ship, on which my father worked) before leaving airport I really was wondering if I had travelled back in time to early 1990’s and instead of England to Russia (those first years after Solviet Union turned to Russia). That is only thing I HATE when I go there.

  22. Today, on Arsenal-Mania, I asked the group who they thought the top 5 refs in England were. Only one fellow poster offered a name worthy of consideration, Clattenburg. I find this combination — your assessment and that of the poster I mentioned — as Arte Johnson used to say on “Laugh-In,” verrrry intereshting.

  23. @walter,

    I am reading this article and “The shocking figures that show the Premier League is bent” with great interest. I felt that untold needs to do something about it. There is obviously something fishy going on with the refs and Arsenal’s fixture.

    I have 2 qns: can untold bring the articles out to wider audience or even submit the articles to authorities?

    Also, I am very sure Arsenal board can sense the injustice as well. But why arn’t they not doing anything about it?

  24. @ugandan goon
    Don’t get me wrong something is definitly fishy, I can’t be more certain about that. And I had no clue they had assesors, its ridiculous they aren’t called out on these things or punished for such lousy calls. But what I was trying to say is this could be some amazing evidence if we also took into account how the refs perform against other teams. Walter has done an amazing job with this and it’s taken a lot of time, and I admire how unbiased most of the work done on this site is because people will take it far more seriously when they see how unbiased it is. Plus I also have a bit of a curiosity to see if any other clubs are also being screwed over by these refs, because its becoming more and more obvious that they’re keeping us from achieving things

  25. Walter great article. Its nice to see who scored the highest and Arsenal fans had no issues on the day with anything other than the team performance.
    I disagree with those who say Arsenal are treated the same as other teams and all this crap that it evens itself out, It does not. We are the only club with as many leg breaks in the last few seasons because of crap Ref decisions and lack of protection and its still going on you just need to look at our last game and what Barton was let away with or Essien injuring Diaby earlier in the season it was only a couple of games later he was banned for 3 games for the same thing.

    The more articles we see the worse it will look and the facts/stats wont lie.

  26. Maybe he wanted to blow against AA23 for fouling Barton then decides to give him the advantage after Diaby’s challenge.

  27. nice article, didn’t look into stats and rankings but agree with the general idea on deserving refs and non deserving refs playing in epl.

    Humty-dumty(fill down) can’t even run!! He takes so much space on the pitch, it baffles me.

  28. Was going through the PGMOL website, interesting to know that Andy D’Urso now handles League 1 matches. He was one of the worst referees of yesteryear in my book.

    Also have realized our friend Phil Dowd is not assigned any match this weekend, I hope he never officiates any game for Arsenal. Muppet!!

  29. aparantly the Tottenham game in the weekend was horrendousley refereed too. IT happends all over the PL. that is what is wrong. and it ruins the game. Im sure the authorities know, but does not know how to handle the problem. they are terrified. They can see their fat cash cow PL sliding down the drain and got no idea how to fix it. So they burry their head in the sand like an ostrich. Thats the sadness of it. I bet they reckon to milk as long as they can, cos the PL is to big a money spinner to stop, it may well never stop as the stakes are to high. I bet they wont do anything until they absolutley have to.
    And with the fans buying into the cliche of loving your team and all that(nobody loves their workplace, most just work to earn money,some have more fun jobs than others, but nobody would wanna die for arsenal just accept it). Anyway aslong as fans continiue to buy into this legend and purchase Sky boxes to watch their heroes, the show will go on.

  30. oh and i dont judge anyone. I am one of those fans, though i stream my matches i still love to watch Arsenal, dont think i could bare to boicott them just to prove a point about bent refs.

  31. Now maybe someone will get this: why has Platini refused video for the last 10 years?

  32. Please join and spread the word! Facebook:
    1 Million Members for Sacking of Referee Phil Dowd (Arsenal 4: 4 Newcastle)

  33. they should bring in Pierluigi Collina to teach our EPL ref’s how to run the business.

  34. @deadarsekid if so he would have raised his arms for an advantage being played, a referee basic. He didn’t so he obviously did not think Arshavin fouled Barton.

  35. Is there any correlation between poor results from Refs on a “regional” basis? Eg does Arsenal get Refs with poor scores from Northern Refs more than Southern Refs.
    Where are all these Refs from?
    Is there a Northern bias?

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