Half the penalties in Arsenal matches were wrongly given. The ref review of the season – 1

The final ref review of the season – Part 1

By Walter Broeckx

First of all I will start to give you all the results the refs have had this season on the important decisions. For the new and not regular readers this is a score on 100 when it comes to Cards, Penalties, Goals and Others. And the others is decisions that had to be taken or that have consequences on other decisions. For instance seeing a foul that should lead to a yellow or a red card. Seeing the foul is one thing for the ref, giving the right card is another thing.

But lets us move to the refs themselves and their points and  here we have all the refs and their points we had in English competitions  this season. And this review (and the one that will folow)  is based on 50 games we played in English competitions this season.

Game Ref cards penalty goals other total
Liverpool – Arsenal Atkinson 66   100   83
Arsenal – Blackpool Jones 50 100 100   83
Blackburn – Arsenal Foy 50   100 17 56
Arsenal – Bolton Atwell 50 75 100 50 68
Sunderland – Arsenal Dowd 57 66 100 30 50
CC Tottenham – Arsenal Lee Probert 71 100 80 0 75
Arsenal – WBA Oliver 87 100 100 50 88
Chelsea – Arsenal Dean 28 50 50 14 30
Arsenal – Birmingham Atkinson 50 100 100 60 68
Man City – Arsenal Clattenburg 100 100 100 50 93
Newcastle – Arsenal CC Mariner 60 100 100 0 62
Arsenal – West Ham Jones 66 50 100 16 50
Arsenal – Newcastle Dean 83   100 0 60
Wolverhampton – Arsenal Halsey 60   100 54 61
Everton – Arsenal Webb 33 100 66 33 46
Arsenal – Tottenham Dowd 50 33 85 50 59
Aston Villa – Arsenal Clattenburg 67 50 83 0 66
CC Arsenal Wigan Atkinson 42 67 100 60 58
Arsenal – Fulham Foy 0   66 55 40
Man Utd – Arsenal Webb 60 0 100 0 40
Arsenal – Chelsea Clattenburg 71 50 100 72 75
Wigan – Arsenal Probert 66 0 75 10 29
Birmingham – Arsenal Walton 50 0 100 37 44
Arsenal – Man City Jones 80 0   62 64
FA cup Arsenal – Leeds Dowd 53 100 100 90 83
CC Ipswich – Arsenal Atkinson 67   100 67 71
West Ham – Arsenal Mariner 100 100 100 50 82
FA cup Leeds – Arsenal Dean 75   75 63 69
Arsenal – Wigan Friend 28 50 100 66 59
CC Arsenal – Ipswich Halsey 60 100 100 78 78
FA cup Arsenal – Huddersf Clattenburg 66 100 66 71 71
Arsenal – Everton Mason 46   66 46 47
Newcastle – Arsenal Dowd 37 50 80 0 41
Arsenal – Wolverhampton Foy 29 0 100 63 50
FA cup Leyton – Arsenal Friend 60 100 100 75 75
Arsenal – Stoke Walton 38 0 100 62 55
CC Arsenal – Birmingham Dean 33 50 100 44 48
Arsenal – Sunderland Taylor 56 0 0 64 55
fa CUP Arsenal – Leyton Orient Mason 67 100 100 83 83
FA cup mu – Arsenal Foy 25   100 40 45
WBA – Arsenal Atwell 60 100 100 80 81
Arsenal – Blackburn Dowd 43 100 0 67 58
Blackpool – Arsenal Mason 100 60 100 100 88
Arsenal – Liverpool Mariner 83 33 100 50 59
Tottenham – Arsenal Atkinson 60 50 85 80 73
Bolton – Arsenal Jones 33 0 100 89 55
Arsenal – Man Utd Foy 67 0 100 80 64
Stoke – Arsenal Halsey 50 100 100 33 55
Arsenal – Aston Villa Oliver 56 0 100 14 45
Fulham – Arsenal Atkinson 66 100 100 75 83
    cards penalty goals other total
Total   2855 2434 4377 2350 3121
Overall % correct decisions   57,10 48,68 87,54 47,00 62,42

So here we have the total numbers of the important decisions in the EPL when it comes to games of Arsenal.

When it comes to cards you can say that half of them are correctly awarded.  And as well known cards are very important in a game. A red card can unbalance to a team a lot. Or not giving a card when a player makes a dangerous tackle can bring harm to a player and could lead to him being less fit after that. So it is important for a ref not only to see certain fouls but also keep an eye on when you must give a card and certainly when it comes to red cards.

If we take a look at penalties we see that not even half of the decisions are right. One out of two penalties are wrong. I think we all can think of some penalties that went against us in the season where you could wonder if the ref was blind or not competent.  Of course this also includes the penalties that should have been given  by the ref but when the ref decided to not give it.

As penalties are very important (even more important than cards) in a game it is absolutely something that should be looked after. The FA and the PGMOL (if they really are interested in bringing the refs to a higher level) should do something about it. Video evidence is one solution for this. But yes we know how the authorities think about that. Like the refs in some countries who are asking for such assistance for years without their Football Associations helping them out. So the refs who want to bend a game will have all the power they have to continue to do this in the future I’m afraid.

Let’s move to maybe the most important number: the goals.  When we have 10 goals in a game roughly 1 is wrong given or cancelled out wrongly. And again I think this is too much. Goals are the things that decide a game so it is absolutely vital that everyone does all they can to make sure that there are no goals wrongly disallowed or wrongly  given. Again the simplest solution looks to be video evidence. But again the persons who have the power are allergic to such a solution. For some reason they want to keep the power of the ref on the field as total.

Also in the table where I noted the record of the “other” decisions the score is very low.  Only half of these decisions were correct.  I think this is a terrible score for a league that is the best in the world.

And so the overall average scores of all the refs in the EPL is around 62%. This means that when a ref has to make 10 decisions in a game only 6 of them are correct in fact. I think this is dramatic. It is unacceptable in fact.

In Belgium this would mean that you are not fit enough to do games in the Jupiler league. What will the PGMOL do about this low score? Well if you know what they are going to do something about it please let me know.

As far as I have seen the only thing they ask is for all and everyone to just shut up about it.  And this is one thing we at Untold will certainly not do.

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39 Replies to “Half the penalties in Arsenal matches were wrongly given. The ref review of the season – 1”

  1. The figures clearly show that something is amiss with English “top” referees. And we all know what the PGMOL will do to rectify the problem: diddly squat. The only way they manage to get a 62% average is because the goal decisions brings up the average a lot – and even this at 88% reflects poorly on the referees decisionmaking. 12% of the goals wrongly disallowed or awarded. In a recordhigh goalscoring season (1063 goals) this means over 120 goals wrongy awarded!
    Thank you Walter for the insighful stats. A long season of hard work yields some interesting results. Thanks to all the UA contributors for their contribution to this site and for giving me a place to read interesting and overall positive articles and comments about Arsenal.

  2. EPL plezzzz get rid of old referees cz thy r disc race for the best league in the world. big fat (dowd) , ANTI arsenal (oliver) and this guy is the most one who pesses me off

  3. In a next article I will go digging a bit deeper to find out who made the mistakes. And if there are any refs out there whom we can thank at the end of the season.

  4. I read the heading of the article and my reaction was something which is well… not polite. Seriously upset with the standard of refereeing in the league. Frustratingly, many people just accept it as ok because “every team faces it”. On the plus side, apart from on Untold, there have been a few articles on mainstream sites about match fixing and the potential for problems for football. One thing I do know is that if this sort of thing happens next season, I will switch off. I’d rather not watch a ‘sport’ where everything is fixed from before.

  5. Well done Walter & co. You are a real pleasure to follow as not many supporters really understand the subtleties of a referees effect on a result.

    I would estimate that less than 80% of supporters have read the Laws of the game and probably less than 50% of players. I would suggest that all supporters are given (emailed) a copy of the Laws of the game at the start of the season with the referees guide so that they can see the blatant bias that exists.

    It is quite amazing how many commentators use the term ‘he got a piece of the ball’ as a reason a foul has not been comitted. A foul can be comitted even if the ball is touched and this needs to be explained to supporters.

    The use of hands – in holding or pulling back are fouls and should be addressed as the game begins to deteriorate if ignored. Watch the two teams that do it most – they play in the Champions League Final!!!!

  6. I can see that the total % is taken on an average of match % figures… it might be more revealing to have the numbers of correct and incorrect given for each match as the 0% figure could mean that 5 penalties were incorrect or 1 penalty was incorrect for that match – if you understand?

    So I would rather see the total number of penalties given correctly and incorrectly for each match and the calculation based on that… the figures will probably shake out similar.

    Other than that – great work Walter!

  7. A casual observr,
    I have done something like that in another article. Look for it in the next days.

  8. it seems that arsenal supporters must just get used to our 11 gunners battling 12 (or is that 14) every week! Come on Arsenal!!

  9. Did the linesmen give the pens or did the ref???????
    We have to be very specific now.

  10. It’s frustrating when you see all the stats laid out in front of you! I agree video technology would help tremendously, but we know the FA wouldn’t do anything! Another option for the FA could be to add 2 more refs for each game (1 behind each goal) who’s only job is too decide on goals and penalties. But then they would have to hire more refs, since I believe in one of the past articles you said they have only 16 or 18 refs for all the games! Just 1 recommendation:

    1. Posting a link before or after the table to a page that lists only all the ref reviews for newer/casual viewers. (Ideal would be hyperlinking from the table for each game, but I think that’ll be too much of a pain in the butt for you guys. People can click an extra link to see the ref reviews). I know the index is there which links to all the articles, but I think a link with just the ref reviews would be cleaner for this segment of the website.

  11. How do these shocking statistics compare with the same studies done for other clubs?

  12. Adam from 2:29, if you know of any studies done by other clubs please let us know.
    As far as we know none have been done.
    But next season we will try to cover more clubs and teams. If possible all teams but that maybe would be reaching at the stars….?

  13. Great work Walter.
    Even though we lived through it all season long its still amazing to see just how much injustice was done by the Mike Reilly gang. I wouldnt call them Referees just “The Mike Reilly Gang”
    Even Arshavin said he thought no matter what we did we couldnt win this league that the season conspired against us so I guess the players felt it also.

  14. This article is a proof that

    I have cut this, but in reality this post is proof that there are always people who don’t read the general regs on a site before posting. Ah well.


  15. Trolls do not understand irony when they accuse others of indulging in jibber jabber.

  16. I appreciate the work that goes into producing analyses like this one. Like Adam, I hope you can provide some comparative data for other clubs in the future. I also wonder if you have considered representing your data in some other ways. For example, this table presents a chronological sequence, but reordering the outcome variable (tota) from best to worst might raise some interesting questions. In addition, it might be meaningful to look at segments of the season (e.g., quartiles)? Finally, have you considered using any of the visual data websites such as http://www.many-eyes.com?

  17. An amazing amount of work you have done there Walter and I’m completely flabbergasted how these so called referees can get away with this week in and week out. Mind you there are also linos that obviously need a pair of glasses, I’m thinking of the one that couldn’t see Vidic’s handball. The best referee we had this season is the Italian (his name escapes me)at the Emirates against Barca. Absolutely brilliant. Now why can’t why have an exchange of referees from different countries, it can’t be that difficult to arrange. Mind you I pity the country that ends up with some of our referees.

  18. @shard: I know you know, but switching off doesn’t change or pressure to change things…so, let’s put all our good minds together once Walter’s reports and a visual or two come in?

  19. In Scotland last winter the referees got fed up with the flak they were taking and they threatened to strike. The net result was humiliation for Scottish football authorities. We can be very sure that the English authorities will do everything in their power to avoid anything similar. We know from Walter and d-f’s work that there are already few enough referees available. This gives the refs the whip-hand. As a result, look at the Newcastle-Arsenal game. Dowd (and the other officials too I recall) were so bad that mere incompetence alone cannot explain the extent of their crime. Result? He (and I think the others too) were suspended for one week, i.e. the same effect as a second bookable offence for a player. But done quietly, with no public acknowledgement that they’d been sanctioned. Even now the authorities won’t confirm that their gardening leave the following Saturday was a ban. Because they’re too afraid that the little darlings will sulk. And for me that is why the answer to your question about what they will do about it, is that they are too afraid to do anything, so they will do everything they can to pretend that there is not a problem.

  20. Let the refs sulk & throw their toys out the pram, we’re better off without them and I think Walter has proved the quality of refs in other euro countries is far higher than here. Don’t EU regs allow freedom to work anywhere within the european union? Why can’t we ship out the useless lot we have here and get some european talent in? I’m sure AW would approve, it doesn’t matter where you’re from etc 🙂

  21. @Shard:

    Arsenal is the only reason I watch the PL at all at this point, but so long as they seem to be making an honest fight of it, I’ll keep supporting them, even if the league is bent.

    But I do wonder to what extent the PL is already losing revenue due to declining marketability as a result of suspicions that the league isn’t truly competitive. Aside from direct suspicions of match-fixing, an anti-competitive league will suffer in terms of the quality of football it produces.

    The PL does seem to be seriously attempting to market overseas, and as someone who comes from a more neutral perspective, I have to say that the football the league produces isn’t very entertaining, for the most part. Compared to La Liga and the Bundesliga, the PL teams tend to look like a bunch of bored millionaires running around. Arsenal is an obvious exception to that. Blackpool was too, but now they’ve been relegated (sigh).

    I would say that Serie A is the only league that’s similar to the PL, in terms of the current low entertainment levels of its football. And interestingly enough, Serie A is a league that has also been subjected to serious allegations of corruption in recent years. I don’t know…Not trying to pick on the PL here, but it’s just what I’ve observed.

  22. @Walter:

    I think it would be great if you could expand to cover more teams this year, although I’ve often wondered how it is that you even find time to cover Arsenal in this much detail!

    In an earlier thread, there was a lot of discussion about the kind of “evidence” that would be needed to truly establish bias in the league. If I had had time to reply to that thread, what I would have said was that you would need to do this type of ref analysis for every club.

    In a fair league, there would still be a certain level of incorrect/adverse decisions by referees, but an analysis of the entire league would show a pattern of (more or less) random dispersal of those decisions distributed evenly between the teams. In a bent league, on the other hand, you would see patterns start to turn up, in terms of the teams affected, the timing of the decisions in relation to score lines, position in the table, and against particular opponents, etc.

    I’m already confident that such an analysis of the PL would turn up suspicious patterns, and not just in relation to Arsenal, but the hurdle to establishing such a conclusive statistical analysis is the time and manpower that it would take to do it. Obviously, you guys can’t do the whole league, but maybe it would be possible to work out some sort of statistical sample of representative teams…

    Of course, I wouldn’t blame you at all for not having the time to expand your analysis. I’m already in awe of the amount of work you do just in relation to Arsenal. I wish there was some way I could help, but unfortunately I’m not really qualified for something like this. 🙁

  23. What took our two bloggers Tony and Walter so long to work out
    why Arsenal couldn,t win the Premiership and why Trash.United did, dubious penalties awarded against Arsenal,like the farcical
    penalty vs Liverpool the two vs Newcastle but nothing awarded to Arsenal at the Emirates when Vidic deliberately handled the ball with van Persie about to head it in to the Trash.United net, a straight red card three matches automatic suspension but not seen by the ref. or his linesmen,rather obvious that Vidic
    couldn,t be allowed to miss the last three matches of the season or the deliberate Dunne penalty on Ramsey vs Villa the disallowed Chamakh header vs Stoke when noone else saw anything
    that seemed to change the refs. mind and other dubious penalties
    awarded against Arsenal but not against
    Trash.United who had to win the Premiership at all cost to b eat Liverpool,s 18 titles rather obvious isn,t it ?

  24. Walter
    Excellent analysis. BUT you really must put the following numbers.
    1. Number of penalty decisions (total for the season)
    2. Number of correct penalty decisions (season)
    3. Number of incorrect penalty decisions (season)
    4. Number and % in favour of Arsenal
    5. Number and % in favour of the opposition

    The above analysis seems to show incompetent referees, but if the numbers are heavily weighted (errors) against Arsenal (as I suspect) then that is a totally different matter.

  25. @Walter:

    I’m serious when I say that I wish there was something I could do to help this site. I really do have such admiration for the work that you guys do here. But I’m not a ref, and I don’t have any real expertise in football other than I like to watch it a lot (obsessively, according to my husband 🙂 ).

    Is there any kind of generic research or anything I could do that would help you guys out? Because I am good at research. I know someone was saying something on an earlier thread about finding out where PL refs were from originally. I don’t know…I guess if there’s anything I can do I would just like to help.

    Btw, I would have said all this on the “what’s wrong w/ untold” thread, but I seem to have missed it.

  26. Are there any University maths departments who would like to help? I would say Walter- that if you extend this work to include other teams- ManU should be the first. They won the title this year because of ref help to them -as much as hinderence caused to Arsenal. It is my belief they are ‘sponsored’ because of the vast amounts they owe banks and of cause what they generate for the Prem/FA/Sky axis. Citeh have no debts and will challege ManU next year. Expect them to get shafted along with Chelsea and Arsenal. Thanks for all your diligence this season.

  27. Anne
    Research on the Refs would be excellent. I think the refworld.com website is a good starting point for their names and profiles. I read somewhere that there are NO southern England refs in the “elite” pool, which if true is very strange.

  28. @jbh:

    I actually already found that website. Before I even said anything about helping to find background info on refs, I did a quick check to see if that kind of info seems to be readily available. It does. I would be more than happy to compile the stats if they would be useful to anyone.

    I’m guessing that more detailed info on particular refs would be available as well, to the extent that it’s needed. Like I said, I’ll be happy to help if I can. But the downside is, in the time it would take to put something like that together, no one would be checking the relevant comment thread anymore. I would have to post off-topic, which I hate to do 🙂

  29. @Jerry: I do not think additional referees are going to make much/any difference. I believe the extra officials for European matches at times even contribute to more incorrect calls. They might be just as incompetent or biased as most EPL refs. I am not sure, though, how this UEFA experiment is folding out, because I don’t watch much European football. A start time of 3:45AM hampers my productivity at work, although that was certainly worth it for watching Arsenal beat Barcelona. The only way forward to me is the introduction of video technology. The sooner the better.

  30. Walter, Dogface –

    For the article quantifying refereeing bias, where was the data obtained from? Can I get my hands on a copy of the official log book?

  31. @bob

    Actually, if the same amount of people are protesting, even armed with data, or the same amount of people publicly say they will not watch, I think it’ll be the latter who will bring about change faster. But of course, that is only theoretical. In practice we have to take constructive steps.

    The only thing that makes watching the EPL more exciting is the crowd noise. You don’t get that in Spain. Italy is just a tactical battle mostly. The most fun league to watch though is the German League. Fast paced, great crowds, goals galore. Much like the EPL with worse defending, but much better refereeing. Besides it is well managed financially. If UEFA seriously apply the FFP rules then it’ll be the Germans that dominate.

  32. @Anne
    At the bottom of the home page it says….
    “Write for Untold Arsenal

    We really do welcome writers who have a positive view of the Wenger revolution, or who have something new to say about any of the topics that we regularly cover – all listed above. Just email your idea to Tony.Attwood@aisa.org or send in the whole article as a Word file attached to an email”

    So if you want to put some stats together you can send it in and they will consider it.

  33. Fair football is gone, now the man in charge of the game looks like he’s trying to entertain the crowd, make it more dramatic for everyone (Dowd anyone? Well the Geordies were all smily faces after that game because they didn’t give a shite whether the game was unfair, the main point for them was that their team scrambled to a dramatic draw). I’m not sure whether it is trash united’s 19th title, corruption or plain stupidity of the refs, but they seem to be taking the piss out of Arsenal. “Arsenal think they play entertaining football like the Spanish, well the refs will make sure it will be entertaining for both sections of the crowd”. How come Arsenal are part of the circus games? Well it might be a different philosophy (pundits saying they love to watch Arsenal, best football in the country?), that doesn’t mean the FA particularly like it, they prefer trash united’s style of game. Just remember who ended Arsenal 49 league games unbeaten run in 2004? Who pinched Arsenal to the title in 2008? 2011? Weird things going on, but somehow everyone fancies the mancs, but Arsenal are long forgotten losers who just became part of the refs entertaining circus business which for me sounds like “every English team can beat the french faced spanish playing Arsenal because we said so, cause we are the refs and trash united is the only team which deserves credit cause they are better than Liverpool”.

  34. “Just remember who ended Arsenal 49 league games unbeaten run in 2004?”

    Via a penalty, awarded when Rooney dived, awarded I believe by Mike Reilly.

    Great articles, Walter. Wish there were 19 clones available to analyze each club’s experience. Results would be fascinating and probably very revealing.

  35. “Just remember who ended Arsenal 49 league games unbeaten run in 2004?”

    I’m sure it’s Mike Reilly. First, he didnt send off Ferdinand, the last defender, for grabbing down Freddie when he’s clean through on goal. Then he gave penalty to Unishit for rooney’s dive.

    And now, Reilly is the head of PGMOL. No surprise.

    Thanks Walter n Co. for this review. There are just too many strange things happened to our Arsenal this season

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