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By Walter Broeckx
60 games done. 60 games reviewed by our team of reviewers. And I would like to thank them for their hard work. And sometimes you get to see strange things. In the numbers. This time I would like to take a look at the offside decisions in all those games.
A few weeks ago a top guy from the FA said (flanked by former top ref Colina) that 98% of the offside decisions were correct in the EPL. Now I don’t know if the FA check each decision that is made and use the white line that is used on TV to see if the decisions are correct.
I do know how we check the offside decisions. We check them when we can check them. This means that I think 50% of the decisions go unchecked and are considered correct. Because what we can’t check is assumed correct. So if the TV doesn’t show a replay we think it is correct. In fact our system is very very soft for the refs in fact. Because most of the calls are just assumed correct.
But when they show replays we can check and then we can see how the decisions were. But remember this is only the case in half of the offside decisions. But when we make up the final numbers we count all the decisions together. Also those that we couldn’t check. And this leads to a final score in our reviewed games as shown in the table below.
|Offside decisions||Games||Correct decisions||Total decisions||%|
The first thing you see is the fact that we come to a number of 91,25% correct decisions after 60 games and the FA tells us the fairy tale of 98% correct. Who is fooling who? And then again think of the fact that of that 91,25% we have given 50% to the refs as correct because we couldn’t check them based on the video we had at our disposal. Just imagine what the number would have been if we could check all the decisions completely.
Of the 60 games we reviewed we had a number of 39 games with a 100% score of the offside decisions. In the other 21 games we had mistakes. That is in 35% of the games mistakes have been made by the assistants. Now I do act as an assistant myself on a very regular basis this season so I know how difficult it is. But I really wonder how many goals have been given or have been wrongly disallowed from those wrong decisions.
And as an assistant I follow the guideline that in case of doubt we should give the benefit of the doubt to the attacker. I wonder if this rule is also used in the EPL in every game? Maybe they could change it and give the striker a margin of doubt even before to raise the flag and then use video evidence to check if the striker was onside or not to give or cancel the goal? That would be revolutionary but would take a lot of pressure from the assistants and also they could keep the flag down in case of doubt and wait for what will happen. The ultimate “wait and see-rule”….
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In my work as an assistant the refs (the good ones) always tell me that they follow me on the offside calls we as assistants make. But I don’t know how this is done in the EPL. I sure hope the refs follow the assistants. In our ref reviews this is very important for the refs because we count the wrong decisions from the assistants on the bill of the ref himself. So bad linesman give low points to the ref.
When I checked the numbers of the offside decisions I also noticed that in all those 60 games we had 2 games where 50% of the offside decisions were wrong. That was the lowest score in the offside decisions in those games.
And if we take a look at those games we see a few similarities. The first one is …. the ref: Phil Dowd. Despite Dowd having high numbers so far this season he also has the record of the lowest offside decisions in his games. Twice a score of 50%. And when you have a score of 50% in some decisions as ref this is almost the same as tossing a coin to make a decision. There is one chance in two that it is heads or speaking in football terms one chance in two you made the right decision.
So how does it comes that it was twice Dowd who had such a poor offside record in those game? It couldn’t have been the assistants because we have checked them it was 4 different assistants in those 2 games. So there is my question: how does it comes that Dowd is “unlucky” in two occasions to have bad assistants? I will not mention the possibility that they got some instructions from the ref himself before the game how to flag and when not to flag? Oh, I just did.
But if we just assume that well it was a coincidence. We might look at those games. And then we see that the first game was Manchester United – Chelsea. MU won with 3-1 and 2 goals where clear offside goals. Okay lightning strikes sometimes. The total offside decisions to make was 4 and 2 were wrong.
And the other game was Manchester City – Arsenal. 6 decisions to make and 3 wrong. And one was the goal from Arsenal that was cancelled.
So we can see that both Manchester teams got 3 points in those games from wrong offside decisions against…2 London teams. And both under a Northern ref (if my geography is a bit what it used to be when I visited school a long time ago).
Does lightning strikes twice in the same city against visitors from the same part of the country? Well a London team better hide for the lightning when they visit Manchester and Phil Dowd is in charge.
“Making the Arsenal” – is available on Amazon, Arsenal on line, the Woolwich Arsenal site, and in the Arsenal store.
Follow us on Twitter @Untold Arsenal
Referees: the geographical bias