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July 2021

Atwell relegated by PGMO. So are Untold Ref Reviews on the right track?

By Walter Broeckx

Today the news came out that ref Stuart Atwell has been demoted from the PL referees and has been put back to the Football league. He was only 25 when he did his first game in the EPL, the youngest ref ever and now at 29 years he is put back down one class. This isn’t the end yet for him but it sure doesn’t look good for the rest of his career.

So when I read this I thought I would take a look at our numbers to see if he somehow deserved this relegation from the Premier league. And so we can see if what we are doing is somehow correct. In fact this is a blessing for our ref reviewing system to see if we are on the right track when assessing referees like we do. So here we go.

The first thing is that we only have covered 3 games of Attwell this season. One of those games I have seen live as it was our 1-0 win against Swansea early in the season. He was excellent on the day and had a high score of  80%. One of the best scores for a ref in Arsenal games.

He also did the games Arsenal – Wolverhampton and then his score was only 58%. So a big contrast one could say.  We also reviewed another of his games. Manchester United against Norwich and in this game he also got a rather low score with only 58%.

So not that much of data about this ref in our reviews so far. But nevertheless I think it is worth looking at where he made mistakes and if he has any good things to show. And I made a nice graphic about re Atwell and his most important scores.


So in this graphic we see the most worrying trend. The dark blue line is the score of the important decisions (goal, penalties, red and yellow cards) and this line is the bottom line. And in fact it should be the top line. Mind you not many ref have this line as their top line. But it is fair to say that this is the ref with the biggest difference between that line and the rest.

The overall decisions is much higher. And when we gave a bit of weight to his decisions he even got better points. This will be an indication that he usually was better in calling the fouls in the middle of the field and handing out yellow cards.

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But the bad thing about his performances in the 3 games we did was that he always had a lot of troubles with the important calls. And maybe this is the reason they put him back.

But if however we put him in a league table and this is based on the average points each ref has got until now we come up with this Referee league table:

Average score after 83 games
Nr, Ref Score Games






































































And then we see that Atwell is in place 12. But there are other refs who are behind him with even lower scores and they can stay in the EPL.

So I am not complaining that the PGMO is putting a ref back. If he is not good enough he has to go. But if Atwell is not good enough what about those others who have even lower scores? Why are refs like Probert still there? Or Walton? Why doesn’t the PGMO put them back?

I can accept that Rome wasn’t build in a day so you cannot put back 4 or 5 refs at the same time but we have seen that some of Atwell decision making is under par. The PGMO comes to the same conclusion so the hope is there that we also will be rid of some under performing refs in the summer.

The sad thing is that Atwell despite losing a few games under him (last year if I remember right) was not a ref that had a completely visible anti-Arsenal bias. Whilst others who have shown a clear anti-Arsenal bias in recent years and who have lower scored are still in the PL.


23 comments to Atwell relegated by PGMO. So are Untold Ref Reviews on the right track?

  • Jerry

    Finally able to see some PGMO changes! Just curious Walter, who is the next lowest on Important Decisions? Is it the same as the bottom 5 on the average calls list?

  • WalterBroeckx

    Jerry I will try to make another article about that. As I have 4 different tables.


    There are some differences in fact but I will leave it for the article

  • RedGooner

    Excellent article Walter.
    The only thing I might argue with is perhaps we could put 5 back at the same time 🙂
    Heck knows who ever gets promoted couldnt be much worse ……

    Here is a question for you did they promote anyone and if so who in his place or did they just decide that having less Refs than matches per week is the way to go and that we should all just get over the mistakes that come from having tired Refs.

    PS did you read the article about the Linesman in belgium nearly getting knocked out ?

  • WalterBroeckx


    Swarbrick and Moss are 2 new refs in the PL since this season. Both are +45 years old (I think) and I have nothing against people how have that age but this surely is not “the future” for refs I would think.

  • WalterBroeckx

    Yes it has been a bit of a hype in Belgium. It happened at a ground some 15 minutes from my home in fact.
    As is written in the article you can see something white flying against his head (ice??). Certainly not the card board that was help up by the player. That player who is a very nice diver and if he gets hit by a breathing defender goes down as if been hit by a freight train. So the wrong person to insinuate that the linesman made more of it than it was.

    I think even if it was the cardboard, I would have stopped play. You simply do not accept people throwing anything at the refs. Shout, abuse, but when something gets thrown its over and certainly when it hits them.

    Now if it would have been a bit of ice it can hurt like mad and with temperatures of -7 to -10°C it can hurt a lot. And you also don’t expect the impact so it can hurt you.

  • Frank Rizzo

    Atwell’s red card against Wolves following an overturned red v bolton (cahill) was probably the final nail in his coffin. That got huge press coverage.

  • Mahdain

    funny how attwell gets relegated while even worse refs are allowed to continue screwing teams in top division… they should have kicked out the likes of dowd,dean,webb,probet,foy and walton first but we all know that wont happen because they are all fergus disciples

  • bob

    Yes, that mendacious crew are meant to strew Red and Yellow rose petals along the path to Fergus XX. That Soap Opera unfolds…

  • Mahdain

    bob yeah sad as it may seems but thats the plan… with master riley at top fergus gets all his demands fulfilled

  • Norm

    So right, Mahdain. Who could be worse than Dowd, Dean, Mason, Webb, Walton & Probert? Relegation for these refs sounds a great move. Riley & Frigginson would be shafted for sure.

  • RedGooner

    Walter, Its great to see we had a contingency plan with two over 45’s promoted …..Still moving in the wrong direction I wonder how they were selected since we dont review the championship only time will tell.

  • Gooner Gal

    @ Walter great effort and presentation. If Atwell isn’t the worst, then it does beg the question why was he singled out for demotion.

    I wait for the day when a ref goes rogue and publishes a tell all book about the EPL. That would be a must read, best seller.

  • Kentetsu

    Walter, have you reviewed Attwell at any time during the 2010-11 season? During that season he made some high profile errors in matches not involving Arsenal. I believe Dogface once made a list in one of his Ref Previews.
    And as Frank Rizzo mentioned, the red card for Cahill against Spurs was probably the nail in the coffin.

  • DC

    Nice summary Walter.
    I think Frank Rizzo & Kenetsu are right; high profile errors that are publicised and highlighted in such clear terms are usually the cause for demotion. Cumulative smaller errors do not seem to be considered as clear incompetence – hence the anti-arsenal & pro-SAF officiating remains well represented in the EPL!
    Progress and change is slow but will happen.

  • Bad news for Chelsea… they did rather well out of Attwell.

  • Dah – not Attwell – Atkinson, I always get thouse two mixed up. Attwell is as random a referee as I’ve ever seen, no idea how he got into the select group in the first place.

  • bob

    Obviously it’s hard to know if this was a football ruling or his problems on the pitch were the excuse to relegate him for other reasons? Perhaps Atwell is being made an object lesson. (What’s his age, btw?) Maybe his lapses into Competency came (or threaten to be there) at the wrong time for Plan Fergus XX? I didn’t read the Norwich/ManUre review (0-2 result), so not clear on what did/did not happen there that might not have been to Don Fergus’s liking. Or that somehow, he proved too independent (in his Arsenal result, for example) for the Hives of Riley; that he thus was not sufficiently on board in this key way to be trustworthy enough. Perhaps this demotion is meant to teach him and others a lesson in what it is to be sufficiently on board? And, after due penance, he will be restored to the Holy 17.

    Surely intermittent competence/incompetence seems more the apparent (I say apparent) rule, rather than the exception; and so, Atwell would seem to have been often within the Pale; but not reliably within the Pale to be counted on when it mattered? No way to know for sure, as nothing is transparent in the PGMO/FA, by intention. In any case, to invoke the Bard: all’s not well that Atwell.

  • walter

    We had one win and a draw under Atwell this season. He is 29 years old for the moment.

  • WalterBroeckx

    Bob, some interesting questions. 😉

    He made mistakes and most of them the important one. I don’t have enough information about him (from the last seasons) to see if the had any openly bias against some top team up north…

  • Rhys Jaggar

    Ultimate question is what should be regarded as a ‘par score’ for the referees.

    Looks to me like 70% is about right.

  • bob

    I don’t see it as only about 70 per cent (which, btw, I think has been the UA ref reviewers consensus bottom line for acceptability). We also must link and hugely weight game-changing calls and non-calls that cannot simply be subsumed into the 70 per cent. Even a rare 90 per cent score would pale if in the 10 per cent wrong calls were 1-3 game changers. I’m just saying the obvious, but it needs to be said nevertheless.

  • Dave Right

    @ Walter
    Atwell presided over Arsenal v Bolton in September 2010. He made a number of major errors in favour of Bolton, so much so that MOTD for whatever reason did not include them in their ‘highlights’. Hence this video …

  • goonermichael

    I love your site. It seems obvious that there is something very dodgy going on. I met Atwell recently and he seems like a nice bloke. His girlfriend is a gooner!