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July 2021

Best Football Fairy tale ever, told by the refs for the refs

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By Walter Broeckx

Things are getting interesting as the PGMOL are coming out with some numbers of their own. As was written in this article  in the Daily Mail

In the article they talk about the rise in speed and the fitness of the referees. Those are things that are monitored by Prozone. Prozone once answered my questions on this and they said that they looked after the fitness of the refs and looked at the statistics about how much they run. They say that the game has become 20 per cent faster in the last 5 years. And who are we not to believe this.

And then comes the for us more important part of the article. The part about getting the decisions right. And first of all the PGMOL has confirmed that their match delegates give points to the refs and check their decisions. So this question finally is answered now: we know the PGMOL does something similar to what we at Untold do.

And then the PGMOL is telling us and I quote from the article: “But PGMOL believe that, for the most part, the professional refs are getting the ‘major  decisions’ right. Statistics compiled by the match delegates claim referees get 92.3 per cent of those calls right with results for assistant referees even better; a staggering 99.3 per cent.

So what are we complaining about here at Untold some might say. Look at the numbers from the PGMOL they say 92.3% is correct. And the assistants get 99.3% correct. Okay Walter tell us your numbers. And lo and behold you will get my numbers in a second.

But first and maybe the PGMOL should clarify this a bit is what are “major decisions”. For us at Untold we think major decisions are : Goals (obvious), penalties (also obvious), red cards (obvious) and yellow cards. And then you get the fouls themselves which lead to the 4 categories themselves. Because if you don’t see the foul that should be punished with a red card you cannot give the red card itself.  So this is what we at Untold count under “major decisions” and maybe next time around when the PGMOL tries to tell us what a great job they do, they could be more specific about what they think is a major decision.

But let us take the bull by the horns and look at the numbers we at Untold gathered this season. AND VERY IMPORTANT NOTICE NOW: TO PREVENT PEOPLE SAYING WE ARE BIASED BECAUSE WE ARE ARSENAL SUPPORTERS WE ONLY INCLUDED AND COUNTED THE NUMBERS FROM THE GAMES WITHOUT ARSENAL INVOLVED! Sorry but had to put this a bit in the spotlight.

So the numbers you will see have nothing to do with Arsenal. The numbers you will see are based on 68 games in the EPL so far this season. And this is what we got from our reviews

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Major decisions % correct
Total Major decisions correct 67.70%

So the questions is what did they count? Just the goals? Because that is the only number that comes near. So let us assume they only take major decisions like goals in  their count. This means that still 1 goal in 10 is wrong! And that is almost the same number as we come up with. And we think that this number should be around 99,9% of the goals should be correct. Not in the low 90ties or in the high 80ties like we found in our numbers. I still think this is unacceptable.

And if we would consider the other decisions we end up with not even 6 out of 10 penalty decisions being correct. And if we take it all together we would see only 67,70 % as correct. Now that is a big difference between the nice shining PGMOL numbers and ours. And again I point at the fact that these numbers have nothing to do with Arsenal games and so no bias from the part of the ref reviewers would have a big impact on our numbers.

If we take a look at the offside decisions and the fact that the PGMOL claims that 99,3% are correct we look at our numbers and we see that only 87.68% are correct in non Arsenal games. And as I have said before when we doubt we assume the decision correct and we can not even check half of the decisions most of the time.

But credit must be given because first of all I think it is great that the PGMOL has come out in the open with some numbers. And maybe we at Untold have done our bit to force the PGMOL to come out with some numbers. In the article they mention that they have to contend with new social media like twitter. And maybe they have spotted us on twitter. And for those who follow twitter a bit they will have seen that there are a number of people talking about referees and people waiting for our reports at Untold.  So maybe the internet revolution has forced them to try and come out with something. That is good news and shows that they get influenced by this.

My second thought is that in this article they first talk about Prozone and that is a company that sells data to the PGMOL. So the data of Prozone will be correct as they also give data to the football clubs about how much players run. And then they go on and bring up numbers but those numbers ARE NOT PRODUCED BY PROZONE. I know this because Prozone has confirmed a while back that they only look at the fitness levels of the referees not at the decisions itself.

So the numbers about the correct decisions are from the PGMOL itself. So is this an attempt to silence people like us a bit and bring some good news about what a jolly good bunch of referees we have and that all is good and well at the FA and the PGMOL?  Would you  believe it when you walk in to a Burger King (can I get one for free next month?) or a Mc Donald or whatever and they say that they have 3 Michelin stars? You would say: get lost. And then if they would say: We have done a study and checked ourselves and we are certainly worth all 3 Michelin stars. I think you would have a laugh.

But in a way this is what they PGMOL is doing right now. They control their own refs and then come out and saying we get 92.3% correct in the games. But they don’t tell us which decisions it is about. They don’t tell us how they did the surveys. And most of all they don’t give us any evidence about how they came to these numbers. Can we check them? No we cant. Can you check the Untold numbers? Yes you can.  Can we see in which game according to the PGMOL a mistake was made? No we can’t. Can you see in which game a mistake was made at Untold? Yes you can.

So what we get here is an organisation that has no openness at all on how they work and on how they do things. An organisation that is lead by persons who have their own not so glorious past in the business. And they just come out with one (okay two) numbers and tell us: all is fine and well when it comes to refereeing in the EPL. So be a good boy, go to bed now, close your eyes and have sweet dreams.

Sorry my friends of the PGMOL, it doesn’t work that way you know. Only when you come out with all the files open I could believe you. Time to open up completely so the people can see themselves how you did get to those numbers. And if you don’t do this your numbers are worth not much. So I find your numbers hard to believe without any evidence. I don’t believe in fairy tales any more.

45 comments to Best Football Fairy tale ever, told by the refs for the refs

  • Andy Kelly

    Maybe in all the games that Untold didn’t review, the refs and their assistants got every decision 100% correct (although I think that they would have had to get the red cards about 350% correct!).

    Then again we may see a protestant as pope and David Beckham as the next king of England.

    Seriously, it was a good idea to leave out the Arsenal games as it means you can’t be accused of bias.

    Anyone know a well known football journo that we could get on our side?

  • Sammy The Snake

    92.3% correct decisions, and my grand mother flies!

  • Fantastic work Walter.

  • WalterBroeckx

    Sammy, I think I just saw her passing my window and I sit around 8 meters high 😉

  • WalterBroeckx

    Andy Kelly,

    a whole season I have made life difficult for myself and made separate tables of the Arsenal games, the other games and then all the games together. A lot of double work at times but man was I glad today I did it that (may I say MY 😉 ) way.

  • Eeek – I could have generated this for you from the database like that *click* – need any figures give me a heads up next time and I’ll get whatever you need man.

  • WalterBroeckx

    Oh, but I have them in my database and keep them up to date after each game.
    I’m much too curious to wait for you Dogface… I want it now.. 😉 In those things I’m like the AAA you could say

  • Shakabula Gooner

    Fantastic Walter! Fantastic Untold!!

    Guess who is harassing or forcing PGMOL through the hoops?

    There is no more proactive blog out there that is engaging the game at such multiple fundamental levels as Untold irrespective of what Rhys may think or write.

  • Arun

    Just read the comments on the article . It gives a hint that there are other people who believe that refs are not ‘as good as they should be’.

  • Arvind

    Super awesome stuff Walter. Red cards is 16.92%. Hilarious.

  • *sigh* Walter… a spreadsheet is not a database – oh never mind. As requested – I’ve just generated your latest RefReview HTML tables from my database (try doing that in Excel).


  • RedGooner

    PGMOL = Dillusional

    Sad to see they would still rather try and cover up just how bad the performances of Refs have been rather than try and improve the game with better performances on the pitch.

    To busy river dancing I guess.

  • WalterBroeckx

    Maybe their practicing together as Morris dancers and Mike Riley is the piper…you know the one that calls the tunes…

  • WalterBroeckx

    Dogface, isn’t it?

    I admit I can’t beat you on working what whatever it is called (playing safe now 😉 )

  • WalterBroeckx

    I have just advertised this website a bit 😉

  • Arun

    @ Walter, I saw what you did there. 🙂

  • deep

    please add search tags for all teams reviewed so that articles reach a wider audience. and thanks a lot, great work.

  • ak47

    great work, brick removal at its finest.

    the day when vid tech and unbiased refs gets here i will be very happy whilst watching captain jack hoist the sails.

  • ak47

    ooh arrrgghh

  • nicky

    Relax a bit from your righteous campaign and please tell me how to produce your smiley…..before I go mad with envy.

  • Dan T

    Oh dear. That truely is a terrible cover-up attempt for their incompetence.
    How can they be allowed to operate in this way? It makes no sense to regulate yourself in this way. That is like a company saying they have 99.9% customer satisfaction but having never asked a customer if they were satisfied.

    You can’t just make up your own figures. The referees need to be regulated by an outside body using transparent criteria on what they are rating the referees on and in what areas the mistakes are being made.

  • jetwalcott

    Thatz what we call ‘super fantastically fantabrutal’ blogging.,walter..Can they (PGMOL) explain where they got this misleading and skewed numbers from?hahahaha…fantastic one there,..LOL

  • Dan T

    @ Walater – Perhaps they are swaying their figures by using every action that happens on the pitch?

    Arteta passes to Song – nothing wrong there – 1 point to ref
    Song passes to Ramsey – nothing wrong there – 1 point to ref
    Ramsey passes to Arteta – Nothing wrong there – 1 point to ref
    Arteta passes to RVP – Nothing wrong there – 1 point to ref
    RVP has a wide shot – Nothing wrong there – 1 point to ref
    Goal kick – nothing wrong there – 1 point to ref
    Vermaelen heads ball – nothing wrong there – 1 point
    Arteta passes to Song – nothing wrong – 1 point
    Song to RVP – nothing wrong there – 1 point
    Ade stamps on RVPs face, nothing given – wrong – 0 points

    Well done ref 9/10 decisions correct.

  • bob

    Super, Walter!

    Their USE of Prozone clouds public understanding because it looks like an appeal to a neutral arbiter when (a) Prozone and PGMOL have a long-standing commercial relationship and (b) (as you state) they are not using Prozone statistics and (c) after all, statistics rule, don’t they.

    Attention also needs to be paid as to the circulation of their 99% accuracy claim. This claim is circulated by the Daily Mirror under the byline of writer Matt Lawton. Why the Daily Mirror? Are there others in the media echo chamber picking up this story as yet? If so, where? (Guardian, for example, has NOT picked it up, as yet). If this story is a one off, then so be it. But if it gets repeated ad nauseum, it more readily becomes part of the common wisdom. Staying aware of where this story shows up in the media, and whether it gains traction as “fact” will be interesting to watch for. Vigilance.

  • bob

    Do they use Prozone or Prozac? Could you check that in your database?

  • bob

    Dan T,
    Off the pitch as on the pitch, these lens crafters specialize in eyewash. This one is so crude and clumsy that they could will be exposed by their own arrogance in putting this forward – that is, unless the “trusted” minions in the media start to echo it with full credibility as if it is unimpeachable fact. That will make all the difference.

  • merkin

    Dan T – I believe that you are on to it. Using your method it wouldn’t be hard to push right up to nearly 100% correct.

    Pass that didn’t go out, another correct for the assistant, only two men in the circle on the kickoff, another correct, ten defenders not closer than ten yards on a free kick, ten more correct, shots that missed completely, a goal not scored and a correctly called goal kick, one for the assistant and one for the ref. The area of fouls not committed is a veritable gold mine of correct decisions.

    We have actually been wrong, these people have an almost God like ability to make the right calls and deserve more respect than even the PGMOL is willing to concede! [/sarcasm]

  • Woolwich Peripatetic

    Surely that’s percentage of decisions made, which wipes not given fouls off the slate? Did he commit a foul, of course he did, the ref blew the whistle. More cynically, 99% of major decisions benefited the correct team (referees are human, they occasionally make mistakes!)

  • bjtgooner

    This is a magnificent article Walter.

    It does look as if the PGMOL are starting to feel a bit of pressure on the incorrectness of too many of their decisions and are starting a propaganda response.

    Now that the PGMOL have come into the public arena is there a way of challenging them to substantiate their figures? Also, can we widen the distribution of your data?

  • LRV

    Right Walter, show them up.

    PGMOL will probably come clean when pigs start to fly.

  • Mandy dodd

    You have to take into account the fact, that the pgmol may not get the decisions right in our terms but they seem to get them right in the terms of others.
    I would suggest they are probably over ninety percent efficient in what thay are told to do, impressive and depressing , things will change , but not yet their masters are still in place, though they are getting on a bit

  • iniez

    I think this is where we really need to give a big thank you to everyone on untold and all their hard work. Frankly without it we would never know for sure how far off they are with their “stats”. So thank you untold, fantastic job you’re doing

  • gooner murphy

    Just some Info for everyone I have tried to comment on Mike Dean’s Celebration of the Spur’s opening goal, however Sky sports or BBC would not carry any of my questions or comments regarding this disgracefull behavior from a so called provisional referee,maybe someone else could have better luck from them.
    P,S, These people could quite easly distroy the fooball game In the UK

  • Damien Luu

    I love these beautiful near-perfect numbers. Just like the election results in my country (or any of our few commie brother/sister/backstabber/whatever one). 99.99% approved, ho ho ho! Love them because they always give my good laughs.

  • Walter, just read this Wednesday morning having not got back from London until the early hours.

    I have to tell you there is nothing wrong with Morris Dancing.

  • Walter


    just put a 🙂 or a 😉 or a 🙂 or a 😉 and it works

    okay I will spell it out and put spaces between it because so leave the blanks out

    just put : ) for a smiley and ; ) for a wink and it will come on the site like a smiley

  • nicky

    Thanks Walter, as always, for your help. 🙂 😉

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Yup ,Walter , this ranks right up there with such classics as :-

    “This won’t even hurt a bit “. -at the Dentist .

    “This will hurt me more than you “.- Parents before thrashing their kids .

    “The cheque is in the mail”. &

    ” This will only take a minute “.

    Actually the last one unfortunately is often true. Ahem !

  • WalterBroeckx

    On twitter there an account “opta jokes” (or something) and if he would put those numbers in a tweet we would all have a big laugh…

  • Stuart


    I think I have brought this up before but could the claim that “referees get 92.3 per cent of those calls right” actually be true by a sad twist of statistics? I mean this figure may not include the calls they miss or don’t see but just the ones they do see and signal for.

    I can’t believe they have someone watch and review the whole of each and every time but I could believe they have started looking at each of the incidents the ref has stopped play for

  • Walter

    Stuart, that is something that could be true. But if they would count it like that they are just fooling themselves (and the media and thus all of us – except we over here)

    Because if we over here know that you have to review the whole game and all the possible decisions he has to make (including the not given fouls or decisions) they should know that also.

    So if they would count it like that it still is what I called it : a fairy tale and the worst part is that they do believe in fairy tales.

  • BG

    How many of you have taken a referees course and gained a full understanding of the Laws of the Game I wonder?

    How many of you would have the guts to go out and actually referee a game, knowing that there are thousands of unknowledgeable armchair pundits criticising your every move!

    Are the players always 100% correct? Of course not, or there’d be no game

    Give the refs a break. They do a great job – but if you think you can do it better, go out and prove it!

  • BG – over 40% of Premier League matches were reviewed in 2011/12 from the refereeing point of view, and all of those reviews were written by qualified refs.

    The central point is that PGMOL claim a very high percentage accuracy for the referees in the Premier League, and we are showing match after match this is not true. They don’t say, “we get 70% right – which is not bad without the benefit of replays”, they claim much much higher rates than this.

    That is why we are here.

  • Stuart

    @ BG

    I suppose this video clip would be a perfect example of refs doing a great job, especially considering this ref is now head of referees.