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May 2021

Why does WBA (like Arsenal) get so many referee wrong calls?

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By Walter Broeckx

One of the great things about Untold is that some of the comments  give me a lot of inspiration for looking in to new articles. And this time the article might be interesting to read for WBA and QPR supporters as I will try to cover those teams a bit. Some will not like what I write but some will see what they feel confirmed.

We had a WBA supporter on Untold recently who told how sick he was about the referees after the MU- WBA game. And I was thinking: is his feeling based on something or was it like we get to hear so many times: just a sour loser?

We then had the excellent article about the PGMOL and their link with their sponsor who also is one of the sponsors or QPR. And then I wanted to see if we could see something if we compare the numbers of WBA and QPR so far this season.

And of course I mainly focused on the wrong calls, the mistakes of the refs one could say or the not given fouls, penalties, goals, cards.

Of course we know that in our reviews we try to focus on the top teams and thus we don’t have as many games in our review database as we have from the other ‘top’ teams in the EPL. But so far we have done 4  games of each team. Those 4 games are done more or less against the top teams as this is the only time we take a look at those teams. So one could expect that those teams are on the bad end of decisions as it could be that they are the victims of the big team bias.

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But I have noticed something a bit strange. One would think that both teams will be on the bad end of wrong calls. But this isn’t the way things stand for the moment.

If we take West Bromwich Albion first.  And their supporter Simon wrote: WBA Fan here. It’s just so dammed frustrating for us smaller clubs. It’s a pattern that we first noticed some 10 years now and are used to it. It’s the 55- 45 rule on decisions, just enough to influence the game but not so blindly obvious to attract enquiries. There is only doubt , and unfairness. Is there corruption in our game ? no never !!, is there ?

Well Simon let me tell you the truth. The truth that we, as Arsenal supporting referees, have seen about your team. In fact you could see this as a rather unbiased view on your 55-45 rule.

The hard truth is that you have it wrong. I could almost say completely wrong. Because WBA have been on the wrong end of bad calls a lot. In fact they are second in my own Wrong Call bias league table. They have had a total of 69.17% of the calls going against them. That is just under 70%. So a whole lot more than the 55% Simon thought it was.

Now of course it could be that our ref reviewers are somehow biased. And that might be the reason that Arsenal is first in the wrong calls league table.

BUT fair enough if people say we are biased when it comes to Arsenal. But then have a look at this table from a website which is doing something similar to that which we do, although not as detailed as we do it. And if you did take a look by now you will have seen that in their table Arsenal has been the most hit by important wrong calls and West Bromwich Albion is in second place.  And the same is true in the overall wrong calls league table.

You can call Untold biased but the debatable decision website is not an Arsenal related website. In fact I have disagreed with them on a few occasions when it came to Arsenal decisions.

Now let us move on to the Queens Park Rangers.  They are in the wrong calls league table the team that has the 3rd lowest calls going against them. With Manchester United in first (surprise, surprise) and with Stoke in second place.  Anyone got a good reason why Stoke is so loved by the refs? But I was talking about QPR. They get very few calls going against them in the games we reviewed.

Because their games was also mostly against top teams you could expect them to have a similar record compared to WBA. But they only get around 38% of the calls going against them. Compared to the almost 70% this really is a low score for “small team”.

And once again I can link you to the debatable decisions website and from their numbers they also have QPR in third place when it comes from points won from ‘mistakes by the refs.

And then you keep in mind the excellent article from Dave Right on Untold and then you could start wondering about a few things.

Maybe Dave Right was right in his article….Simon was right in a way but he didn’t know how right he was until now.


The coming week in the Premier League: the Untold Preview

The FA guide on how to abdicate responsibility and miss the point entirely: financial reform edition.

PGMOL – the referees’ association: a secret body in breach of its own terms of reference

Untold Ref Review: Man U 2 WBA 0

Untold Index

16 comments to Why does WBA (like Arsenal) get so many referee wrong calls?

  • Arvind

    I have another theory Walter; I started thinking about it when you mentioned Stoke in one of your or someone else’s articles earlier.

    The EPL is a physical league. So the referees are trained to address ‘physicality’ more than anything else. So if you are a physical team, then you might get a ‘free pass’ on numerous borderline physical fouls which in Spain, Germany or Italy would be fouls, where the refereeing is more technical.

    Stoke being more of a physical team play in a way very familiar to the referees. Long Ball. Physical. Throw Ins. Etc. Sometimes in a fair way, sometimes in the RSW. What’s the RSW? The Ryan Shawcross Way. Anyone got a better nickname? But the point is, refs here know in their mind…’This physical play, I’ll not call a foul’ and this one…I will. And the rules are relaxed in the EPL, relatively. So Stoke push the rules and get the calls.

    So any team, which is technical in its fouling, rather than physical should get hurt. Meaning…Arsenal, Spurs, WBA, Swansea, Wigan should be high on your list Walter. Can you check if there is a pattern? Thanks.

  • Strus

    This one is great research, but may by discouraging to Arsenal players. Or may be not, cause they can fight against the odds.

  • Gunner4evr

    The Fa have to decide whether it is in the England national team interest for MU to perpetuate its domination thru the refs.If it is,the England national team will suffer. How?
    The epl will be uncompetitive like Scotland.The English teams are known for their competitive spirit. Nothing wrong with that.
    As a result technical teams meaning Arsenal,Swansea,etc will suffer at the hand of of the refs.
    We know at the international level,it’s the technical level which dominates.You look at how Atheletico and Sporting got the better of the two manchester teams.
    You draw your own conclusions.That’s why SAF for his stranglehold on the epl can’t get moving in the cl. It’s a different ball game.

  • KnysnaGunner

    Could the fact that Stoke City is owned by a gambling business(or the owner of a gambling business) have a bearing on the matter under discussion?

  • walter

    Arvind I will publish the full wrong calls league table in a further article and then we can compare to the debatable decisions table.

    and another great link

  • Rhys Jaggar

    Stoke did have a terrible run of decisions a season or so back, so maybe they strongarmed the PGMOL and told them to stop doing it?

  • Arvind

    @Rhys: If it’d been that easy, then most clubs would do it; top to bottom. Since all clubs don’t get the good calls, it probably means Stoke don’t strong arm. But then again, nothing surprises me anymore. Do you actually recall this bad run of games that Stoke had, with some links to terrible calls maybe?

    @KnysnaGunner: Interesting. And Bet365 is very popular. Even I who understand precisely zero about gambling patterns have heard of the name. Hmmmm… Here’s a Wiki excerpt about Peter Coates;

    Peter Coates (born 13 January 1938) is a businessman and current owner of the Stoke City Football Club. He has been listed as the 25th richest person in British football.[2] He founded Bet365 in 2000, as well as Signal Radio in 1983.

    Maybe just coincidence, maybe not.

  • Woolwich Peripatetic

    You talk as if this the future, not the present. The England team does suffer, look at how every international minnow deals with Rooney. They use rotational fouling, which no PGMOL ref will tolerate but FIFA/UEFA refs will (to an extent) until he blows his top and gets sent off. He was a better player for England at Everton (he’s done nothing on the international stage since Euro 2004) as he had to keep his temper in check to stay on the pitch. Rooney won’t get carded for diving and he’s almost impossible to tackle, thanks to PGMOL.
    Now if we were supplying five or six players to the England squad, are PGMOL going to stand idly by and let people break their legs? Somehow I doubt it.

  • Nikko

    Walter, I have to be the devil’s advocate here, on what table at is Man Utd placed high, together with Stoke? I see Arsenal at the bottom, all right, but Man Utd is only a few places better than us.

  • Strus

    @Nikko Walter had his own table in mind IMHO. I can wait for it till the end of the season

  • Ojo Olajiga

    In Nigeria people sees MU as an English.

  • walter

    yes I had our own wrong calls table in mind. I will publish it in the next days based on + 100 games in the EPL this season.

    The BIG difference between the debatable decisions table is that their is only based on important calls and not on the not that visible wrong calls all over the field that could have a big influence in a game. As our regular readers will know and as any ref will know.

  • Woolwich…

    Your statement: “They use rotational fouling, which no PGMOL ref will tolerate” is really fascinating.

    The terms “rotational fouling” and “rotational timewasting” were invented on this site, and if you were to look back a couple of years you would see the reviews of almost every match comment on the two issues.

    Indeed rotational fouling got so bad that even Mr Wenger borrowed our term and used it in one press conference.

    But these days we see it less and less – because the referees did pick up on it in the UK. (Personally I think this is one of our great triumphs on Untold – although of course it could be argued that other forces were at work and would have seen off rotational fouling without us).

    But is a development only in England. I doubt that there is anyone making a big fuss about rotational fouling in other countries, and so the matter continues.

    1-0 to Untold in fact.

  • Mahdain

    @tony here is one your article trademarking the word

  • Goonergerry

    Would be interesting to do some research on refs- what their views of the game are – why they became refs, what motivates them- what their values are- would be a good project for untold to sponsor.

  • Woolwich Peripatetic

    I’ve been reading this site for too long, I’d forgotten how that term came into being!

    I’d argue that what we call rotational fouling is regarded as common sense in leagues where the refs do their jobs reasonably well.
    You make a last ditch tackle and the ref tells you if you do it again, you’ll be booked. So your manager tells you to pick up another player and your team-mate takes your man. Then he gets a warning and so on…
    Only in Britain can you keep making borderline tackles and the ref just ignores it or let’s you do it ten times before he even thinks of carding you.