Arsenal News

Live Arsenal News

Arsenal latest news

Arsenal News & Transfers
As featured on NewsNow: Arsenal newsArsenal News 24/7

Arsenal News, Only Arsenal, Blogs, Transfer News


July 2021

Referee bias: a review of the last five seasons. And guess what?

Untold Arsenal on Twitter @UntoldArsenal

Transform your life: Become a professional writer

New update on Woolwich Arsenal’s definitive history

Untold Arsenal


By Walter Broeckx

Sometimes one thing leads to another in research and having presented facts and figures of the current season (where we look at the bias of the referees when it comes to home teams and away teams) I wanted to dig a bit deeper.  That’s the case here.

And so to satisfy my own curiosity I wanted to see how the refs have been doing not just in this season but also in the previous seasons. Because after all maybe this could be the fluke year and I could look a bit ridiculous if it turns out that in the other seasons there was absolutely no home bias to see.

So I took the numbers of the seasons starting from the infamous season 2007/2008 until this season.

In this article I present the figures from the last five seasons. I will not bore you with how each season went for each ref. And if you really want to see those numbers just let me know and I will add them in another article.

Watch Arsenal Live Streams With

But for now I wanted to take the average numbers for each ref in those seasons. I also only included the refs that are currently in charge in the EPL. (It might be interesting to see how Uriah Rennie did in the 2007/2008 season but that is history). What counts is the long term and the current refs in the EPL and how they act.

So remember according to the Chief of the Referees there is no bias at all in the EPL. Let us see at the numbers on yellow cards. Let us check his words:





Phil Dowd



Mike Dean



Martin Atkinson



Mike Jones



Howard Webb



Kevin Friend



Andre Marriner



Mark Clattenburg



Lee Mason



Chris Foy



Peter Walton



Michael Oliver



Anthony Taylor



Mark Halsey



Lee Probert



Stuart Attwell



Neil Swarbrick



Jon Moss






And for those who should have doubt about my previous numbers it now is absolutely clear to see for anyone who wants to see. THERE IS A BIAS IN FAVOUR OF THE HOME TEAMS when yellow cards are handed out.

Each and every ref active in the EPL has over a period of more than one season given more yellow cards against visiting teams than they have done against the home teams.

I knew this even before I started looking for the numbers. Because it is not just Untold that has done this research but also others have done this before. And by others I also mean people who are better equipped to investigate such things than those of us here at Untold Arsenal.

And still Mr. Mike Riley is brainwashing us through the media that there is no such thing like any bias in the EPL.

In total the home teams get only 42% of the yellow cards. This is of course down to the pressure that the home crowd is putting on the refs. A dangerous tackle from the home team will be mostly answered with a kind of silence from the home crowd. And a dangerous tackle from a visitor will be answered with the home crowd shouting for revenge and raising the noise level.  40.000 people shouting for a card is a lot noisier than 4.000 visiting supporters.

It just is harder to resist 40.000 shouting voices than it is to resist 4.000 shouting voices. The difference in atmosphere is gigantic as you can imagine.  Most people react to this and so you get the home and away bias started. And refs are human and can be influenced.

If we take a look at the total number of those 5 seasons we can see that Mike Dean comes closest to having no home or away bias. He gives 48% of the yellow cards against the home team and 52% against the visiting teams. Now I would like to give credit to him but then I realised that in those 5 seasons we had Mike Dean a lot. And we had him a lot when Arsenal was away. So maybe, just maybe, his numbers are a bit coloured because of all those away games he has done of Arsenal? But nevertheless his numbers are looking the best of them all. Damned if I didn’t just hurt my fingers typing this.

The ref in the second place is Stuart Atwell and he is closely followed by Howard Webb. The rest hover around the average.

The best ref to have at home, when it comes to avoiding yellow cards is Anthony Taylor. He obviously allows a lot more from the home team than from the away teams. So having him as the away team means you have to be extra careful to avoid yellow cards. If you want to meet Kevin Friend and Phil Dowd make sure you meet them at your home ground.

Finally I would take the opportunity to have a look at the numbers of Mike Riley himself. The man who claims there is no bias and so no home and away bias. If I can believe the numbers in his 12 years in the EPL he has given 1021 yellow cards himself. And 434 were given against the home team and 587 against the away teams.

This comes down to 42,51% of the yellow cards against the home teams and 57,49 % against the away teams. Maybe he is not aware of these numbers. But if you become head of the refs those are the things you should take a look at if you really want to improve the refereeing standard.

But if you find it normal that there is something like home bias then maybe just maybe you find other bias also acceptable and part of the game?


The referee series: what is wrong with the Premier League System

The stats that the Ref’s Association quote are simply totally wrong

Giving each ref each team just twice a season would solve the crisis

Mike Riley and the garden of secrecy

How many wrong calls do refs make per game – and in favour of whom?

70 comments to Referee bias: a review of the last five seasons. And guess what?

  • Stephen Qureshi

    Oh my god
    Embarrassed to be Arsenal fan who complains about Ref
    We have our fair share of referre mistakes in our favor
    Everton away, Aston Villa away

    No one complains there

  • Gautam Agrawal

    In general, it is the away teams that are more defensive and hence likely to get more cards. I would guess that away teams make more challenges as the home team generally has more possession. Hence, they are more likely to get cards. This could also possibly explain this trend.

  • WalterBroeckx

    Stephen, I really do think you are funny. 🙂

    Now I could be wrong but I think I have written an article of some 1017 words about some statistics in general about refs without even mentioning the name Arsenal once.

    Do you read further than the headline Stephen?

    Don’t you enjoy the current run we are having in the last months? Why so bitter?

    Or are you a secret supporter from another team from North London? That could explain a lot…

  • FinnGooner

    Good article.
    Only problem is that I can see people who refuses to see the bias claiming: “There is nothing wrong, away teams fouls more than home team so those numbers are fine” (that is similar to what someone told me when I poined out that ManU gets lot of penalties at OT while away team doesn’t)… But there is bias.

  • Tram

    This weekend was a watershed for several outcomes – champions, CL places, European places and escaping relegation. The fact that it coincided with the greatest exposure (numerically) in bad decisions lends weight to the argument that refs are bent and that the cause is less about Far Eastern spread betting, and far more about different refs being in different rich clubs’ pockets. Now that the race has reached its critical stage they are making ever more reckless bent calls. It’s all about Ockham’s razor, as Dogface (as I recall) reminded us – the simplest explanation that fits all the facts is probably the truth.

  • Stuart

    Hi Walter,
    When you are quoting the above figures, are they for total yellow cards (correct and incorrect) or are they for just incorrect yellow cards?

    If this is total yellow cards then your arguement for bias is ridiculous as you can’t include correct decisions and claim a bias.

    Also, what proof do you have with regard to your comment “This is of course down to the pressure that the home crowd is putting on the refs”. Could it not be down to the frame of mind of the away team (not helped by the home fans) leaving them susceptible to making mistakes??

    Anyway, I hope the figures are just for the incorrect yellow cards as then the data you represent is relevant in showing a bias.

  • WalterBroeckx

    Stuart this is based on the official numbers (not Untold numbers) about given yellow cards.

    About the set of minds of teams. Does Stoke at home suddenly become a team of bible school students and away start kicking around in the wild? You could ask Ramsey. I think it is fair to say that a kicking team will be a kicking team both home and away. Yet Stoke get (in the last season) 21 yellows at home and 33 yellows away from home.

    Now you could say: but at home they attack a lot more than being away. Now Stoke does have more possession at home (41,3% average) than away (37.80% average). The lowest in the league in fact. But still not that much difference and yet the difference in cards is almost 57% higher in away games. And that for a difference in possession of only 3.5%

    So in the Stoke home games the refs are not giving as many yellows as away. Why? the only answer could be home/away bias.

  • WalterBroeckx

    Not satisfied yet?
    Let us take Fulham. They have an average possession of 49% (49% H and 48,9% A) in their home games and away games. So very close to 50% and one could say they play the same game at home as they do away from home. Trying to play the ball but not overwhelming and wanting to have the possession of the ball at all cost to impose themselves like Arsenal does.

    And at home Fulham get 21 yellow cards and away from home 29 yellow cards. Fulham is what I could call a mid table team in all aspects and yet they get more bookings away than at home.
    That is in this case some 38% more yellows in their away games and that with the same amount of possession. Why?
    The answer could be the home/away bias from the refs.

  • Stuart

    Maybe they are making more correct calls when compared to other teams.

    My arguement is that a correct decision can’t be classed as biased as it should have been called in the first place. All that can be quoted for bias are the incorrect calls, or ‘favours’.

  • WalterBroeckx

    we don’t know if the cards were correct. We only know that they have been given. They might be correct but they also might be not correct.

    In fact we don’t know if other cards should have been given or not.

    But in all those games in those 5 years all the teams had the same number at home as away. In the it evens out world this would mean that a kicking team should get as many yellows at home as they get away. Like I said is Stoke a nice and pleasant team at home? There are others of course…

  • zdzis

    Obviously, what happened over the holidays showed that we are dealing with a sick system that’s no longer working. I don’t know if video replays for the refs are the answer, but we just can’t go on saying there’s nothing wrong with refereeing or that it evens out in the end (ask the relegated teams after this season if it did; ask the teams challenging for the Europa League if they think the system is perfect). Sure, referee mistakes are a part of the game, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t avoid them. If the FA fails to deal with this situation, the “respect” campaign is going to end in a disaster. I’d personally advise all of the EPL teams to finish with the diplomatic attitude and just state it plainly whenever they see a ref perform below a certain level – handing out penalties for inexistent fouls, overruling his linesman when there’s a clear offside, etc. If the FA doesn’t act, only a major strike can force them into some kind of action.
    As for the “bias” – of course, it is wrong for the ref to favour any side, and theoretically, he should take only objective decisions. But the truth is, in every sport, referees tend to favour the home sides. This actually is a part of the game. The thing is, this shouldn’t take the guise of what happened at OT, which is quite plainly a disgrace; it’s a different thing when you give yellows to one of the sides more easily than to the other, and when you hand out reds unprovoked, etc.

  • Davi

    I agree with Stuart to be honest. I don’t think the above numbers prove bias at all. The incredible consistency between referees indicates that there is at least one common factor, and my first thought would be the way teams play when at home or away, rather than bias.
    Perhaps yellow cards-per-foul (home vs away) would be a better indicator of bias, but even then, it may be that away teams more often feel forced to commit so-called professional fouls, as players get away from them.

  • WalterBroeckx

    If I may bring up another interest thing: Arsenal is the top team both home and away in possession (61% average). And yet they are in place 4 of getting the most yellow cards at home (28).

    We actually have 57.20% possession away from home and we get only 26 yellow cards in our away games.

    So there certainly is no home bias when it comes to handing out yellow cards against Arsenal at the Emirates from the refs. This only shows that well… there might be a bit of an anti-Arsenal bias hidden out there?

    But I left this out the article because I wanted to keep it more general.

  • Dutchie

    Hm, i’m not completely convinced. I guess the outcome is right, ofcourse referees are in favor of the hometeams, but your reasoning is too simple. This statistic isn’t a proof of anything, unless you can show the refs use a different standard for away-teams. There is an arcticle from ”football meets science” about this subject, and as you’ve mentioned there are more scientific articles that proof that referees (unintentionaly) favor the home-teams. I think when your article is based on that, it is enough show that bias is common in sports.

    A statistic that worries me more is this one:
    Look at the amount of penalties that this twat gave us in his career.

    Or look at this ^$#$@#$@. Compare Utd with others…

    Oh, by the way. Anyone noticing Dalglish trying to implement the same tactics to influence refs, as Ferguson did in his first years? It worked for Man Utd… that’s for sure.

    And what about David Gill?

    What upset me the most about the Man Utd – QPR game, was the post-match interview of Hughes. It was almost humble. His team was screwed while they are fighting against relegation, yet he stayed calm and acted ”reasonable”. Normally this ”Ferguson-product” would be outrageous, but instead he almost acted like he won. Weakling. That is another reason Man Utd can get away with such things… other managers won’t make a big point out of it. The one that do like Moyes, got screwed by the refs too.

  • Gooner s

    Walter this is in interesting but what would be really interesting is taking these stats further to how they affect Arsenal. What the stats in your current article show is that there is a bias in favour of the home team vs the away team regardless of club. OK I get that for the reasons you outline. I think most supporters would say that this makes sense. But does your analysis hold up when you look at Arsenal? What about comparing them against 3 or 4 other clubs.

    I appreciate your articles but as you know you haven’t quite sold me the concept that there is some conspiracy against Arsenal.Perhaps I’m just too stubborn to want to believe it? That said when I hear that Martin Atkinson and his team officiating against Man City ‘saw’ the Ballotelli challenge on Song and deemed it not worthy of free kick or a booking it makes you wonder. And the FAs stance beggars belief. Was that incompetence of the highest order or something more sinister?

  • bjtgooner

    Walter, having used the figures for the last five years and demonstrated a clear trend for the issue of more yellows to the away team; I don’t think there is any valid explanation for the trend other than bias. Interesting article.

    Stephen – time for you to crawl back into the AAA sewer.

  • Tasos


    Like the stat’s on Dean and Webb.

    When you look at the numbers for Arsenal they clearly do not add up, especially in the category of Mike Dean and Penalties for Arsenal column.

    When a Ref is biased/bent/corrupt the two major weapons at his disposal are;

    1- The sending off or non-sending off of players
    2- The awarding or non-awarding of penalty kicks

    At Old Trafford on Sunday we all witnessed Lee Mason giving a near perfect display of a bent ref in action with his double whammy, penalty and red card all in one.

    Statically during the last eight EPL seasons – 2003/4 to 2010/11 – one penalty was awarded for every ten goals scored from other sources for every team (ignoring goals already scored from the spot).

    Arsenal have scored 63 goals this season, minus the one penalty scored equals 62, therefore statistics show we should have been awarded roughly 6 penalties this season instead of the miserly 2 we have been given.

  • Dutchie

    @ Tasos

    Yes it is. And when you look again at the statistics of Dean, you might notice that he didn’t get a single Liverpool-game. This is because his hometown is Wirral.

    Then you wonder why Mason gets a Utd-game while:
    1) He lives 15 minutes away from old-trafford
    2) Qpr fights with Bolton for relegation, he never hides his sympathie for Bolton.

    And why does Oliver get a Man Utd game, he is from Manchester…!!!

    Oh, speaking of Mason. He spent an important part of his life in Liverpool, where he developed sympathie for Everton, as he is a catholic and went to a catholic institution in Liverpool.
    Look at the amount of penalties he gave Everton, compared to other teams… why do we get Mason so often in Everton games?

  • Shard

    Walter, The argument against your contention seems to be that the home team attacks more, has more of the ball etc. You’ve given certain examples where this is not necessarily true, and in fact I do wonder if it is the truth that home teams keep more of the ball. Besides even if it is, having opponents yellow carded could also help the team keep the ball since a player on a yellow is unlikely to want to risk getting another card. So is the higher away yellow card count necessarily because of lower possession, or is the other way round- away teams can’t win the ball back as much because they are more likely to be yellow carded. Difficult to prove that either way, but maybe the number of tackles made by teams home and away would give an indication?

    However, I’m sure those looking for ‘proof’ will find something there which says it is not ‘proof’, as if that is something which will pop up as a 100% correct, indisputable fact.

    Home bias is a well accepted phenomenon across all sports. For Riley to deny it, especially without furnishing any statistics or figure to back his argument against what is a generally accepted trend, in my opinion, means he is talking nonsense. But that wouldn’t be a surprise at all would it. The whole organisation stinks.

  • Tasos


    The plot thickens

  • Tasos


    Interesting facts on Mike Dean. He became a select group referee in 2000 and since that time he has NEVER been given a Liverpool match in the EPL.

    Records shoe that in 577 appearances in all competitions since 1997/98 season Mike Dean has been awarded only one Liverpool match;

    Wed 08Jan 2003 Sheff Utd 2 – 1 Liverpool.

    This exert was taken from the Wikipedia website concerning former referee Alan Wiley;

    “He (Alan Wiley) then took charge of the FA Cup Final on 13 May 2006 when Liverpool played West Ham United, at the same venue. (referee)|Mike Dean]] was originally appointed to referee the game but the Football Association took the unusual step of replacing him after concerns were raised about his ability to be impartial towards Liverpool, who are based near Dean’s home town on Merseyside”.

  • Tasos


  • bob

    The obvious spread of the rot to Crisis Proportions [the rash of jaw-dropping inconsistent decisions] that was so blatantly obvious in so much of yesterday’s media (I take the Manchester Guardian’s football department as my beat) seems to have disappeared into a non-event. Disappeared. Today’s online Manchester Guardian’s award-winning (no laughter, now!) is 99% devoid of references. The one exception is a lonely bare-bones link at the very bottom to a hollow kinda culpa/semi apology from the Hives of Riley to Wigan coach R. Martinez for the so-called refs having screwed him on Sunday, but with not an iota of actual restitution. (I have just spent way more time explaining this exception that it draws any attention on the webpage — it is nearly invisible, a throwaway.) The point is that the media KNOW that something massive is rotten in the state of football and they know it has just been made VISIBLE; and, to cover the stench, they perfume it with no follow up stories the day after. What standard of journalism is that? Who flipped that switch? It is protecting the Trough at which they have fattened themselves. (Oh, Amy Lawrence, my heart goes out to you. How can you bear to keep working for this Pravda of football coverage? Please expose them one day, when you can, on your time. You will have millions of grateful fans at your feet.) “Award winning,” these lens-crafters like to remind readers; as they bring an otherwise great newspaper into mockery and disrepute. Stenographers. Lip-zippers. Mind-f$^#ers. In sum, all the tell-tale muck of Tuesday is now disappeared on Wednesday into an appearance of tidy normalcy. But, Guardians of the Lie, all the perfume in the world cannot cover the stench that escaped from over the weekend. The road to Rednose XX is exposed for what it is. My prediction is that they will continue to do what has worked in the past: ignore the obvious, distract fans with non-issues, pretend the weekend’s refshite never happened, have us forget it, and to forget that we forgot. It de-legitimates the value (kerching) of Don Fungus’s coronation – his mounting ascent to Lord Football. (And to think that George Orwell once thought well of the Guardian. Surely he never read their football page. But surely he would understand how they operate. And they’re just one voice in the stenographer’s choir.) Vigilance!

  • bob

    p.s. After an update, you cannot now find the link to the half-apology to Wigan’s Martinez that I credited Guardian with having retained a few hours ago. Gone. No apology. No problem. Move along. Get on with it. Mind the gap…(vigilance)

  • WalterBroeckx


    It is long term planning that is for sure.

    Imagine newspaper X, who earns lots of money from their coverage of the EPL each day for years to come. Suddenly they find something that brings the whole industry down. During the days they expose their findings they could earn a much higher amount. But only for a few days/weeks.

    And after that the big money cow that was EPL is gone and the newspaper loses their income from the EPL. And it will probably never come back for many years in the way they are benefiting from it now.

    So exposing some kind of ref scandal would be harmful not just for the EPL, FA and others but also for themselves.

    So they report it (because they cannot ignore such shit like this weekend) but they cover it up and cover any link to it.

    1984 comes to mind….

  • jaroda

    If I were proposing a hypothesis re Home and away team Yellow card distribution then it might look like this:
    Over the course of a season and for all teams the Home team enjoys greater possession and therefore greater attacking threat (be it through ability, self belief, or the opponents defensive tactics).
    The Away team has to spend a higher proportion of the game defending.
    The team doing the most defending has to make the higher proportion of the games tackles.
    The team making the most tackles would receive a higher proportion fo Yellow cards.
    Therefore I would expect the Home team to receive a smaller proportion of the yellow cards dished out.
    The question is do your results of 42% to 58 % support this hypothesis rather than indicate underlying ref bias.

    Keep the theories coming as only discussion will reveal the whole picture.

    Where you can actually analyse the individual incidences that cover other aspects apart from yellow cards is a very interesting area. That’s when we really see your figures show that the Arsenal are being done over 😉

  • bjtgooner


    Don Fungus – very apt, I like it.

    I thought it very strange that Riley would apologise to Martinez for the way Wigan were screwed, when, as far as we know he has never apologised to Arsenal for the appalling decisions we have suffered over many years from the minions he secretly controls.

    Further, I don’t think he ever apologised for his own performance when he screwed us in THE match against the Manchester Fungi – when Rooney showed his skill at diving.

  • bob

    As you’ve perhaps now read, Mick R offered the mildest of apologies and rather indirect, to say the most; but still an acknowledgment of sorts, a “kinda culpa” as opposed to a proper mea culpa. But you’re right. Never any apologies to AFC; lest he be reminded of that blessed day in Old Toilet when they flushed away our unbeaten streak to the braying approval of the compromised herds; and Micky R was thereby catapulted to the exalted position of Queen Bee, atop the Hive, dispensing killer bees in service to his maker, Don Fungus, now on Coronation Way, and soon to be star of a hugely-advertised mini-series for the good of all: aka The Rednose XX. And, lest we forget, the trailer for the series will be the Guard of Honor that must – by FA rule and custom – be provided by any side that hosts Team ManUre if (a) it has already won the League as of the day of the match – or (b) afterwards if that match produces the winning margin. Thus, Salt for the Wounds is being readied for His Ascension to Lord Football. The alternative: the Great Turnaround – our story, the inspired return to inspired and inspiring football that otherwise would have been media-crushed to the earth. Alons, go Gunners!

  • WalterBroeckx

    from the numbers I have seen about the possession I have learnded that the home teams possession in % is on average 50,98%. So the away teams possession in % in average is 49,02%.

    So the margin is very marginal if you ask me. A 2% margin in possession comparing to a 16% margin in yellow cards.

  • jaroda

    Impressive knowledge! Do you have all these figures at your fingertips?
    Yes I can see that possession alone then is not going to account for it.
    OK then, but does this support the ‘it evens itself out*’ theory as everyone has the same number of home games and therefore receives the same amount of bias?

    *except if your team is Arsenal

  • Tasos


    “And why does Oliver get a Man Utd game, he is from Manchester”…!!!

    According to Wiki and Soccerbase Michael Oliver is based in Northumberland.

    Were you referring to the Mancunian Anthony Taylor?

    Although I noticed Michael Oliver does have a poor record for Arsenal, 4 games consisting of only 1 win and 3 loses with zero penalties awarded and 2 against.

  • Tram

    Bob, further to your observation about the Manchester Guardian pulling all their anti-referee stories, they’ve now got a piece about Roy Hodgson (England manager wannabee) saying that our refs are probably the best in Europe. (see here for a laugh, but don’t forget to was your hands afterwards. )
    You couldn’t make it up

  • Rob Brown

    These statistics are awful, they do not prove what you claim they prove. Some of your others are better. There is home bias in refereeing but that is not a huge issue, after all everyone has 19 games at home and 19 away.

    We need to prove if some refs are more biased than others and if some teams are avoured more than others, with the home bias controlled for. From these we could dervie useful policy implications.

  • Phil Gregory

    Walter, how comfident are you of the possession stats? I’ve always wondered how they work them out… if Stoke take 2 mins over a throw or goal kick, is that “possession”? Because those sort of questions would greatly influence the final numbers, and maybe distort results.

  • Dutchie

    @ Tasos

    Yes, i ment Taylor… pardon me. Thank you for correcting me. This is the same ref that denied us a stone clear penalty against Sunderland last season, when (i think) arshavin was brought down. I didnt understand why de FA would appoint a ref from Manchester while we were in a head to head race with Utd… well, i did know why ofcourse.

    Taylor gave Wolves a red card in the first half against Man Utd… don’t know if the decision was correct, but u seldomly see a player getting 2 yellow cards in the first half even if they deserve it… unless it is against Man Utd ofcourse.

  • Dutchie

    Stone cold, clear…. pfff need more coffee

  • walter

    Phil, I got the possession stats from the website

    Don’t know how they get to the numbers but I do think they are near to the truth if I look at the Arsenal.

    Stoke taking a throw in… would mean that if you take that away Stoke only has some 25% possession. Take out the time the ball is flying high in the sky after they hoofed it upfield… they only have around 15% possession 😉

  • walter

    Rob Brown,

    Not if you are Arsenal. We get more yellow cards at home compared to away. And that with a massive possession.
    What a weird fluke they would say at football is fixed.

    And in fact I didn’t want or had to prove anything. I try to challenge Mike Riley or anyone who tells me that there is no bias in the EPL to come out and prove me that there is no bias.

    Based on a few simple things I can show that there is a difference between home and away. That can only come from some “bias”.

    My only point is that Riley is ignorant on such things. And he is expected to tell the rules and to instruct the refs to be fair and UNBIASED.

  • Gord


    I don’t think you should assume that possession statistics sum to 100%. There are circumstances where opposite team players contact the ball at the same time, which stops the clock on the time of possession for the attacking team. It will take some time before either team can gain possession and start their clock again. There are also passes where a player gets contact with a ball, but does not obtain possession. Again, the time of contact should stop the clock for the attacking team.

    The unassigned time (zombie time) for some styles of play can be quite large.

  • Tasos


    Yes I remember the game well, Mancunian Anthony Taylor deprived Arsenal of a certain penalty against Sunderland last season. Incidentally that game was one of the very few occasions Arsenal actually played before Man Utd, a win would have applied some pressure on Utd.

    As for the Wolves V Man Utd game this season in which Anthony Taylor gave two yellow cards to Zubar of Wolves, it would be hard to argue that both fouls were not rash and the second one was plain stupid but Taylor allowed Zubar no second chance, no .

  • ak47

    not long now.

  • Mahdain

    @Walter would you say the debateable decision site have managed to somewhat distort the truth about the bias in PL? The united fans are using their “real” table as an evidence that they are not the most favoured when in fact they are.. I have personally expressed about the incorrectness of their data simply because they dont review the whole matches and that MOTD tend to leave out certain incidents and hence mislead people…the reply i got? We have lives to live

  • El Gringo

    The Manchester Guardian also ran this shocker today. It really does take the cake.

    My apologies: I don’t know how to make the url into a hyperlink. You’d think I was an old geezer that hates technology, but I’m not. I’m just incompetent =)

    I also can’t make a decent smiley face =)

  • El Gringo

    The Internet is magic! It turned the URL into a hyperlink for me! Shocking, I say. Shocking.

  • El Gringo

    By the way, I’m not siding with Dalglish here. It’s just Hyde’s arrogance, as if anyone who questions the refereeing is as crocked as she seems to think Dalglish is. Her piece is a genius bit of rhetoric, though: instead of taking on the reasonable arguments from credible sources on refereeing, she attacks the extreme argument from not-so-credible sources in their worst moments. She never makes that substitutionary connection clear, but the sub-text of her argument is that only nutjobs complain about refs. Sane people like Sir Alex never do. By mocking Dalglish, she saves herself the hard work of refuting people with good evidence and real complaints (such as the fabulous Untellers).

  • bob

    Yes! What an ijit Hodgson is. He just wants to keep it in so he can return from exile at WBA to them commanding heights that suit his insufferable sense of self-importance. AMAZING that the Manchester Guardian’s football department turn to his opinion in this moment of crisis. Really tells the tale of their mendacity. And, while he was speaking, Hodgson actually made the case for video replay: “Quite often, we only complain about a decision when we have watched the replay 15 times in slow motion. We don’t complain at the time because we don’t know if there was a mistake or not.” Roy, I take it all back. We will take your deposition on behalf of the Parliamentary committee that considers whether to adopt all-out video replay in lieu of the dark powers’ slo-mo crawl toward goal line bandaid quackology.

  • bob

    El Gringo,
    Kudos on the hyperlinking to that mendacious sleight of hand by (well, just look at her name) Martha HYDE. That’s her job, hide actual conspiracies by mislabeling them as “conspiracies.” She is a hired gun who roams from “culture” issue to “culture” issue; starting and putting out fires on a gun-for-hire basis. By taking the extreme case and knocking down a straw man, she can play to the ingrained prejudices of the many who are reared in the culture of deference which she serves and who she helps keep in line by playing the contempt card to reinforce their inability to see through the veil, and then label it common sense. Of course she is a Coincidence Theorist, a completely indefensible position; and not one she would admit to advocating. Completely mendacious display and proof positive that the Manchester Guardian’s are doing everything possible to circle the wagons and protect, as Walter put it earlier today, their necessary “cash cow” – the tarnished product known as the Rednose XX (aka the Barclay’s EPL).

  • bob

    p.s. sorry, it’s not a conspiracy of interests, but a coincidence of interests. Martha, I thought of proposing to Amy Lawrence but, having read your purpled prose, will you marry me?!

  • bob

    El Gringo, Tram,
    So that’s it: two bogus snow jobs in place of any follow-ups to yesterday’s shocking self-expose by the those who don’t know FA about football, yet who are its safekeepers (or is it safecrackers?)

  • none

    The BBC ran a similar story to what the Guardian has regarding Daglsih, but with less of a spin on it (Cant seem to find the link now).

  • bob

    Extra! Extra! Read All About It!
    “The Great Turnaround Trumps Rednose XX”
    Story of the Season, says vox populi!

  • gooner murphy

    @ Dutchie
    Don’t really understand that link to the referees religion football bais is one thing, however bringing religious connotations into football is very dangerous

  • mark

    The challenge to the refs is to try to make correct decisions when there are 40,000 fans wanting one to be biased! While some bias home and away is most likely unavoidable, what would you think is an acceptable long term average? Would say 45-55 be acceptable? But if the average long term gets outside that range then the ref must take composure classes to help him make correct decisions under pressure! Or should it be possible for refs to get a 47-53 long term average?

  • H. Raymond Tahhan

    The best way to assess statistical significance is to compare the ratio of cards against over possession against, though not all cards are handed on footballing action, as some will be given for time wasting or arguing with officials, etc…
    So, if team A has 3 cards with only 25% possesion against while team B has 1 card and 75% possession against, the referee would indeed look suspicious (well, for me, they always do).
    The apparent disproportionate percentage of yellow cards for the visiting team may be explained by the fact that home teams tend to have more ball possession than visiting teams.
    As an Arsenal fan, I find it extremely annoying that there some card parity despite thefact that the Gunners are notorious for their very high share of possession at home (and also away).
    Ray from Norfolk.

  • Woolwich Peripatetic

    A shame that football doesn’t have a territory statistic. Even then, if we consider that a team like Arsenal looks to play mainly in their opponents half, such a team could concede an awful lot of Yellows stopping counter-attacks.
    Likewise if you sit deep, you will recycle possession by interceptions and tackles from the front, both of which have a low chance of being carded. However you ought to concede a lot of freekicks doing this.

  • Strus

    MU 73- greatest amount help from refs in the league.
    MC 56 -slight advantage
    Arsenal 45 -below par
    Tottenham 66 -good advantage
    Newcastle 44 – below par
    Chelsea 52 – near break even

    This is great bias.
    Arsenal got a slightly better treatment lately. In the first half of the season Arsenal RI was about 38.

  • Stuart

    @ H. Raymond Tahhan,

    I still don’t see how that represents a bias by the referee. If the yellow cards happen to be valid cards, then it can only be put down to dirty tactics or foul play.

    As I said earlier, what we really need to look at for bias is the number of decisions incorrectly awarded. We can’t complain about yellow cards if they are deserved.

    By the way, I do agree there is a massive bias towards Arsenal, just that this doesn’t go anywhere near to proving it.

  • bob

    This little tidbit from the football is fixed blog;
    “It is not conspiratorial to declare that when Foy, Walton or Mason have been refereeing Manchester Utd Premier League games, the most powerful team in the land have only been defeated once in 47 games.
    This isn’t an angle ’tis public data. Check it.”

  • bob

    Walter keeps telling you that he’s not saying that this stat is proving a bias against Arsenal per se; but rather that he is showing that Micky R is wrong – as are zillions of others, including Don Fungus who yesterday said – when they endlessly and mindlessly say; it all evens out in the end. It is worth taking down the authority of this stupid statement because it numbs thought and blinds eyes, and you know this.

  • bob

    Gooner Murphy, Dutchie,
    Gooner Murphy is absolutely right.

  • gooner murphy

    @ Dutchie
    Your comment “he spent an important part of his life in Liverpool where he developed sympathie for Everton as he is Catholic and went to a Catholic Institution” the comment Implies that he has a sectarian bais and not a football or a prochial reason for his poor record.

  • Dutchie

    @ gooner murphy

    Well i didn’t want to offend anyone. I’m trying to say that while he was studying in Liverpool, he might have developed a sympathie for Everton because of the enviremont he was in.

    He was referee of a Liverpool match once, and he did send off two Liverpool players if i’m not mistaken. Both cards were later dismissed by the FA.

  • the worm begins to turn. Graham Poll questions why referees are getting it so wrong:

    some people are reading your columns walter. now is the time to start banging my drum of 2010 when i called for regulating referees.

  • finsbury

    I think that I know how the PGMOB got their stats on referee calls. If you take every event, every occurance in a game of football over 90 minutes, that counts as a ‘call’.
    So, looking at the offisde call stats in a game involving me and my friends, every time I pass to my mate in D_Fence, that goes down as a good offside call because the lino had to figure out whether my teammate was offside or not (please ignore the fact that we are in our own half most of time). For every pass. Over the whole game. That’s how they get such high figures.
    And when they publish these fine looking figures, it is reassuring is it not?

  • Stuart


    I must have mis understood, but I didn’t get where Walter said that. I don’t understand the point of this article then.

    If I told you there are more red cars in my street than the next street, does that make mine a better street? AM I on track here? I am lost

  • Stuart

    I’ve looked again and I still don’t see the point being made. What I understand is that the advantage to the home team doesn’t even out over the season. Well of course, how can the home team cancel it out when they are the away team and the opposition are the home team?

    I think the answer to this lies elsewhere, not in the decision making of the referee but with the players frame of mind.

  • gooner murphy

    @ Dutchie
    No offence taken by your comment.just expressing that we all need to be Impartial when we are stating our opinion the written word can just as easily be misread as a refs decision and I enjoy reading your blogs on untold

  • zdzis

    Coming back and looking through:
    1) It’s MARTINA Hyde 🙂 perhaps in reality it’s “Martin A. Hyde”? Who knows… Either way, don’t marry journalists, they get on your nerves. I know, my fiancee is a proofreader at a newspaper.
    2) Referee bias: I’m of the breed called “unconvinced” and I’ll always stand by the statement that what we actually need is not a revolution that would send all the current “bent” refs burning on crosses, but rather a good, working system that would allow them to perform their job as they should.
    There should be a panel that would review refs abilities in communicating with players; it should regularly test their knowledge of the rules; it should regularly review their performance (preferably after every round of games); and it should not shirk off from the idea of suspending a ref for making an utterly wrong call (Lee Mason and his linesman should be penalized with the same ban Derry got).
    There should be observers at the game, who would then review the footage, confronting wht they saw with their own eyes with what the cameras caught. That way, the panel should be able to assess whether these were errors or biased decisions.
    There should be additional refs, either on the pitch or next to the goals – so that the main ref doesn’t have to account for everything that happens on the pitch and can rely on another to make calls when the action moves fast between the sides; and so that you don’t get so many wrong penalty calls.
    There should be some way of making this kind of a system work. If the hierarchy wasn’t so rigid, perhaps the Rileys, Dowds, Deans and Masons (huh) of this world would not act the arrogant SOBs they do now.
    3) Journalists: the ethics of this trade are in dramatic decline all over the world. It’s not just football, it’s also politics, culture, people… Few journalists actually work the way they used to in the past. Now, you simply take a news, put in some of the spin you’re currently on, and you have a ready-made piece. Now, whether this constitutes bias: I’d say it doesn’t constitute bias in itself, but it creates a friendly environment, in which it is easy to overlook a clearly visible tendency because you’re too lazy to think for yourself. You get the same with politics: how many journalists just report what they hear without assessing it? How many times do you see a journalist actually reflecting on the views proffered by a politician? You usually get what amounts to a relay system. And the referee bias story is something that doesn’t go with the system. It turns the focus away from the games; it goes against the “Respect” campaign which is/was widely publicized; it’s too serious to be funny or catchy. Who wants to read of bent refs? If you’ve seen one, you want to skin him alive; if you’re concerned, you go to Untold and read/write about it; if you just want football (and football news), you shrug and read Guardian some more.
    So, what I see happening is capitalism colliding with ordinary people. The more it collides, the more unstable it becomes. The more the refs fail at their job, the more it collides.
    Don’t know what Orwell would say about all this, though.

  • Matthew Cooper

    Just a thought here guys, but maybe the bias isn’t of the referee and is of the way the game really is played. Thinking about it, when teams play away from home they tend to be more solid, with the home fans egging their team to play more open attacking football. As a result the away team has to do more defending. Common sense suggests that over a period of time more defending = more fouls, so more yellow cards to the team committing these fouls. I’m not suggesting there isn’t a bias, if these guys have followed football to the point where they know the laws, surely they’ve followed a team too(?) but it definitely makes sense for there to be more away yellow cards if you apply my possibly outrageously incorrect logic to each football match.

  • BS

    This is full of crap. Of course the away team should receive more yellow cards. This is because on average the home team is better. You have to control of ball posession, where the ball posession has taken place and then you still haven’t accounted for that the away team presumably plays more aggressively.
    I checked for a bigger database on penalties and there is still a home bias… the way you doing it here, comparing the percentages, however, is outright BS, sorry.