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July 2021

The referees, it all “evens out”, and a comparison of our findings with “Debatable Decisions”

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By Walter Broeckx

As you will probably know there are other people around who do something similar to what we do. One of the most visited (I think) is the website debatable decisions that can be found here.

There is however a big difference in their work and ours. One could argue that  we try to do our job in a way that when we cover a game it is covered from the first second till the last second. As a result we cannot do each and every game. And thus we focus on the teams that are near the top of the league.

They work on a different level. They work with what is shown on Match of the Day. And as we have seen MOTD is not complete. It cuts bits and pieces out of a game that are important. I just have to refer to the blatant penalty foul on Rosicky when we played Everton away. A stonewall penalty not given AND MOTD chose not to show it. And as a result it stayed under the radar of the debatable decisions website.

Both ways of working has its value.  Covering and analysing each decision from the ref in a game is only done by football federations who want to rate their refs. So we can hope the PGMOL does it in a similar way because if not… what are they getting paid for?

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Our way of working also gives us an advantage on other things.  We look at what appears at first sight less important decisions. But as we have shown this season: getting your major decisions right is one thing. But if you refuse to give any decisions at all to one team in the middle of the field you are tilting the game as a ref. We can show that in our analysis. The Debatable decisions cannot do this.

They focus on the important decisions and can do all the games thanks to MOTD. We do our own work based on the live match reports we record.

Another very important difference is the fact that we work with qualified referees for our reviews which the other sites choose note to do. They have a panel of a few people who decide correct or not correct and the majority wins. We also have a moment where we doubt a decision and then we talk about it behind the scenes and also take a vote and the majority wins. So again different but still a bit the same way of working.

This intro is to give you a link to their website and over there you can find a summary of the decisions for and against a team.

For those who are to lazy to click on the link I have taken the table from Arsenal and put it in the article. And this is what they found of debatable decisions going in favour and against Arsenal.


  • Song stamp against Newcastle.
  • Arshavin avoiding second yellow against Man Utd.
  • Thomas penalty shout against West Brom.
  • Song not shown red card against Wolves.
  • Milijas red card against Wolves.
  • Drenthe disallowed goal against Everton.


  • Gervinho penalty shout against Newcastle.
  • First goal for Liverpool offside.
  • Evra penalty against Man Utd.
  • Robinson tackle on Walcott no pen in Blackburn game.
  • Robinson tackle on Walcott no red card in Blackburn game.
  • Van Der Vaart handball against Spurs.
  • Chamakh penalty shout against Stoke.
  • Santos fouled in build up to Mata goal against Chelsea.
  • Young handball in area against QPR.
  • Gervinho penalty shout against Fulham.
  • Djourou second yellow against Fulham.
  • Nathan Dyer penalty against Swansea.
  • Bale penalty against Spurs.
  • Suarez penalty against Liverpool.
  • Gardner no red against Aston Villa.
  • Van Persie penalty shout against Man City.
  • Balotelli no red for tackle on Song against Man City.


Don’t bother to try and count them. It is 6 decisions going in our favour and 17 (yes seventeen) against us. In their wrong decisions table we are in second place of having decisions going against us. Liverpool had 19. And we are also in second place of having decisions in our favour. Everton only had 5.

Alas for us those are the worst places to be. Okay it could have been worse. 1 place to be exact. But if we make the difference between things against us and in our favour we should have zero. That is if Mike Riley and his acolytes are telling the truth.

So in the total count we have had 11 important decisions going against us in the season according to the debatable decisions website. I think that is far from an even out situation.

But to make things worse I just want to highlight the fact that because of their reliance on MOTD highlights they have missed a few Arsenal incidents. The one that got censored like the not given penalty for a foul on Rosicky at Everton. In the calculation of the debatable decisions it cost us 2 points in their real league table. If they would have shown it on MOTD we would have had 2 points more.

And finally a last thing I want to point out and want to criticise the debatable decisions website a bit. They sometimes are not as strict as we are at Untold. We look at an incident and say: the decision was correct or not correct. Over there they sometimes base their decisions partly on the fact if “it was difficult to see”. We don’t care if it was difficult to see. If it was visible and the call was wrong it is wrong. That’s it. But they sometimes make up excuses and use the “it was difficult to see for the ref or assistant on the field” so we agree with the ref.

As an example I can give you the Blackburn – Arsenal game where Yakubu scored from an offside position. They called it a correct decision because “it was difficult to see – blah blah”. We said : no he was offside when the pass was made and close or not: offside is offside so a wrong decision.

This example to highlight that in their table the Yakubu goal is not counted as an incorrect decisions against Arsenal. But it should have been included. So just those two examples would lead to Arsenal being on the top of the wrong decisions table with 19. The same as Liverpool. And would have given us 4 points more in total in their real league table.

Now I didn’t wanted to be over critical for them and I hope that nobody takes it that way. I just wanted to point out that both ways of working have their pros and cons.   I think this is also because of the fact that we review it as refs and they review it as football lovers.  Which is a big difference.

So at the end of the day or should I start saying at the end of the season we will not just have the (Arsenal) biased Untold numbers to count but also those from the debatable decisions website. And I think if we combine both numbers a bit we will be very close to being able to analyse what went wrong with the referees in the EPL this season. We as an Arsenal blog and they as an independent (there is no Arsenal supporter in their panel) website will be able to come to a final conclusion.

And the conclusion with only a few games to play is: We have been screwed by the refs.  Over to you Mike R. Why don’t you shed a light on to this? Or will you keep on saying: it will even out?


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22 comments to The referees, it all “evens out”, and a comparison of our findings with “Debatable Decisions”

  • El Tel

    Although I love your hard work Guys without all your efforts a large number of Arsenal fans have known for years that we get dumped on by the FA and their Gang (Refs).

    I would love for you to be able to get your hard work to make a difference. Do you not send your findings to the FA and any media outlet which isnt Manc obsessed?

    Keep going Guys as it makes me happy knowing that what I see as injustice is being documented.

  • Tom

    I’ve always been of the opinion that there is a foreigner bias in the Premiership .A foreign player makes most of a faul because he is a cheat and a diver, English player does the same thing ,and he is just trying to help his team(Gerard),or lost his balance(Ashley Young). Foreign player gets frustrated with his teammates (Arsenal’s Gallas) and throws a fit ,and he is unprofessional and a disgrace , English player does the same (Jamie Carrager ) and it’s a show of character and caring. English referees are instructed to communicate their decisions and instruct the players (as if players didn’t know the rules) during games and this only compounds the problem as it’s easier for a referee to be lenient after a bad Paul Scholles tackle and heavy lobbying from Rooney or Ferdinand ,as oppose to some foreign player who might not even speak English. Having Alex Ferguson on sidelines is in itself worth about five to ten points in a season. During some home games one might confuse the fourth official for a member of Man U bench , with all the joking and smiling going around.

  • malaysian gunner

    Thay is why Arsenal or for that matter MC or any other team will find it tough to wrestthe epl from MU. And that iswhy SAF will find i tough dominate the cl.He’s like a big fish or shark in a small pond.
    I am getting tired of reading how great a manager he is. Btw since he is the greatest manager in the epl only,why not take the challenge of turning Wigan/Wolves or even Everton and turn any of these teams into epl champs oe even aplace in the ep.

  • marcus

    Is this comprehensive?

    Van Persie offsides at Man C

    Should be loads more penalties not given to Arsenal in the list

  • walter

    Marcus, I just wanted to show what they (as non Arsenal supporters) came up with. You are right they didn’t count the RVP offside goal because ‘it was close”… yes it was but he was onside so it should have been counted.

    But this highlights the difference between what we and they do. But I sure would want to give them credit for their work. It is a good attempt to see how things go in general. But not complete….

  • walter

    El Tel,
    I hope that when we produce our final reports we will be able to send it to other people in some way. Something we will have to talk about with the other people involved in this project of course.

    I do hope we can produce something like a team report, a ref report for every team and ref in the PL this season. And lots and lots more reports….

  • Johnny Deigh

    I would like to think that Untold, among other publications, are having their part in exposing the irregularities in the English game.

    Have there ever been so many managers speaking out against bad decisions as they have been doing recently?

  • Mahdain

    thanks for pointing this out Walter..i had personally tweeted them and tell them about how their numbers tend to mislead people and that they cant call their table as “real” pl table since they dont review the whole can imagine the answer i got. yeah the one about “we have lives to live and only do this for pleasure not for a living”…thing is i have always been critical of them as they are misleading people..Man Utd fans use it as “proof” that they are not being favoured when infact they are and then you have the “it was too close to call” bit which apparently makes it a right decision…and they also managed to miss the 10+ penalties that were not awarded to us

  • Adam

    “It all evens out, over the course of a season”. You’ve got to love that comment. Basically Riley is making the public aware of mistakes to come. I vote we put him in charge of a nuclear power plant.

  • bob

    It’s great to read about a distinction with a difference — that is, what you call us to realized between Untold and DD.

    Now here’s a distinction without a difference:
    FIFA announces testing of two different goal-line video systems to prevent the problem that is not a problem. One is called Hawk-Eye, the other is called GoalRef. On second thought, the difference will be the winner of the contract to install this useless technology, a proverbial bridge to nowhere. What will be more interesting is any linkages that might come to light in the contract-award process. It will be worth millions to whoever gets the contract. There are so many scenarios to consider once it’s announced how FIFA has finally cleaned up the game for the greater good. The costs, of course, are huge: (1) the insult of getting a band aid to fix a hemorrhage – when Full Video Replay is needed; and (2) the probable indirect pass-along increase in ticket prices to finance the purchase of these systems. (Does anyone think FIFA will actually pay for this useless boondoggle out of its own coffers?)


  • bob

    Walter, (Tony, please take note),
    I would hope that your end of season review of last season does not go to the worms. I thought it was brilliant, if a stepping stone to this season’s tour de force to come. There should be a review of it, because it was both an accurate summation of the Rednose IX and a prescient predictor of the Rednose XX. At least a link so people can realize it existed, and re-read it for themselves. Perhaps you are too modest or know its worts, but it was a landmark study which, I feel, has been bullied into obscurity because it could/would be perceived as too pro-Arsenal to be serious. Well bollocks to that. You have that rare blend of skill and integrity and that report is a landmark. It would be great if it got re-surfaced in a near future article on what happened last season as prelude to the Great Turnaround to be.

  • bob

    p.s. In case anyone ever thought that Seep Bladder was anything less than a massive first-class hero of a man:

  • iniez

    @Mahdain, I agree completely about manu fans using it as proof, the problem is they’ll take anything as evidence because they’re convinced there’s nothing wrong. Honestly though you can’t really tell someone their team is winning the league because it’s bent and expect them to believe it, but it gets even more difficult when there’s supposed “evidence” that somewhat negates your argument or at least gives them a counter-argument. That’s really the only problem I have with debatable decisions, while their intentions may be in the right place, their facts aren’t so much. I don’t see anyone other than Untold doing as good a job but I can’t use it as believable proof because it’s an arsenal site (and I mean believable in that because we’re arsenal fans we’ll be biased to further our own ‘agenda’), even though I’m very proud of how unbiased this site actually is. My concern is that debatable decisions, and similar sites, are maybe more believable to fans outside the arsenal sphere because Untold is run by arsenal fans and others simply won’t believe there’s no arsenal bias going on. And it’s a real shame because the work being done here is nothing short of spectacular, and I really only pray that other fans notice the amount of work that goes into this blog and how unbiased it really is. I think this will happen though, the ref reviews are really gaining momentum and it’s amazing how far it’s gone since it first started

  • bob

    Yes, one issue: tribal mentality that cannot and will not consider that everything exists through their tribal lens on reality.
    The other issue: how to get people to do what’s good to change reality to help their own side by being fair to all sides. To me, this is what UA/Ref Reviews especially is doing.

  • bob

    To me, I’ve seen nothing more scary in football as the celebration at Old Toilet of the willfully blind ManUrites cheering like zombies in riveted unison as Don Fungus did his victory jig, and vanNestlerooy his victory slide, and Micky R his stop Arsenal call and called it an honest victory. To me, it is THE TEXTBOOK CASE in the self-deception that gives a certain species a very bad reputation. I would love to see ManShitty win this tainted title to deny those zombies and their offspring and seasoned ticket holders the fruit of the Rednose XX.

  • Abdulaziz Alfarhoud

    Good points Walter, i tried to see some ref mistakes for Arsenal before i wrote article here, i found that they are bias & on some matches they said the refs did good decisions but in fact it was against Arsenal !


    The Ref was Phil Dowd:
    1- he didn’t sent out Kolo Tour for his Tackle to Ramsey inside the Penalty Area so it should be a penalty.
    2- Richard’s handball ” penalty
    3- Robin Van Persie scored an onside goal not offside & he cancelled it.

    i went to Debate Decision site & i found bias answers they said all Phill Dowd decisions are CORRECT ??????

    this is the link for their page about the match

    IF ANYONE want some photo about ref wrong calls, just follow me ( @azizalfarhoud ) & tell me about.

    Thanks walter for your article !

  • Mandy Dodd

    Good to see our home crowd starting to out these refs.
    Articles about certain refs all over very well used web sites, wonder how long they can continue, or if they will merely change their form in some way?

  • Menace

    @ Adam – I just love the idae of Riley in charge of a nuclear plant……
    It will really even itself out………after the meltdown and big bang!!!

  • bob

    It’s already been Riley-san’s part time job, can you tell?

  • Stuart

    Would it be possible to break down the incorrect given and not given into the area in pitch ie free kick not awarded in own third or attacking third? I think these would also be a factor to consider with the uneven playing field as it could make the bias even more serious if say for example Man Utd only get fouls made by them which are not called in their opponents goal area.

  • Mozicz

    Walter, I will like to know how many 50/50 descision goes in favour of MAN U?

  • none

    It would have interesting to see DogFace’s preview for the Manc Derby.