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August 2021

The ultimate review of the refs’ performances. From Stoke to Spurs, from Chelsea to Fulham

By Walter Broeckx

If you are here for the first time, welcome.  This is a blog about all aspects of football, written primarily by and for Arsenal supporters – but with a significant non-Arsenal readership, and occasional non-Arsenal writers too.

The thought today is: “Do you ever feel unhappy about a ref after a game? Did you have the feeling that the ref screwed up (or worse, screwed your team) during a game? Or do you feel they screwed you all season?  Well, maybe that’s not passion and paranoia after all.  It could be that you have been watching something much more sinister.

If you are a regular here, you will know what I am talking about.  Every week through the season we review the major games from the point of view of the ref’s performance, looking for excellence, and noting bias.

Now you might say, “so what, it evens all out at the end of the season” In that case you also might be interested in what we will show you in the next few weeks. Because we will give you the answer as to whether this is true or not.

A team of qualified referees has been reviewing the performances of the referees in as many games as we could do. And we have been giving points for good decisions from the ref and taking points away when he makes a bad decision.

As this is an Arsenal blog site we of course made sure that we covered all Arsenal games. So we did 38 games of Arsenal – but our total of games reviewed was 149 games.  That is almost 20% of all the PL games of last season.

And 75% of the games involved are not Arsenal games.   We have done at least 6 games (15%) per team and in fact quite a few more than 6 games for many teams. That is the equivalent of 18 points in the table over which referees have control (if they are not doing their job absolutely correctly).   You can imagine the impact this could have on the final table.

I will be explaining how we have done this a bit more in the next few days in different articles so you can get a notion on how we work, and how we are different from other websites such as Debatable Decisions.

We have done a review from the first second of each game till the last second. Our reviewers (who as I say are all refs) are based all over the world, watch each game in detail. And then give their points for referee performance.  If you have not seen such a review here’s one by way of example:  Fulham 1 Chelsea 1   

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So you can see our difference from Debatable Decisions in that they work on the highlights shown on MOTD.  Our reviewers have done their review based on the live images shown on TV. So we have done fewer games but we have gone deeper into each game than others.

We are pretty sure of this that this is the first time that so many games of the EPL have been reviewed by an organisation independent of the referees own organisation, and the official football authorities. One can hope that the PGMOL (for those who don’t know this name it is the company that runs the refs in the EPL and the head of them all is former PL ref Mike Riley) does this for all the games and all the refs in each game they do. But as their numbers are mostly kept secret we don’t know if they actually do it.

Of course you might say: this is an Arsenal blog so they will see it through Arsenal glasses. Well I could point at our well know rivalry with our neighbours from North London, Tottenham Hotspur. And when Tottenham went to Stoke earlier this season we reviewed their game and you can read the review  (And so you can see that even we as Arsenal supporters have openly stated that Tottenham got screwed in that game big time).

This is just an example to show you that when our reviewers did their job, they did it with a desire to tell it how it really is. Regardless of who is playing. A good call is a good call and a bad call is a bad call. Be it for Arsenal, be it for Tottenham, be it for Stoke or for what ever other team you support. We have tried to be as fair as can be.

After doing all those games we have gathered all the information from those games in one database. And from this database we will give you numbers and facts. Numbers that might surprise you. Numbers that might shock you. Numbers that might cause you to raise your eyebrows. Numbers that you maybe don’t like in some cases. But I can assure you that it will be very interesting to see how your team did, to see how the referee did.

So keep an eye on this site in the next days. The biggest independent survey on how the referees are doing in the EPL will be revealed over here on this site. How high is the standard of the referees in the EPL? High? Low? Average? Amazingly good? Shockingly bad?

One thing is for sure this is the place where you can find an answer to those questions.


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16 comments to The ultimate review of the refs’ performances. From Stoke to Spurs, from Chelsea to Fulham

  • Mahdain

    cant just wait Walter.. Finally we’ll have the numbers that show how badly we get treated by refs

  • Arvind

    Yeah agree. Cannot wait to see how bad or good? (that’d be a shock) things are.

  • marcus

    Fantastic work Walter Dogface and the team.

    I think this is truly a labour of love.

  • bob

    Bravo!, Walter.
    My Prometheus Award to you and all your ref team: You’ve stolen fire from the would-be gods and brought it down to the pitch for all to see. (And please don’t neglect to re-present us with a link to your review from last season, a brilliant beginning that broke the ground(s)!)

  • Stuart

    I await in eager anticipation Walter. Big thanks to you and all the team involved for your relentless efforts in producing this information.

  • El Gringo

    Here’s to hoping for a wide audience! Great job explaining what you’re up to for more than us Untellers.

  • dan

    Sounds great.

  • Shakabula Gooner


    Even before seeing the summary of results, we can already score you and your team A+ for pupose, focus and tenacity.

    I remember the criticisms when the project idea was taking shape and possibly this is why some stop reading (or commenting on this blog) but now the result has been since – in snipets of individual match reports…

    Can’t wait to see, criticize with the view of making better for the future seasons, what the overall picture reveals…

    However, our no so subtle goal remains: to influence EPL and PGMOL to embrace a fairer refereeing that that better reflects the current FIFA rules and not the hard-tackling model that PGMOL seem to prefer.

    To this end, we shall yet achieve the goal by making UA and Walter et al’s ground breaking unignorable by the UK media and PGMOL by sheer tenacity and difficult to deny evidences… as to what is wrong with the current system.

    Go right on Walter; we eagerly await your servings…

  • rusty

    As Tony said some weeks back, I’d rather see Arsenal lose a fairly-reffed game than win thanks to a string of suspicious calls.

    Not that we have much to worry about on that score… even before we see game-by-game breakdowns, 0 home penalties in a season is a fairly impressive mark.

  • Ian Jenkinson

    Hi Walter,

    A great prelude to your findings. Whatever the outcome, well done to you and your fellow reviewers for putting in what must have been many many hard man hours of non paid work. As Marcus said above – a true labour of love.

    I wait with bated breath…..

  • bjtgooner

    @ Walter

    A very interesting appetiser. I look forward to subsequent articles.

  • bob

    Walter, all,
    I think that readers could each be asked to consider sending links to the report that’s coming to ten people each with an interest in football; expand awareness exponentially. As it goes viral, if it’s (hopefully because that will bring attention) attacked in the mainstream, then it will have struck deep into the heartlessness that defends their realm and the rapacious minds that know the cost of everything and the value of nothing and their paid-for stenographers whose fingers could surely do better things that churn out the mind-numbing fog of daily lies.

  • WalterBroeckx

    Bob, I had been thinking along the same line. We could use twitter of course and facebook. We should ask people with lots of followers to retweet and so… And then hope that the press picks it up.

  • bob

    An appeal to any (former or current, EPL and non-EPL) player(s) who might have felt hard done by the killer bees of the Hives of Riley could also (perhaps under a nomme de guerre) send it out to their zillions of followers in a tweet-a-thon. That, of course, would be a truly great turnaround.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Looking forward to your findings, as you say, every attempt has been made to take any Arsenal supporting bias out. This could be a first

  • novicegooner

    looking forward to it.
    one thing is clear though, the refs love to screw up Arsenal.