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May 2021

EPL REFEREE REVIEW 2012: the current reviews

By Walter Broeckx

The previous articles in this series can be read here

So after a few referee reviews of Arsenal games we had to change the reviews. And we brought in a weighting system. Because a not given push in midfield in most cases doesn’t have a big impact as a striker pushing the goalkeeper and scoring as a result. It is the same foul but with a very different impact on the final result. A yellow card has also its influence on a game. So we came up with a system where every decision got a score of 0 for an incorrect decision and 1 for a correct decision. And for each yellow card we gave a 0 for an incorrect decision and a 2 for a correct decision.

And then we still had to deal with the most important decisions in football: red cards, penalties and goals. So we gave 0 for an incorrect decision and 3 points for a correct decision.

And so we did last season and changes were made and things were more fine tuned from month to month. The readers appreciated the articles and we had some nice discussions about the rules and how one should understand the rules and apply them on the field. Last years final results of those reviews showed that Arsenal had a few reasons to complain about referee decisions.

But still we found it not enough. A few other referees who visited us and commented at first wanted to help. And so came the ambitious idea to not just do Arsenal games. The idea came to do as many games as possible. And with possible I mean humanly possible.

Our little team of ref reviewers has their own life to live. We have a wife and children. We have a job. We have other things to do. We have our games to do. But those volunteers started the season together with me. I was very annoying at times by asking them to switch the format a few times so they had to fill in more numbers after a while. But they stuck with their job. We didn’t give up.


The final result you will be able to see is thanks to their work. Their every week work. Because don’t underestimate such a review. A simple review can take up to 2 hours time minimum. And that would be a review with hardly any fouls in the game and no penalty claims or offside goals. No just the simple game with not much history in it apart from the final score. The final score on the field and the final score of the ref.


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But there are sometimes games full of controversy. I really felt bad for the ref who did Stoke – Tottenham Hotspur this season. As it was a game with so many referee mistakes that had to be sorted out. I really wonder if he had managed to do this within the usual 3 to 5  hours of work that goes in to one review.


But our referee reviewers did it all and finished the season like we started it. I cannot express my gratitude towards them in a sufficient way. Ref Reviewer 02 and Gianni Dioro,  I cannot thank you enough for your amazing work and effort. It was for nothing (they didn’t get paid for it I mean) but it will not be for nothing (it will have an impact).

So I would like to thank them again for their hard work this season.

The dream was to use a special website that thanks to a few persons would be the place where all the results would come in. But because of some misunderstandings and bad communication it never really started working. This is something for the future I hope and then a ref review should become easier.


Because now we have been working with a spreadsheet model where we had to enter each decision word by word, number by number, line by line. Not the best solution but it worked for this season.


A general review starts with preparing the spreadsheet with the name of the teams, the name of the ref, the date and the game week. And then we start from the first second till the last second of extra time.


Each duel is looked upon if there was a foul or not. Is there a handball or not? And then did the ref give the foul or not. Now when the ref gives a foul things are rather easy. You can find it on many websites who committed the foul and who was the victim. Because we not give the names of the teams in every line but we give the name of each player involved in an incident for fouls. But when a ref gives no foul and it is a foul we have to look ourselves who made the foul and who was the victim. And this is not always easy.


After a while you know most of the players of the big teams but to be honest the players of Norwich or Swansea are rather unknown and so you have a lot of work to find out who is who on the field and in your spreadsheet.


So you see the whole game again. Sometimes it is a painful thing to relive. But the thing is when you review the game of the referee that after a while you even forget which teams are involved. You just focus on the fouls and duels that you sometimes really forget which teams are playing. I know this might sound hard to believe but trust me, as a ref you can work that way. In fact you have to work that way.


Sometimes a decision is easy to judge. The even a blind man could have seen that decisions. But sometimes it is very difficult to see. You have to rewind, stop the images, rewind again, see again, stop again, rewind, see, stop, rewind, see, stop, …. Write the decision down in the spreadsheet.


What is very important is that we stick with the decision on the field unless we can clearly  see from the replays that he was wrong or made a mistake. So the ruling on the field stands until it is proven that it was wrong. So in case of doubt…. we give the ref the benefit of the doubt and give the decision as correct.


When a half is finished we get half time scores of the refs also. Thanks to the form (spreadsheet) the counting of the totals is almost generated automatically. Not completely but very close to complete one could say.


We then filter out the important decisions (yellow, red, penalty, goal and other) and count them separate. This to be sure to see if there is a difference on how a ref calls a foul in the middle of the field or in the penalty area.


Then we start the second half and the same pattern unfolds itself. Looking at the screen, seeing, rewind, see again, stop, rewind…writing it down… Until the game is finished. Again we have to count the important decisions (yellow, red, penalties, goals and others) to get the ref his important decisions score. And then the computer generates the totals from the spreadsheet. If you think this was it…forget it. We are not yet finished yet.


Because publishing an article with nothing but numbers and comments in short words about the decisions would not be a great read. So we give a judgement in words about the game and/or the ref. Or about both. We highlights some particular decisions or non decisions. We give our opinion on the ref and on some of his mistakes or weak points. Or highlight some good points of course.

And when the review is done in that way (by the ref reviewers or myself) we put this in a database that contains all the reviews of the season. The mother of all databases one could say.

The next articles in this series will be : Who let the Dog out?

7 comments to EPL REFEREE REVIEW 2012: the current reviews

  • Woolwich Peripatetic

    It’s definitely going to expose the “Don’t, won’t and can’t believe it” posters.
    That’d be the la-la-la, fingers in their ears, you’re just a bunch of gooners not qualified to review games, if it was true it’d be in the papers of the don’t believe its.
    The football-is-clean-in-England, you’re just bitter because you came third, it’s a man’s game, English rules not European rules of the won’t believe its.
    And finally the why-has-no-one-noticed, surely someone should have ‘blown the whistle’ (Pun intended) by now of the can’t believe its.
    Expect a lot of one line moron comments from the first category and some dubious straw man arguments from the second.

  • Stevie E

    As a general rule, on a Sunday I’m trying to make the time go as slowly as possible, pushing the thought of the inevitable Monday morning alarm clock and another week of work, work, work to the back of my mind, and to chill out and relax. But today is different. I’m energised. I’m wanting the time to fly by. I’ve actually checked the clock to make sure the battery isn’t running out. And it’s all because I genuinely cannot wait for these series of articles. Every teaser article get read twice, every tweet from Dogface is read with an anticipation usually only felt just before Arsenal kick off!!! Ok, maybe thats a slight exaggeration but… The amount of work done this season has been astonishing. I can, hand on heart say, I’ve read every ref review since the series began, also every preview by Phil and Dogface and the quality of the writing, the understanding of the game, tactics and football in general is unmatched anywhere online or in print. I’m almost (almost) sad this is an Arsenal website because it deserves an audience from every team in every league. Happily, the ref reviews are bringing these readers in more and more. Sadly, there are a few (from all teams, Arsenal included) who still cant just engage in debate and banter without turning to insult and abuse. Fingers crossed, ignoring them will make them go away and leave the adults to their conversations. I believe this will be the start of a seismic shift in football in this country. It wont happen overnight. But it will happen, of that I have no doubt. And it started here. Walter, Dogface, Tony, Ref Reviewers, Anne, Phil, you should be very proud of everything you’ve done and everything that is yet to be achieved. I think I speak for the whole Untold readership by saying we’re all very proud of you. Top work guys. Viva la revolucion!!!

  • Domhuaille MacMathghamhna

    Brillant effort Walter and the reviewers…I would join if I could get game feeds but unfortunately where I am, they don’t offer such at an affordable price!

  • El Gringo

    I second all the praise that Stevie E is heaping on Untold! What a tremendous amount of work, dedication, and effort in the name of fairness. Well done, my friends, well done.

    My only hope is that he’s wrong about the seismic shift not happening overnight. Here’s to a sudden step towards justice in football refereeing–it’s certainly not the worst thing wrong with the world, but it is still a thing that’s wrong and as such ought to be set right if possible.

  • Kind words Stevie E and El Gringo, too kind!

  • Sammy The Snake

    Great job to Walter & Co.!
    Please don’t tease us any more, and start sharing the results. Can’t wait…

  • ak47

    spot on ste, not long now 🙂 the suspense is killing me. gonna be a share fest.