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August 2021

REFEREE REVIEW 2012: The London Clubs. And now we find the bias.

The previous article in this series can be found here

By DogFace and Walter Broeckx

Untold Arsenal has a team of qualified referees who have reviewed more than 40% of the EPL games from last season. The reviews themselves were based on full match video footage with the advantage of video technology features such as slow motion and pause.

By reviewing those 155 games we have made a database of more than 7000 decisions that have been judged by our panel of dedicated and qualified referees.

The numbers you will see are based on those decisions and those reviewed games.

Teams include:

Queens Park Rangers
Tottenham Hotspur

Untold Vs PGMOL - London clubs 2011/2012

First thing is that this is the highest reviewed region in percentage terms. And in this region we have a team that has been reviewed all 38 games, Arsenal. Chelsea has been reviewed 32 games, Tottenham Hotspur has been reviewed 21 games. So 3 teams we have reviewed for more than 50%.  Fulham has been reviewed during 10 games and Queens Park Rangers, being a newcomer in the PL has been reviewed across 8 games.

Before we go further in the numbers we must point at the fact that there are no referees from London or the Greater London area in the PL. We think it is strange that from the most populated area in England there are no refs who make it to the top. Is there a problem with recruiting? Or is there another problem? A problem where the little circle of refs wants to be kept a little circle?

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But those questions are for later, let us now go and see how the non-London refs did the London teams and how competent they were.

PGMOL Vs EPL - Basic Competency - London clubs 2011/2012

This is the lowest regional number of correct calls. Just below the Midlands number.  And some 2% below the league average. And the same goes for the weighted numbers. The lowest overall and 2% below the league average.

So at first sight the refs didn’t perform at their best when refereeing London teams.  Let us now look at the different type of decisions and see if there are any strange things to see.

PGMOL Vs EPL - Basic Competency Breakdown - London clubs 2011/2012

The goal decisions are slightly worse than the normal number, but there is not much difference to be seen.  Apparently the officials did their best when they were judging the offside decisions. Slightly fewer mistakes were made or could be judged, and thus given as correct by our referee reviewers.

In the other decisions we see that the number is not as good as the league average. Not by much but still just under 30% of the general decisions were wrong.  Also the penalty decisions were not as good as the league average.

For the yellow and red cards there is only a slight difference between the overall league average and the London region numbers.  So now let us try to look at how the wrong calls were given. Who benefited and who not?

PGMOL Vs EPL - Incorrect calls Breakdown - London clubs 2011/2012

The Bias Against London

And now we get to see a real strange thing. If we look at the away bias we see that London teams are facing a big away bias. The highest of the whole league.  Twice the usual away bias a team could have against it compared to the league average.

That being already amazing (the highest away bias against the London region teams) then the home bias is maybe even more amazing. Because when London teams play at home there seems to be no home bias any more.  There is a negative bias against the home teams in London.

When we put weight to it we see the same strangest things. The away bias is the highest visible from any region. And the home bias is still a negative one for the teams from London.  So when we look at all the London teams combined there is no such thing as a home bias in this region. Let us move on and try to see if we can see differences between the teams.

PGMOL Vs EPL - Incorrect calls Breakdown by Team - London clubs (Un-Weighted) 2011/2012

And now we see that two teams got a very high numbers of decisions going their way. Queens Park Rangers and Fulham had rather some big decisions going their way in the games we reviewed.  Tottenham was also on the good end when mistakes were made during the season.

Chelsea is one of those teams that looks to come close to what we could call ‘even out’. In fact all the numbers rather close to each other both in their favour or against them.

The bias against Arsenal

And then we have Arsenal the only London team where there is a big negative bias swing in the wrong decisions.

PGMOL Vs EPL - Incorrect calls Breakdown by Team - London clubs (Weighted) 2011/2012

When we put weight to the decisions we see the same image. Queens Park Rangers and Fulham having a nice positive swing in the numbers and lots higher compared to the non weighted decisions. Tottenham also has a higher positive bias number.

Chelsea has gone down a little bit but not by much and they stay in the positive area.

And Arsenal remains Arsenal. The highest negative bias swing of all teams in London and beyond. If you can give it against Arsenal, just give it seems to be the word amongst referees.

EPL vs PGMOL - Incorrect calls Breakdown by Referee - London clubs (Un-Weighted) 2011/2012

If we look at the referees we see that we have had 18 referees in the London games. And only 4 of them had a positive bias score for London teams. This means that 14 had a negative bias when doing London teams.  Anthony Taylor seems to be the worst ref for London but he only did one game with a London team so this could be not really reliable. The same could be said about Stuart Attwell with only 2 games. But then we have a string of referees who did more games like Mason, Dowd, Foy and a few others with clear negative bias against London teams.

EPL vs PGMOL - Incorrect calls Breakdown by Referee - London clubs (Weighted) 2011/2012

And again if we put weight the picture remains the same with around 77% of the refs having a negative bias number when London teams are involved in their games.

The final conclusion:

Poor overall numbers for the refs in general at first sight with some of the lowest totals in general and well below the league average. But still the negative result are mainly due to one team. So it seems that there is not a general anti London feeling amongst the refs.

Queens Park Rangers seems to have a rather good relationship with the referees.  Well at least in the games we reviewed. And also Fulham doesn’t have much reason to complain about the refs in last season.

Tottenham also had a few things going their way but maybe if all goes well we could shed some perspective in to that when we talk about the individual teams.  Chelsea came closest  to even out one could say from last season.

And Arsenal? Arsenal should move. Moving to the North West maybe would be helpful.

Next article in this series: making a first round up after the regions

35 comments to REFEREE REVIEW 2012: The London Clubs. And now we find the bias.

  • Stuart

    Who shares sponsors with the Refs again?

  • Stuart

    Makes you think, if he is complaining there must be something wrong

  • Gunner4evr

    That is why I have no faith in thee guys in black. Before Chelsea arrived on the scene,Arsenal were the chief rivals to the rf. Now with MC it will not be easy for him. I have wriiten off Arsenal since Wenger went on the self destruct mode.

  • John Lynch

    Mike Dean showed a bias in favour of a London club playing away. — Spurs, where he celebrated their first goal and awarded a non-existent penalty for their second!

  • tinalex

    This is not related to the article but would like to alert like minded fans to the existence of some poll on where fans are being asked to vote ye/no to the question “do you think Usmanov should be given a seat on the board?”. Current the yes vote is leading at 96% percent although only handful of people (50) have voted. I would urge fans to go and vote “NO” at the poll so that we do not end up with unrepresentative poll results being used to further distablize the club.

    Thank you

  • CB

    The easy PGMOL defence will be ‘Arsenal website, bound to show refs biased against Arsenal’.

    So worth having a response (based on the data and your methods and openness) in place.

  • Mahdain

    and they say we Arsenal have no reason to complain because apparently it all evens out..the hell it does.. A disgrace

  • Lanz

    Tinalex, I really wish the guy would get on the board, not because I believe in his cause but that the people who support him now will see his true color. He is at the moment enjoying the “if only I had a chance” sympathy that politicians who seem to be shut out often enjoy. When they finally get there, they mess up. Anyone remembers the Solidarity Movement in the then Poland? What happened eventually?

    He goes on creating an impression that he would have been doling out money, what stops him now?

    I think the board is wary of his reputation and are highly suspect of his innermost intentions. You would recall too that people took pictures of ManUre posters in the office of his partner. So, one cannot just be sure at all!

  • Mahdain

    @CB the ref reviews for each match are open for anyone to view and agree/disagree on.. Where are the PGMOL numbers?

  • Rog b

    With three more teams coming into the EPL next season all from southern England(that will mean just under half the teams in the EPL)and not a single ref from the Greater London area I find the prospect for any of those teams getting a fair call (when not playing against each other) truly saddening and worrying. Brilliant but frightening stuff and with what you have already presented so far its not that difficult to see what your conclusions will be. Untold Sadness.

  • Rog b

    oh yeah and Untold Bias

  • Mandy Dodd

    Seems we truely are being attacked from all angles, calls for a siege mentality

  • WalterBroeckx


    I have an answer ready for this. I think it is a rather good answer. But I have written it down in a full article but that will only come on line later in the series after we have done all the teams articles.

    Don’t worry they will not get away with such an easy remark 😉

  • anatra

    Is there really a London bias? Isn’t it more of an Arsenal bias? The absolutely insane figures for Arsenal might have something to do with the fact that “our” refs actually are Arsenal fans. Don’t want to take anything away from them but one can only asume that it’s hard not to have the Arsenaltinted glasses on. So, for that reason, I would looove it if someone who isn’t an Arsenal fan would care to review if not all, so a couple of AFC games from the past season. It wouldn’t surprise me if the bias still could be seen. Even if it wouldn’t be as drastic as it is now.

  • bob

    If there’s a dedication to doing a fair job – for a larger goal, a fair pitch for everyone, which would help everyone’s side to win and lose fairly – then it’s not all that hard to imagine that this is an unbiased report. Also, there are well-known was to minimize statistical bias that study after study utilizes and publicizes when it is published. So, while the way you imagine this – Arsenal bias will creep into the results – can openly and honestly be defended against such doubts. Of course anyone with an opinion can say the earth is flat and there are two sides to that story too.

  • bob

    Do you have a link to any media or blog coverage of the ManUre posters in the partner’s offices?

  • bob

    Walter, Dogface,
    I think that a good way forward in order to ease in and include new readers, on the fly, without them thinking they have to start reading everything from the beginning first (and then give up before they try it) is to start out with a little box of bullet points called “Summary Findings to Date” In other words, like a mini-index (old style annotated table of contents) for each article, use a sentence or two that describes the main points of that article with a link back to it. I realize that these can be reached by title (only) from the home page, but I don’t think it’s enough to bring new visitors into the flow of what’s been going on here.

    From the standpoint of reader (“customer”) experience, I think it’s a mistake to assume that most readers, and especially new readers, will have been following this from the very beginning. A summary like this can give new readers (indeed all reasons) a point of reference and encouragement to sample and re-sample the rest; not only the immediately present article.

  • bob

    p.s. sorry, ^ meant “readers” not “reasons”
    And, if interested, you could place the link to this Series Summary-to-date box right under the heading, just before or after the Previous Article in this series link.

  • Stuart

    Is anyone aware of any further media interest occuring so far?

  • Matt Clarke

    Looking at the weighted bias against each team: it seems that Arsenal have had to cope with as much as Chelsea and QPR combined, or Spuds and Fulham combined.

    That’s both a damning indictment against the PGMOL…

    …and a testament to our resilience in overcoming this to the extent that we still managed to finish 3rd in the league.

    Good job Untold Arsenal in revealing all of this. Further analysis eagerly awaited.

  • Stuart

    Have you submitted / considered submitting a report to AFC? I’m sure it would be motivating (and re-assuring) to a degree for AW to see the level of hinderance affecting us and how well the team did to overcome this. I know he is obviously aware as he has been there on a game by game basis but to see it documented in full totals sometimes makes you realise exactly how much you have achieved.

  • antra

    My only concern with this is that readers new to this site (or the AAA) might not take this as serious as we do. Mainly because of the disastrous figures. I don’t say that they (the figures) are not right, all I’m saying is that since they are so outrageous they don’t seem do be right. And – I don’t doubt that the reviewers did their very best to avoid bias (as that was partly what they were set out to find out about in the first place).

  • bob

    AFC and other teams need to take this on in a big way and show some spine about it. To defend their/our own players. Otherwise it can well become a disincentive – though not necessarily decisive – for players to want to come to us, or to stay with us. Players need to feel protected and that they have a reasonable chance of success. These numbers are shocking and to defend the franchise, the players, the fans and our collective prospects. Indeed fair football’s prospects. If the outlook is not we’re all in this together – which it is not – then Arsenal will be allowed and encouraged to stay so grossly and disproportionately slated and devalued. To all those who say stop whinging and get on with it, may we offer a collective f$$ck you.

  • bob

    sorry, ^ meant to write: “and we need to defend the franchise…etc.”

  • Spartan, a black coat labrador

    I love this site. The true example of a Gooner site. Can’t wait for the nitty gritty of the series . It’s about time these people are exposed. COYG.

  • Dan T

    @ Tinalex

    I just think when somebody owns such a large percentage of a company they deserve a say in the way that the company is run. I don’t know how such matters work but I would assume that anyone on the board would receive an equal vote in any matters that are being decided. So if he was on the board he could put his views forward but the others don’t have to go along with his views and could vote against his ideas (I presume).

  • rusty

    @Walter – it seems possible that your finding that there is “no home bias in London” is based on a disproportionate number of Arsenal home games? I don’t see a breakdown of home vs away for the other teams, but you checked 71 games total, so 19 Arsenal home games could well zero out the home bias demonstrated in the other ~35 London home games…

  • @rusty – looks like we’ll have to dig a little deeper then eh?!


  • Menace

    I am not surprised by the resulting stats.

    I have constantly commented on the standards of officials and their bias and pathetic interpretation of the Laws. They decide the EPL.

    They were not successful last season because they found an oily rag caused them to slip up.

    The PGMOL are as pathetic an organisation as one can get under the very corrupt set up that exists in football. There is no competition and the monopoly ensures a stagnant pool of bigots. The officials in any sport need to be independant and replaceable if unsuitable. In the case of PGMOL there is no alternative as the FA have gloved hand in their organisation right up to the elbow. It is probably from here that the ‘arse and elbow’ originates.

    With or without RVP, Arsenal have to play against 14 each week and 16 in the Champions league. At least the Champions League are not so biased but just cheat occassionally.

  • mickess

    Absolutely confirms what we have seen at our games. As a gold member I have become increasingly frustrated at the injustices on the field. There is undoubtedly a case to answer but who will listen? I was invited to the supporters meeting with Ivan Gazides and tabled a question regarding refereeing standards and asked if the club agreed and would support sites such as Untold Arsenal. Guess what my question did not get to be asked. Unless the club and the media support the questions raised then we have no chance of changing things let alone having any ‘southern’ or unbiaised referees.
    Thanks to Walter and Dogface for all the hard work.

  • Mike

    Splendid work. Can you now do a study into positive and negative media reporting and the bias shown by disciplinary panels.

    You know the old saying; just because we Gooners are paranoid, it doesn’t mean they aren’t out to get us!!

  • marcus

    Apparently Barclays are hoping to bury the LIBOR scandal by outing the corruption in the EPL and using the expose to divert attention away…


  • Gf60

    @Walter, Dogface
    Hate to ask you to think about additional work, but once this “fullish” season is reviewed, what chance of comparing Arsenal last season with Arsenal the season before?
    Instinct tells me that this year was better than last? I’m sure I shouted “You blind ^%$%#” less last year than the season before?

  • WalterBroeckx


    I will try to do this based on my own files later when the “official” review is over.
    Problem is we have done it a bit different last year so it is a bit difficult to compare completely.

  • Shakabula Gooner

    I have just visited and voted.
    658 votes, “NO” leading 55% to “Yes” 45%. Must be the weight of my vote!!