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July 2021

REF REVIEW 2012: Manchester United – a home advantage 3 times the league average


If you think you know your Arsenal, it is time to think again


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.


For 2 minutes it looked as if United won the league. Then QPR collapsed and City scored 2 late goals and the title was lost.

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A season of highs but also a few lows for Manchester United ended on a low note. The only thing that is left now is to find out how the refs were in the games that had Manchester United on the field.

Untold Vs PGMOL - ManchesterUnited 2011/2012

First thing first: we managed to review 32 games from Manchester United last season. That is 84,21% of the total games in the PL they played. This should give us a good over all picture on how the refs have been in those games.

You can point at the fact that we are missing 6 games. Yes we are. But believe us when we see that we would have loved it if we could have covered them all. But some games were not shown live on TV and so couldn’t be reviewed.

And then there is the little fact that we were in need for a few extra referees to review the games. It doesn’t matter who you support to be a ref reviewer. As long as we know who you support you will be fine.

The most important thing for a ref reviewer is that you should support the laws of the games. That you are a qualified ref who only wants one thing: that the refs apply the laws in every game in the same way.

So if you think this can improve and you find yourself in this little description: just make yourself know to us and join us.

But for last season you have to accept what we have done for now and if you don’t like it: don’t moan, don’t complain, just join us to make this even better.

Talking about better, let us first have a look at the general level of referees in games that had Manchester United as one of the teams on the field.

PGMOL Vs EPL - Basic Competency - ManchesterUnited 2011/2012

A first note if you are new on this site: this is the score from the refs on the field. This has not really something to do with Manchester United or their opponents. They just happened to be on the field when we looked at the refs.

And what do we see in our first set of numbers? Well the refs in general were slightly better than the league average of 72.49% correct decisions. But only by a margin of 0.31%. So not really a big difference between the league average and the games that had Manchester United on the field.

Now you might say that well this isn’t too bad. But let me point at the fact that this score means that the refs were not able to even avoid making 1 mistake in every 4 decisions. If a ref had to make 10 decisions 3 were wrong. This is an absolute minimum in my opinion.

If we look at the weighted decisions we see that the league average is 71,35% and the score of the games with Manchester United in it is 72.58%. So that is more than 1% better than the league average. This has nothing to do with decisions going in favour or against a team. This is the score from the ref.

Again I think both scores (the league average and this score) is too low for a league like the PL. The best league in the world but refs make 3 mistakes in every 10 decisions doesn’t look like a good score to me.

The next step is seeing how the score of the different type of decisions were. And if you are new I just will tell you that the difference between weighted and un-weighted can be found in these different type of decisions. Other and offside decisions have a weight of 1. Yellow cards have a weight of 2. And goals, penalty and red cards decisions have a weight of 3.   In the un-weighted version of numbers we gave every decision a weight of 1. In the weighted decisions we put the weight as explained on to the decisions.

PGMOL Vs EPL - Basic Competency Breakdown - ManchesterUnited 2011/2012

If we look at the goal decisions we see that the league average on goal decisions was 91.753%. The score in Manchester United games was 93.860% correct decisions. So this is a better score. But we have to keep in mind that this is the most important type of decisions as it determines who gets the points after the 90 minutes. So this type of decision should have a score of around 99% correct. We will not settle for less. So despite this being a better score than the league average I still don’t think it is good enough.

Talking about a score of 99%. Mike Riley (chief of the referees) claimed that 99% of the offside decisions were correct. From the decisions we could check we only come to a score of 88.89%. And when we couldn’t check the decisions we marked them as correct. As we always do in case of doubt we give the ref the benefit of the doubt.  So the offside decisions are not only worse than the league average but also far, far away from the claims from Mike Riley.

For the other decisions (all the fouls in the middle of the field) we have found an average league score of 71.96% correct decisions.  The score in the Manchester United games is slightly better with 72.62%. But remember 3 mistakes in every 10 decisions is what we are talking about.

The penalty decisions. In the Manchester United games we found that 64.71 % of the penalty decisions were correct. That is some 2,5% better than the league average. Before you feel good about that number let me tell you that this means that from every 10 penalty decisions a ref had to make 4 were wrong. For such an important decision type this is totally unacceptable.

If we take a look at the red cards decisions we see that the league average was only 21% correct cards. In the Manchester United games we have found a score of around 36%. So much better than the league average but well it couldn’t become any worse could it?

The league average for correct yellow cards decisions was 56.28%. In the Manchester United games we only had 53.17%. So not that good. In fact this almost comes down to a score where the ref throws a coin in the air and makes up his decision on the outcome of that to give a yellow card or not.

So in general some good scored for the refs, some bad score for the refs.

But now we will forget the correct decisions and we are going to have a look at the incorrect decisions. Because those are the decisions that (can) make the difference in a game. After all making the correct decisions is what he is being paid for. Making mistakes is something that has to be avoided as much as possible.

So from now on we move in to the red zone (how appropriate) of the scores from the refs and we will be seeing who benefited from the wrong decisions in the games that had Manchester United in it.

PGMOL Vs EPL - Incorrect calls Breakdown - ManchesterUnited 2011/2012

First let us start with the words from Mike Riley (PGMOL – head of the refs) who said last season: there is no bias from refs in the PL. From our overall numbers we have proven that there is at least one bias: the home and away bias.

And our un-weighted numbers have shown that when you play away from home in the PL you will have to overcome a negative away bias of -1.826 points. After covering 15 away games from Manchester United we have found that they didn’t have to face a negative away bias but in general had a positive bias in their favour of 1.000 bias points.

What goes up, must come down of course and when you play at home you can expect a positive home bias in your favour of +1.826 bias points. In the 17 home games we did from Manchester United we found a positive bias score of +5.647 bias points. That is almost 3 times the normal positive home bias that any other team can expect.

The final result leaves us with a positive bias swing of +3.469 bias points in favour of Manchester United.

If we look at the weighted numbers we have found that in general a team that goes away from home in the PL will have to overcome a negative away bias of -2.619 bias points.

In the games we covered from Manchester United they didn’t have a negative away bias against them but a positive away bias of +1.333. Now this might not sound too spectacular but if you compare this to the overall league average you can see that this is a complete reverse situation.

If we look at the home games we can expect Manchester United (just like any other average team) to have a home advantage bias of +2.619 bias points. In the home games at Old Trafford we have found a positive bias of 7.647 in their favour. Again that is almost 3 times the league average.

The final result is a positive bias score of +4.687 in favour of Manchester United.

And before you now go to the comment section and start writing some abuse: this is only the 4th highest total positive bias we found in total in the league. But more about that later when we unveil the league tables with the position of each team in each decisions and bias table.

Now let us take a look and see which refs are very Manchester United friendly and who are not that friendly.

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

We had 15 different refs in the games we covered Manchester United. 4 refs had a negative bias against Manchester United last season.  The ref that stands out is Peter Walton. He did one game and was very negative for Manchester United. But he will no longer trouble them as he somehow got shifted to the USA.

Another negative ref was Anthony Taylor who only did one game and had a high negative score. Not in the major decisions but still many wrong decisions against Manchester United.  The negative bias from Martin Atkinson and Andre Marriner is rather small.

The 11 positive refs for United. This may come to a surprise to non-Manchester United supporters but Howard Webb was not the ref with the highest pro United bias score. No in the un-weighted decisions he has the lowest bias swing of all refs. I’m not going to name all 11 refs of course but Chris Foy and Mike Dean had the highest un-weighted bias in favour of Manchester United last season. Lots of high scores from lots of refs in fact.

Let us see what happens if we put weight on the decisions.

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

The same 15 refs of course and the same 4 negative refs. Peter Walton his negative score has even gone up or should I say down to unacceptable negativity. The same can be said of Anthony Taylor who doesn’t seem to be a good friend of Manchester United at all. The negative score from Atkinson is not that big and I think Andre Marriner who did 4 games tried to be the most unbiased refs of the 15 we reviewed.

On the positive side we still see that Howard Webb was not completely making his name as a United liking ref. Despite all the jokes that are being said about him he sure was not their best player during the games he did. The big decisions mostly going to United but in the middle of the field he messed up almost equally for both teams.

The scores of the positive refs are all rather high. All above 6 bias points. So that is a lot to overcome for any team. Chris Foy leading the pack in front of Mark Clattenburg in this graphic. I must say that I am really surprised by the position of Clattenburg in this table as in general he has been a middle of the table man for most teams. Did he have a bad day at the office in the only United game he did?

Mike Dean in third place shows that he knows what he has to do to stay at the top. A bit cryptic maybe. Regular readers will understand, if you are new: food for thought.

Let us now see at the league table and the bias score put together

PGMOL Vs ManchesterUnited - Incorrect calls Seasonal Handicap - ManchesterUnited (Weighted) 2011/2012

United started well in the season and you see that until game 5 the ref bias was in their favour. The first swing can be seen in week 6. United dropped points in that game when the ref showed a big negative bias against them.  Week 8 we see the same. A negative bias and dropping points again. Those are two games that stand out of the refs because it is clearly visible that the ref in those games didn’t give them anything at all. So even Manchester United drops points when the refs are giving them the wrong decisions. Who said it doesn’t matter and you have to be stronger and better and should overcome such things? In these numbers you can clearly see that it does matter a lot that when the ref is “against” you in his decisions it is very hard to win games.

Of course the flip side of this is that when you have the ref on ‘your side’ it gets easier to win  games. So one could ask himself: how many of those points in games with a very big bias in favour of United were won thanks to that bias from the refs? Because if you accept the first paragraph in which I say that United clearly lost points because the ref making a mess, then you have to consider the second option also.

Another good example can be seen in game 13. Lots of decisions going for United but a few major mistakes by the refs against United on big decisions. And again we see United dropping points.

If the bars are as big above and below the zero line it just shows that the ref in general had a bad game. But when one bar is much longer than the other side it means the refs had a biased game.

Do you still believe that refs have no influence on the outcome of the games. Be it a positive or negative one?


There is no denying the fact that Manchester United had a clearly positive bias from the refs in general. If you want to deny it be my guest and go through all the 32 games and point at where we are wrong in our numbers. It is in the open and you can check each decision.

In fact those few games when the ref made mistakes that went against United they dropped points. And maybe that is the best indication of them all that shows how important the refs can be.

Manchester United dropped points because of bad referee decisions going against them. But it won far more points when the referee decisions went in their favour.

Some links of reviews we did of Manchester United games


Thinking of commenting?  That’s great but if you have not read our reviews in the past you really ought to have a look at this article first.


63 comments to REF REVIEW 2012: Manchester United – a home advantage 3 times the league average

  • Stuart

    OK so quite clearly a ref doesn’t have to be ‘pro-anyone’ to be ‘pro-anyone’. They can be ‘anti-others’ and end result being ‘pro-someone’, if you get what I mean.

  • WalterBroeckx

    I got that Stuart. I got that 😉

  • Tam Seth eyedoude

    I discovered English referees have always favoured man united, the reason for three out of four titles from the recent past is as result of biased refereeing in their favour, therefore I am not surprised by this statistics. Thank you

  • Andy Kelly

    The most amazing thing that I find here is the game that Mark Clattenburg refereed.

    His one game resulted in a massive +10.00 bias towards Manchester United but they got whacked 6-1 at home to Manchester City. Imagine what the score would have been if he had been unniased!

    Coincidentally, having refereed Manchester United roughly once every six games up to this point, he hasn’t officiated Manchester United at all in the 18 Premier League games since.

  • WalterBroeckx

    someone had to pay the price…

  • davi

    So it looks like Howard Webb has finally been defeated. Good for Foy.

    “The final result leaves us with a positive bias swing of +3.469 bias points in favour of Manchester United.”(unweighted data)
    What is meant by bias swing? I assumed it meant the overall positive bias United get compared to the PL average, which should be 6.647: ((1.000-(-1.826))+(5.647-1.826))
    Weighted, it’s 8.98!
    The ref bias was 9 bias points more in favour of them compared to the league average! That’s enourmous!

    “So one could ask himself: how many of those points in games with a very big bias in favour of United were won thanks to that bias from the refs?”
    Of course. When it’s getting to the toughest point of the season and refs are sending off opposing players and giving Utd penalties due to obvious (REALLY obvious) dives early in the game, I suppose it would give them a bit of a lift. Evidently they are a good side, but should have been nowhere near City by the end.

  • DR

    That’s not a major shocker, is it?

    Funny thing is, I think most United fans actually believe that the decisions are right as they’re so accustomed to a slight touch being a penalty, after Young’s efforts last season you still heard people saying they should have been pens.

  • PDickinson

    Sad! This is coming from a team that relied on referees not catching their players diving 10 years ago. You cant competed with United any more so your looking for an excuse. Please fine something better to do with your time.

  • WalterBroeckx

    the number that is referred to in the text of the article is the computer generated total bias made from home and away games. In a perfect referee world that should give a zero score.

  • Mandy Dodd

    An interesting and thorough analysis, sadly, nothing of major surprise, just confirms what I have always thought. Best case scenario – this problem actually ends when Fergie goes. I believe it is more about him than the club itself. As the first article in this series said, it is not only Arsenal who are being done out here, Wenger has hinted…no actually stated he knows there are things going on, and so did Benitez, albeit more vocally. Shame others are so silent. Next season will be very very interesting – will City have the quality on the pitch to overcome what is undoubtedly coming their way after the cruel way they snatched the title from Fergie?

  • Gunner4evr

    That is why MU will win th epl the next ten years but will come unstuck in the cl. Unless rf can be freinds with the ref,he will be unable to equal let alone beat Liverpool’s Euro triumphs.

  • WalterBroeckx

    Will we allow the ‘trolls’…. Oh I am tempted but I love the trolls a bit so I am a bit biased 😉 They usually bring a smile to my face. But they disturb a possible good discussion of course.

    Just a reminder: Thinking of commenting? That’s great but if you have not read our reviews in the past you really ought to have a look at this article first.

  • WalterBroeckx

    And United fans: you are just team 18 of the 20 we have covered so far. City is the next team. And then we will stop with Arsenal. So we really didn’t set this up just for you.

  • It’s not surprising. After twenty-five years of bulling and intimidating refs, Fergie has the majority of premier league officials firmly under his thumb. Watch how he keeps them in line: on the rare occasion a referee gives a game-changing decision against him, he will either launch a sulphurous attack on their character or claim that they shouldn’t be refereeing Utd’s game. Faced with the prospect of a sulphurous attack on their character, referees opt for the quiet life and don’t enforce the rules of the game when Man Utd are involved. That’s why so few of their players are given either yellow or red cards(compared to what they get up to on the pitch).

  • davi

    But what does the computer generated total bias mean then? My number is surely the bias in favour of Utd relative to the mean bias for/against the other teams?

  • davi

    Oh, is it related to the bias that would actually swing the result of a game?

  • davi

    John – I really think it’s also related to the media perception. If they give Utd the benefit of the doubt, and Utd win, no one will question it because the perception is that they’d probably win anyway.

  • Matt Clarke

    Great work guys.
    Nothing that I can add, but I like you to know that I’m still reading and still hoping that all of this work will shame the PGMOL/FA etc.

  • Stuart

    @ Davi,
    I believe the swing is the measure of difference between minimum and maximum or score against to score in favour (ie a -5 against up to +2 in favour = swing of 7)

  • Peter Walton is now in charge of the American League, charged with putting refereeing in the US on a professional basis.

    Just thought you might like to know what he is doing in the States.

  • Mahdain

    Wow really shocked with the data…NOT
    Let me show this to my united mates and see what they say about it..

  • Mick

    Nobody would be surprised by these latest results of your work except of course Man U fans who remain convinced that contrary to your findings it is they who suffer more than any other team at the hands of the refs! They are brainwashed by Ferguson as much as the refs and media.

  • bob

    Lest we forget, the bad seed that has nearly flowered in 2012 was most blatantly planted in the ManUre patch in 2004: ploughed by Rooney, Neville Gang, Vidic, Ferdinand and the rest of the agro-boyz, seeded by Micky R. for which he was rewarded as PGMOL majordumbo (Queen Bee of the Hives of Riley); clinched by van NestleRUDEboy; harvested by Don Fungus; and celebrated ad delirium by the post-Weimar multitude at Old Toilet. Well, no tears to shed for Lord Football-in-waiting, as he has just been so personally and roundly rewarded (that is, to be compensated) by the Glazer’s recent stock flotation in New York; so well rewarded that even a section of their support (the celebrants of 2004) are publicly outraged. I hope that this Ref Review is made mandatory reading every Ref and all the Manc offspring. May the innocents then demand of their Da’s: What were you doing on that day in 2004, Da, when you cheated Johnny Foreigner?

  • Gooner S

    Fascinating. Looking forward to the last two, summary conclusions and next steps. This is a lot of work, who is going to take any notice?

  • Doanythingformoney

    If the video data from the few seasons prior to this one was analysed in the same way- I would suggest the same level of bias showing up. I think the bias this year was not EVEN as pronounced as it has been in the past. But as has been said many times- if you promote Team A and…stop the immediate competition…any team can win the Prem or any other division. Unfortunately, that is what is happening and nearly did again this season just gone. And the fact that no press, media or University has dared take PGMOL on about it means Big Bucks and Inluence is involved (or the Banks as we lovingly call them). Nuff said.

  • bob

    Doanything for money,
    Yes, you’d think there might be a dissertation or two, unpublished of course, that might be offered up as further evidence (anecdotes, patterns, interviews) of non-coincidental happenings on the pitch. Anyone know of any? Hey, you could get sales of your dissertation this way? Just tell us the abstract and where to find and buy it! 🙂

  • Sorry I had to let PDickinson in. It is such a perfect replica of what we say happens when people can’t cope, can’t read, can’t understand, can’t basically operate on any sort of intellectual level. Oh I love them. Dogface if you pop by give this man an Oik.

  • bob

    Please don’t forget last season’s (2010/2011) “flawed” (that is, ground-breaking) final summary. It would be really interesting to see how its results stack up today, without the statistical machinery, in light of this year’s findings. 🙂
    There should be a prominent link back to it, so interested readers can make some judgments for themselves.

  • bob

    Oh paragon of fairness: When you go to sleep every night, it would be so nice for you to have to dream your travesty of a “win” against us at Old Trafford in 2004, with a freeze-frame nightmare of every dive, violent tackle, and gang-banging of that so-called referee without penalty (because he so loved all that testosterone coming at him). Over and over again. And each time, just before you awaken, your entire stadium is surrounded by crime-scene tape. That would give you the fairness that you cry out for.

  • Tumelo

    not surprised at all. I’ve always maintained that they get away with everything and scot free. I also think that untold is slowly but surely bringing to light what had been blatantly ignored in years past. Phambili Untold.

  • Andy Kelly


    If you think this started in 2004 then you need to watch the Arsenal v Man Utd game in 1998-99 and numerous games from the mid-1990s where Cantona got away with the most horrendous tackles.

  • Limpar

    Great work.
    Poor old P dickinson. How ignorant?
    Typical spoon-fed media junkie. How can you bring up one isolated incident over a ten yr period? Especially after the cheating that goes on from everyweek from Man Utd [layers inparticular. Ironically, thats the exact tactic Don Fungus would use, & sadly be allowed get away with / backed up by his bum chums like Henry Winter et al in the media

  • Reviewer 02

    What Man Utd fans need to do, is go through the reviews and see the decisions we gave in their favour that absolutely no one in the media or press picked up on.
    Just off the top of my head I can think of some I spotted
    Penalty at Anfield
    Sending off in the first minute at Fulham for Dempsey
    Poor decisions at Stoke (Christ there is a surprise)
    The facts are that all matches were reviewed in a manner that was impartial and honest, and they are all published and open to criticism. Find anything with better integrity and I will eat my keyboard.
    So to man Utd fans before you criticise, read some reviews and give us your opinions, they are the most honest and practical method of quantifying a bias that anywhere on the net has to offer. A project that lasted the whole season and too many hours of dedicated application to compile. Unless of course you can come up with something better, if so I look forward to the conclusions.
    And PS the Ref Review for both games Arsenal V Man Utd really do highlight that our methodology is beyond reproach. Neither having a significant bias, so there goes that argument from your Arsenal (pardon the pun)

  • Domhuaille MacMathghamhna

    Walter,Tony and all our other contributors…PDickinson is just defending his tribal rights and using 10 year old pseudo-information to do it. Can’t fault the lad as he wants to protest the truth by providing an empty assertion in reply to your careful analysis and reviews over 2 seasons.
    PDickinson…why don’t you do a 10 year analysis of AFC’s fortunes with the officials who just last season NEVER awarded a penalty at the emirates to Arsenal but did award 14 at OT to Unioted and the EPL hackers who broke 4 of our players’ legs or ankles and seriously injured countless other Gunners over that 10 year period….that might open your blinkered eyes.

  • Sav from Australia

    Man Utd supporters refused to believe the truth, even when it so plain to see on the screen. Now, with the quality of Untold’s ref reviews…the writing is on the wall lol

    Just goes to show that Fergie is nowhere near the class of Wenger. If it was not for cheating, the world would know the truth.

    Thanks Untold, for being a beacon of truth!

  • bob

    Dom, Walter, Dogface,
    Dom, your reminder of our having had ZERO penalties AT HOME is so timely. Walter/Dogface, is there any other team in the EPL last season that had no penalties awarded?! Please check.
    Secondly, can you compute the odds of a side going with no penalties at home? These two “factoids” would be amazing points of reference and talking points to publicize and help strike a blow for fairness in the courts of public opinion.

  • Charlie

    I would like to see what happens to refs who give too many decisions against United or for them because Graham Poll was quoted as saying that some managers threaten that if a ref doesn’t make calls in their favour he’ll never ref one of their matches again. I wonder whether Walton going to US was his decision and I wonder how many United matches Chris Foy will be in charge of this season. Basically refs gain prestige by officiating big matches and if the managers influence who their refs are you could imagine that a pattern might develop. If you can prove that refs favouring United most are invited to ref more United matches the following season you might be able to prove that influential managers pick their refs. That is a sign of a corrupt system but this study alone is not enough to suggest corruption.

  • Charlie

    I’ll rephrase that last sentance, it doesn’t prove corruption but it does prove that refs are biased. In order to prove corruption you would need to identify an incentive. If they have no incentive to cheat they’re simply not fit for the job.

  • Mike city

    Great work guys ,lots of effort put into this and a very interesting read ,best of luck next season .C.T.I.D

  • WalterBroeckx

    the way you rephrased that last sentence is spot on. If it is not the one thing than it is the other…

  • Ed Jones

    As a Man City supporter for far too many years (58) I find your results as no surprise at all. Lets face it every fan that follows their team knows that coming away from Owed Trafford with an unbiased referee performance is a miracle. The sight of Young diving his way to pens last season was sickening however what was more sickening to me was the refereeing decision that followed. Ask yourselves one question though if you can come up with such detailed unbiased results, and I praise you for that, why isn’t the powers that be looking into it?

  • Strum

    I cannot tell you how much your extraordinary work is appreciated. I remember in particular one period of refereeing that was so blatantly biased and malicious that I almost stopped watching Premier League games (or any football at all, for that matter). The refereeing decisions against Arsenal during a series of games beginning with the game against Birmingham in February 2008 when Martin Taylor viciously broke Eduardo’s leg were so egregious that I was simply dumfounded. It was as if Arsenal had committed such a heinous act against the game of football by having Eduardo’s leg broken (and ankle dislocated) that they somehow needed to be punished. The referees not only stole the title from Arsenal that year, they also ultimately destroyed Arsene’s vision for a self-sustaining model of carefully nurtured affordable young players developed into champions. The fact that these referees will never be punished is unbearable.

  • bob

    Agreed. Their league is legalized economic warfare, and it plays out on the pitch. In the US, there is a criminal case pending against a pro ice hockey player named Todd Bertuzzi for willfully ending another player’s career. A lot of eyes will be on the outcome of that case when it gets adjudicated. Perhaps the statute of limitations has not run out on Martin Taylor or Ryan Shawcross or their enablers. It is unbearable to see them get away scot free. And their blaming Arsenal for slander is what the guilty do to cover their crimes: turn the victim into the perpetrator. A time-dishonored trick. Cheers for your heartfelt posting.

  • Strum

    Bob, I was actually thinking about strictly refereeing decisions such as penalties given and, just as significantly, not given. But your point about the enablers of the Martin Taylors and the Ryan Shawcrosses is another hugely important factor which I wish could be quantified. Since the matter has been brought up, we have to mention Dan Smith, lest we forget what he did to Abou Diaby in 2006. Sunderland was losing 3-0 when Dan Smith lunged into Abou Diaby in injury time outside the touch line, if memory serves me right, with what appeared to be, given the scoreline and that the game was effectively over, a deliberate, vicious, and malicious tackle. Dan Smith caused damage to Abou Diaby’s ankle so severe that the Frenchman had to undergo three surgeries and eight months of rehab (and Arsenal had to do without him in the European Champions League final against Barcelona that year). Dan Smith went unpunished, of course, and I wish we could have had a criminal trial similar to the case you mentioned with the American hockey player.

  • bob

    Yes, he who mashed Diaby! Fans have forgotten this. Is Dan Smith still in the League? Martin Taylor?
    Among the eligibles for such litigation:
    Martin Taylor, Ryan Shawcross, Dan Smith, Joey Barton, Roy Keane… who else?
    btw, to see the reactions of Cesc, Hleb, Sagna and Diaby to that horrific tackle is still beyond words.

  • Laundryender

    I can assure anyone interested, 100% that Sunderland fans were as bemused as anyone by Dan Smiths tackle. I also know that Nial Quinn made sure he never kicked a ball for the club again, and that he went from Sunderland to Non league football in one step. and from there to a call centre. Dan Smith did get what he deserved. If only all clubs behaved with such integrity.

  • bob

    Do you know if/where Martin Taylor is still playing?

  • Laundry endear



  • Foy…. and those stats don’t even include the FA Cup game at the Etihad

  • HH1495

    You’ve done some terrific work here, but you say that you could not review the other 6 United games because they were not on live television. However, you would not have been able to review 32 games if you were using live television broadcasting alone. My question is, what other resources have you been using to watch and review matches? Thanks for your time.

  • WalterBroeckx

    As our ref reviewers live in different continents we get the chance of having seeing games that are not shown in England live.

  • Paul

    I’m sorry but this research is fundamentally flawed. The flaw lies in the fact that debate can still remain about incidents in a game, even after watching multiple replays – and even if experienced referees are examining footage. If a player clearly pushes or trips someone, or punches them, the ruling is clear. Yet every football match contains countless incidents that could be debated – did the player touch the ball or the man first? Was he holding him, or was it a fair tussle for the ball? Was the elbow deliberate, or accidentally thrown out when jumping for a header? And so on, and on. Some decisions are still debated years later, after everyone has seen the replay a thousand times. So how do we know your researchers were correct? We don’t. Add in the fact that the game takes place at breakneck speed and referees do not have the benefit of replays, plus the fact that you failed to review six full games – that’s 540 minutes of play – and the unavoidable conclusion is that all of this statistical analysis has been a complete waste of time. Football is a fluid, instinctive game, not a mathematical equation.

  • WalterBroeckx

    on your question: “how do we know your researchers were correct?”

    Because we write our decisions down, put them on the website so they can be debated. If we really make a wrong decision people will talk about it and point at it. Nobody likes to be corrected in public so our reviewers will do anything to prevent this

  • Red Ben

    How foolish of me to expect a balanced and thoughtful analysis from an Arsenal website. The classless way you make your personal bias clear completely invalidates your argument, suggesting pre-meditation, as does the arbitrary nature of your scoring. You had already decided your conclusion, and simply seemed a way to find it with the limited data. Must try harder.

  • WalterBroeckx

    So Red Ben, do you have anything to back up your accusations?

    We have. Some 40% of all the games in total in the PL.

    Did you read any of the reviews? If not then you look a bit foolish.

    If you did then you just point at where our reviews were not correct.
    And if you are not willing to do this your rant looks to be a bit classless because of your clear personal bias.

    And if you would like to make a total judgement you can find the complete series here

  • Red Ben

    Yay! Another blogmaster who thinks he’s invincible because he can use excel!

    If you wan’t an example of clear personal bias, then I’ll draw your attention to the following paragraph;

    “Mike Dean in third place shows that he knows what he has to do to stay at the top. A bit cryptic maybe. Regular readers will understand, if you are new: food for thought.”

    This indicates a clear bias in your “research”. You’ve decided that there is pressure on referees to be favourable to Manchester United (an absolutely laughable suggestion at the best of times) and gone about proving your pre-establish suspicious. This is not scientific method.

    Another crucial problem with your “research” is the identity of your panel of referees? Do you establish their credentials, or are they just a Selection of Arsenal fans that read your blog and bring their own bias into things?

    The fact that you have decided that Arsenal are, by far, the most biased against team is almost beyond satire. If you’re going to try and do something like this, it invalidates it completely if you drape it in an Arsenal flag and cry the victim.

    It’s also kind of cute that you’re willing to put in so much work to rubbish the achievements of others and pointing the finger when, instead, you could be supporting your team.

  • WalterBroeckx

    Red Ben,
    About Arsenal: so how do you explain the results from ? Also Arsenal supporters? Well they are not. So let us assume that we are too biased, and you are also too biased. So let us take the word of people who are not related to Arsenal on this?

    About Dean: yep I think he is a person like that. And we can prove this not just by the reviews but also by the ref previews who are done on a pure statistical basis.

    In fact Dean was rather favourable for Arsenal during the time that Dein had something to say in the FA. The moment Riley (you surely remember him) became head of the FA he became from Arsenal most favourable ref (statistically spoken) to the worst.

    and as a ref…well I know a bit how things work in the world of referees. I know that doing favours to the right person at the right time is essential to get a good career.

    So when I see some things I can imagine what is going on. Of course that part is speculation from my part. But speculation based on what our reviewers have found in the games and based on the total numbers not just in Arsenal or Utd games

    The most hated refs in the last years for Arsenal supporters are Dowd and Dean. Look at the report from Dowd. Yeah very biased I would say.

  • WalterBroeckx

    You seem to like Dean by the way 😉

  • WalterBroeckx

    REd Ben,
    To make it easier on you direct link to last season. You might like it

  • Paul

    I appreciate that Walter (your reply to my post above), but can you see my point? I can think of a few decisions from five or more years ago that still get debated now. There’s never been a full consensus, and there never will be, because football isn’t black and white – at least, not all the time. Sometimes, of course, it is, which is where it’s easy to watch footage and say ‘the referee missed the elbow in the face’. But how often do you see decisions that you can talk about til the cows come home and still not agree with someone? Whether or not a foul ‘started’ outside or inside the box, whether a handball was deliberate or accidental, whether or not a keeper took the man out or touched the ball first….I could go on. You’re trying to quantify and calculate something that’s inexact – which is why it’s flawed. It reminds me of Liverpool’s ‘par table’, which I recommend if you fancy a good laugh by the way. Football cannot be reduced to statistics to any reliable extent.

  • Norman

    We have a problem. Dean is ref for this weekends match at Old Trafford!!! OMG we are fucked.

  • Mike

    Great analysis and no surprise to be honest. And you’re not the only site that has delved into the referre bias towards Man Utd, which suggests it’s far more obvious than even the most blinkered and Red Devils woud admit.

    But, what else would you expect when a leading offical at your your club is heavily involved with the FA?

    Now, how do the big decisions affect the final score for these games? That would be of greater interest.

    Keep up the good work and perhaps the FA will finally begin to listen…

  • Dubai_Red

    Interesting analysis…

    I have been mythed as to why the FA doesnt introduce technology into the sport when every other sport has? The only logical answer I can think of given the recent happenings is that if technology is introduced, then there can be no biase.

    Also, how is it that the Man Utd can have one of their owen directors on the board of the FA? Surely this is a conflict of interest?

    Came accross this article recently looking at the treatment of refs after referring a UTD game. Some interesting points hihglighted. Seems like Clattenburg didnt ref a single utd game all of last season after the 1-6 defeat to City. The next Utd game he reffed was the one at the weekend…hmmm