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August 2021

REF REVIEW 2012: Manchester City – they didn’t win the league with referee assistance


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.

The next article we cover the team that won the title in the last seconds and on goal difference.  They spent a fortune on players and salaries, but some people suggested money was also spent on the refs also and not just on players.  True or false?

We will not be able to answer that with a 100% yes or no. But I think we could come close to an answer by the end of this report.

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Untold Vs PGMOL - ManchesterCity 2011/2012.

We reviewed 32 games of Manchester City last season. That is 84, 21% of their games in the PL. I think this is a great result of course. I wonder how many Manchester City fans will have realised this before the start of the season and even up till now. An Arsenal blog having referees to cover not just Arsenal games but also almost 84% of Manchester City games. Well we did.

Of course this means there are 6 games missing. 6 games we would have loved to do. But as not all games were on TV we couldn’t do them. And maybe having a few referees more could have helped a bit too. So if you are a ref and think this might be interesting to do next season: please let yourself be know to us and join our ranks.

Let us first see how competent the referees have been. A note to new readers: these numbers have no real connection to the teams involved. Because these numbers are of course of the 32 games Manchester City was in but also about the opponents in those games.

And if you are new I just will tell you that the difference of 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. This is for your information to understand the difference when we talk about un-weighted or weighted numbers. 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 decsions.

PGMOL Vs EPL - Basic Competency - ManchesterCity 2011/2012

So the first numbers are not bad. Not bad at all if you compare to the league average. The league average is giving us some 72.49% correct decisions and here we have a total of 74,75%  So that is 2,26% higher than the league average. But I ask you to think about the fact that this means that 1 decision in 4 decisions was wrong from the ref. I must say I’m not impressed by that number at all. But if you are comfortable with the league average, then this is a good result for the refs.

If we put weight on the decisions we have the same thing. This time the score of the refs in the Manchester City games is 2,37% better compared to the league average. The score of 73,72% still means that refs make one mistake in every 4 decisions and that just doesn’t seem right to me.

Let us now take a look at the different type of decisions that we have covered in these reviews. And again I stress that this has nothing to do with anything going for or against Manchester City. Just the result from the refs in the Manchester City games.

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

You might be impressed by the fact that 90.265 % of the goal decisions are correct. I’m disappointed as this isn’t even the league average which was 91.753%. People who love the game should know by now that this should be a score of around 99% correct. Goals are the most important thing in football so this should be correct the most. It decides who gets the points. So this should be the most correct type of decision.

Offside decisions….  Mike Riley, the head of the PGMOL claims that this is correct for 99% of the decisions. Well in the games we reviewed from Manchester City we only found 88.550% correct offside decisions. In fairness only a difference of less than 2% compared to the league average but what a distance with the claimed 99%.

The other decisions, which covers most fouls in the field, are some 3% better than the league average. The final result of 75% means that 1 decision in 4 was not correct. But this is better than the league average so well not that bad if we accept the league average as the norm.

The penalty decisions are 7% better than the league average. They come close to the 70% line and that is the minimum line I want to see for any decision from any ref in the PL. So one could be satisfied with that but just after goal decisions comes the penalty decisions as the most important ones. So we should be focussing and working to raise the number of correct calls.  So not really bad, but should be better.

Let us take a look at the red cards decisions. The league average was 21,42% correct and for the games with Manchester City in we come to 19%. So even worse than the already unacceptable low league average. Not good is the only thing than can be said about this.

To wrap this up we come to the yellow cards decisions and we see that they are just a bit better than the league average. But better by not even 1% is not something to open a bottle of bubbles and start a wild celebration.

So far all these numbers have been not linked to Manchester City or the opponents. Now we will try to make that difference. From now on we will see how those “mistakes” from the ref were divided between the two teams. In the perfect world from the PGMOL and Mike Riley there will be no difference between the mistakes. Let’s find out.

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

And what do we see Watson? First of all that we have done 32 games and 16 away from home and 16 at home. So nicely spread.

As our overall league numbers have shown there is a negative away bias when you go away from home of -1.826 bias points.  According to Mike Riley and the PGMOL there is no such thing as home or away bias (there is no bias at all they claim) but we found one over the whole league.

And now we see that Manchester City had a negative away bias against them from -2.750 points. That is almost 1 negative bias point more than the normal average you can expect.  So away from home Manchester City didn’t get a lot of wrong calls going their way. Or better said: they got more things going against them than a team can expect.

The positive home bias you can expect in the PL is +1.826. Manchester City has a positive bias of +2.187. So that is a bit more than the normal home bias. But if we add those two we see that Manchester City has a little negative bias in total.

If we put weight on the decisions we can expect a negative away bias of -2.619. Manchester City had to overcome a negative bias of -4.687.  So that is almost 2 bias points extra against them away from home! So things didn’t go their way in general when away from home.

At home you can expect a weighted home bias of +2.619 points. Manchester City had a positive bias of +3.499 points. So that is almost one bias point extra in their favour at home. So this is also more than the average home bias you can expect.

In total however this leads to a negative bias swing of -0.595 points against Manchester City based on the 32 games we reviewed.

Let us have a look at the different refs who did those games.

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

We had 14 different refs in the 32 games we did.

8 refs had a negative bias against Manchester City and 5 had a positive bias.

The ref with the most negative bias was Peter Walton. So Manchester City will not be unhappy to know he left for the USA. Michael Oliver also had a big negative swing but just as Walton only did one game. Michael Jones and Lee Mason and Mark Clattenburg also have a too big negative bias to be good.

A bit to my surprise the negative bias from Webb, Foy and Probert is rather small in the un-weighted numbers. Mike Dean has the lowest negative bias against City.

On the positive side we have Atkinson, Marriner and Taylor with a not that big positive bias. Friend and Dowd have a bigger positive bias.

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

If we put weight on the decisions we see that now we have 6 refs with a negative bias against Manchester City.   Ref Probert had a zero bias score (well done) and we have 7 refs with a positive bias.

The score from Walton looks ridiculous. This is the person who is trying to bring good refereeing to he USA.  Jones, Oliver and Clattenburg have a rather big negative bias. Foy and Webb have a relative small negative bias.

On the positive side we welcome Lee Mason who had a negative un-weighted bias. So he has given them a few big decisions it seems.

The positive score from Mason, Atkinson, Marriner, Friend and Dean is still rather low. The score from Taylor and Dowd has gone up to a score you don’t want to see.

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

If you look at game 2 you see a big negative bias swing but it didn’t affect the points from City. But in week 5 we saw a dip in the bias and also a dip in the points. If we see a bias at the start it is not a big one. The first real bias in their favour is in week 6.  The bias then is kept somewhat between the +10 and -10.

Around week 14 and 15 Manchester City got two consecutive games with a negative bias. But in week 16 we see that there is a big swing the other way round. In week 23 we see the biggest negative bias swing against Manchester City. They lost that game.

They had a dip in form around weeks 30-32 but the bias was in their favour in those games.

What I do remember on a few occasions was the fact that a few times a Man C player didn’t got sent off when it should have happened.  This is something that can be seen in the high for decisions.

The bias in favour of Manchester City remains rather small in the last 5 games. The negative bias was always bigger in those games. Was someone trying to stop them?


One thing has to be said: apart from the odd game when things went a bit extreme in their favour I don’t see much evidence that Manchester City got the title on a PGMOL-silver plate.  Of course there have been a few games when they got the rub of the green but not really on a systematic basis. The negative bias numbers clearly show that.

I noticed a few times the ref was not brave enough to send a Manchester City player off when it really had to be done.  That is throwing a bit of a referee shadow over the results.

Some links to games we reviewed of Manchester City


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.

20 comments to REF REVIEW 2012: Manchester City – they didn’t win the league with referee assistance

  • Mike

    Excellent article.

    Have you reviewed the worst United team in years with their record points total?

    It would be interesting to see how many minutes they played against 10 men and whether referees were biased towards them.

  • WalterBroeckx

    Mike click to the right at the top of this page

  • Andy Kelly

    Peter Walton games refereed before he retired:

    Last 11 Manchester City games, City WON none.

    Last 11 Manchester United games, United LOST none.

  • THEO

    Great stuff, very well done Chaps.

    Chris Foy would have come off a lot worse if the FA cup game against United was included, though. Howard Webb was actually OK in City matches last season, just biased towards United in their games.

  • DR

    I love it when the figures tally well with what I see, or think I see, makes me think I know what I’m talking about; until the next time I’m horribly wrong anyway.

    I can’t help but think it won’t be the case next season with the torch passed as upholders of the noble ideals of making massive headlines, we’ll see though.

  • Doanythingformoney

    Tremendous work all round chaps– you are awesome!!!

  • bob

    Maybe, just maybe, Peter Walton had enough? Or had/forced an offer he couldn’t refuse, to move on. You know, like the guy who finally wants out and has to do something extreme to get out from the clutches of his longtime reluctant string-pullers? You know, by you stats, he’s shown both sides of Manchester Town that he’d become verry-unreliable, a loose cannon; and was fast-track rewarded for past services rendered with a recommendation from on high to the MSL. (He did leave mid-season.) Ach, poor M.Theirry Henry of the Red Bulls. Pray, whatever did you do, mon ami, to deserve this man, MSL’s Riley-clone, as an overseer? More and more, the MSL has become the greenest available pasture for past-their-prime EPL products; and Peter Walton ensures the quality control department. OMG.

  • Tangled up in Blue

    City fans won’t be even a tiny bit surprised at a lot of these findings. Walton, Foy and Clattenburg are the refs we really hate seeing. I would say, as a general ob, the fairest ref we had all season was Mike Dean. He made one crucial decision in our favour, penalty v Chelsea at the Etihad – one of those dodgy handballs, or ball to hand incidents, where it’s really impossible to know what the correct decision should be, even with slow-mo replays. That decision was undoubtedly the most important one we got all season.

    Most obvious injustices included an atrocious performance from Clattenburg at Stamford Bridge – blatant foul on Silva for a peno under his nose, but no whistle, then a doubtful peno and a harsh sending off at the other end! Foy’s sending off of Kompany in the Cup, a real shocker, as was peno given against Richards at Anfield in Carling Cup. In the Champs league two blatant penos missed early on in the ‘Tevez’ game in Munich – that really punished us, and partly explains, I think, why Mancini was in such a bad humour throughout that game.

    Worst decision of all, I think, but happily had no affect on the scoreline, was Clattenburg again – blatant foul on Richards by Anderson for a peno in the second half of Old Trafford derby, again ignored by Clattenberg. He did strange thing with his hands to indicate a ‘coming together’. A blatant peno, and Clattenburg didn’t know at the time that it wouldn’t be important.

    Great analysis. Keep up the good work.

  • WalterBroeckx

    Tangled up in Blue,
    we only did PL games. Blimey it was hard enough to get to 40% in total for those with our little team of ref reviewers. 😉

    We noticed it that Clattenburg had some “bad” games and in fact he had a very high pro united score in the one game he did of United. Despite City winning there a bit if I remember correct he had a shitty game for City. 😉

  • Jay

    Three games that really stood out for me last season were Chelsea away (Clattenburg), Everton away (Walton), and Wolves home (Atwell). The referee’s in question showed a complete and utter bias in those games to the point of downright cheating.

    Clattenburg seemed determined from the start to eradicate any connection of favouritism towards us due to being in charge for the 6-1 at OT, starting with his unbelievable decision not to award Silva a penalty whilst stood three yards away from the cynical foul. He then preceeded to give every advantage to Chelsea culminating in a soft sending off and an even softer penalty as time was running out for him.

    Walton has been a joke to City for years and was at his best for our visit to Goodison. His failure to see two clear penalties, allow Drenthe a free pass to foul whoever he wanted, whilst also breaking our play up and offering advantages to Everton all night long was all in keeping in how he’d treated us for years.

    Atwell just put in the most arrogant, ignorant performance I think I have ever witnessed in the flesh. The more he got wrong against us, the more he backed himself by continuosly giving the wrong decisions in defiance of our objection towards him. It was his last game in the Premier League I think you will find, and I hope forever.

    I feel I should mention lesser bad performances by messers Dowd, Foy, Mason, Jones and Baby Oliver, but for me those three performances were easily the most biased. But as your title says, we won the league anyway. Hooray!

  • Laundryender

    Like the Invincibles

    City won the league desoite the pitch being sloped, the data is conclusive. Be interesting to see if like the Invincibles.


    You have been warned!!!

  • silver

    CLEAR offside goal @sunderland in injury time.
    doesn’t get more biased than that.

  • bjtgooner

    @Dogface & Walter

    Rather belatedly but better late than never – I really like the way the data has been presented in this series of articles.

    The response by Riley and his employers is deafening!

    The scores by Foy for Man City matches compared to his scores for MU matches are very interesting.

  • @bjtgooner – thanks… we try our best and we aim to improve all the time.

    Financial doping aside; Manchester City are clearly worthy winners of the title – Manchester United on the other hand – well, one wonders if they would even have made top 4 on a level playing field.

  • DJM


    So much detail, so many graphics, so much poor English that I have no idea what you’re going on about. City won the League. Like yourselves in the Fitz… era. You pumped money in,b ought great footballers, got the platform and then worked on your youngsters…100% the template we, you, Barcelona and many others have worked on.

    Get used to it – it is simply our turn.

    Oik approved!
  • DJM

    Apologies – it is Friday night/ morning..I’ve obviously had a few. All the City fans on here are being complimentary to your research. Just really get sensitive over the idea that everyone bent over backwards to ensure we won the title and that we ‘bought’it.

    Have a good weekend Arsenal fans….would love you to come in 2nd to us…genuinely!!

  • @DJM – maybe you should read it before commenting as nobody has suggested that anyone ‘bent over backwards’ to get Manchester City to win the EPL title – the title of the article alone should at least give you a hint of that.

    With regards to your previous comment – Walter, who wrote it, is from Belgium by the way – how is your Flemish?

  • Felix

    Hey kudos guys,hop we dont c lots of ovacomin bias in d league,cuz dats wat is bringin Epl down short of la liga nd seria’a in tyms of wrong calls by refs

  • I Swear You'll Never See Anything Like This Ever Again

    Got here from @City_Watch on Twitter’s recommendation and have to add my thumbs up for a great report. So it wasn’t just me paranoid…there was nearly a riot at our ground when Atwell refereed against Wolves, we beat them but he tried everything possible to stop that. No Walton next season is one step forward for us in the ref department though!

  • Ged

    Nicely presented report.
    Walton’s figures are a disgrace but come as no surprise. Atwell is a sick joke and the only decision he got right when we played Wolves at home was their penalty and Kompany’s red card in the same incident. Clattenburg at Chelsea was poor.
    However what can we say about Foy? A red card for Kompany against the rags in the cup for a non-contact challenge – I know the laws don’t mention “contact” (though BBC pundits don’t know that), but his booking of Tevez for diving at Norwich just took the p*ss. He may not have seen the Norwich defender treading on Tevez’s foot so he couldn’t give the penalty, but there isn’t a single angle from where it looked like a dive.