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August 2021

REF REVIEW 2012: Tottenham Hotspur – when it really mattered, some refs turned


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 a long time it looked as if Tottenham would end up in front of Arsenal. Harry Redknapp even dreamed aloud of a title at one moment during the season. Finally they had to settle for 4th place and had to see themselves even losing the CL spot because of Chelsea buying the CL last season.  It must have been horrific for Tottenham supporters – and many Arsenal fans must have worried til the last that it could have happened to us.  So not a really happy ending to what promised to be their best season ever. How were the refs in their games?

Untold Vs PGMOL - TottenhamHotspur 2011/2012

We have reviewed 21 games that involved Tottenham Hotspur last season. That is 55,26 % of their games. So more than half of their games.

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I think this is rather good as it could bring a good view of how the refs did in the games with Tottenham Hotspur. So let us see how the refs did and have a look at how many correct calls they made.

PGMOL Vs EPL - Basic Competency - TottenhamHotspur 2011/2012

With a score of 72.96% correct decisions in total they end up around the league average. I have said it before this league average is too low for me. But the average is what it is and if the refs are not capable of doing better any team can only be happy when they get the league average in their games. The score for Tottenham Hotspur is 0.47% better than the league average.

If we put weight on the score we see that the score drops a bit to 71,51% and that is 0.15% away from the league average. So not that bad compared to the league average once again. Maybe I sound like a broken record but I think we cannot be satisfied with that league average score.

Let us see at the decisions in detail now.

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

There sure was something wrong with the goals in Tottenham Hotspur games. A score of not even 90% accuracy is unacceptable. Before you rush to any conclusions at this moment I don’t know at this moment in the analysis if this is about goals in favour or against Tottenham Hotspur. I think it is a disgrace that the refs are not able to get all the goal decisions correct. I could even settle for 99% correct but not 89%. That is way out of line.

Better news from the offside decisions. 95% correct is some 5% better than the league average. It still is not the 99% claimed by Mike Riley but well it sure looks better than for most teams.

The other decisions are a little bit better than the league average. But it still means that 1 decision in 4 is wrong. It just doesn’t feel and sound good.

The penalty decisions are lower than the league average.  Only 56% correct. That is almost like throwing up a coin and make you decision like that. And that for  such an important decision…this is not acceptable.

The red card decisions are slightly better than the league average. With 23% it is too low. But the league average is even lower.  But which student will come home happy with that score on his exams and will his parents feel better if they hear that the average was even lower?

The yellow cards are almost the same as the league average. Marginally better. Again 56% correct is not what I expect from Pl refs. The best refs in the best league? Let us take that with a pinch of salt. Or with lots of salt.

Now let us move on and try to see if we can see if there was some consistency in who benefited from the wrong decisions.

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

In the 21 games we did there were 11 away from home and 10 at home.

The normal away bias a team has to face is -1.826. Tottenham Hotspur had to face a negative away bias of -0.636. So that is better than the average but still they had to face a negative away bias. And people who follow football a bit will remember that Mike Riley claimed that there is no bias at all in the PL and with their refs. So no bias means no home/away bias also. Well it is there.

At home Tottenham Hotspur could have expected a normal positive bias of +1.826. They got a score of +3.800. So that is more than the double normal home bias.

So it looks that there was a big difference between the way refs acted in away games from the way they acted at White Hart Lane. However the big positive bias at home combined with a lower than average away bias results in a strong positive bias in general.

If we put weight on the decisions we see almost the same picture. The normal weighted negative away bias is -2.619 and Tottenham Hotspur only got a negative away bias of -0.637. So this is much better than the average.

The home bias is also very high. A score of +5.8000 is more than the double of +2.619 they could have expected.

The final result is a weighted positive bias of +2.429 bias points in the favour of Tottenham Hotspur.

Let us now take a look at the refs who were involved in those games.

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

So we had 10 referees in 21 games. 4 referees had a negative bias score and 6 had a positive bias score.

On the negative side we have and this will be no surprise for people who have been following Tottenham Hotspur and Mr. Chris Foy. The negative bias score from Probert, Dowd and Oliver is very small.

As is the positive bias from Atkinson, Jones and Marriner. They only have a very small positive bias swing in favour of Tottenham. So we could say we had 6 refs that were more or less neutral in the games from Tottenham Hotspur.

Let us move to the 3 most positive refs for Tottenham Hotspur last season. Howard Webb had a positive score. And Mike Dean had one. People who have been following the relationship between Redknapp and Dean will not be overly surprised.

But the most positive ref for Tottenham Hotpsur last season seems to be Mark Halsey. Now let us see if this changes if we put weight on the decisions.

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

And yes we see a few changes. Only 3 referees left with a negative bias score. 6 with a positive bias and one with no bias score.

The neutral ref was Phil Dowd. Well done to him.

Chris Foy was a walking disaster for Tottenham in their games. He messed up rather badly. Oliver and Probert are negative but not with a very high number.

The positive refs are having a rather big score in favour of  Tottenham Hotspur. Halsey stays top and Dean is close to him when it comes to making errors in favour of Tottenham Hotspur. Atkinson also messed up a bit in his games in favour of Tottenham.

Webb was his usual self I would say. Just messing things up in general at times.

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

If we see at this graphic we see some interesting moments. A bad start with rather normal referee performances one could say (or not overly biased ones). Then the season kicked off and the bias was slightly better than normal in favour of Tottenham.

They kept on rising and rising and then someone had a enough. The combination Foy-Stoke is a dangerous one. Tottenham Hotspur paid the price and lost points thanks to a big big negative bias score from the ref.

In week 22 we see again a big negative swing against Tottenham that again cost them points. It was a if someone was saying at a certain moment: “ok, you can come close to the top clubs but this is a bit too close.” We had two of those games with some big calls going against Tottenham Hotspur.

But they also had some games when things went their way. With some big decisions in their favour. Sometimes they got points from them, but it didn’t work all the time.

They lost points in two games near the end but alas we couldn’t review those games so we don’t know if the refs had anything to do with that.


The refs had some strange games involving Tottenham last season. In some games they had a disastrous bias against them. We exposed Chris Foy after what he did in the game Stoke-Tottenham. That was robbery in broad daylight. We have no problem in admitting that. That was such a biased performance against Tottenham (or maybe more pro-Stoke) that is was not funny to watch.

But Tottenham also had a few days in the sun from the refs after that, when things went their way. Am I saying things even out then? No, they just got a bit lucky with some decisions in a part of the season.

And then we noticed a strange thing. You may remember that I mentioned at the start that at a certain moment in the season some Tottenham Hotspur people talking about not just qualifying for Europe but also challenging for the title. And then well we have seen it with other teams in the last few seasons… Suddenly the refs decisions start going against you. Some big decisions going against you. Referees seemingly trying to hold on to a draw in certain games.

It’s not a typical anti-Tottenham Hotspur bias . It’s is the behaviour that teams who come to close to the title and who are not “suited” to win the title have to overcome.

But don’t think it was all going against Tottenham Hotspur over the whole season. No in fact the numbers show a bias in their favour in general. But when it really mattered, when it really, really mattered … the refs turned their back.

As this is an Arsenal blog we could end this with saying: been there, seen it all before, same old each season.

Some reviews we did from Tottenham Hotspur:

Stoke – Tottenham Hotspur
 Newcastle – Tottenham Hotspur
Tottenham Hotspur – Blackburn Rovers
Bolton – Tottenham Hotspur
Chelsea – Tottenham Hotspur
Everton –  Tottenham Hotspur
Sunderland – Tottenham Hotspur
Tottenham Hotspur – Manchester United
Tottenham Hotspur – WBA
Tottenham Hotspur – Newcastle
Liverpool – Tottenham Hotspur
Arsenal – Tottenham Hotspur
Manchester City – Tottenham Hotspur
Tottenham Hotspur – Chelsea
Tottenham Hotspur – QPR
Tottenham Hotspur – Arsenal
Tottenham Hotspur – Liverpool
Tottenham Hotspur – Manchester City
Manchester United – Tottenham Hotspur


Editorial Footnote: Occasionally readers wish to make the point that our figures or methods are themselves fixed or biased.  If you have such a view and wish to argue that point please do take a look at our article on data and conclusions first.   If you want to see past articles in this series they are at EPL REFEREE REVIEW 2012- An historic study on the refs in the EPL


Other recent tales from Untold…

15 comments to REF REVIEW 2012: Tottenham Hotspur – when it really mattered, some refs turned

  • TommyHarmer

    Thank you; I actually find this interesting and I don’t often say this about anything coming out of the mouth of an Arse fan ……..

    However, isn’t it the case that all this is based upon YOUR assessments of decisions, and there always HAS to be a doubt about such a subjective data source ……. especially one from an (even trustworthy) Arse fan …….

  • Mandy Dodd

    Mike dean mentioned yet again in this series! Just hope Chris hoy does not get further unwanted distractions from his olympic prep over this!

  • Mattayyyyy

    Thanks. I found this source really interesting and over the course of the season i realised not many decisions went our way, the Stoke match REALLY annoyed me and the ghost goal against Chelsea in the FA cup annoyed me. And Balotelli stamping on Scott Parker and then scoring the winner. Oh well. Good luck season. We’re both going to need it if RVP and Modric leave. COYS.

  • Mike

    Excellent analysis by the gooner refs,
    I don’t believe anybody would produce such a body of work
    without a little inaccuracy ( and it is little),
    BUT If your going to do it, Your going to give 100% into doing it right.

  • DR

    That was an interesting one, gotta say that I thought Spurs had mostly positive bias throughout, even when they weren’t getting results it looked to me like they were getting some favours from the refs, except for that Stoke game but we already know about THEM from previous reviews. Turns out I was mostly wrong.

    As an aside, I wouldn’t be too worried Mattayyyyy, Real Madrid seem to be the only guys interested and they’re underwritten by the Spanish banks, who have no money so Madrid have a lot less leeway in terms of transfer funds. I’d say an aging defence (and Parker) and lack of forward options, even if you get Ade are more to be worried about.

  • ash

    Kaboul-25, Vertonghen-25, Caulker-21, Dawson-25, Walker-20, BAE-26, That’s an old defence all right. We are fooked.

  • omglol

    ” Suddenly the refs decisions start going against you. Some big decisions going against you.”

    This remind me of 2010/2011 when we get close to MU

  • Josh

    Aging defence DR? Walker 22, Kaboul 26, Vertonghen 25, BAE 28! Agree with Parker though, however I feel if Sandro stays fit he will be first choice with parker as backup. The striker situation is definitely something to worry about though! Great article

  • DR

    Fair enough, I guess I see Gallas/King and jump to conclusions, although both are gone now anyway, right?

    I’ll just bite my tongue about the quality of backup to said spring chickens as this isn’t the place…

    Cheers for some rational responses though.

  • kas

    good analysis based on the available data, but there lies the problem the missed 45% can turn the conclusion on its head one way or the other.
    As far as Tottenham are concerned their season changed with the Stoke game (3 points lost) got worse against wolves (winning goal wrongly disallowed for offside)(2 points lost) and was compounded against Chelsea when again a (winning goal was wrongly disallowed for offside) (2 points lost) in a six week period they have 7 points wrongly removed by refs.

    The reason for not allowing the goals was “I did not see it” answer me this-if the ref cannot give what he does not see, how then can he award a goal that did not cross the line, for if it did not cross the line he could not have possibly seen it cross the line. (Chelsea have benefited this way with a ghost goal against Tottenham for two seasons running)

  • WalterBroeckx

    The Stoke and Chelsea game was covered in this review. The Wolverhampton game not.

    I completely agree with you on the Stoke game. This was a farcical display from the ref.

    You are correct that the other 45% could turn the result on its head. The reason why we are crying out loud for any refs to join us and to help us in our battle for better refereeing standards in the PL.

  • bob

    Tommy Harmer,
    To put a small dent in your doubt (a) everyone could benefit from fair play and straight refereeing, as you can see, and this is the aim of these reviews; and (b) try reading the UA website’s explanation of the reviews:

  • Domhuaille MacMathghamhna

    Is there a distinct and provable bias from officials against all teams threatening the hegemony of certain ¨big¨ -too big to lose teams? Without much doubt!
    Have Arsenal and WHL, among others, been victimized by said officials over the years and significantly at crucial moments of seasons past….absolutely!
    Did ‘Arry both help and hinder the Spuds as the season advanced…no question there!
    Did a systemic loss of confidence and form at crucial moments relegate Tottenham to 4th…..surely!
    That said, it is fun to think that the two North London rivals could, together pose a real threat to the aforementioned hegemony and therefore, based on the UA game analyses….both can expect to have the rug pulled out from under their feet once again this season, IF they start to get too close to the ¨too big to lose¨ EPL teams.

  • WalterBroeckx

    exactly my thoughts also.

    As having watched all Arsenal games in the last seasons I have developed a 7th sense for such things. I have seen it on a few occasions when Arsenal came too close.

    I noticed it in a few Tottenham games this season. My extra sense told me : there it is. That’s what we have seen all those seasons.

    If it wouldn’t have happened would Tottenham ended in 3rd and we 4th? That is a question that will be answered once the Arsenal numbers are presented.

  • Domhuaille MacMathghamhna

    Walter….we’re both referees and know how, when watching from the sidelines, we get a ¨feeling¨ that a goal might be scored or a penalty awarded or a ¨failure¨ to see a foul committed, all of which corresponds to our skill at anticipating and predicting behaviours (positive or negative) during a match we officiate. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve thought to myself, while officiating, ¨IF only those guys had done this instead of that, it would have been a goal or opps, here comes a bad foul from the same clown who has already been cautioned/warned or boy is this team predictable!¨
    If this is true of us, then it is true of the PGMOL and any competent official. That is why your combined efforts for the referee reviews are as valid as anything out there. An experienced official ¨knows¨ what is right or wrong, ¨feels¨ the justice or injustice in a game and can ¨read¨ the intent of both the officials AND the players better than most spectators or administrators…since we’re right in the middle of the action and have to develop this anticipatory foresight, because we cannot ever see the entire diorama of play, unlike a well placed fan or camera.
    Keep up the good work.