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August 2021

REF REVIEW 2012: Liverpool – only half the penalty calls were correct!

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.

A team that had spent a lot of money before the start of last season. They lost Torres the season before and replaced him with Carroll. It somehow didn’t work out for both players at their new home.  In the end a very disappointing campaign ended with King Kenny being sacked. Luckily for him we have gone past the time that when kings were sacked they usually lost their head in the process.

But how have the referees done in the Liverpool games last season?
Untold Vs PGMOL - Liverpool 2011/2012

So we have reviewed 20 games that involved Liverpool last season. And this is the first team we have in our survey from whom we did more than 50% of their games. To be precise we did 52,63% of their games.

Maybe not yet completely what we would like or what you would like. But I think doing more than 40% of all the PL games and doing more than 50% of the Liverpool games is something that nobody has ever done before. Well not that we know. So let us move on to the numbers and the scores from refs themselves.

PGMOL Vs EPL - Basic Competency - Liverpool 2011/2012

If we look at the total decisions without adding weight to the decisions we see that in the Liverpool games the refs did a bit better than the overall league average score. A slightly better score of 1,530 % is not that overwhelming but it comes close to having 3 decisions correct out of every 4 decisions made. Or one decision not correct in every 4 decisions.  Sorry for not starting to dance on the table for this score.

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If we put weight on the decisions we see that the score drops and comes very close to the league average score.  Those who have been with us a bit longer know that we had 1 (one) team in total who had the league average score and that was Everton. So the two teams from Liverpool are very close to the league average last season.

Let us take a look now at the different type of decisions and the score we found on those decisions.

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

The goal decisions are a bit better than the league average. A score of 94% is some 2% better than the league average. But again I want to point at the fact that this type of decisions should have a perfect score. Goals are those little things that decide the final outcome of the game so we must get those right.

The offside decisions are also a bit better than the league average. But a score from 93% is not close to the 99% claimed by Mike Riley from the PGMOL.

The other decisions are better than the league average. A score of 75% means 3 correct calls on 4 decisions. Or 1 wrong call on 4 decisions. It does sound very different to me.

The penalty decisions are rather disastrous I would say. Only 50% of the penalty decisions were correct in Liverpool games. So this is almost like throwing up a coin and waiting for it to drop to know if a penalty should be given or not.  You could have the same result that way.

The red cards are a bit better than the league average. An average which is so poor that doing better is not a big deal. Only 1 in 4 red card decisions have been correct in Liverpool games.

The yellow cards are below the league average. With a score of around 53% the refs were again close to throwing up their coin to make a decision. A very poor outcome one could say.

Was there anyone benefiting from the mistakes that were made? Let us try to find out when we continue our report.

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

We have seen this before with some other teams but still a strange thing is that the normal negative away bias teams have to face during the PL has been turned in to a positive bias for Liverpool when they go away from home. You normally get a score of -1.826 against you and they have a positive score of +0.777 bias points.

The normal positive home bias a team can expect in the PL is +1.826. With a score of 3.546 Liverpool almost gets the double positive home bias.

The final result is a positive bias swing over those 20 games of +2.300 bias points for Liverpool.

If we put weight on the decisions we see that the normal negative away bias of  -2.619 has become a positive away bias of +0.889 points.  Again no sign of Liverpool being very hard done by in general when they go away. Keep in mind this is an average and of course in some games this might have been not the case!

The home bias when we put weight on the decisions goes up to some 4.909 and this is almost the double than can be expected.

So at first sight the referees were rather friendly for Liverpool last season in the games we reviewed.

Let us take a look at the refs involved in those 20 games.

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

We had 12 refs in the 20 games we did. Kevin Friend did most games with 4, closely followed by Lee Probert and Phil Dowd.

Four refs had a negative bias score when we look at the decisions without weight on them. Howard Webb is leading the negative pack in this case. Is this a surprise for Liverpool supporters?

Michael Jones also has a negative score but only half as bad as Webb. Friend and Clattenburg are close to being normal one could say.

On the positive side we see that Dowd, Probert and Oliver are mildly in favour of Liverpool when we look at their final score. But close to the zero mark so nothing really to say.

Walton, Taylor, Atkinson, Marriner have been very Liverpool friendly in general in their games. Mark Halsey seemed to be over-friendly for Liverpool in the game he did.

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

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

Now 5 of the refs had a negative bias score against Liverpool. I somehow got the feeling that the name of Howard Webb amongst those refs and with the joint highest negative bias against Liverpool will be no surprise to some people. Michael Jones has also been very negative for Liverpool.

Clattenburg had a little negative bias just as Lee Probert and Kevin Friend. But those are rather small numbers.

On the positive side we have Michael Oliver and Phil Dowd with a relative low positive bias score. Peter Walton has a big one.  Anthony Taylor seems to be the first one of very Liverpool friendly referees. The score from Martin Atkinson, Andre Marriner are a bit too Liverpool friendly to be good for the ref. The score from Mark Halsey is nothing but disgraceful I would say.

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

Now we see an interesting change in the bias numbers. If you look at the numbers you see a big bias in game 2. They then went top of the league and well someone wasn’t too happy about that. The bias suddenly swung the other way round and went in to the negative (look at 4 and 5).

And then happened the most strange thing. Kenny Dalglish went up to Mike Riley after he felt very hard done by the ref. He went to complain about a few things. And then just look at the bias numbers from game 6 on… They suddenly have turned around completely.

If you have lost it I will summarize it for you: Liverpool went top of the league and suddenly the refs turned against them. Then Dalglish complained about that when he went to visit the head of the PGMOL and suddenly the bias numbers were favourable for Liverpool for the next four  games. So this is two unacceptable trends in those numbers. The negative bias when they go first and then the positive bias after complaining.

When we reviewed the next game whatever has been said or agreed was forgotten and the bias turned in to more normal numbers.


The events early in the season really look very strange to me. What was the reason for this sudden swing in the bias numbers? Why was Liverpool suddenly being targeted in some games when going first in the league? Who didn’t like this?

And then the follow up turns this in to something that should need further examination. The press reports Dalglish complaining against Mike Riley and we suddenly see a swing in the numbers again.

Is this a coincidence? We have seen a similar trend in the numbers from Wigan after they had been badly treated at Chelsea and Riley apologised for the refs their mistakes. Suddenly in the next games the bias also turned rather favourable for Wigan.  But as we did fewer games from Wigan the trend was not as visible as this one.  But based on our numbers I can only see that there was something really strange happening during the first 9 games from Liverpool.

Some links to some  reviews we did

Liverpool – Chelsea
Sunderland – Liverpool
Liverpool – Everton
Manchester United – Liverpool
Liverpool – Tottenham
Bolton – Liverpool
Fulham – Liverpool
Chelsea – Liverpool
Liverpool – Norwich
Liverpool – Manchester United
Everton – Liverpool
Tottenham – Liverpool
Liverpool – Wolverhampton
Stoke – Liverpool
Liverpool – Bolton
Arsenal – Liverpool
Liverpool – Sunderland


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14 comments to REF REVIEW 2012: Liverpool – only half the penalty calls were correct!

  • Mandy Dodd

    very interesting. Maybe we should be paying Mike Riley a visit!

  • bob

    What kind of league is it when a coach gets to have a private meeting (no transcript) to remonstrate (to be polite) with the head of the referee’s association? Not the league, but with the Queen Bee of that Hive. That in itself should be banned. Or there should be a committee hearing. Or there should be a transcript. Or there should be a filed report. NONE of this, it would seem, is made public, except for the fact of the meeting, presumably. Absolutely amazing to find that the statistics bear out everyone’s common sense intuition about something dodgy having happened. That there was no outcry about the propriety of this “process” attests to how “normalized” this “process” has become. Its cynicism simply reinforces the cynical despair that beaten down fans have come to accept as the way it is. Of course it’s all down to coincidence and just happened to have evened out in the end. So what’s left to say? Had enough, anyone (yet)?

  • chris

    this isnt a recent prob leeds would still be in the prem if all the decisions were correct the season they were relegated refs are a joke the only reason they wont allow live replays is because it takes control of the league out of the fa’s hands, they go on about players swearing being a bad influence on our children what about the influence of not trusting officials and seeing players lie and get penalties and win games by cheating, well worse than lip reading rooneys mouth!!!!!

  • bob

    p.s. Oh, and for those who think that fans petitions mean nothing, do you think that the online petition to rid the stone named Stuart Robson from the Arsenal shoe had no impact on Robson’s (pre-emptive) resignation (before he was formally terminated) from Arsenal Player? No impact? Pressure from the fanbase would seem to have some effect, on the surface at least, n’est-ce pas? If there were no pressure, do you think AFC would have let Robson go in the off-season as has occured? And if AFC weren’t about to terminate Robson, do you think Robson would be so publicly and vocally bitter in his lashings of AFC and Arsene over the last week or so (on TalkShite and other media venues)? Nothing like fans potential to withdraw their hard earned disposable income from a club’s coffers to make a dent. Hmmmmm?

  • Stuart

    I wrote in to the club and complained. I got an email back saying my message has been forwarded to the relevant personnel for review. I have to say, Arsenal seem to listen if you approach them the right way, they are run like a corporate machine which is why they probably ignore most of the AAA ramblings.

  • Phil

    What a surprise! I had a feeling the old Mike Riley visit had an impact… great work Walter!

  • ken

    you forgot to say about the papers making a joke at the start of the season saying the refs the refs the refs,will anythink change no i would love to see uniteds and how the refs work foe old red nose

  • VormHat

    Liverpool fan.

    Very interesting article. I’ve only really skimmed over it at this point but will give it a deeper read later and consider it bearing in mind other teams that you’ve covered and general trends that have revealed themselves.

    The red card statistic is farcical, though I’m interested to know how certain red card decisions are deemed wrong and right, since some are open to interpretation. I’m sure this is probably covered in an earlier article.

  • bob

    Good one! I hope your letter tipped the balance. I don’t think it’s either letters or online petitions. Both add their weight to the scales and it would seem that both show enough potential discontent to lead to a result. Not that they would write back and tell anyone what specific impact might have emerged – that would be an expectation too far. However, I’d bet that letters and petitions would be strong allies in any worthwhile cause. If nothing else, it gives some actors within the club some grounds for taking a stand, one way or the other, on a meaningful decision. So cheers for the letter and may the force be with us.

  • bob

    Would you have a link or three to any paper(s) or writer(s) that mocked people for being concerned about the refs prior to this forthcoming season? (or the previous season?)

  • bob

    Do you recall having read anything more than a mention of the visit? I mean anything that documented the day/time/attendees of that visit? I’m curious as to who put what lens, if any, on that meeting and reported on Daiglish’s discontent leading to his requesting or demanding said meeting; and whether there was any follow-up on the specifics (any specifics)of the pow-wow?

  • Stuart

    I regularly write to the club and give praise when the media are having digs at the team & Wenger. I often get a reply saying something along the lines of thank you for your communication, it has been forwarded to the manager. I just wanted them to know there are some of us out here who admire many things about the club and are still behind the team and manager.

  • Woolwich Peripatetic

    There are guidelines issued by FIFA/UEFA/the FA to ref’s as to what constitutes a red card/yellow card offence. But even allowing for local variations – barging off the ball could be a yellow in Spain but not in England for instance, if you card a Liverpool player for a dodgy tackle, you have to card a United player for the same offence – and if you’re a Liverpool fan you’ll know that at Old Trafford that’s highly unlikely!

  • zamt KL

    I have following the English league for almost 40 years.I noticed that of late the overall quality of refereeing has dropped considerably. It’s time to use technology and have more officials in PL games.Just look at rugby and tennis for examples where decisions can be deferred pending video replays.