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August 2021

REF REVIEW 2012: Wigan Athletic – the ref apologises and the season turns


Publication on July 20th: Woolwich Arsenal, the club that changed football.

The book that re-writes the Arsenal story.


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.

Maybe instead of being called Wigan Athletics they could rename them in to Wigan Escapist. Because for a very long part of the season things looked really bad for Wigan. They were for the most part of the season in the bottom 3 and a relegation looked on the cards. But suddenly things turn around and they managed to end the season in 15th place. Apart from the biggest turnaround from Arsenal (17th to 3rd) this could also be marked as a big turnaround or as the Big Escape.

Untold Vs PGMOL - WiganAthletic 2011/2012

So Wigan is another team that we have been able to do 8 games in our reviewing system. That is 21,05% of their total games.

For those who are new to this site and if you think this is not enough: rest assured we share this view. If we would have more Wigan games on TV and if we would have a few more ref reviewers we would actually be in the possibility to do more games.

But for now we have to do it with the games we could do and let us see how the referees did their job in those games.

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PGMOL Vs EPL - Basic Competency - WiganAthletic 2011/2012

If we look at the numbers and compare them with the overall league average we can say that these numbers are better. Short to 3% better for the unweighted decisions and short to 4% better when we put weight on the decisions.

A score of 75 looks not bad but remember this still means that 1 decision in 4 was wrong. Let us see how the decisions were made and if there are big differences to be seen.

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

The decisions about goals are very close to the league average. An average that I think is too low.

An amazing low numbers is the offside decisions. And when reading this you may remember one game in particular. Yes Chelsea, where Chelsea managed to win with two offside goals. But just looking at that number of 78,38% correct offside decisions….what was Riley talking about when he named 99% correct?

In the other decisions in the games involving Wigan the score was better with some 4% compared to the league average.

The penalty decisions are looking great. 20% better than the league average makes them end up with a total of 82%. That is good but well not really should accept as reasonable.

The refs made a total mess of red card decisions. They didn’t get one single decision right. Not that the games were dirty or so because we only had 3 possible decisions, but all went wrong.

When we look at the yellow cards we see that this is almost the same as the league average around 56%. Too low to be good.

Let us check if we can find any bias in the wrong decisions?

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

The normal negative away bias is -1.826 and Wigan has a score of -2.500. So slightly worse than the league average. Nothing dramatic but still some reason for concern.

On the other hand the normal positive home bias of +1.826 is also higher for Wigan. And this results in an overall negative bias of -0.125. A small negative bias in the unweighted decisions.

If we put weight to it we see that the normal negative away bias of -2.619 is largely passed by the final score of -4.250. So if we put weight to it we see that the bias becomes a bit bigger. Meaning that some major decisions went against them in some games. The positive home bias is also a bit higher than normal.

And again this is leading to a final score of a negative bias in total of -0.125.  Looking at this number one could say that this looks close to evening out.

Let us have a look at the refs involved.

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

We have 6 refs involved in Wigan games. With all refs one game except Martin Atkinson who did Wigan 3 times. And he managed to get a score of a positive bias of only +0.332. This indicates that he has done a great neutral job in the Wigan games. Congratulations ref Atkinson.

This cannot be said of Michael Jones who had a very negative swing in his game doing Wigan. Phil Dowd also had a rather big negative swing against Wigan.

More positive for Wigan was the performance from Mike Dean. The opposite score of Dowd. And the best ref for Wigan last season was Andre Marriner. Well in the games we reviewed that is. Let us put some weight in to the decisions.

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

The scores go up most of the time if we do and this is the same. Michael Jones really was bad against Wigan and also the performance from Phil Dowd looks really out of place.

Martin Atkinson can still remain the middle man a bit but the numbers have shot up a bit.

Mike Dean has kept his position but Clattenburg has gone up a bit and scored some 4 bias points when we put weight on the decisions.

The number of Marriner didn’t change much so we can assume that his mistakes were mostly made in the middle of the field. Let us try to see some strange things when comparing the points and the referees.

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

If we look at this graphic it looks as if the refs didn’t make a big difference. The only exception is game 32 where they had a bad performance and lost the game because of 2 major mistakes from the ref.

But after Riley apologised the bias turned over just in time to save their PL status. Now don’t go down in anger because I didn’t say that they won their points because of the refs but the bias did make a swing after being robbed at Chelsea. Was it because of what Riley did or say?

Because for the rest I cannot find lots of things that indicate a positive bias in favour of Wigan. So I could say that they managed to survive in the PL on their own merit and not by the help of some referees decisions.


It looks to be a middle of the road season for Wigan. Well at the end it was.

The referees performed okay in the Wigan games. But when all the numbers are counted with a minor bias against Wigan.  But the bias swing was rather small and so we could say that in the games we reviewed some things went against them, some in their favour.

Like we have noticed before: it can even out. And this comes close to evening out over the course of a season, or better said in the games we could review.

Some links to some reviews

Wigan – Newcastle
Arsenal – Wigan
Chelsea – Wigan
Wigan – Manchester City
Wigan – Chelsea
Wigan – Arsenal
Manchester City – Wigan

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.


25 comments to REF REVIEW 2012: Wigan Athletic – the ref apologises and the season turns

  • So… not much internet presence for Wigan fans then?

  • sahil

    The results are okay so I guess we won’t be seeing many Wigan fans today.

  • Andy Kelly


    They only got electricity up there last year. The internet might be ready by 2020.

  • @Andy – OK, now THAT might draw some comments! 😉

  • Johnny Deigh

    They can barely fill their stadium, let alone the internet.

  • Johnny Deigh

    But seriously folks, Roberto Martinez has done a good job with Wigan given the limited resources he has.

  • WalterBroeckx

    And for the moaners who say: “we are after their team and give them bad marks because we lost against them” : we lost at home to Wigan.

  • *sigh*

    Oh well – who have we got next up Walter?

  • Stuart

    ** tumbleweed **

  • WalterBroeckx

    Wolves is next up Dogface… but they…. nah people have to read it themselves 😉

  • WalterBroeckx

    Dear Latics if you want to comment on this site on this article: please stick to the subject. Thank you. Or read this

  • WalterBroeckx

    The numbers!

  • latics fan

    after 2 posts being rejected i take it you dont like it when you dont get your own way(no wigan responses!you keep kicking mine of),it looks like your no differant to wigan as the RVP case proves,at least victor moses hasnt refused to play,shocking

  • Latics fan – it is very simple, and the details are on several articles on this site and in the notes posted around this series.

    You will not be published if

    a) you are abusive
    b) you simply state an opinion without backing it up (for example people who say “your figures are wrong”
    c) you go off topic
    d) you accuse the site of doing something which is explained.

    This last point doesn’t mean that you have to read the whole site before you post, but you really should not expect to be able to wander off in your own way, without first noting in some detail what the site is about.

    And concerning the lack of comments from supporters of your team, you should see the responses that have come from elsewhere. Goodness, we have Tottenham fans on here telling us that some of our analyses are very fair and reasonable.

  • BTW – ‘latics fan’ was the ONLY poster here to represent his team… and the post published was pretty much representative of the two that weren’t.

  • WalterBroeckx

    Latics fan,
    you started by saying something about a semi final some dozen years ago (could be more could be less) and then said we were still sour for that.
    This is exactly what we have been talking about in this topic and we want to avoid such things.
    I know the other comments were not on topic but I think most of our regular readers don’t say: ‘I agree’ which in itself would be silly.
    The other people are regular readers who have passed the “talk on the subject-test’ before and once you passed your fit and proper person test you can go a bit off topic. But I think we ask that you first prove that you can talk a bit on topic.
    We have had more than enough people talking off topic so when you post your first post and immediately go off topic the chance of you not passing the test is big.

    But if you do have anything to say about the refs in the Wigan games: be our guest.

  • latics fan

    the other folk have passed the “talk on the subject test”hahahahahaha,hahahahaha,unbelievable,hahahahahaha

  • latics fan

    stll laughing 3 days later,at least up here we dont run the internet like the chinese !

  • Latics fan – I was just wondering… do you have anything of value to say or are you just on the troll?


  • Stuart

    @ Latics Fan, I don’t really understand what your gripe is. An Arsenal blog have gone out of their way to review the refs in YOUR games and established that the refs hindered you a bit and you have a problem with the bloggers for that?!?!?!

    Please do explain why you would be having a swipe at us rather than the refs as it makes no sense to me!

  • Stuart

    Unless you are in fact Mike Riley in which case I fully understand 🙂

  • JT

    Very interesting read. Nice to see our long standing suspicions of Phil Dowd *spit* confirmed by cold hard stats. Hope you find more volunteer refs to expand your reviews. Keep up the good work.

  • Stuart

    Hi guys,

    Just to let you know, a bit more exposure amd support gained, thanks to Andy @ This Northern Soul (Wigan blog) for adding an article to their website (below):-

  • Polite Latics Fan

    Hi everyone, I would just like to say I like the article, refereeing is an issue that needs sorting in the premiership. There have been quite a lot of decisions against us that have cost us dear in the past (the two goals against Chelsea and the corner that was never took spring to mind). The goal that wasn’t given against United could have been a big decision.

    Stoppage time should be taken into account, however. Fergie-time plays a big part in United’s victories! Not necessarily against us, but all teams! Often unfair decisions such as that effect games.

    There does seem to be negative bias against the smaller teams, but human error cannot be taken as bias all the time, nobody is perfect, bad decisions are inevitable.

  • Stuart

    Hi Polite Latics Fan,

    Fully agree with you about Fergie Time, funny how the only people who don’t seem to agree are Man Utd fans though isn’t it.

    With regard to the Human Error factor, I always consider this to be un intended bias myself as the end result is usually always a decision in someones favour incorrectly. Terms like Incompetence, Mistakes, Couldn’t See would all come into this bracket.