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October 2020

REFEREE REVIEW 2012: Mike Dean – looking for explanations


This article is part of the series : REFEREE REVIEW 2012


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 last referee in our year review is Mike Dean.

Mike Dean
Mike Dean

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The top referee if we look at games reviewed.

Untold Vs PGMOL - MikeDean 2011/2012

We reviewed 19 games of Mike Dean last season. That is 63% of his total games. So you could say that we have the most accurate numbers of any ref from last season.

And wait for this season as we are reviewing 100% of the games so far. So the accuracy will go up a lot.

Accuracy is one thing. How about competency? Just have a look.

PGMOL Vs EPL - Basic Competency - MikeDean 2011/2012

As you probably will know by now and if not you must be new to this site a score of 70% in total is required for any ref in the PL to keep his place the next season.

And well in the un-weighted decisions he doesn’t get that score. He only gets a score of 69.68%. So not really far off the 70% but shouldn’t we expect more from an experienced Fifa ref?

If we put weight on the decisions his score goes up a bit. And then he just reaches the 70% score. Is this enough for one of the top refs in the PL?

Let us try to find out where it went wrong.

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

The goal decisions and the offside decisions are rather in line with the league average. We claim the league average is too low but this is just the way it is for the moment.

And when we look at his other decisions we see where he goes wrong. A score of just under 66% correct decisions. This means that he misses too many fouls. There are times you wonder if he is paying attention or if he is looking at the nice women in row 3 of the East stand (I jest of course).  But I sometimes have had the impression only his body was on the pitch but his mind was miles away from what happened on the pitch.  Of course that’s just my impression, nothing more.

But in the penalty area he woke up it seems. As for this referee this type of decisions is better than the league average. We all can remember a few terrible mistakes from Dean but to be fair to him he did get the majority of penalty decisions correct.

In his carding he is better than the league average. Both on the red and the yellow cards he has a score that is higher. The red cards are still very low but it seems sometimes that refs in the PL are afraid to take out the red card when it is needed.

Let us now see if he is a home ref or not.

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

We found a negative away bias in the league in total of -1.826. Dean scores a bit better with a score of only -1.421. So his home/away bias is not that big. That is something we have to give him credit for.

And also when we put weight on the decisions his home/away bias is very very low. To give credit when it’s due: this is one of the lowest home/away biases we have found.

So is there no bias to be found in his numbers? We go and check the teams now.

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

And now we see a few interesting numbers. We had 14 different teams in the games we reviewed. 6 of those teams have a very very low bias in total. Chelsea, Swansea and even Bolton and Stoke with a zero bias.  Newcastle and Manchester City have only got a small positive bias. I must point at the fact that even when Newcastle had a small bias score he managed to screw up in their games a lot because the numbers go high up and down.

Who are his least “favourite” teams? (And here I am using “favourite” to mean teams that benefited from a bias – not to imply that he was doing this deliberately).

Blackburn is one of them. Sunderland is one of them. And well we all know how he treated Arsenal not just last season. So no real surprise to see Arsenal as the team that got most things going against them.

But who are the “favourites?” Wigan is one. And Tottenham was one up to a certain level. And when we turn to the big guns from Dean we see Manchester United is one of them. Fulham is also one of them and this is maybe more of a surprise. But the top team is QPR. And that is something maybe nobody expected.

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

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

Now only 3 teams fall in to his ‘normal’ bias range: Chelsea, Swansea and Newcastle are the lucky ones.

On the negative side we see Stoke and Blackburn with a more than average negative bias. Sunderland keeps his second place. And Arsenal remains the top team from Dean when it comes to giving wrong decisions against a particular side.

The teams that benefited from his many mistakes were Manchester City, Bolton and Wigan with a rather small positive bias.

Tottenham Hotspur was more than happy with his decisions it seems. And the same can be said of  Manchester United and Fulham who had big mistakes going their way. And once again the top team of benefiting from his mistakes is QPR.


If you look at his competency this is a border line referee. He flirts with the 70% score and this could be just enough to keep him in the PL.

His home/away bias is rather small, one of the lowest of the league. But this is something that can depend largely on where you do certain teams as we could see in his team bias score.  To give an example:  One could say doing an Arsenal game away and a next at home will result in a small home/away bias and a big negative bias against Arsenal.

It is clear that the bias from Dean is more about some teams or maybe attached to certain persons.

But is all this just the meanderings of a referee who is sometimes biased and sometimes unbiased – just because he doesn’t focus?  Or is there something else – is he deliberately biased?

We have had numerous debates on this site about the meaning of “proof” – how can we ever prove that one ref is biased unless we have a recording of a conversation in the Italian style in which a club owner offers the use of his villa in return for “a little help on the pitch”.

Of course we don’t have that – we just view the recordings of the games and give the marks.  All that we can say for sure is that this is a highly erratic referee.  We can’t explain why.  But we can ask the question: why is PGMOL not doing something about this?

Maybe they have and maybe this season’s results will be more balanced.  You can see the reviews of every game in the Premier League on Referees’ Decisions in order to see how he is doing.

Strange referee decisions can be

a) random – just having a bad moment

b) the result of poor refereeing – the ref is not good enough

c) the result of the ref trying to help his own career

d) because of a match being fixed by a club

To look for a moment at c) there are people who have a great feeling on doing what is best for their own personal career. They don’t do things because they dislike a team or a person. But they think, “who can I make happy so he can help me along with my career.”  And when I look at the career of Dean I have the impression he is one of those people who have a great feeling of serving the right person at the right time.  I stress that is just a personal feeling – there is no evidence other than the evidence that something is wrong.

Of course it could be a coincidence that Arsenal almost never lost a game under him when Dein was an important person in the FA. Of course it could be a coincidence that Arsenal started dropping points under Dean when Dein was no longer at the FA.

Likewise it could be a coincidence that he gave Manchester United and their manager a few happy moments when turning a blind eye since Mike Riley became the head of the referees. Of course it could be a coincidence that QPR, who sponsors the referees in the PL are the team that gets most of the decisions under him. Of course it could be a coincidence that Harry Redknapp the media’s favourite club manager/destroyer/next England manager got more wins than normal when Dean was in charge of his games.

It all could be coincidences. Coincidences do happen.  But if you look at the bigger picture you also could ask yourself: are they really all coincidences?  Or are we seeing a very clever man who does what he feels need to be done to launch his own career?

But at the end we come back to the fundamental basic point: we have no independent evidence.  We just have the views of a group of referees monitoring another referee on the pitch.


This brings an end to our referee review of the referees. We have done the teams, the referees. The next thing we will do now is to try and say who was the best referee in the last season according to our reviewers.

And then if all goes right we will try to write a summary and propose what needs to be done to improve the standard of refereeing and to make sure that all teams get more fair decisions.

Referee Decisions – every match this season.

The club that changed football

Making the Arsenal


10 comments to REFEREE REVIEW 2012: Mike Dean – looking for explanations

  • Gerry Lennon

    I think Dean must be the best, in one respect at least? Almost no incorrect decisions against Man U at home … How’s that for concentration?

  • Mahdain

    Could it also be a coincidence when Dean kept getting our matches again and again and again when we only had Clattenburg once(or twice?) and didnt get Foy till February and Taylor till April? i think not. Something needs to be done about Dean and the lower matches he gets for us this season the better. I dont have any faith in him one bit and from the moment i see him as a ref for our match i know we are in for a long match..

  • Damien Luu

    I know this has been said hundreds of times or more but I still want to say it: Great work, reviewers, really great work. Please keep it up.

  • And there we go – another referee, another bad set of results for Arsenal.

  • Mandy Dodd

    This is one of the more worrying refs we face…..unfortunately, clearly one of a few. Would be very interested to see how the spuds get on with him with AVB , as opposed to under arry

  • Zigzag

    Remember him jumping for joy when Totts scored against us at WHL? Disgraceful! And he is a FIFA referee? Unbelievable.

  • WalterBroeckx

    Mandy dodd, one game is not enough to draw conclusions of course but he did them this season and…well…a complete disaster in competency but a remarkable unbiased performance…

  • Georgaki-Pyrovolitis

    Dogface and Walter

    Great stuff. I work in the Mathematical Sciences Unit of the Health & Safety Laboratory. We have a mathematician/statistician whose pet subject is the presentation of data. He has encouraged us to avoid the use of pie charts. These get difficult to annotate when the slices are very small. This doesn’t happen with a good old histogram (bar chart).

  • Adam

    Mr Broeckx.
    I have good information from inside the PGMOL that Arsenal have won a prize in the form of Mike Dean refereeing the next 25 Arsenal league fixtures, I have also been informed we Gooners can look forward to playing in the championship next season and that a certain Mr Broeckx has won himself two season tickets at the Ems next season one behind each goal.
    Mr Broeckx you are advised by Mr Riley and Mr Dean that to see any goal mouth action you are to position yourself behind the goal the away team are attacking.
    PGMOL passes on their kindest regards and wishes you every success for the future.

  • mark

    proof – in science there are many proofs from the observation of effect regarding the nature of the cause. The cause is not seen, only the effect, for example particle physics. So the observation of patterns of ref decisions leads to a certain kind of proof about the nature of the cause. We do this with human motivation all the time as we interact with others. We see behaviors and we draw conclusions about the motivations and intentions of others. The motivations and intentions are unseen, but behaviors are. You are raising important questions through these ref reviews. I hope the people in power will take note and take steps to improve the quality of the officiating the game!