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August 2021

REFEREE REVIEW 2012: Howard Webb – great first half, but…


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.

We are entering the last bits of our referee reviews of the refs. The next ref had the honour of doing the last World cup final and left the scene with some mixed emotions. What did we find on his performances of last season?

Untold Vs PGMOL - HowardWebb 2011/2012

We managed to do 17 games from Howard Webb last season. And that is just under 60% of all his games in the PL. So this should tell us a few things about his overall performance of last season.

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And with the new season just begun we are looking at the possibility of doing all the games of all the refs in the current season. But if there is a ref out there who wants to join us: give us a message and we will get back to you.

The first thing we always look at is the competency of a ref. So lets just get on with it.

PGMOL Vs EPL - Basic Competency - HowardWebb 2011/2012

As has been sad more than a dozen times : a ref should get a score of at least 70% of correct decisions. And that is what Webb did. He scored 72.06% in the un-weighted decisions so that is a good enough score.

When we put weight on the decisions his score drops to 71.40% but that still is more than the 70% we ask so that looks to be good enough. Compared to others we have had in the last days and weeks not really brilliant but just enough to secure a place in the PL for this season. Well that is if we would have something to say about it of course.

Let us see how he did on the different type of decisions.

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

The goal decisions are higher than the league average with a few %. So that is a good score of just under 95%. Still would have loved it if we would take this type of decision up to 99% correct. Ah, maybe the future will bring this one day…

The offside decisions are also higher than the league average but not as high as the Riley numbers.

The other decisions are a part where he drops points. He sometimes goes missing in games one could say.

The penalty decisions are not really bad at all. I still would love to see a higher score but with this number he is one of the better refs in this type of decisions.

If we see at his disciplinary numbers we see a terrible 0% for the red card decisions. He had to make 10 decisions but messed them all up badly.  World cup final memories come to mind.

The yellow cards decisions are around the league average.

Can we detect any home or away bias with Webb?

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

In the overall league numbers we found a negative bias against the away teams of -1.826. Howard Webb gets a score of +1.648 for the away teams. So he gave more wrong calls to the away teams than he gave to the home teams. So he can not be classified as a home referee.

When we put weight on the decisions we see the same. In stead of the normal negative away bias against visiting teams he has a strong positive bias for the away teams.

So he is a ref that can stand up against the home crowd if we look at his numbers. There might be reasons underneath this but he surely is not afraid to take unpopular decisions against the home team.

Let us have a look at the different teams he did in the games we reviewed.

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

He did 15 different teams last season and we can see that 3 of those teams had a bias lower than his overall bias. They can be rather satisfied with his performances.

Teams who are on the bad side of things for Webb are Chelsea, QPR, Liverpool, Fulham and on top of it all is Arsenal.

A rather interesting thing is that in the un-weighted decisions Manchester United is rather a mid-team table for Webb. There are other teams that have a better bias score from Webb like Swansea, Tottenham, Newcastle, Stoke, Norwich and on top of it is Sunderland.

A bit of a surprising top team one could say.

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

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

If we want to be generous we could say that 5 teams fall in to the “normal” bias range of Howard Webb.

Teams that fall out of this normal range on the negative side are QPR, Liverpool, Fulham, Chelsea and Arsenal.

The positive bias for some teams are for Manchester United, Newcastle, Stoke, Norwich and once again Sunderland is on top of the pack.

It looks as if he had a bad game when doing one Sunderland game last year. Well bad for the opposing team of course.


If we look at the competency we see a ref that is competent enough to be in the PL according to our standards. A mid-table ref according to our numbers. Mid-table but still in the first half of the table.

He is a ref that cannot be called a home ref. And contrary to popular believe he is not Manchester United’s best ref. Well he was not their best ref last season. Even though some people will point at some games where he made a few favourable decisions for Manchester United it wasn’t as clear as we think.

And that is what this referee review is all about. This is a bit of a surprising fact but never the less this is how we found it. Last season United couldn’t win a few games with Webb in charge so Webb and United are not completely certain for them winning a game.

One more thing we have to add to our conclusion.  When we were reviewing games with Webb we have found something that is rather strange.  All our reviewers found out that Webb can have a great first half. With sometimes almost perfect scores. And then he comes out for the second half and you wonder if it is the same person who is doing this game.

I sometimes wonder what happens at half time in the Webb dressing room. Does he loses his concentration? Maybe too much talk and laughter with his assistants at half time?  Is he getting too tired? I wonder if there is some physical condition we don’t know about but that affects his performances in the second half.  Or is he changing his game at half time in order to…. well you can tell me but there is something strange going on when Webb does his game and messing up in a way that cannot be understood.

But apart from that his numbers are good enough to keep him in the PL.


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11 comments to REFEREE REVIEW 2012: Howard Webb – great first half, but…

  • Harry

    Very good analysis. I hope you get more readership and hence the sway this site deserves.

    I am glad this is doesnt have a club bias. Good luck.

  • Doanythingformoney

    Excellent work gang! The World will now be watching to see if HW continues his two tone reffing this season. Seems bizarre to me. I think we need to check out his body language in the two halves. I have noticed a difference in this respect in the past- more agitated in the second half as if he has had a telling off and resents it!

  • Sav from Australia

    Brilliant work as usual guys!

    Howard Webb…the man, the enigma…lol. Smells like conspiracy to me, but then again, maybe there is another explanation…

    Thanks for your continued efforts.

  • webb and clantenburg are good refs for arsenal, in that they are fair and unbiased against us which is the least you want

    phil dowd is our worst ref.. he is an anti arsenal brigade fan let alone a fair prem league ref

    edit MEANT MIKE DEAN is our worst ref

    but dowd is rubbish for us also. always fowls against us, never given to us

  • Charlie

    I am naturally suspicious that Arsenal fans are saying Arsenal are conspired against by every ref but I can’t say I didn’t suspect the same. It seems that the first few games have not shown the same discrimination against Arsenal as we saw last season. Hopefully that will continue and with ref evaluations from fans of many clubs this season you should be able to eliminate any suspicion of bias in favour of Arsenal. One other point that i’d like to make regards offsides. Surely the linesman is normally in a better position to call offsides so the ref is not really to blame if it is wrong. It is very difficult for a ref in the middle of the action to overrule a linesman who is stood in line with the last defender.

  • El Gringo

    Interesting list of the teams that Webb disfavoured: 4 London clubs plus Liverpool. Not quite off their F*&%$ing perch yet? It looks like a systematic list to me.

  • El Gringo

    Dogface, could you run an analysis splitting first yellow cards and second yellow cards to see precisely how reluctant refs are to hand out the second? It seems that a lot of players actually get a bit of extra immunity after a yellow card since the ref wants to keep 11 men on the pitch.

  • nicky

    Quite remarkable that the Webb analysis reflects so cloely with his handling of the recent Liverpool/Arsenal match.

  • Florian

    Wrt to the Webb’s first half/second half behavior, it would be interesting to review some of his international matches (European competitions, World Cup, anything that suits). I know it’s merely wishful thinking, but it would be an interesting exercise that might validate/invalidate some of the conspiracy theories…

  • Arvind

    Brilliant stuff Walter. This should prove that you and the team are truly unbiased. Keep it coming..I’m sure your hard work will be rewarded some day.. if as you is not already when you see so many people in and day out : )

  • hi Howard Webb you are a crap referee in the wrould
    you should give arsenal a penley pasler don’t referee
    all our game thkns Tamina Ahmed