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July 2021

REFEREE REVIEW 2012: Phil Dowd – you simply will not believe this


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.

Phil Dowd is the next ref in line in our reviews. And if ever a test had to be made on judging the quality and the bias of our reviewers this ref would be the proof of our reviewers being biased or not.

The reason for this is that since that day in Newcastle 2 seasons ago we just started hating him for showing such an extreme bias against Arsenal that it really got too nasty.  So how would our reviewers judge him the season after? Would we be open minded and just judge the decisions? See for yourself.

Untold Vs PGMOL - PhilDowd 2011/2012

We did 12 games from Phil Dowd last season and that was just under 43% of his games. So a respectable score all in all and a good way to see how he was last season.

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And remember this current season we will even have more numbers as we seem to manage to do all the games so far this season on our new website.

Let us see how he scored in the competency numbers

PGMOL Vs EPL - Basic Competency - PhilDowd 2011/2012

BLIMEY!!!! WHAT A SCORE!!!!! Our ref reviewers found that this ref managed to have a score of more than 80% correct decisions. 81.62% to be exact.  That is an extra ordinary number. And this was given by a site where the reviewers were known for there Arsenal allegance and thus we could have expected to be very biased against Dowd. Not such a thing. We reviewed him fair and this is the result. An extra ordinary high score.

And if we put weight on the decisions we see that he even then scores higher than 80%. This is simply amazing stuff.

Let us have a look at the different type of decisions.

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

I will for once start with the red card decisions. A score of 0% correct. At first sight this looks bad. And for those who still hate him for the Newcastle game a reason to say: see he is useless. But if you check the little numbers below you see that he only had to make 3 red card decisions in the 12 games we reviewed! That is very low. And the reason can be found in the rest of the numbers.

The goal decisions are lower than the league average. And they coincide with the offside decisions. Who also are much lower than the league average. I will not even mention 99% correct decisions from Mike Riley. Well I just did.

I know that he gave a few goals after bad mistakes from his assistant referees. He is not really at fault for those decisions but they come on his score sheet. Because well that is the way we work.

Then take a look at his other decisions. A score of 83% is very high.

And if you look at his penalty decisions… a score of 80% correct. Now we are talking about a ref who can make good decisions in the penalty box. This is a minimum score I would like to see with all the refs in fact.

So that is 4 different decisions type well above 80% correct.

And the yellow cards drop a bit but a score of more than 71% correct cards is something most refs can only dream of.

And the low number of red cards decisions is just down to the fact that in the games we reviewed Dowd made it clear from the first minute of each game that he wouldn’t accept much crap from the players. And thus the players obliged and made sure that he didn’t get the chance to give red cards.

After the high numbers on competency we move on to the home and away bias.

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

And then we see a bit a few things. Despite Dowd making few mistakes it is clear that when he made a mistake it contained some bias. The away teams suffered more wrong decisions than the home teams. So if you want to say something bad of Dowd you can say that he looked to be a home ref last season. Maybe not that far away from the truth…?

If we put weight on the decisions we see the same numbers with a big negative bias against the away teams and a positive bias for the home teams.

But the good thing is that he made few mistakes.

Let us see at the different teams and see if we can find much bias in those numbers.

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

We had 12 teams involved in his games in total. We can say that Arsenal, Chelsea and Everton are clearly not his favourite teams. Or in other words those teams suffered most when he made mistakes. And on the other side it was Manchester United, Manchester City and Norwich who gained most from his mistakes.

A bit strange that Manchester City got so many things going their way together with United.

We also should mention that 6 teams of the 12 had a rather small bias score from Dowd in the games we reviewed.

Let us have a look when we put weight on the decisions

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

The first thing we notice now is that we only have 4 teams left with a small bias score.

Arsenal are on the wrong end a lot as is Chelsea, Wigan and Everton.

With the teams who got the decisions in their favour we see that Norwich, Manchester United and Manchester City are rather close together in their bias score.


Our reviewers have proved that they did not look at the name of the ref to give their score. That is maybe the most important conclusion and I want to give credit to our reviewers for this.

It will be a big shock for many who have followed us in the last years. And those who know how we slaughtered Dowd after his game in Newcastle on that terrible day. But as a phoenix Dowd burned himself to the flames that day but he came back as a completely different ref the season after.

In a way this proves two things to me:

1. Dowd can be a great ref when he is determined to be a great ref. And he was determined to be a great ref. I have seen his body language in the games I reviewed. My other reviewers have noticed the same without us saying it to each other that much. This was a completely different Dowd. And he rightfully and deserved the high score he got in our reviews.

2. But those numbers prove that his day at Newcastle was maybe down to something very sinister.  Something he will only know or something other people will know about. How could he sunk so low that day?

Maybe this was a moment that afterwards he questioned himself and asked to himself: will I be remembered for that day where I (for whatever reason) did what I did that day and loaded myself with shame? Or will I stop with the nonsense and do what I am supposed to do: be a good ref?

I think he chose for the last option. And when Arsenal related referees can judge him in an unbiased way like we did it shows that he had a great season and that our reviewers did the best possible job they could do.

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25 comments to REFEREE REVIEW 2012: Phil Dowd – you simply will not believe this

  • Danish Gooner

    I will never forget those two penalties at Toon,it totally wrecked our season and theywere both extreme clangers.

  • El Gringo

    Love to the team has the bravery to admit that the despised Dowd isn’t that bad. I was expecting him to take some hard blows. But like Walter says, you must be suspicious when refs that clearly know what they’re doing have a really bad game. If they’re just incompetent, that’s one thing. But if they’re perfectly competent, then another explanation is needed.

  • El Gringo

    Bad spelling: Love that the team has the bravery!

    Although I don’t mind sending love to the review team either!

  • Gerry Lennon

    I think Dowd is one of the most ‘chatty’ refs amongst the players, but whether they fully appreciate or not I don’t know? Earlier this season he was clearly full of himself … he gave a free kick(for Chelsea I think) just oustide of the box, counted out the 10 yard steps, and then came back to the player taking the kick and it looked for all the world as though he was asking if it was to be a low blaster, or a curler over the top. He shook his head at the reply, and the kick was duly blasted against the wall. The kicker then again exchanged a sheepish grin with Dowd ….
    If that is not getting too involved with play I have no idea what is? I was hoping a review of that game would turn up on the ‘sister site’, as it was on Sky, but I’ve not seen it yet?

  • bmb

    I’m led to believe he finished top of the merit table last season & your markings would bear that out to be correct info I have to say.

  • Dobromir

    I was fuming that day at Newcastle two seasons ago and still am when i think back. However, if you want to be technical about it, he actually got the penalty decisions and the red card correct. Diaby grabs Joe Barton around the back of the neck – straight red no question for retaliation. Barton should have had a yellow for his tackle. First penalty Koscielny kicks the Newcastle player from behind and gets the ball. The attacker falls down like he’s been shot but the attempted tackle is from behind and there’s contact therefore a foul. Soft yes, but still a foul. Second penalty, Rosicky pushes the newcastle player with both hands in the back while he’s in the air. The ball was going out, but it was still in play when it happened. Again very soft, but techically it was a foul. It was a terrible terrible second half for us, and he could have overlooked maybe one of those two soft fouls, but by the letter of the law he was correct. The blame for the dropped points has to lay with Diaby for losing his temper and the rest of the team / Wenger for not being able to defends a four goal lead and going into their shells. I think it’s safe to say that with the current squad the chances of something like that happening again are next to impossible. That is what i like the most about our current team. A new found assuredness that simply wasn’t there two – three seasons back.


    Dobromir if you say those two penalties were acceptable it seems to me every team would be awarded a penalty every time the ball went into the area especially at corners

  • marek

    It is good to find out that the Newcastle game was merely an outlier. I personally think that it had to do with the fact that Newcastle had just lost Andy Carroll to Liverpool. In retrospect, this may seem like a terrible bit of business for Liverpool, but at that time it looked like a terrible development for Newcastle.

    And then Arsenal came to town, and added insult to injury by scoring four goals, and the fans started chanting “Ole” after every pass and… and Phil Dowd decided to maybe let Newcastle get back some sort of pride. Since Liverpool weren’t around, Dowd allowed Newcastle to kick Arsenal around instead. This meant fouls, this led to bad temper on our side, and Dowd studiously punished every offense by Arsenal, while letting Newcastle get away with murder.

    I personally think that Dowd had no idea it would all end 4-4. He wanted Newcastle to get a consolation goal or two, just to raise their spirits a bit, but then things got out of hand and the rest is history. I’m not making excuses for Dowd, but the above is my personal guess at an explanation.

  • WalterBroeckx


    yes by doing what you described he passed a border line no ref can ever pass.

  • WalterBroeckx


    yep I was pretty sure our reviewers did a good job 😉

  • Mahdain

    Well this proves my thoughts of him for last season… I agree with you Walter i think Dowd can be the best in the league if he wants to and thats exactly what he did last season. That however cant be said for the next(and last?) ref of the series.. Cant wait for his numbers really

  • gooner murphy

    Walter, really big thanks to you and all the hard working ref reviewers. The referee previews and review help to make Untold Arsenal the finest site on the web. If I may be as bold to suggest one thing, I find it difficult to make out the colour on the graphs they are very similar and the boundary’s merge perhaps some lighter to darker colour would make them clearer to an old sod like me keep up the excellent work.

  • novicegooner

    I agree with the conclusion. Dowd is actually a good ref. Whenever he’s on duty, he seems to be able to exert his authority to the players. I like him when he gives lecture when needed to, though sometimes it’s a bit too much.

    Shall we see this new competent Dowd, or shall we see his other side this season?

  • WalterBroeckx

    He should have finished on a high… Maybe this season could be one season too much? Well I actually hope not but age will catch him up one day.

  • WalterBroeckx

    Mahdain, yes next up is the last from the referees… And yet again a bit amazing.

    But the series isn’t over yet….some fun with the referee tables coming your way 😉 Now who was the best ref of them all…

  • insideright

    If you go back and look at the sequence of fixtures two years ago you will see that the quoted horror story at Newcastle (4-4) came a few days after a 2-1 home defeat of Everton which featured a unique happening in EPL history. Everton went ahead in that game via an offside goal which was highlighted on the screens at the stadium immediately after it had happened. Arsenal players pointed this out to the ref (whose name I’ve forgotten) and, refusing (quite properly) to go back on his decision on the evidence of a video replay that should never have been shown, was made to look a fool. Arsenal, in the end, won that game but could there perhaps be a hint of the ‘refs brotherhood’ getting together and seeking a way to ‘get their own back’?
    If so, because it would need to be achieved from a position of being 4-0 up, it would take a vast ammount of effort which would make it all the more obvious.
    A case of ‘it all evens out in the end’ actually coming true by design?

  • Al

    The way Dowd reffed that game at Newcastle can only have a sinister explanation. The penalties against Arsenal were never penalties, and he let barton off and Nolan manhandled Szczesny and nothing was done. Meanwhile each time there was some sort of coming together between the players a freekick/foul was awarded against Arsenal. The tackle that led to Diaby reacting and pushing Nolan in the chest should have been a red, or yellow at the very least. Gervinho should’ve got a penalty instead of being sent off. I could go on, but its not good for my health as I can vividly see the whole nightmare replaying before me. Its fair to say that on that day I came very close to smashing my TV…

    No matter good Dowd is or becomes I’ll always view him in bad light. I cant understand how one can get so many wrong decisions in one game, all against one team. Its unbelievable.

  • Al

    That was meant to be ‘No matter how good Dowd is or becomes..’

  • KS

    I was suprised at this result and respect your effort to do this. Over time and with greater coverage I am sure the analysis will become a stronger.

    The key to “Dowd” terrible performance at Newcastle was accepting the decision of his linesmen who gave the penalties and also disallowed RVPs goal for offside.
    You need to check the performance/bias of the linesman and not just the ref. (btw: I am pretty sure we had the same linesman in one of the Newcastle fixtures the following season which seemed very odd to me given what had happened the year before)

  • Heci

    I’m sure I read somewhere that Dowd could lose his license this year because of a failed fitness test (God knows how he passed his tests the years before). But I guess he is still refereeing? I’ve seen him put a good job in our matches but that one against Newcastle he was like a bit of a possessed man, like Arsenal had done something to him so he wanted revenge, he was punishing us for everything (except that Best “offside” goal).. like he was a Newcastle fan that day. And I am sure we will never ever again see a referee give such soft penalties in such circumstances. That 4-4 wonder game was much more due to the referee and his assistants than Arsenal being soft and fragile at the time.

  • Devil's Advocaat

    is it okay to still think of Dowd as a fat b4stard? No? Okay. Did he not book Chesney for time wasting after the thug Nolan pushed him in to the net because he held on to the ball for so long? Mug. Nothing Dowd could have done about the single goal Tiote (another cheat, to boot) has to date scored for the Toon, to be fair.

  • Goona Gal

    So Dowd does know how to competently apply the laws of the game! This calls into question his poor performances even more in my opinion. I wonder if his performances need to be ranked against a fat-o-meter instead.

  • none

    Im wondering if Dowd has pissed someone off as he only a fourth official for the EPL this weekend.

  • Prof.Richard Heade

    Phil Dowd is reffing the match tonight, Thurs 13th Sept, Leyton Orient v Brentford, don’t Refs have to have 3 days rest between reffing games, in which case he isn’t available to officiate a match this weekend.

  • bob

    Have to agree with you on Dastardly Dowd. My unholy trinity is:
    Dowd vs. AFC at Newcastle is chiseled in the infamy books along with Riley vs. AFC at Old Toilet and Busacca vs. AFC at Camp Nous.