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July 2021

REF REVIEW 2012: Mark Clattenburg – did Man U say “not again”?


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 next ref in our series is Mark Clattenburg. Despite him being a Fifa referee and thus should have more top games… you rarely see him in one. Let us see if we can find a reason for this?

Mark Clattenburg
Mark Clattenburg

Untold Vs PGMOL - MarkClattenburg 2011/2012

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We managed to do 9 games from Clattenburg and that was 37.50% of his total games. The reason that this is rather low is the fact as mentioned that he didn’t get many top games. Well he did one but after that was mostly involved with the smaller teams (with all respect).

Of course he did a few top teams and that is where we get his numbers from. Lucky that he was send to games from Manchester City and Chelsea a few times and Arsenal twice.  But a Fifa ref doing only one Manchester United game in a season looks rather strange to me.

Let us see if he was competent in the games we reviewed.

PGMOL Vs EPL - Basic Competency - MarkClattenburg 2011/2012

Well that surely looks to be the case. A score of 76.74% is a good score in the un-weighted decisions. One of the better scores from all the refs we did.

If we put weight on the decisions we see that he drops a little bit but with a final score of 75.54% he still is one of the better refs of last season in this category.

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

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

With 92% of the goal decisions correct he does better than the league average. Just. But I think that one wrong goal in 10 goal decisions is too high for the best league in the world. This percentage should be higher.

The offside decisions are also better than the average. Also just. But still not the 99% correct claimed by Mike Riley last season.

The other decisions are also better than the league average. By a bigger margin this time. So good foul calling in general from this ref.

The penalty decisions is where he let himself down a bit. Slightly below the already unacceptable low league average.  This really is something that needs working on.

The red card decisions are better than the league average. Almost twice the league average in fact. So good job but still a bit too low I would say. But that goes for all the refs of course.

And also with the yellow cards he has a better score than the league average.

So in total good numbers apart from the penalty decisions.

Let us see if he has any bias?

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

Of course I don’t like it when a ref has a home bias. But this is surely one of the better refs when you look at the bias.

His negative away bias is lower than the league average. As is his positive home bias of course. So all in all you could say that he has been one of the refs with a very low bias in general.  And that is something I really like to see from a ref.

And if we put weight on the decisions the numbers go up a bit, but not by a lot. He still is staying below the league averages that we found.

So he still has a slight positive home bias but it all is rather very close to each other and that is something we can only be happy with.

Let us check the teams bias.

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

And now we see a very, very interesting graphic. Apart from a few things I will talk about later I would say that this is how a team bias graphic should look.

From the 10 teams we have numbers on we see that there are 7 teams (70%) who have a very very small bias number. A number between -1 and +1. So in making his mistakes he treated those teams in the same way you could say. The first exception is Manchester City with a negative bias. But even this negative bias is small. In fact for most refs this is a negative bias that I would find even acceptable if you look at their other numbers. The second is Fulham with a positive bias that is just a bit higher. But even with +3.5 it is rather in control.

The only team standing out is Manchester United. And some might remember this but the only game he did from Manchester United was the derby against Manchester City when United got beaten by 1-6. And even though Clattenburg was rather biased in favour of United in that game he never got another United game since that day. Is this a coincidence?  Remember he is a Fifa ref so… well rather strange for me.

Let us put weight on the decisions and see if it changes the team bias numbers.

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

As regular readers know by now the numbers usually go up when we put weight on the decisions. But if you look at the numbers once again you see that now 6 teams still only have a bias swing of -2 and +2. That is amazingly low.

And I point at the fact that Arsenal in both tables has one of the smallest (in fact the smallest) negative bias from all referees we did last season.

You can also see that Clattenburg had games when he made some mistakes but in general (for 6 teams) one could say that it evens out almost.

The real exceptions are Manchester City with a bigger negative bias but even then it still is way below what we have seen so far as the most negative biased team. And we see a bigger positive bias for Wigan, Fulham and of course Manchester United.


We here have a ref that can make lots of good decisions. And that is surprising as I remember that the first game we reviewed from him last season was a complete disaster. He had one of the lowest scores of the season in that game. But after that he recovered and went on to do a great season. A ref that is very competent when he has a good day. But as said he can also have a bad day.

But even in those bad days he mostly is evenly bad for both teams in general.  And that is something I can live with. I can accept a ref having a bad day. But then it should even out for both teams. With Clattenburg the chance of having a bad day is rather small, but even when it happens he can come close to being unbiased.

The only question remains: why didn’t he get to do another Manchester United game after their defeat against their local rivals? I remember from that review he did all he could to not help Manchester City. He refused to give a blatant penalty for City. But for some reason it looks as if a certain person didn’t like the final result, and thus didn’t like the ref who allowed this to happen…and he never came back.

This is the second time we see such a thing. Two seasons ago a ref didn’t do what Manchester United liked at Chelsea and he got no more United games for over a year. Has the same happened to Clattenburg?

What this shows most and for all is : refs can get in trouble when United lose a game. And that is a message that will be clear for all refs in the PL.

In fact these great numbers from Clattenburg show that there are some sinister forces at work in the PGMOL.  And that might be the most important conclusion.

The club that changed football

20 comments to REF REVIEW 2012: Mark Clattenburg – did Man U say “not again”?

  • CB

    Very interesting.

    At least they aren’t trying to adjust since the last time.

  • Another Fan

    Just one comment on the wrong goal decisions. When determing that the decision was wrong do include in that a offside goal? Becouse it is not really the referees fault when that happens but the linesman’s. I for one would be very worried if referees started to over rule their linesmen for offsides. Othervice thase stats are excellent and very informetive.

  • Another Fan

    appologies for the spelling by the way 😛

  • Laundryender

    Said it many times before

    Mark Clattenberg referees with an integrity rarely seen in England. His mistakes are honest and without bias.

  • ClockEndRider

    Wow. This is quite a revelation. Fantastic work. Openness and transparency is all we want, not pro-Arsenal bias. This site is doing sterling work in trying to prise open the gates of secrecy behind which the PL and PGMOL have , for some reason, decided to operate in respect of referees.

  • Spyder

    Not surprising though, this confirms a lot of stuff we have all been witnesses to over time. History of Man United getting help from Referees is a long and rooted one, but truth will always come out and hurt !

  • WalterBroeckx

    I could have also asked the question why Arsenal only had him twice and Dean 6 times. Both are Fifa refs so should have been possible to swap a few games between them if the PGMOL thinks they really needed a Fifa ref for some Arsenal games…

  • Charlie

    Who’s that ref pundit ? I remember him doing an article where he mentioned managers of top teams saying to refs “you’ll never ref my team again” and they didn’t. How can this happen in an environment where refs are the enforcers of the laws of the game ? It’s like a mobster electing a police chief.

  • Andy Kelly

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again:

    14 August 2010 to 23 October 2011
    Clattenburg refereed 29 Premier League games
    5 games involved Manchester United
    i.e. roughly 1 in 6 games

    24 October 2011 to today
    Clattenburg refereed 19 Premier League games
    0 games involved Manchester United
    Based on the previous 14 months he should have refereed 3 Manchester United games

    23 October 2011
    Manchester United 1 Manchester City 6


  • bmb

    Does not surprise me at all that Mark Clattenburg statistically shows himself to be honest and unbiased overall. He is an excellent referee. He takes any wrong decision personally and works hard to improve himself every game. An excellent role model for younger referees to aspire to.

    In terms of the teams he has refereed across his prem league career, Man Utd are the team he has refereed the 8th most times with 19 games in total. W10,D4,L5. 31yellows against them 33 against the oppo. 1red from 2nd yellow against them, same with the oppo and 1 straight red against Man U, 0 against oppo, They probably consider him way to fair minded!

    In terms of overall games with Arsenal, his 5th most refereed team with 22 games you have W16, D1, L5. 36 yellow against Arsenal but 53 against opposition, 0 reds from 2nd yellow, 1 straight red against Arsenal, 2 against opposition and 6 pens in favour of Arsenal 0 against.

    Of the 95 teams he has officiated since promotion to the select group well over 90% of the stats are within 0-5 of each other for and against, the notable exceptions being Arsenal, Man City (believe it or not) , Bolton & Blackburn. Granted that is just looking at total cards/penalties for & against with no weighting as to the correctness of any of those decisions.

    What it does show is he tries to referee with honesty & integrity whoever you are, so it’s no wonder Man Utd don’t like him, they obviously can’t influence him. His number of Europa League & Champions League games increased last season, which also coincided with him getting less of the big games domestically. Some of that may well have to do with taking some pressure off of him domestically as he was finding his feet in the bigger FIFA games. He was being prepared for being part of the Euros 2012 team and the Olympics. He is also one of our 2 nominees for Rio 2016 as well as already being chosen for the Soccerex global convention in Rio in Nov.

    I thoroughly enjoy your reviews here & find them fascinating. I’m an AFCB fan so we don’t tend to see the SG refs live very often but it’s an area I have an interest. Speaking as someone who likes Mark both as a person and as referee I’m pleased with your review on him especially as it shows statistically what I have always believed of him.

    Well done Mark, yet again you are the one restoring some pride to referees.

  • bmb

    Sorry I meant Rio 2014 not 2016.

  • WalterBroeckx

    Thanks bmb for the reply and the interesting statistics on Clattenburg.

    I think if all refs would be like Clattenburg we could stop our reviews today.
    I sincerely hope that the systems doesn’t corrupt him.

  • Arun

    He is. by far, the best referee in the league. It’s quite surprising that Webb gets the chance to represent England in international matches. If you keep his services to Man U, it’s not surprising.

  • Matt Clarke

    Mark Clattenberg – by all accounts a sound referee – well done MC!.
    (It’s obviously something to do with his initials :p).

  • Johnny Deigh

    And don’t forget Walton. He had one bad match against United last season and then he got shipped off to pasture in the United States.

  • Tom

    You know what is “strange”? That you still believe that United a favoured by refs. This stats are made by you. A someone thet hates United and sees them as the biggest rivals. So it’s a biased article. And another thing is “strange” that you consider your team as a big team, a team on United level. That’s very strange.

  • WalterBroeckx

    You know what is even more strange Tom?
    that our data are out there in the open. You can check each decision we made in each game. So point at where we are wrong. And then come back with your “unbiased” numbers.

  • Martin

    He never had a bad game against UTD Johnny. He had a great game and therefore UTD never got many decisions they were are used to getting. The game was fast and furious and without an official turning it in their favour UTD crumbled. It didn’t have to be 6-1. It could of been much more even if UTD had of put up a fight but UTD were lost and didn’t know what to do. It was like an away game in Europe for UTD. They were exposed and without the 12th man they crumbled. There’s one fighter in that UTD team and that’s Ferguson but there is only so much he can do from the sidelines.

  • pavan

    The chelsea v manutd is the game to watch to check the biased nature of the ref. How can the ref be fifa official. it looks as if he has come to check the chelsea run. Sir Alex has 3 points in the pocket even before he came to stamford bridge. Thanks ref!
    Can’t FIFA issue red cards to biased refs. Performance of these refs should be scrutinized and these refs should be demoted.
    Any way bad luck chelsea. Hope you get a neutral ref next time in your capital one fixture.

  • Micko

    After his performance in the Chelsea v Man Utd game last October are we sure that Mark Clattenburg hasn’t been ‘turned’?
    Well I suppose we’ll find out this Sunday !