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July 2021

REFEREE REVIEW 2012: Neil Swarbrick


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.

Next ref in our review is Neil Swarbrick. He was a newcomer in the PL last season. And as is most the case you usually only get the smaller teams.

Neil Swarbrick
Neil Swarbrick

For now we will do the referee reviews based on the number of games we reviewed. And at the end of the series we will publish a referee league table.

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Untold Vs PGMOL - NeilSwarbrick 2011/2012

We only managed to do two games from Swarbrick last season. It was two games from Arsenal away at Sunderland and Wolverhampton. That was 18% of the total games Swarbrick did in the PL.

So just as for Moss the results in this must be taken with a large pinch of salt. But it is all we can work with for now so we just have to do with it.

To improve this situation we need to be able to do more reviews next season. So possible referee reviewers who want to help us out, please join us.

Let us first look at the competency points of Neil Swarbrick.

PGMOL Vs EPL - Basic Competency - NeilSwarbrick 2011/2012

As has been said a few times you need to score at least 70% in other countries to stay in the top league. In the un-weighted decisions he got a score of 70.31%. So that is just enough. But only just.

If we put on weight on the decisions his points rise to 72.04%. And that also would mean that he could stay in the PL next season. As been said : this is only based on two games of course.

Let us look at the different type of decisions.

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

All his goal decisions were correct. So that is very good.

He sure had some problems with the offside decisions. I know this is most of all down to his assistants but this is not a good score with only 77,78% correct decisions.

The other decisions are also not really convincing to be honest. Just 70.73% is not really good I think. So I think he has some work to do and improve himself.

80% of the penalty decisions were correct so that is not that bad. The one missed was when the result was quite clear and he seemed to feel a bit of sympathy for the losing team. But as a ref you cannot let your feelings take over. When there is a penalty foul, you have to give it no matter how big the score already is.

He was excellent when it came to giving a red card in the two games. But he still has got some work to do on giving yellow cards. A score well below 70% is not that good.

Let us now see if we can see if this ref was a home or an away ref.

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

Well only two games so could be just an accident of course. Or something else that we will come back to a bit later.

But what a big home bias for the home teams in the un-weighted decisions.  This is a number I don’t like to see from a ref. But as I said: only two games.

If we put weight on the decisions we see the same picture. A big home bias in favour of the home team. You better have him at home it seems.

But it could be that he just as it is his first year in the PL is somehow choosing the easy way. Because by giving he home team the advantage of the doubt a bit you put less pressure on yourself. Having the away supporters shouting at you from one part of the ground is less impressive than the home support from 3 or 4 sides of the stadium.

Now let us see if we look at the teams if we can see something strange.

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

In the un-weighted numbers we see that the bias is strongly against Arsenal. But compared to other numbers from Arsenal not really over the top. Only around half the bias that is normally.

With this ref we see a big advantage to Sunderland at home and this was rather a rarity in the PL last season as Sunderland was one of the teams with a negative home bias.

Let us see if this changes a lot when we put weight on the decisions.

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

Not a lot in fact. The positions remain the same. Sunderland an unusual home bias, Wolverhampton having a good home bias and Arsenal a big negative bias against them. But as has been said before not over the top. Arsenal are used to more.


As this is only based on two games again the conclusions are to be taken with a pinch of salt.

The overall competency score is just enough. When we put weight on the decisions it rises so he tried to get his major decisions correct. Can he perform better? Only time and hopefully this season will tell. It the situation would be the same over more games I have my doubts on this ref to be honest.

He did what he had to do by giving penalties and red cards against the home team but then after that he tended to become a bit lenient towards the team he had rightly penalised. And that is a problem for a ref. You cannot ignore some things because the game has settled already and is won by one team. And that is something I noticed from this ref, or thought I could notice. You just got to do your job, regardless the score.

His home/away bias didn’t look brilliant at all.  And that is again something that makes me doubt him. It gives me the impression that if he would go to a top team at home the visiting doesn’t need to travel up there. But again I must point at the fact that this could all change if we would have more data on this ref.

For now he can (based on those two games) stay in the PL. But we must keep a close eye on him and see if his bias will even out more between home and away and between the teams.

Ordinary is Pointless


7 comments to REFEREE REVIEW 2012: Neil Swarbrick

  • Ryan F

    I know you’re constantly making the disclaimer that you’re only basing this on two games. However…

    Your data set is so small as to make this analysis totally meaningless. There’s NO WAY you can come to any conclusions here.

    A lot of effort went into the analysis of these games, for zero reward.

  • colario

    I agree that for only two games the data could be said to be meaningless. However by reporting on all referees no matter how few games watched is a must as this shows the consistancy of the reports.

    If Untold Arsenal have cause to proclaim then they must be seen to be objective in all their reports, reviews and expressed opinions down to the smallest detail.

    One game or 38 there must be the same objectivity and detail. So its to the good that every referee watched is reported on no matter how few games watched.

  • nicky

    Let there be no misunderstanding, these in depth surveys are important. Grievous errors by referees are receiving the necessary adverse publicity and the powers that be are becoming more and more aware of the work of guys like Walter, Dog Face and others.
    Keep up the good work and an MBE or two will be your reward
    (Honorary in Walter’s case!).

  • WalterBroeckx

    Ryan F,
    rest assured the further this series goes the more games we will have on each referee. And in many cases on more than 50% of their games from last season.

  • Stuart

    Ryan F,
    You will see there is lots of reward to come the further this goes along. The fact is that htese are the finding and I believe it shows the current refs format is not able to sufficiently follow the game. If we had video replays, these mistakes would have been avoided.

    As there are about 20 refs, if your team were to get each one twice per season,, are you saying it would be OK if each one robbed you of points because it was only a couple of games per ref?? Sounds like it to me.

  • @Ryan F – of course we can come to conclusions, but they would only be about the two games reviewed. Two is a small number as easy to scoff at.

    Yet in these two games we have reviewed 72 decisions which can give an idea of basic desicion competency.

    Not much can be said in terms of bias – I’ll grant you and that is expressed in the analysis, but this is a series and as such each article is produced in a standard manner, they were all generated by the same software – the same effort that generated this also generated the other 17.

    Please attempt to comprehend the basics of our methodology before you sneer.

    Many thanks.

  • Steve Snowball

    This ref calling off his 1st game of the season due to a waterlogged pitch shows the above data on decision making is poor.