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July 2021

Only 28% of last season’s red card decisions were correct.

By Walter Broeckx

This article is part of the series. You can find links to earlier articles on the bottom of this article.


In this article we will continue to let you know how competent the referees have been in the games we could review in the season 2012-2013. In an earlier article we talked about the not that important decisions but this time we will talk about the key decisions.

In the earlier article I also said that we should be careful when comparing the 2012/13 figure with the previous season but now we will have the opportunity to compare a few things closely.

So now it really starts to get interesting.  Can we see improvement on some decisions? Can we see improvement on all decisions?  Or did things turn from bad to worse?

Let’s not beat around the bush any longer. Let us give you the numbers on the key decisions from last season and compare this when we can with the numbers from this season just gone by.

Important calls 2012/13 Correct 2012/13 Incorrect 2012.13 Total 2012/13 %Correct 20011/12 




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The total number we see below is 82,10% and that is of 72,45% of the decisions being correct. So that is 10% better than the season before.

And I must say that during the season I had the feeling that some refs were doing better if not much better in general than the season before. It was a gut feeling and I mentioned it on a few occasions and had some other posters who had the same impression. And we now see this confirmed in the numbers.

If we look at the decisions in detail we see that in 2011/12 we had only 56,29% correct yellow card decisions. If we now take the two yellow card decisions together we have a 61,82% of correct yellow card decisions.  Now I must say that the figures from that season were a disgrace in my opinion. And the refs have improved on this in a good way. But I still find 61% of correct yellow card decisions too low. I still find this unacceptable.

If we look at the goal decisions we see that this also has gone slightly up a bit. But still we are too close to being able to say that 1 goal in 10 goals in the PL is wrongly awarded or not awarded!

That still means that every match day we have around 3 goals being given or cancelled as a result of a wrong decision. I have said it before and will say it again: this is a number that should be around the 99% mark. But again we must say that each improvement is better than nothing at all.

Let us look at the penalty kicks. And then we see that the number has gone down compared to the season before. Then we had 6 out of 10 penalty decisions as correct and now this has gone down to below 6. Again I find this unacceptable. This is something were we should have better numbers.  And for those asking or being curious: we will publish which teams took advantage and which teams suffered from this.

When we look at the red cards we see that the total numbers have gone up a good bit. But still not even 30% of the red card decisions are correct in the PL. Players can stay on the pitch after having committed the dirtiest assaults.

Only 28% correct red card decisions. Are refs afraid of the backlash they face when producing a red card? This really is shameful to say the least. I think this also is a point in which the PL needs to approve. But if we look at the Nani red card in the CL and how the whole nation of England were shocked it isn’t a real surprise to see that so many red card decisions are wrong.

And then finally we go on to the fouls. And then we see that this has gone up to a solid 83% of the decisions being correct. Again I must point at the fact that we usually can only judge a foul not correct when we get replays from the broadcasters and in most occasions this isn’t the case. So we do adjust them correct when we can’t check and this helps the numbers of the refs in a big part. But still we cannot but admit that the refs seems to have done a far better job than the season before.

So the final outcome is that refs mad better decisions in general but still we have a big issue with the very low numbers of red cards and yellow cards (even though they improved) and I still am not satisfied with the way too many goals are not given properly.


Earlier articles:

1. Who reviewed the games

2. What we did and what next


The books…

The sites from the same team…

9 comments to Only 28% of last season’s red card decisions were correct.

  • Ryan F

    It’d be nice to see some of your data. It’s all well and good writing doom-mongering headlines, but where are the facts to back this up?

    I just ask because refereeing is more an art than an actual science. Just because you might disagree with a marginal decision doesn’t make it intrinsically incorrect. As a referee yourself, I’m sure you see decisions all the time where sometimes it’s hard to call. I’ve seen games where pundits argue all night about whether it was / wasn’t a sending off. Sometimes just because I see an incident as a red card, doesn’t mean that another observer won’t think the opposite.

    I guess what I’m trying to say is, maybe you can provide us with a list of all these incorrect red card and penalty decisions, then we the readers can look up the footage ourselves and make our own minds up.

    Maybe to a different pair of eyes, some of these “wrong” decisions might actually be decent calls.


  • ClockEndRider

    Ryan F,
    Many of the people who come to this site want to see the data in aggregate as that way you can discern patterns. The whole point of the site is to aggregate data and that way counter the fallacy that it all evens out In the end.
    Of course if you would like a forum to debate every incorrect decision then you could of course start up your own site and put the data together. It would be a very interesting site to visit occasionally. But would not provide us with the clarity which this site does. Rather it would reduce the argument back to one of interpretation of individual events and open it up to partial reading of decisions. And we have enoug of that in the media and PGMOL as it is…..

  • Ryan F

    But what’s the point in posting unsubstantiated data?

    You’re right, I could star up my own website and claim that 80% of refereeing decisions are correct. But without publishing anything to back up my assertions, my figures would be meaningless.

    On the one hand this webisite is calling for transparency when it comes to Premier League refereeing, yet offers none if its own, which comes across as a tad hypocritical.

    If this site is so confident in its assertions, then what harm can come from posting the full information?

    Unless they have something to hide….

  • WalterBroeckx

    Ryan F,
    All the decisions have been in detail talked about on the website

    And we will give the list as we have the list but the problem is that we will have to find a format that would fit on the page. A problem that I have seen was not really dealt with in this article.

    The detailed red card decisions are even wider. Much much wider

  • Stuart

    The reviews containing all the data from each individual match is here

  • Ryan F

    Thanks guys, that exactly what I was after. Cheers!

  • iniez

    I was wondering if it would be possible to show how these decisions may have affected the outcome of a game? For example, how many penalties were game winning penalties, or the percentage of teams that went on to win after a red card was given against their opponent. It would be interesting to see how much these big mistakes may have influenced results. Great stuff as usual

  • bob

    For formatting and greater detail, maybe consider putting the info into a spreadsheet (Excel, etc.), and then saving it in landscape format; and then save it as a PDF which people could download from the webpage?

  • Pat

    Worrying red card figures Walter.