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Referee review 2012 – 2013 : Stoke

By Walter Broeckx

This article is part of the series of the Referee Review 2013. You can find links to earlier articles on the bottom of this article.


In this part of the series we have a look at each team and see how the bias panned out for each team. This is based on the decisions themselves without putting any weight on each decision. A total table will be published at the end of this series and then you can compare each team with the other teams.

And it will be an interesting table I can assure you of that.

First we are providing a table for each team highlighting each type of decision. This gives the totals as for when the team in the article got a favourable decision and when they got it against them.

If the traditional mantra, “it all evens out at the end of the season” is true it should show in these statistics – and indeed for some clubs we have already reviewed, that is the case.

But as I said, in the table we just show the decisions as a decision and we didn’t put any weight on the decisions. That is something for later on. Now we just take each decision at the same value, which is of course not saying all because a wrong penalty call is a bit more important than a wrong throw in decision.

But now let us move to the sixth team in our survey: Stoke City

We did 18 games of Stoke last season and that is one short from just doing half their games. So close to that we should be able to see some things, but not all of course.

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In the second column we see the type of decision. And in the column “Favoured” we see how many decisions favoured Stoke when we reviewed them. And in the column “Penalised” we see how many times a wrong decision went against them.  The total swing is the difference between the favoured decisions and the penalised decisions.

A negative number in this column means that the total was against the team and a positive number means that the total decisions was in their favour.

In the last column we see the average swing per game based on the games we reviewed. And this gives an indication on how many decisions went against a team or were in favour of a team. The lower the number the lower number of decisions that were wrong. And a positive number indicates that in each game they get some decisions in their favour and a negative indicates how many decisions the team has to overcome.

We had a total of 192 wrong decisions in the 18 games we did with Stoke. That is more than 10 wrong decisions per game. Better than Sunderland but not that great. Of those 192 wrong decisions we had 117 in their favour and 75 going against them. The difference is 42 decisions in favour of Stoke. And that is more than 2 decisions in their favour on average.

If we first look at the decisions that went against them we see that we find the goal decisions is one of them.  But with  wrong decision in total this is not really too bad.  Of course we think there should have been non in total. But they had only 1 decision in their favour and 2 going against them.  And if that was the only goal of the game it is bad. And Stoke had lots of low score games so they could have dropped some points or won a few.

The other negative decisions are 2nd yellow cards, penalty and throw ins, goal kicks and corners.  Maybe not the most important ones except when you are a team that scores a lot from corners.   Three wrong penalty decisions in their favour and four against is almost evening each other out but wouldn’t it be better if we had no wrong penalty decisions?

The decisions that largely went in favour of Stoke are the fouls/free kicks.  It is amazing to see how they almost got the double of the wrong calls compared to the other teams. If I could paraphrase a James Bond film title this looks almost like ‘a license to kick’ from the referees. And that is an impression lots of people have when they play Stoke and this is getting confirmed by our numbers.

For some reason the referees suddenly seem to use other rules when Stoke is involved. We found this the season before and now in the last season again. How is this possible? Why do refs suddenly give things in favour of Stoke?  I know some people describe Stoke sometimes as the Neanderthals  of  football and therefore it is incredible to see that most refs follow this approach and support it by not punishing the fouls.

When it comes to discipline and look at the  red cards  we see that these wrong decisions went very much in favour of Stoke.  This is almost a number that could indicate that the refs are afraid of Stoke for some reason.  Not sending off seven players that should have been sent off is really something strange.


Ref Review 2012

Ref Review 2013

Earlier articles in the series of ref review for 2012/13

4 comments to Referee review 2012 – 2013 : Stoke

  • Ryan F

    That’a really interesting. You’d think that if a team or a player has a ‘reputation’, it would be see an increase in penalties, not favours.

    A good example would be Bale and Suarez, who have been tarnished with the ‘diver’ tag, and so the referees are very harsh on them. I couldn’t believe it in the Spurs v Sunderland game when Bale was booked for diving after a clear foul by Larsson, which seemed to me purely because the ref based his decision on Bale’s reputation, rather than the incident itself.

    As such, I’d have thought that Stoke, widely regarded as being (to put it bluntly) a dirty side, would be victims of their own reputation and be unfairly penalised quite a bit.

    That the evidence says otherwise is quite eye-opening!

  • Stuart

    So Stoke had 9 Red card incorrectly called in their favour and 2 incorrectly called going out of their favour?

  • Doanythingformoney

    Someone somewhere knows the answer to this conundrum. Are there some some relationships between Stoke and PGMOL (or their paymasters)that we don’t know about? The figures, as presented, are astonishing and demand an astonishing explanation. Excellent work Walter et al. Untold could do with some resident whistleblowers.

  • To be honest I think Stoke get away with a lot in the challenge is because of the atmosphere they have at their home ground.

    There are a lot of referee’s who, it seems, are swayed by the crowd when making decisions – I’m not a referee but I imagine that it’s difficult not to be [feel the pressure] to some extent.

    Also – I think that Pulis being buddies with (and having the ear of) SAF didn’t hurt them.