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July 2021

Referee Review 2012/13: Manchester City. Unlike their neighbours, a very small bias.

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 next team in our survey:

Manchester City

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We did 28 games of Manchester City last season and that is 73.68% of their games so the numbers should be very accurate. So let us find out how the referees did their games this season and see if we can find a bias in their favour or against them.

Manchester City

In the second column we see the type of decision. And in the column “Favoured” we see how many decisions favoured this team when we reviewed them.  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 368 wrong decisions in the 28 games we did with Manchester City.  That is more than 13 wrong decisions per game. This is again rather high and certainly too high for my liking.  But we have seen worse things this season so after a while you get used to it.  But more importantly now is to see how the dividing was of those wrong decisions.

Of those 368 wrong decisions we had 178 in their favour and 190 going against them. The difference is 12 decisions going against Manchester City.  This is a small bias against Manchester City. We have seen better and we have seen worse. But this shows that the refs didn’t give Manchester City a big team bias advantage looking at the total of the games we reviewed.  In a way this is good but if you compare that with the other big team from Manchester we can only see that there is a big difference between the two Manchester teams.

If we look at the decisions that went in their favour we see that these are the 2nd yellow cards, advantage, corners, goals, goal kick, and throw in. Only the goals are a big important decision of course and there was only 1 goal difference in it. So they also had a few decisions going against them.

If we have a look at the decisions going against them we see that the foul/free kick decisions went mostly against them for a big part. And also the penalty decisions in total went against them. As did the red cards but only for 1 difference in this type of decisions.

The overall bias is not extra ordinary but still it shows that they didn’t get a champions bonus as you sometimes see the next season after a team got the title.

Together with the numbers of Manchester United it will be interesting to see how things go further if we look at the rest of the top 4. We still have to take a look at Chelsea and Arsenal and it will be interesting to see if these teams got a big team advantage or not. So far only United got it and City didn’t get it at all.

Editorial note: if you want to comment it is perhaps worth having a look at some of the background to this research in the articles below, if you have not come across Referee Decisions before.  We have had situations in which supporters of various teams have not done this, and made comments which, in retrospect they maybe wish they hadn’t.

5 comments to Referee Review 2012/13: Manchester City. Unlike their neighbours, a very small bias.

  • Mike

    United, Chelsea, Arsenal, Tottenham, Liverpool – 5 of the top six teams finished between 3rd and 8th in the fair play league table last season. The only remaining team in the top six – Man City finished 14th. Why?

  • Stuart

    I wouldn’t get too carried away with the fair play league Mike as it’s based on information which includes incorrect decisions.

  • Mike

    The incorrect decisions are my point though Stuart. Why are City dealing with more cards whether incorrect or not than any and all of their main rivals?

  • Pat

    So Manchester United still stands out.


  • Marcus West

    I see the FA chairman has racked up substantial gambling debts , gambling on the premiership! Is there a sniff of conflict of interests here?