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July 2021

Ref review 2012/13: Chris Foy – very poor on cards and fouls, great on goals.

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.


Next ref in our series that are done in alphabetical order we have ref Chris Foy. A few seasons ago he was confused with Chris Hoy the bicycle athlete but is Foy as much on top in the ref hierarchy as Hoy is or was (I’m not really up to date with his performances to be honest).

Foy did 21 games in the PL last season. And we reviewed 13 games of those 21. That is 61.90 % of the games he did. So a rather high number of games and we should have some conclusions ready I think.

Let us first have a look at his total decisions and how much he was correct or not.

C Foy all

Ref Foy had to make 1943 decisions in those 13 games and 1595 of the decisions he took were judged correct by our panel of referee reviewers.  That is 82,09% of correct decisions in total.

Of course by now you know that judging them as correct is not the same as being correct completely. When we can’t judge a call or when we are not 100% sure he made a mistake we call the decision correct. But it might be that when we would have other angles to see that the call could have been incorrect.So in general the numbers could be even flattering the refs but this goes for all the refs and not just the ref we are looking at today.

Now I must say that the score going to 82% when around 50% of the decisions cannot be really judged is not really that good I think. But what we can’t check, we cannot comment on. So we will move on to the important decisions as those are the calls we usually could check better.

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C Foy imp

And with the table of important decisions we see a big drop in the numbers. Foy had to make 895 important decisions in the games we could review and 584 of his decisions were judged correct by the panel of referee reviewers. That is only 65.25% correct decisions. In other words let him have 10 important decisions and he will make at least 3 wrong calls. This goes at least for the foul/free kick decisions with both percentages below 70% and that is really not a great number.

It gets even worse if we look at his penalty decisions with not even 1 in 4 correct. It looks as if he was afraid to take the correct decisions in the penalty box.

And his disciplinary numbers are also terrible. A ref that is clearly afraid to send players off be it with a second yellow or with a straight red card. If you don’t have the guts, then leave it I would say. The distribution of yellow cards is also very poor. A ref that has problems with giving the fouls and also with giving any disciplinary sanction.

And amongst those poor numbers we suddenly see that despite all that ref Foy is the ref with one of the highest correct goal scores. Only 1 goal in the games we reviewed was wrong. Giving him a score of 97,30% correct goal decisions.

Amazing how he can get low numbers on many decisions but yet he can be good when it came to judging the goals.

Let us now take a look at his bias. In other words who was favoured when he made his mistakes and who was suffering. You can see this in the next table.

C Foy Bias

If we look at the teams with a very low bias we see that we have Manchester City and Reading with that very small negative bias score. We have one team that can say it evens out – that is with Tottenham.

We also have a few teams with a very small positive bias. Manchester United, and QPR are those teams. The teams with the biggest bias in favour are Sunderland, West Ham United, Stoke and West Bromwich Albion.

On the bad end of the table where no team likes to sit we find three teams with a rather big negative bias. Chelsea is one of them. And the teams that suffered most from the mistakes of Foy are Norwich and Arsenal. There is not much difference in between these two teams in terms of the figures.

Going back to Hoy the cyclist you could see that Arsenal  have just beaten them on the finish line. Not that those teams wanted to be there to finish first in this table I can imagine.

FINAL CONCLUSION: If we look at the weighted table we see that his numbers were even slightly worse than last years numbers. We then said that his numbers were too low to be acceptable for the PL and the PGMOL.  This years numbers confirm our conclusion. I wonder if the fact that Foy is one of the oldest refs in the PL can have something to do with this. Sometimes it is time to go but you hang on to it and at the end you sometimes have to realise that you are getting too old to do it. Can this be the case for Foy?

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.

9 comments to Ref review 2012/13: Chris Foy – very poor on cards and fouls, great on goals.

  • Tjekem

    Until the league managers AND the players demand competency from the referees; nothing will change!

    Where was Lambert’s indignation when Villa benefitted from the incompetence of the referee? Yet, he complained when said incompetence hurt his team!

    I would hate to think that there is a conspiracy against certain teams [even though there is empirical evidence], and lean more towards incompetency. Maybe both?

  • Mick

    If it is only incompetence why is it that nearly all the referees are more incompetent to Arsenal than all the other teams? If it is only incompetence all the teams would be close to the central zero mark on the graph would they not? If it was just incompetence it would indeed ‘even out in the end’ but Walters work shows that it doesn’t even out in the end. The clear indisputable conclusion is that there is more to this than mere incompetence.

  • Tjekem


    If you read my post you will see that I am holding out hope; in spite of emperical data that suggests other wise.

    My suspicion is that it is a combination of both.

  • Nizam

    There is no point talking about the incompetence of these guys.It’s about time time the FA come down hard on error prone mo: match officials.
    The ref’s boss shd study videos of errors made in matches and take steps to rectify them. We often come across the same errors in subsequent games.Maybe they did but how on earth the same blunders are repeated?
    Someone has to answer for this.

  • AL

    Really surprised that Chelsea had a negative bias under this ref.

  • AL

    Sorry, got Foy mixed up with Atkinson.

  • americangooner

    I am currently reading ‘Freakonomics’by Levitt and Dubner; The first chapter is about how incentives work or don’t work. It also talks about how incentives have created cheating teachers who would change their students answer just so as to get better evaluation and ,maybe, raise. Since its difficult to prove cheating, the authors use test-scores and algorithm to see certain patterns and out the cheating teachers. The author had to spent a lot of time but , still, couldn’t get all the cheating teachers fired. By using empirical data and software programming, the authors were able to call out cheating teachers. This has a strikingly similar resemblace to what refreedecisions is doing in the sense that by noticing a pattern, the team is able to work-out if a refree is biased and/or incompetent through the use of massive amount of data. Highly commendable indeed. After reading even the first few chapters of ‘Freakonomics’ my belief in the team behind refreedecisions has grown by a huge measure. Keep it going.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Anyone else notice a pattern with Sunderland? These refs seem to love em! Any ideas why? Northern bias – or did Martin O Neil charm the refs in the way he does the media?

  • Brickfields Gunners

    @ americamgooner – have a look at this .