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August 2021

Ref review 2012/13: Lee Probert. This is not acceptable.

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.


For the next ref in our series we have ref Lee Probert.  Ref Probert has been in the PL for a few years now (since 2007 to be exact) and he is 41 years old. In fact we find a lot of refs being 41-42 years old for the moment.   So we will be seeing him around for a few more years.

In the season just gone ref Probert did 24 games in the PL and we reviewed 15 of his games. That is 62,50% of his games we have been able to cover. So high enough to draw some conclusions on this ref.  So how did he do when we look at all the decisions?

L Probert all

In those 15 games we reviewed we have seen that Probert had to make 2306 decisions in total. Our panel of referee reviewers found that he had 1898 of the decisions correct. This is one of the lower scores we had in the PL. Mind you this is better than last season but this might be down to what I will tell you next.

Of course for those who have been following us for a while,  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 if we had seen other angles we might have seen an incorrect decision.  So in general the numbers could be even flattering the refs but this goes for all the refs and not the refs we are looking at today.

But having some kind of decent general score is one thing. What matters more is seeing how his important decisions have been and this is something we can see in the next table.

L Probert imp

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And now things are starting to look a bit depressing. Let us start with the good things. Or thing. As the only good thing and I use this in the loosest possible way is the goal decisions. Yes it is the most important decision and of the 42 goal decisions in total he had to make he had 40 correct. So only two wrong goal decisions. But just imagine it is your team losing with 1-0 as a result. Then you will not say that it is a great job.

And for the rest… Foul/free kick decisions are not even above 70%. This surely is not acceptable.

His penalty decisions are not the worst in the PL but still only getting 50% correct is a big cry for help from some kind of video ref. Probert could do with that I feel.

And when it comes to giving yellow and red cards…. it is way below what we can expect from a ref in the PL.

Last season his numbers weren’t great and this season it has gone from bad to worse.

Let us see if he made up for these bad decisions by evening it out for the teams he had to do on the field. A low bias score indicating that he split up his multiple errors could save him a bit.

L Probert bias

But as you can see the bias scores are rather high for some teams. Newcastle, QPR, Stoke and Everton are the ones with a rather low bias.

Fulham, Manchester City and Aston Vila are a bit the mirror of each other with a bias that one could still call acceptable.

But if we look at teams like Southampton, Wigan, Sunderland, Manchester United and Norwich we see a very big bias in their favour. With Norwich being very much on top of the list.

And on the other side of this bias scale we see Swansea and Tottenham with already a worrying bias against them. Reading surely looked in trouble when he was around.

And when we look at the numbers from WBA and Arsenal…it is all ending in tears I think. The numbers against Arsenal are a constant line in his career by the way.

What more can you say about this ref? Well maybe that he finds himself low in the referee decisions table at the end of the season. And I have heard a rumour that Probert has been in the bottom two of the referee merit table from the PGMOL for some 4 or 5 seasons. And by their rules a ref that is in such a position for 2 years running he should be demoted.

Yet Probert still is in the PL, spreading his bizarre refereeing decisions uneven over a lot of teams.

And if I may give a personal comment on something that happened a few weeks ago when Bellamy found it funny to empty a water bottle over the head of Probert when there was some kind of delay in the game and Probert just found it funny.

I was gutted for the fact that Bellamy would do such a thing which showed a total lack of respect for a match official. It just showed that there was no distance between the players and officials as there should be. And I was completely amazed (or well….looking at his numbers maybe not really) that Probert just found it a great joke and laughed with it.

You don’t touch an official and you don’t try to make fun of him on the field. This undermines his authority and Probert allowed it.  He should have given him a red card and shown to the world that a ref on the field is untouchable and can be an object of mockery from the fans but not from the players on the field.  What will be next? Kicking the ball against the ref ‘for fun’? Giving him a slap ‘for fun’?

I really wonder why the PGMOL keeps him in the PL. Unless he is doing what they like that refs are doing?  Maybe his bias table shows the answer…

21 comments to Ref review 2012/13: Lee Probert. This is not acceptable.

  • Florian

    Only two words: Norwich-Arsenal.

  • Andrew Crawshaw

    Absolutely incredible! The numbers are awful and he is clearly a referee for whom the fan’s chant is entirely appropriate. It seems that his saving grace is the bias against Arsenal which perfectly fits the Dark Lord’s agenda.

  • Mahdain

    Not suprised one bit. He is an atrocious referee not even fit for the championship. His anti Arsenal bias rivals that of Mike Dean and he shouldnt be doing any more of our matches. PGMO must love what he is doing.

  • Mahdain, guess who is referring our match on Sunday?
    Yes indeedy, it’s the joker in the pack Mike Dean!!!

  • Hmmm… I keep seeing Arsenal at the wrong end of these bias rankings.

  • Mahdain

    @ken yeah i know. Stoke are gonna have a field day kicking us off the pitch but amazingly it will Arsenal who will be booked more. Put money on a Flamini red card

  • @Mahdain I wonder why we, as a club, do not ask for these biased referees to be “blacklisted” from our games?
    I seem to remember SAFErgie doing this a while back.
    What makes matters worse is that Dean has shown biase TOWARDS Stoke!!
    @Jayramfootball it does worry me a little that “others” will see these reports as just Gooners being biased themselves. I know the criteria Walter, but it does seem odd!!!!

  • Mahdain

    @jayram if you have been watching Probert in our matches then you would had actually expected us to be top of his negative bias list. Remember that 2-1 defeat against fulham at craven cottage 2 seasons ago? That was one of the worst refereed matches i have seen and guess who were on the bad end of everything? Yep Arsenal. He even invented fouls in that match for crying out loud. Walter did an extensive ref review of that match in what i consider his best ref review article since he started it all few seasons back.

  • Mahdain

    @ken i also ask myself the same question. Why doesnt our management do anything to make sure these pricks dont ref us again? If its not working behind the scenes then go public. The worst thing the FA can do is fine us

  • AL

    In fact, the reason we don’t see the number of refs increased in the prem is because riley wants to surround himself with people like this man, to do his bidding. Shocking numbers, and I found the Bellamy incident shocking. Its not like I don’t believe you Walter, but i wasn’t aware of any such incident and when I read this my first thought was unbelievable. But after googling it its all over the internet with pictures. Even doing this on an opposing player would have earned a straight red, let alone a ref.

  • bjtgooner

    Another incompetent referee with a heavy bias against Arsenal – just the usual.

    Perhaps Arsenal need to start texting the refs before each match – just as someone else has been reported to do.

  • WalterBroeckx

    About the Probert – Bellamy incident I refered to:

    I have seen the images (they made the press in Belgium) but on this link they have been removed?

    but on this link you can see the images (a Flemish newspaper site)

  • Mandy Dodd

    Yet again , we come off worst, just look who comes off near best, as well,as Sunderland, why do refs in general like them so much

    What conclusion can we draw….every thing fergie has achieved is tainted?

  • Tom

    @Walter Broeckx. I’m certainly no fan of Lee Probert, so the less said about him the better . Especially after his performance as the fourth official in the 2009 Man U clash at OT when he and Mike Dean combined in a bizarre and shameful spectacle to send Mr Wenger into the stands for kicking the water bottle in the last minute of the game. It’s been my long held position that The Premier League suffers from low quality officiating but unlike yourself I don’t believe there is a coordinated effort to conspire against our club on the part of the League or PGMOL . Part of the problem with officiating at any level is that most referee decisions can be interpreted in more than one way , but in no way am I trying to belittle the effort you’ve put into this project. Since there are only a few examples of your interpretations of referee’s decisions that I can find , I will concentrate on the last one of any relevance. You said that you watched Sagna v Altidore incident in slow motion and you’ve concluded both players were fauling each other equally and as soon as the referee blew his whistle, Sagna stopped as it became obvious the play was whistled dead. Further more , you’ve concluded that Altidore could’ve been issued a yellow card just as easily as Sagna was. Mind you, I’m not passing judgement on your character but rather observing how you saw the play . Now I’ve watched it in slow motion many times and it was clear to me Sagna put his arms on Altidore first and was much more inclined to slow Altidore down than to play the ball. After Altidore got free Sagna never stopped persuing him ( unlike your assessment) and ends up right next to the striker when the ball is struck on goal. And so does Szczesny, Flamini and Kos who tried to make the goal line clearance , which would indicate neither one of those players heard the whistle . To go as far as to insinuate ( half jokingly I admit) that Altidore could’ve been issued a yellow card for kicking the ball after the whistle is beyond anything logical. The point of all this is to illustrate that after watching the same play in slow motion you’ve come to a different conclusion than I ,and more importantly Mr Wenger himself ,on who the fouled player was( fair enough as this is a judgement call), but more importantly you also got some facts wrong seeing as Sagna never stopped defending on the play. This is not a dig at you but just a proof how two or more people can see the same incident in a totally different light. Keep up the good work and take care.

  • Mandy Dodd

    See post above Halsey says ” it took time to gain fergies respect but in the end we had a good relationship”
    Is gaining fergies respect a right of passage for refs. Does the same apply to say mr holloway or arsene wenger or any other managers?
    Do Barclays, an institution not without controversy really want to associate themselves with this league ?
    Will the match fixer investigators come to England next time? Plenty of at least circumstantial evidence and always the desire to get at the holier than thou

  • Gord

    I seen the BBC article about Halsey saying some referee could kill themself. A question a person needs to ask, is this pressure just provided by fans, or is it a conflict of interest between PGMOL desired results, and what fans want (an honest match).

    The FA has a policy about incidents not in the referee’s report. Was Belamy pouring water on a referee ever examined by the FA? Probably not. But Walter suggests it should have been.

  • Gianni Dioro

    That Bellamy incident is shocking. That deserves an extended ban, 8-10 matches or so.

  • Gianni Dioro

    Did anyone else see what Halsey wrote about his relationship with Alex Ferguson? He said they often texted and talked on the phone together. It makes one highly suspicious of the personal nature Fergie had with the refs.

  • AL

    I completely disagree with your statement that Walter got it wrong re the Altidore/Sagna incident. The two players were certainly holding each other, with both hands too. Whether it was Sagna who held the other player first is open to debate, but lets assume he did, then the ref was right in punishing him with a free kick and yellow. Lets be clear about when the ref blew the whistle though, it was right when the players were still tussling, a second or two before Altidore took the shot. Now upon hearing the whistle the players who were closest to the action, Sagna & Flamini clearly slowed down. Altidore however continued his run on goal, gaining more space between him & our defense creating the impression he had gained an advantage. We see this all the time in situations like offsides where the defenders slow down or stop after seeing the flag or upon hearing the whistle. The attacking player usually is the last person to hear the whistle(whether this is pure coincidence or just pretence I don’t know) and usually will have a pop at goal. The keeper, even though clearly able to see that the ref has stopped play, will instinctively try and save the shot still. I guess its just a reflex reaction which happens without thinking, in case the ref changes their mind and allows the goal to stand. At times, while the defense stops, you may get a defender or two who will still try and make a half hearted attempt to stop the player, for the same reason stated above.

    Going back to the incident you can clearly Altidore shoving Sagna backwards at the point they disengage, and Sagna throwing his hands upwards in a gesture as if to say hey ref, what is he doing, momentarily slowing down before resuming chasing the striker who had gained a couple of yards by now(when Sagna lost momentum in his half hearted appeal). Its important to note the ref had blown the whistle by then, so whatever happened thereafter should not matter as players’s thinking and actions are influenced by the whistle at that point. I have seen a certain player receive a red for taking a shot at goal after the ref blew his whistle, so to suggest the attacking player could’ve been carded for that isnt illogical unless such punishment is reserved for us only. So to sum up the ref saw a foul, blew his whistle causing our defenders to slow down and allowing the striker more room to shoot creating the impression there was an advantage to be played. Had Sagna maintainI his momentum and cleared the ball i have no doubt we would be hearing how the ref cheated Sunderland out of a possible penalty. My opinion is in cases like that a drop ball is the fairest way to resume play. Or if the ref is going to blow his whistle then give the defender the benefit of the doubt as you don’t want to put another team at a disadvantage from an offence committed by both players.

  • Gianni Dioro

    The thing is if Halsey could just pick up his phone and ask Alex Ferguson for a favour, then doesn’t it make sense that Alex Ferguson could do likewise and phone a referee and ask for a favour?

  • Tom

    @Al .. Thank you for responding and by doing so proving yet again what my point was ,that two or more reasonable people can look at the same incident/play and without a bias see two different things. You said Sagna lost his momentum while throwing his arms in the air in his half hearted appeal as if to say ; hey ref , what is he ( Altidore) doing? . When a simpler explanation might be that Sagna lost his balance momentarily because his arms were shoved back after he was holding on to a taller and stronger Altidore while trying to keep up with him and running half sideways and half backwards. Sagna never stopped running( contrary to Walter’s assessment which by the way was the only thing I said he was wrong about as everything else is a matter of opinion), never waved his arms trying to appeal but simply regained his balance and continued on defending. As for you suggesting that issueing a yellow card to Altidore for playing after a whistle would’ve been logical because the precedent had been set , and I’m assuming you are talking about RVP’s second yellow against Barca in the CL clash. If I remember correctly the general consensus was that it was one of the most ridiculous sending offs in recent memory.