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August 2021

Ref Review 2012/13: Martin Atkinson. This is not a Fifa ref.

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 Martin Atkinson. Another one of those 42 years old refs we have in the PL.  And a Fifa ref too.

In the season just gone ref Atkinson did 24 games in the PL and we reviewed 17 of his games. That is 70.83 % of his games we have been able to cover. So a high number and this makes it more interesting of course when we look at the results. In fact this is the ref with the highest percentage games covered in last season.    So how did he do when we look at all the decisions?

M Atkinson all

In those 17 games we reviewed we have seen that Atkinson had to make 2610 decisions in total. Our panel of referee reviewers found that he had 2225 of the decisions correct. This is one of the lower scores we had in the PL. And that doesn’t sounds good for a Fifa ref if you ask my opinion. Fifa refs should have higher scores than the other refs as that is why they should get a FIFA badge.

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 even be flattering the refs, but this goes for all the refs and not the refs we are looking at today.

But the  general score is one thing. What matters more is seeing how his important decisions have been made, and this is something we can see in the next table.

M Atkinson imp

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In the 17 games we reviewed we have seen that Atkinson had to make 1309 important decisions and our panel judged 962 of those decisions as correct. Giving him a final score of 73,49% correct important decisions.  This is some 3% better than last year. But he will not find himself amongst the best refs with this score. Far from it in fact.

His foul/free kick decisions go below the 80% mark. And that is not really good stuff I think. As we have said he is a FIFA ref and should be able to get a higher score.

If we look at the disciplinary actions he had to take we see some bad scores. Only 50% of the yellow cards were correctly given. I think it is more down to not give yellow cards in an even way for the same fouls as that is something that came back in the reviews on a few occasions.

And when it came to give that second yellow card it went from bad to worse. 0, yes zero of those decisions correct.

And red cards decisions are also completely bad. 1 decision correct from 7 decisions he had to make. Poor.

And his penalty decisions also are not really up to the standard we should expect from a FIFA ref. Not even 4 out of 10 decisions were correct.

And this leads us to the highest score…but that highest score is in fact the worst of them all. Let me explain. The goal decisions show that he has one of the lowest correct decisions of all the refs. If we take goals and own goals together he only gets 84% correct decisions. From the 50 goal decisions he had to make 8 of them were not correct. This is way too high. And so in percentage terms he has a high score but this is incredibly low and not acceptable at this level.

Teams win titles based on goal decisions. Teams get relegated on goal decisions. So with Atkinson last season in charge the chance of errors was very big. When I see this number and remember Riley claiming that 99% of the important decisions were correct I wonder what game he was playing at the time but it sure cannot have been the real football played in the PL.

Let us see if the bias numbers are better for this ref.

M Atkinson bias

And for those who have been following football in the past this will not be a real surprise.  The team that got most of his wrong decisions going their way was Chelsea. What Webb is for Manchester United, is Atkinson for Chelsea. We know it and most people know it. Only the PGMOL seems to not know it. Do they really live on planet earth or are they living in a different world they created themselves?

Other teams who do rather well when Atkinson is around are West Ham, Newcastle and Stoke. And to a lesser extent Manchester City and Manchester United.

Tottenham and Sunderland are the teams that could say: it evens out when Atkinson is in charge. Aston Villa and Everton got a very slight bias in their favour and the same could be said about Wigan.

Teams that he didn’t do any favours or in other words that suffered from his mistakes are Swansea and Liverpool. And top of the bill on the wrong end of his wrong decisions was Arsenal. A very big bias when Atkinson was around last season.

So is there anything good to say? Well I could try to say that 6 of the teams involved in his games got rather low bias scores. And that is fine for those 6 teams. But that doesn’t make up for the other 8 teams who have a high bias in favour or against them.

FINAL CONCLUSION: These numbers are not really FIFA standard material I think. This ref could and should have higher numbers. When a ref has a FIFA badge it should indicate a high level of skills. And this should become visible when you review the games. This wasn’t the case last season at all. So it seemed to be a bad year for Atkinson. But he wasn’t the only FIFA ref to have a bad year. Maybe the PGMOL should look at the way they nominate refs to Fifa.


10 comments to Ref Review 2012/13: Martin Atkinson. This is not a Fifa ref.

  • walter, we shall have to get a bit more proactive with the ref reviews. as good as they are, we can’t be sure they are being read by the right people (our esteemed co-commenters notwithstanding). perhaps you should look at developing a mailing list, to whom each new ref review could be emailed. i’m thinking the premier league directors, FIFA’s ref review director, the F All, team managers and even journalists should be included. if you have not already done so, such action would force some of them to start questioning the efficacy of some refs.

    i will repeat the call for referee relegation while i wonder aloud why the premier league honchos have yet to realize their brand could be damaged by ref incompetence.

    here’s what i wrote on this site in september 2011: until the ref association starts relegating their cronies their shall be no incentive for refs to raise their game. if we can’t get technology, we should at least be able to get competition among refs based on some standards. the english r.a. seems to operate on cronyism as the only available standard.

  • Ross

    How about Mark Dean? I think he’s pretty rubbish!

  • colario

    MDean is ugly rubbish.

  • Mahdain

    When even that crook Anthony Taylor gets a FIFA badge then you know PGMOL way of handing them out is really messed up and needs reviewing.
    You got to wonder what would it take for Riley to stop sending Atkinson to Chelsea matches because its quite clear that he loves them. His numbers for them are quite remarkable to be brushed aside as mere coincidence and i cant help it but think our negative bias would have been lower had it not been that he was the ref for both of our fixtures vs chelsea..

  • Gf60

    I wonder what will emerge from the arrest of the match fixing(alleged) king pin in Singapore? Might explain why the last two games of ours reffed by Dean has seem him almost whiter than white. Two years back, Jack the Lad would probably have seen at least one yellow for fouls in the Stoke game?

  • AL

    I was reading the other day, after the Halsey revelations, that the pgmob and the fa are now no longer going to be promoting refs based on high marks scored, but rather by how less likely the ref will be to be star struck and go chasing players for autographs. It sounds like that’s how they have been promoting refs all along; by how likely the ref would be open to being given instructions on which teams to screw. How else could a poor ref like Atkinson become a fifa ref. Shame on these people.

  • bjtgooner

    This is a very revealing series. Most of the refs seem to be especially incompetent on major decisions and in addition, have a negative bias towards Arsenal. A consistent pattern seems to have developed within the EPL refs – is the negative bias towards Arsenal a coincidence, or is it the result of an instruction from a higher authority?

  • Mahdain

    @Bjtgooner thats anyone`s guess but if i were to make a guess then i think its the later. I dont know what have we done to deserve all this hate and bias against us. Is this done by a person within the club who has conflicting interests and who wants the current management out? Have no idea really but whateveer it is it just has to stop. We cant continue playing against 12 men in all our games as it seriously restricts our chances of winning silverware. Sure we can beat them in some matches but it becomes increasingly difficult to do so during the course of the season

  • Mahdain

    Walter has mentioned to me that there might be some rotational bias going against us and im thinking that might actually explain why Dean hasnt been himself in the last two matches he ref`d for us. An article on that please Walter 🙂

  • bjtgooner


    Good points. The fact that all (or, if not all nearly all) refs have a negative bias towards Arsenal suggests some degree of behind the scene agenda and organization.

    I used the expression “if not all nearly all” to cover the possibility that one or more refs have not displayed an anti Arsenal bias – but, offhand I cannot remember one. However, I am happy to be corrected on this.