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August 2021

Ref Review 2012/13: Michael Oliver. This doesn’t look too clever.

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 Michael Oliver. Ref Oliver is still only 28 years old so we might be seeing him around for a while. Oliver still holds the record (as far as I know) for being the youngest ref to do a PL gamer.

In the season just gone ref Oliver did 22 games in the PL and we reviewed 11 of his games. That is 50 % of his games we have been able to cover. So will see the whole truth or only half the truth? I do think that if you have half of the games you surely can see some trends.

So how did he do when we look at all the decisions?

M Oliver all

In those 11 games we reviewed we have seen that Ref Oliver had to make 1632 decisions in total. Our panel of referee reviewers found that he had 1374 of the decisions correct. This is a lower mid-table score  compared to the other refs  we had in the PL.  Is he still learning the job, will he improve? We will try to answer that when looking at the important decisions and see how he did compared to last season.

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 not having a 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.

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M Oliver imp

In the 11 games ref Oliver had that we could review he had to make 790 important decisions. And we judged that 548 of these decisions were correct. That is a score of 69,37% in total. So not the 70% I really think is the absolute minimum score. Let us see if there are any specific reasons for this rather low score.

The highest percentage is done in the goal decisions. Higher than some we had before but not a 100% score we would love to see. But still as we are getting used to even lower scores (horror) we somehow can be glad with this score. Even though I can imagine fans of teams who suffered from the wrongly awarded goals might think otherwise.

The foul/free kick decisions are between the 72% and 75%. Not really an impressive number. I think we should expect a higher score from this type of decisions. After all this is what the refs are being paid for.

Another far too low score is for the penalty decisions. Not even 30% correct penalty decisions is by no means acceptable. Of course those who have been following this series know that this is not a one off as we have seen even worse numbers. But it surely is an indication that something should be done to help refs with the penalty decisions.

On the disciplinary front we see only low numbers. Only around 32% of his yellow cards decisions were correct. And that is a really disappointing score. Not strict enough could be my verdict. Has this anything to do with his age or experience? He is around for a while so he should be able to do better.

And if we look at the red cards we see that he managed to get all the decisions about red cards wrong in the 11 games we reviewed. And that really is a very sad score.

Now let us try to find out if some teams suffered more from his mistakes than others and the teams that were happy when he made a mistake. This can be found in the bias table below.

M Oliver bias

We had 15 different teams in the 11 games we did. And if we look at the scores we can see that only 2 teams score close to the zero bias number that should be the ideal number for all teams. Remember how people say it evens all out so we should have a zero for all teams. The only two teams who can say they came close to this are Swansea with a slightly negative bias and Everton with a slightly positive bias.

Teams with a bigger negative bias are Manchester City, Liverpool, Fulham and Chelsea.  And where things really went wrong we can see the names of Arsenal and Wigan. Wigan being the team that suffered most from his mistakes.  But if you look at all those teams we see that most of the top teams got a negative to big negative bias.

On the other side of the scale we see that West Ham, West Bromwich Albion, Tottenham, Norwich and Stoke had a positive bias.  Apart from Tottenham not really top teams. And the same can be said of Aston Villa with all respect. I use the term top teams for teams who fight or are supposed to fight for the top 4 spots.

But then we get one team with the highest positive bias and that is Manchester United. Looking at the fact that all the other top teams have a negative bias and I thought that I was having a ref who had no top team bias but he surely had a bias for one top team.

FINAL CONCLUSION: Not the best scores of the refs at all and surely the fact that all top teams suffer compared to one top team that hasn’t suffered doesn’t look good for me. Too low correct decisions score and too high bias scores so not a good season from this ref for me.

8 comments to Ref Review 2012/13: Michael Oliver. This doesn’t look too clever.

  • Mahdain

    These numbers are unacceptable from a premier league referee. The penalties and red card decisions influence matches in a big way and he couldnt get even a 50% combined on them. Really explains why he tends to lose control of games very often

  • bjtgooner


    I agree with your comments – also, as with the other refs, a clear bias against Arsenal.

  • Mahdain

    @bjtgooner im still waiting to see if there is any referee that backed away from the trend and has a positive bias score for Arsenal though i am not holding my breath.

  • Gf60

    Walter. Could you consider adding an additional analysis on the incorrect decisions please. “Incorrect” includes presumably those decisions given that were incorrect plus those that were NOT given and should have been? I suspect that splitting these would give a far better perspective.

    Also, where are the match by match reviews for this season’s matches? We can hypothesise what Taylor’s may be, but for the rest, I get the feeling that there’s a definite change around?

    May we all have a Happy Sunday afternoon.

  • Pat

    Interesting how this ref review carries on the theme from the previous article (about Manchester United)!

  • Goona Gal

    So Oliver is one to keep an eye on then…duly noted.

  • WalterBroeckx

    I can assure you that the publishing of those two articles right behind each other is pure coincidental.

  • Micko

    We’ve got Oliver for the Man Utd game 🙁