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July 2021

Referee Reviews: Phil Dowd. After a good year, a year in decline

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 Phil Dowd. 50 year old ref Dowd is one of the older refs in the PL. He is in the PL since 2001 and that means he is one of the longest serving refs in the PL.

A highly controversial performance in the Newcastle – Arsenal game that ended 4-4 a few seasons ago didn’t make him popular in North London.   But despite that in the season after that he was found to be one of the better refs in the PL by our referee reviewing team that then was mostly made up by referees who supported Arsenal. A good example on how unbiased we looked at ref performances at the time and not at the history a ref has with a club.

In the season just gone ref Dowd did 25 games in the PL and we reviewed 15 of his games. That is 60 % of his games we have been able to cover. So a rather high number and this makes it better to draw conclusions.  Compared to the season before when we only could do something of 43% of his games.  So this should give us the chance to have a good look at his numbers.

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

P Dowd all

In the 15 games we could review of Phil Dowd last season we noticed that he had to make 2077 decisions. And our panel of referee reviewers found that 1828 of his decisions were correct. That is a total score of 88.01% correct decisions and that is one of the better scores of all the refs.

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.

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But 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.

P Dowd imp

Our referee reviewing panel has found that ref Dowd had to make 927 important decisions in the games we reviewed. And we wrote 692 of these decisions down as correct. That is a score of 74.65% correct decisions. And that is dropping a bit compared to other refs who have a similar general score. And it also is much lower than the score he had in the season before. So where did it go wrong?

Well one of the decisions where it could and should have been better is the goal decisions. The most important type of decisions and with 4 wrong goal decisions out of 40 goals he gets a score of 90%. And even though this is a high number it is not good enough when it comes to goal decisions.

Also his foul/free kick decisions dropped below the 80% line. And the season before that he was much better than many refs in calling the fouls. We then spoke highly of the fact that Dowd seemed to have rediscovered his form. But last season he didn’t have such a great season.

Also the penalty decisions where he gets a score of 44% is not really great. Of course it still is much better than many other ref but it isn’t really high enough to be satisfied.

What can be called a rather good score (compared to other refs!) is his yellow card decisions. Dowd will draw the card and will not hesitate to book a player when it is needed and thus he gets one of the highest scores when it comes to giving yellow cards.

But for some reason last season he then did hesitate to get out a second yellow card or even a red card. And the season before he was really strong in that part of the game. Has he got instructions to be more ‘soft’?  The score of second yellow cards and red cards really is below par.

Let us see if we can find any strange numbers in the bias table.

P Dowd bias

We had 16 different teams in the 15 games we reviewed.  And 8 of them or 50% could say that the bias was rather low.

In fact we have 3 teams Manchester United, Norwich and Aston Villa who have a zero bias score. Well done.

And Newcastle and Queens Park Rangers only have a small negative bias going against them when Dowd made mistakes. Sunderland, Manchester City and Everton all got a small positive bias going their way.

Teams that benefited more from his mistake were Fulham, West Bromwich Albion, Chelsea and Tottenham. And top of the bill were West Ham United.  Amazing score that. One big Phil liking one big Sam?  Or was it more down to disliking the opponent?

If we look at the teams suffered from his mistakes we find that Arsenal had a rather big negative bias. But Arsenal was not hit most.  That ‘honour’ goes to Swansea with a big negative bias and top of the bill was Liverpool. Something was wrong with them when ref Dowd was in charge.

FINAL CONCLUSION: Dowd had a rather good season when we look at all his decisions. But when we look at the important decisions his numbers drop down too much. The season before he was one  of the big positive surprises for us but this season despite having a rather good overall score he did make too many mistakes in the important decisions to make it an excellent season. And despite having a lot of teams with a zero bias, still too high scores for some teams in the bias table.

9 comments to Referee Reviews: Phil Dowd. After a good year, a year in decline

  • Andrew Crawshaw

    Walter, the W Ham bias comes from their home game against Arsenal on 06 October (1 – 3) 100% of wrong decisions against Arsenal, The Liverpool bias is from two away games W.Brom. 18 August (3 – 0) 83% against Liverpool and Spurs v Liverpool28 Nov. (2 – 1), bias 80% against Liverpool. Maybe this is evidence of him showing a Home bias.He even was slightly in our favour in our home game against United in April. In fact looking at my figures the only home game where the away team got the benefit of the decisions was Arsenal v Fulham on 10 November (3 – 3) where the bias was 78% against Arsenal. Not a referee I would like for an away game based on last year.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Not a ref I would ever feel comfortable with doing our games. Swansea strange thought everyone liked them? Starting to notice the spuds hardly ever get a negative bias a media influence or something else?

  • bjtgooner

    You are right Mandy, the Spuds have had some help from the Men in Black already this season.

    Returning to Dowd, he is showing the same pattern as the other refs – very poor on the important decisions and with a noticeable anti Arsenal bias.

    After the 4-4 draw with Newcastle I must admit I have a strong distrust of Dowd’s motives.

  • Doanythingformoney

    Is there any wonder we have difficulty winning the shiny stuff? Just about every ref want to give Arsenal a kicking. And the ‘good’ bias received by the Spuds has been noted.

  • Stuart

    Walter, a quick question for you. How many more referees are their to publish please?

  • Stuart there are only a couple of refs left to do. I’m releasing the reports at about one a day, usually in the late afternoon or evening.

  • WalterBroeckx

    I think only one left and then conclusion time

  • Stuart

    Thanks guys.

    Have been working on my own conclusion too.