The most unbiased ref in the PL 2012/13

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.


After having dealt with the different teams and after having examined all the refs we now are bringing it all together. In the last article in this series we have shown the competency tables of the refs and if you missed it you can have a look over here.

But now we will add the bias numbers into the competency. And they sure have some weight and will have an impact on the final score.

When we think of referees we like them to be competent. The more competent the better. But as I have said many times before that is not all that is needed. Because we also need refs that show no real bias.  We can accept refs making mistakes. But when those mistakes are constantly going against one team then the ref, however competent he may be, is not doing his job in a proper way.

We know the idiotic ‘wisdom’ spouted by pundits and many fans : ‘it evens out at the end of the season’. A ‘wisdom’  that we have proven to be utterly wrong in the years we have done the referee reviews.   The consistent direction in whose favour the errors go is not a good thing to notice when you do referee reviews.

And of course the same is true the other way round.  It is bad to see a team suffering time and time again from the errors a ref is making.

So the best ref is not only a ref with a high score in the competence but also a ref who has a lot of teams with a low bias score. And that is what we will show you in this article.

First of all we will show you the ref table where we look at the good bias. By good bias we mean a low bias score for as many teams as possible.

We calculated this in the following way. Any bias lower than + or -3 on the bias scale you have seen in the referee articles is considered as good or acceptable.  And then we have added those low bias scores and compared them with the total teams in the survey of that ref.

An example: if a ref has 10 teams in the games we reviewed and he had 4 of those teams with a bias between -3 and +3 he gets a score of 40%.  If he only had three teams he would have a score of 30%. And of course the more teams with a low bias score the better and we will see a table where the highest score is the best of course.

And if we only look at that we get the following table

low bias table

And now we see a rather familiar face returning.  Last season one of our conclusions was that Mark Clattenburg was one of the least biased refs in the PL and despite having a rather bad year for his standards in competence he still managed to be the most unbiased refs and have the highest score in the low bias numbers.

A rather surprising name in second place with Lee Mason.  And in 3rd place we have 3 refs. Howard Webb, Jonathan Moss and Michael Jones, each ending up with the same score.

But of course we don’t stop right here. We can praise but we also need to punish. Because having many teams with a low bias is fine. But it all goes out of the window when on the other hand you have high scores against some teams. Or against a lot of teams. And we also made a table of this.

In this case we decided that for each time a ref had more than + or – 6 bias points with a team he would get a 5 points penalty per team. So in the next table we will show you, you will see that when a ref has had 3 teams with a bias higher than -6 or +6 will have a score of 15 points. Penalty points as you will notice in the 3rd table we will show you.

So in this case the higher the score the worse it was. So a ref with lots of (penalty) points in this table and a high position was a ref that made a lot of teams suffer. The lower his total points the better. Being first in this table is bad.

High bias table

And now we see at the top positions referees that have had a lot of teams suffering from their mistakes. Anthony Taylor is top of this table. A score of 40 means that 8 teams had suffered badly from his mistakes. An indication of a very unbalanced ref. Michael Oliver and Neil Swarbrick are the other refs that make the top 3.  A top 3 that no ref wants to make.

At the bottom we find Jonathon Moss. He had no teams suffering an extraordinary high negative bias. Other refs who were fine in this region were Martin Atkinson, Kevin Friend and Chris Foy. Well done sirs.

The final table shows these two tables combined. We took the number of the first table and then deducted the score of the second table. And then we get the table where we can see who was the most unbiased ref in the PL in total. And by most unbiased we took not just the good/positive low bias score but we also took away the points for the high bias score.  And if we look at that we get the total bias score and this table looks like this:

total bias table

And putting it all together we see that Jonathan Moss was a ref with not the highest low bias score but because he lost no points with teams that suffered a lot he takes the first place in the bias table.

Mark Clattenburg had the best low bias score but lost a few points and therefore loses his first place. And Martin Atkinson wins a few places because of the fact that he had only one team suffering badly from his mistakes.

In the next article we will look at putting the competency and the bias tables together and then we will know who was the best ref in the PL last season.


29 Replies to “The most unbiased ref in the PL 2012/13”

  1. Nice one & it’s good know these Ref standings.

    Hope you’ll provide a view of the most bias against Arsenal (if that wasn’t covered already).

  2. @SB Purely on my (very unscientific and terribly biased) observations over the last 3 seasons, Anthony Taylor probably could take 1st and 2nd place, followed by Lee Mason with Mike Dean after 2 fairly reasonable recent seasons a distant 4th! 😮

  3. hmmm – shame we do not see more of Moss and Clatternberg at our games. Surprised to see Atkinson and Webb up near the top, but hen again, they seem to just have achilles heels of single clubs

  4. Mandy Dodd,
    I remember one of my articles saying about Atkinson that he isn’t too bad as long as you don’t have him in a Chelsea game.

  5. Yes, remember that Walter, could be wrong, but think he has been relatively ok at least with us lately

  6. I can bet my all that if Aston Villa Taylor makes the first 10, then I’ll sue Untold to a court cos He is “bias” personified. What is Mike Dean doing up there? He should be around that 15 to 17. We all know what he is capable of.
    Walter can U add a column showing which club suffers most from a referee and who gains most.e.g M.Clattenburg Chelsea…. U understand?

  7. Both lists (high bias and low bias) are useful concepts in the pursuit of excellence in officiating. But it may become apparent that there are “problems” with either of those lists, or with the combined score. It may be that some (or all) of those scores need to be calculated in some other way.

    But it is a wonderful start. Thank you Walter.

  8. Great stuff, Walter.

    Could it be that our bogey refs with “good” scores only have them due to huge bias specifically against Arsenal?

  9. Rantetta, Walter,
    Must fully concur with the spirit of your question, Rantetta.
    Walter, will you at least indicate which of the refs, regardless of bias and competency overall, had the worst performance against AFC? No doubt you will, but if there’s warp within the overall patterns vs AFC, please make it crystal clear. It will be keenly awaited.

  10. have to say Jonathan Moss as the top referee in both competency and bias tables has been a pleasant suprise. Lets just wait and see if he gets a fifa badge though i doubt it. He hasnt yet shown the prime characteristic needed to even be considered for that i.e shafting Arsenal because thats the only explanation i can find for Anthony Taylor being given one

  11. @Mandy and Walter, have the same thoughts on Atkinson. I dont think he is a bad ref at all but not a ref you want when playing chelsea. He just cant manage to not show his love for them and hence the favouritism. If PGMOL had any sort of accountability then they would have ceased to send him to Chelsea games long time ago but alas accountable PGMOL is an oxymoron

  12. Walter, the series continues to be fascinating and most revealing. Taylor’s bias levels really stand out – he should be the first to be fired – with Riley!

  13. This is all very exciting, Walter.
    Can’t wait for the next instalment.
    It’s strange, but I can’t even picture Jonathan Moss.
    Hopefully it’s because he’s so good you don’t even notice him.

  14. @ Walter off subject (slightly)
    Now I was of the opinion that Mike Reilly was in charge of the “Best Referees in the World, so how does this guy land a top job like this ? check out

    Alan Kelly hails from a family steeped in the refereeing tradition

    Referee Alan Kelly has announced that he will be leaving the Airtricity League and FIFA panels at the end of the season to take up a new position with the Professional Referee Organisation in the United States in the New Year.
    Kelly has been appointed as the new assistant training and development manager with the PRO and may continue his refereeing career in America.
    Kelly has been a FIFA referee since 2002 and has officiated at Champions League and Europa League games, as well as international level.
    The 38-year-old Corkman will see out his domestic and international refereeing commitments between now and the end of the year before heading to America.
    Kelly admits that it is a challenge he is eagerly looking forward to, saying: “This is a very exciting opportunity for me on a professional level.
    “To work with a full-time professional organisation and dedicate my time to refereeing, be it from an education and development perspective or on the field of play, is something that I have always aspired to and it is an opportunity that myself and my family are very much looking forward to.
    “Leaving the Airtricity League and UEFA is something that I had not thought about and it was an incredibly difficult decision to make. However, once I found that this opportunity offers a very different challenge, it would have been a regret that would have followed me around had I not accepted it.”

  15. Ta bob.

    Lee Probert for Arsenal v Norwich. Just for the kicks.

    Source & tweet:
    Orbinho ‏@Orbinho 9h
    Lee Probert will officiate Arsenal v Norwich. Our record with him as referee is W1 D3 L2 & the win was the first game he did with us.

  16. Pinocchio, Snow White and Superman are out for a stroll in town one day.
    As they walk, they come across a sign: “Beauty contest for the most beautiful woman in the world.”
    “I am entering,” says Snow White.

    After half an hour she comes out and they ask her, “Well, how’d ya do?”

    “First Place,” said Snow White.

    They continue walking and they see a sign: “Contest for the strongest man in the world.”

    “I’m entering,” says Superman.
    After half an hour he returns and they ask him, “How did you make out?”
    “First Place,” answers Superman. “Did you ever doubt?”

    They continue walking when they see a sign: “Contest! Who is the greatest liar in the world?”
    Pinocchio says, “this is mine!”
    Half an hour later, he returns with tears in his eyes.
    “What happened?” they ask.
    Pinocchio asks, “Who the hell is Mike Rilley ?”

  17. The Back Seat Fiasco
    A blond and a guy were out on a date and they ended up at ‘Lovers’ Cove’ where they were making out. The guy thought that things were going pretty good and maybe he would get lucky tonight, so he thought that he would ask her if she wanted to go in the back seat.

    ” NO!” yelled the blond.

    The guy just figured that she wasn’t ready yet. Things got pretty hot and the guy thought he would try again.

    ” NO! ” the blond yelled again. frustrated man

    Things got even hotter and the blond was down to her bra and the guy even had her pants unzipped.

    “Do you wanna go in the back seat yet? ” asked the guy hopefully?

    ” For the last time, NO! ” said the blond.

    Frustrated, the guy asked, ” Well, why the heck not?? ”

    The blond looked at him and said, ” Because I want to stay here with you! “

  18. Probert – they arent even subtle about it! This gu clearly hates Wenger. Norwich will have seen the Villa game, they will come to defend, but also kick and timewaste, just watch them let away with it…. with yellows or reds if we retaliate. But, we should still have enough to beat them. Some players havebeen busy, others will have had a bit of a rest, just hope they all come back unscathed. Expect Webb at OT.

  19. Yes, unfortunately remember that well Mahdain.
    We will also remember this

    The crowd need to out this ref everytime he he is unfair to us, luckily they are finding their voice these days. This guy should not be doing Arsenal games, like so many of his colleagues it seems.
    I really hope the coaches and senior players take into account these refs in match preparation, though unfortunately, have a feeling Wenger does not go there, – maybe he thinks such a ref could give players an excuse not to be at 100%. Still we have some very experienced and tactically aware players out there, namely Arteta and Flamini (if Probert allows him to stay on the pitch) – thet will have had a 2 week break and could be vital in this game with this ref.

  20. Probert? They sure want to derail our momentum now. We were saying this after the mason performance that they don’t want us to put a decent, or it’ll be harder to stop us if we get to 30 or so games unbeaten. Scum**gs

  21. I get the feeling we will get taylor a few times too this season, and mason. We probably won’t get dean the mandatory 5 or 6 times per year as was becoming customary the last few years; people were starting to talk(the DM even published our ‘woeful’ stats under dean and called him our bogey ref). So the trick is to now try and share the load evenly among a few ‘select’ refs. Disgusting.

  22. Come on you guys – leave me something to talk about in my Ref preview! I’ve just sent the draft to Walter for comment. I was at the Fulham game and remember it well, although the reviewer judged both of Djourou’s yellow cards to be correct, they looked harsh at the time and were certainly out of keeping with the handling of similar fouls by Fulham.

  23. What can we do about the referee situation? We can come here, have an article written then post our support of the article. Is that it?

    I think it is possible to do more.

    We could take action individually or we could get together pool ideas and draw up a plan to make the situation known in an objective way.

    Getting together is difficult, as we don’t know each other and live everywhere and anywhere. Confidentiality and knowing who to trust is almost impossible on the net.

    What we all have in common is that we have found a common home, thanks to Tony and the setting up of Untold Arsenal and to Walter for Untold Ref.

    May be there are a few of us with the aid of Tony and or Walter, or someone known to Tony ( I am a relatively newcomer so don’t know the who is who of Untold) we could set up a small group and together begin spreading the word.

    This would entail a few of us sharing email address or messaging address.

    I have a number of ideas but they are not for Jo Public. My ideas are not ‘world changing’ or original but small steps in the web and the media that I believe will start the ball rolling.

  24. I see the second assistant ref for our game against Norwich is M Scholes. Any relation to P.Scholes?

Comments are closed.