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July 2021

REf Review 2012/13: bias per team home and away games

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.


On this site we have published all kinds of reports over the season 2012-2013.

We have dealt with the different teams. We have looked  closely at the refs themselves leading to the best ref election of the season according to the views and based on the numbers found by our referee reviewers.

We then had another look at the bias from the refs with each team.

The next step was looking at the 4 most important decisions on the football field that could have the biggest impact on the final result of games. We have shown this in the wrong decisions about second yellow cards, red cards, penalties and goals. And we did not only show which teams gained and how many times they gained, but also which teams suffered and how many times they suffered. Of course when the ref makes a mistake there is always a team that benefits but there is also a team that gains from the wrong decision. So it is important to have a look at both sides of the medal.

Next to our seemingly never ending numbers coming out from our reviews we will show all the bias decisions that teams had to suffer last season in the matches we reviewed.

We showed you how many decisions went in favour of each team at home and how many decisions went against each team at home. A bit like we did with the important decisions. But in this table we will also show what that means for each team in relation with how many games we reviewed. We will do this by showing the average decision they faced each game we reviewed.

We then showed the same for the teams when they played away from home.

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And in this article we will do this for all the games each team played, the grand total if you want.

This is also important in the way that big decisions are sometimes more visible. More visible when the people who show games on TV allow them to be visible and this certainly goes for programmes on TV where they only show highlights. Cutting an important decision out of the highlights can make things look differently.

So the numbers we will show you include the big decisions but also the more invisible little decisions bias. Things only the eyes of a trained person will see and that mostly is overlooked by most fans in the stadium or even watching on TV.  These are the numbers that include the decisions  were referees know that you can go from a level playing field in to a biased playing field.

In the tables you are going to see we have for each team the numbers of decisions that favoured them and then we have the numbers when they were suffering from the wrong decisions from the ref. In the third column of numbers you then see the total swing. And in the final column you see the average swing taking in account the number of games we reviewed. And it is that number that we will focus on when we talk about the tables.

But let us first have a look at the numbers. The decisions for and against each team wherever they played:

total swing


As this is the total of all the games that has been played by all the teams when we reviewed them.  And as could be predicted you get a more even spread between the teams in the red (negative bias) and the teams in the black (positive bias).

If we look at the numbers we see that the team that had the biggest bias on average wherever and whatever they played is Manchester United. So no real surprise one could say. The benefit on average just under 5 decisions each match. This could be considered as a nice push in the back from the referees.

The team that comes second when we look at it on average is Norwich. And that is a surprise and for regular readers not any more.  They got more than 4 decisions going their way in general. And as shown in the previous articles, most of them away from home. The team in 3rd place is Stoke. So another smaller team that has a bit favourable bias in their favour. The next teams we find are Aston Villa, Sunderland and West Ham United. And with all respect they cannot be called big teams at all. With big teams I refer to teams challenging for the top 4.

In fact the team that finished 5th in the league Tottenham is the first big team we see on the positive side of things after Manchester Untied.  But Tottenham come only in 7th place in this table.

If we move on to the rest of the top 4 we see that Manchester City has a negative bias but it is rather small. Half a decision on average going against them. So not really dramatic one could say. And the same can be said of Chelsea. They also have a small bias against them but even a smaller bias than Manchester City has to endure.

There are other teams that suffered more. Teams like Swansea, Southampton and Liverpool. All of them have to overcome more than 2 decisions on average each game we reviewed.

But the team that suffered most is Arsenal. Each and every match last season it seemed that Arsenal had to overcome more than 8 wrong decisions against them. And I know that there was been games where there only was 2 or 3 decisions against them. So at times it was more than 10 decisions going against them.

If we compare this with the average of Manchester United that was +4.759 on the positive side and the negative number of – 8.474 we get a difference of 13.233 decisions on average. Just imagine that you have overcome more than 13 wrong decisions per game compared to another team! That is every 7 minutes one decision. Each game. Time and time again.  this is a complete scandal.

When will this stop? When will this even out? How much longer will the media obey the omerta about such things? How much longer will refs be complicit to this system that we have shown for 3 years running now?

There is no level playing field in the PL. There is Manchester United on one side of the scale and then you have Arsenal on the other side of the scale. A scale so far apart from each other that one team has a complete advantage over the rest. and one team has a complete disadvantage compared to the others.

Can you sleep at night, Mr. Riley? If I would be in charge of the refs I wouldn’t. If I would be in your shoes I would do what a honourable man would do: admit you reign has ended in failure. But hey let that not stop you from spouting the next set of unbelievable numbers to the media to show how great the state of refereeing is in the PL.

Oh and the fact that you then usually refer to Uefa and Fifa is contra-productive you know. It is like the police saying that they solve all the crimes based on the fact that the Mafia pats them on the back.

In this series

The bias that the teams get playing at home

Wrong second yellow cards

Wrong red card decisions

Wrong PENALTY decisions, a closer look.

Wrong goal decisions

It doesn’t all even out in the end

Extrapolating important decisions

The earlier series of reviews:


5 comments to REf Review 2012/13: bias per team home and away games

  • nicky

    I may be naïve in my old age but I’m just beginning to feel that there might be the beginning of change in the way that football, at least in the EPL, is being refereed. If you read that first sentence again you will see that my bases are still rather well covered.
    Whether, if I’m right, this is due in part to your team’s mighty post mortems I do not know. But I like to think so.
    It just seems to me that more and more wrong decisions are being made on the field due to incompetence rather than for
    corrupt deference towards the arrogant Ferguson and it may well be that we owe him a great deal for retiring.
    In the “olden days” (as my grandchildren like to call it) who would have forecast Fabio being red-carded 4 minutes after arriving on the field…. and AT OLD TRAFFORD no less.
    Now if we can only improve ability and introduce mechanical aids (not marital aids) for referees there may yet be hope for a return to integrity in our national game.

  • bob

    A devastating summation. Why the keyboards have gone so silent on this (hereabouts, not the mass media) is perhaps a reflection of what can you say (or is it dare you say) when presented with unique research that, even if half true, changes the way one looks at the world. After Lincoln gave his famed Gettysburg Address, it is said, that all there had fallen silent. This silence is a testimony to your achievement. You’ve changed the game. Some will allow it to sink in; others will act like it never happened. But your work deserves discussion, far and wide, and respect.

  • Mandy Dodd

    These are quite amazing stats, I have only just seen this having been caught up in all things Theo.
    Again, appears to confirm what we see with our own eyes.
    What is truly amazing is how Wenger and his teams have kept us in the top 4, these stats make a huge detrimental difference over a season.
    I am sure Riley sleeps well at night, knowing the role he has played in helping the club he supports….and who knows what other gains he has made along the way. Interesting that Halsey implied he was too far into his own agenda to support other refs properly, without really stating his agenda.
    What will be interesting to see.. as Nicky mentions…will Fergie being out of the way change things for the better? If so, that in itself is a scandal that needs investigation. I fear things have not improved, and that oilers will benefit in Fergies absence, as we seem to be seeing this year.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Unbelievable the universe is caving in Man Utd have lost tonites first leg……to a PENALTY!
    Although I am informed Raphael was later lucky not to see red…..still progress of sorts! Must really be confusing their players