Revealed: How referees are able to manipulate the results of Premier League games.


We have suggested for some time that the constant decision by PGMO (the organisation that employs and selects referees for Premier League matches) to employ a very small number of referees is one that should be changed, for the simple reason that if there is a rotten apple among the refs there is something seriously wrong with Premier League refereeing.  The current system allows one referee to take control if a single team many teams across a season – which means just one “influenced” ref could have a profound influence.  We think no ref should ever oversee one team more than twice a season.

Untold has also highlighted the perfidious Type III match fixing, in which the owner, or the minions of the owner of a certain club, could go to a ref and persuade him to have a negative influence on a rival, ensuring that they were more likely to get a draw than a win for example.  This approach is hard to spot since it is spread over many games, and a ref so minded but faced with the marked team scoring a couple of early goals, will simply referee the match fairly, and thus deflect criticism.

Third, our analysis of games across the last four seasons including analyses by refs who support clubs other than Arsenal has shown a wide variation in the ability of Premier referees to spot fouls, and a very high level of errors.  Which leads to…

Fourth, the PGMO constantly tell us that over 99% of referee decisions are accurate.  Indeed in 2013 PGMO claimed this for the third year running, while our figures constantly showed far lower levels of accuracy.  Yet PGMO utterly refuse to give any details of how they get their figures, and thus we are unable to compare their claims with our numbers that are much lower.

All of this suggests that something is very seriously wrong.  But we have been missing one point: evidence of how easy it is for a referee who is so inclined to fix a match.

Now thanks to Louis Huguenin we have it.   It represents, to my mind, the final nail in the coffin, for even if one argues that there is no match fixing, what we have is a system that is so easy to fix, that precautions should be taken at once to stop the possibility.   The failure to take such steps is the greatest indictment of all.                    Tony Attwood


A new metric: Card-Minutes

by Louis Huguenin

I have been a frequent reader of the Untold Arsenal blog but only very rarely comment, since I only want to write something if it can add value. A few weeks ago an article about the number of fouls and cards was published. Naturally it plays a role in a game at what time a card is given (at min 5 it is more important than at min 90).

For this purpose I collected and analysed data from both Arsenal and Chelsea games to create a new metric called “Card-Minutes”.

I wrote down for which team and at what time a card was given. I then calculated how long in minutes this card would be active in a given game and influence the player in his playing style (e.g. not make any risky last ditch tackles anymore). By doing this for both teams in a game I created a new value called “Card Minutes” that basically weighs the cards (a red card is counted twice if due to a second yellow card) given by the time they are issued during a game.

A card given early in a game at minute 5 thus values much more than one given at minute 90. By doing the sum for each team this results then in a new metric called “Card-Minutes” for and against a team in a game.

I collected the data for all the games from last season for both Arsenal and Chelsea. As source I used the tables from Swiss television . To get the number of fouls I used the BBC sports website as source.

Even though sometimes the sample value is rather low, for example for draws and losses, there is still some value in the data. I also have to say that I didn’t double or triple-check the data, which would have been very time consuming. But even if there should be one or two mistakes in the data, the data itself and the difference between Chelsea and Arsenal over last season in card-minutes is enough to be quite noticeable and a variation in a few low-digits doesn’t change this fact.

  CM received by Arsenal CM received by Opponents Difference
Loss 78 59 -19
Draw 58 62 +4
Win 45 63 +18
Average 54 62 +8

On average Arsenal concedes 54 card-minutes per game while the other team receives 62 card-minutes. This makes a difference of only around 8 minutes over the season, so maybe that is why people say “it evens out” over a season.

However it is much more interesting to look closer to so-called contested matches, e.g. losses and draws. Since in draws and maybe also losses the teams are more closely matched, small differences have a much bigger influence. There it is possible to see that the numbers are quite different. If Arsenal had lost a game (this happened 6 times last season) then on average the opposing team was given 19 fewer card-minutes. At a draw Arsenal was given 4 card-minutes fewer and at a winning game the number of card-minutes given to the opposing team is 18 minutes more than for Arsenal.

The reason for the difference of card-minutes is that if Arsenal is losing, then the players have to be more aggressive to catch up and thus are more likely receive a yellow card. The same reasoning goes for a draw, slightly less competitive and thus fewer yellow cards and card-minutes.

Therefore for a win it can be assumed and confirmed that the number of card-minutes Arsenal receive is lowest with only 45. What is interesting though is that amount of card-minutes the opponents receive doesn’t vary much (Arsenal loss: 59, draw: 62; win: 63). As some of fans already suspect though, for Arsenal this is not true at all. If Arsenal is losing, then they suffer on average 19 more card-minutes, for a draw this changes to four and for a loss to 18 for the opponents.

  CM received by Chelsea CM received by opponents per game Difference
Loss 62 96 +34
Draw 93 102 +9
Win 54 82 +28
Average 64 87 +23

The picture is quite different for Chelsea. They had only three losses last season for which they received around 62 worth of card-minutes, which is 18 less than Arsenal have for losses.

However the opponents receive 34 more card-minutes, which is quite a pronounced difference. If Arsenal were losing, the team has a handicap of 19 card-minutes. If Chelsea were losing they had an advantage of 34 card-minutes. One could now ask a rhetorical question: under which match conditions, from purely a data point of view, is it easier to regain control of the game?

If Chelsea had won the game, the opposing team received 28 more card-minutes compared to Arsenal’s 18. If Chelsea drew, the card-minutes was a staggering 93 (for the opponent 102). In comparison at a draw Arsenal received only 58 card-minutes. This number is likely due the different styles of Arsenal and Chelsea.

It becomes even more interesting if one compares the numbers from Arsenal and Chelsea directly. If Chelsea lost rather than won they only received 8 more card-minutes. If Arsenal lost rather than won, they received 33 more card-minutes.

How can this difference be explained?  Can this be attributed to a potentially a more aggressive style of Arsenal in comparison? Not really. Chelsea had 74 yellow and 4 red cards last season while Arsenal had 67 and 2 in comparison.

On the contrary if we look back at the first game from last season between the two teams it was clear that Chelsea had applied a more robust style rather than Arsenal. If Arsenal also had a similar positive swing like Chelsea in their losses, they would have had an advantage of (34-(-19)=+53 card-minutes compared to what really happened.

Imagine hypothetically if in addition to all the other cards handed out in Arsenal’s losses from last season that in each game an opposing player had at minute 90-53=37 received a yellow card. Would that have made that player more careful in his tackles and fouls? Would this have made an Arsenal comeback more likely?

Can the difference of card-minutes received be due to only the difference in style between the two teams and the context of the game? Or is it more related to who issues the cards and at what time in the game?


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49 Replies to “Revealed: How referees are able to manipulate the results of Premier League games.”

  1. Prem league referees have abused the league mgt in recent years that it has lost the confidence of int’l fans.Look at Lfc v Chealse at Anfeild in both cup and league last season!Look at Webb’s level of honest against Suarez and Lfc at Emirate in Carl cup last two seasons!For us FA program winners on fraud basis.Early they restore fans confidence the better for the prem league.

  2. A very interesting bit of research. Have always had the opinion Arsenal players have to do relatively little to get cards, Callum Chambers at Stoke springs to mind.
    The comparison with Chelsea is interesting. Clearly a physical team. A manager who is nothing if not an analyst of all aspects of the game. Bet he has details stored on refs as well as opponents. One tactic his teams use, confirmed by Madrid players, commit fouls in the first five minutes, soften up opponents, and many refs are afraid to issue cards against the big boys so early on. He probably has a database on times different refs are most likely to card and for what reason. Seem to remember our players getting hit early on without punishment, Cahill should have been sent off, as the red lost control of the game. And don’t forget, Chelsea have a ref who demonstrates a suspicious level of bias their way.
    But I believe there is hope. The selector of refs for each game , Keren Barratt suddenly and prematurely left his post, FIF states he was sacked. Howard Webb has come in, yes he has a rep with a certain retired manager does he now have more influence than the…at best, useless Mike Riley? Corruption in the game is starting to be exposed, the corrupt will in some cases presumably face sentences. Howard Webb is supposed to be very supportive of the refs, unlike Riley if you believe reports. I will always believe there have been bad apples and corruption in this league, with one team favoured above all others, and maybe a current manager trying to get similar preferential treatment. But other refs may well be honest guys trying to do their best under massive pressure, I hope Webb helps such refs.
    I thought we got slightly better treatment in the second half of the season ,after the debacle of Atkinson at Tottenham. What will next season bring?

  3. Now I always read your articles on referees and biases with interest. This is no different and yes the cards minutes is an interesting slant. However, referees are human and do make mistakes. They see an incident from one view at real time so mistakes will happen. This could be a call for technology to be used more throughout the game or an improvement in refereeing or two referees. I do think a referee that has bias will call more of the 50:50 stuff wrongly. Again when you analyse the referees performance I imagine you watch replays where as the referees performance is watched in the stands by an official who probably get the same chance as a referee to view an incident. Maybe an independent panel should review a referree’s performance two fold a from the stands and in game time and then from watching replays of incidents and give two scores one based on what they saw from games and one for replays and give a different stat say a contentious decision stat one from game one from replays. Can I ask how you assess a refs performance if it is with aid of replays and how much your anaylsis reflects that you want to prove a bias against arsenal particularly.can a referee match fix yes in all possibility he probably could but that’s something for Fifa and individual football associations to deal with and come up with plans to thwart this possibility.

  4. Very interesting. What would be intriguing is that how many times did the opponents get yellow card in the first say…20 mins of the game and how did that particular player make tackles for the remainder of the game.

  5. I’m sorry, but this is a lot of nonsense. It’s a classic case of arranging the numbers to prove a preconceived notion.
    Now what do they call that? Let me think. it’s on the tip of my tongue. Oh fuck, now it’s gone.

  6. @rolf
    A very silly contribution from you.
    How about you
    a) Explain why you think it is ‘a lot of nonsense’.
    b) Tell us what the ‘preconceived notion’ is.
    c) Explain how the numbers have been arranged to prove the (unknown) preconceived notion.
    d) Tell us what is on the tip of your tongue.

  7. And as for the ludicrous “Type 111 match fixing”, I’m surprised that you haven’t promoted the more likely Type IV: the one where a referee is compromised and blackmailed.
    Sure, one day some corruption will be revealed. it’s the natural order of things and UA will be at the forefront claiming all the credit.

  8. The preconceived notion that Arsenal are being treated more unfairly than Chelsea.

  9. Great effort Louis Huguenin. Interesting perspective. Whichever way you want to look at it, the opening points by Tony, which has been eternally put forth, about the small number of referees officiating in EPL games, season after season, is instructive. The simple logic that, errors by a small number of persons which keep being used again and again, all season, will only multiply and will result in the likelihood of having a more pronounced overall effect than if a larger number of refs over the entire season. One or two bent officials is therefore enough to bring about the desires of match-fixers on a larger scale.

    “I’m sorry but this is a lot of nonsense. It’s a classic case of arranging the numbers to prove a preconceived notion”. @Rolf, but what stops you from “arranging” the numbers to prove your own “preconceived notion”? Don’t you think you have “preconceived notions” of your own and you have just betrayed that much by your post? You have only failed to supply numbers to support yours.

    Or did it disappear with the rest of the stuff from the tip of your tongue?

  10. @rolf
    You are right, there is a preconceived notion that Arsenal are treated more unfairly than Chelsea. That is because of what has been observed during matches in recent seasons. Hence the attempts to prove it by the use of statistics.
    Where is your argument, based on facts, to disprove it?

  11. @richards

    Everyone makes mistakes, including referees, but why is that through all the ref anaylsis done by this site points out that there is a lot more “mistakes” made against arsenal?

    Furthermore, arsenal players are easily booked for their offense, whereas the opposition are let off easily…? There is evidently a bias against arsenal in general… Even my friends who ain’t arsenal fans can tell ?

  12. Again, until the ref situation is sorted(more refs allowing only 2 games per team per season) and they have a table of results where the first 3 get some type of bonus and the last 3 drop down a league, just like the PL tables, i cannot see how we are even going to get near to stamping out corruption.

    As said, i think betting(not the visible low money bets, but the private bets) plays a much bigger part in the corruptibility of refs and match fixing than we think.

  13. Stan The Man

    I don’t have a preconceived notion other than the belief that you can use numbers to prove just about anything if you present them in a particular order.

  14. rolf

    You may be talking about ‘preconceived notions’ formed on the back of statistics like these. Statistics that, if you care to research, have remained constantly biased against Arsenal over the last 15 years.

    This table shows cards awarded versus fouls concede.

    Team Fouls conceded (as awarded by Referee) Yellow Cards Red Cards Average fouls per card

    Arsenal………. 91–24–0–3.79

    Chelsea………. 104–20–2–4.73

    Sunderland……. 100–21–0–4.76

    Liverpool…….. 93–19–0–4.89

    Man City……… 106–20–1–5.05

    West Ham……… 101–19–1–5.05

    Everton………. 83–16–0–5.19

    Stoke………… 119–22–0–5.41

    Hull…………. 99–16–2–5.50

    Man United……. 112–18–2–5.60

    Burnley………. 90–16–0–5.63

    West Brom…….. 102–18–0–5.67

    Aston Villa…… 93–16–0–5.81

    Newcastle…….. 101–16–1–5.94

    Spurs………… 111–15–2–6.53

    Swansea………. 106–13–2–7.07

    Crystal Palace… 126–14–2–7.88

    QPR………….. 81–10–0–8.10

    Leicester City… 117–13–0–9.00

    Southampton…… 111–12–0–9.25

    All………….. 2046–338–15–5.80

    The average number of fouls committed per card awarded across all games is 5.8. In the above table all teams from Aston Villa downwards can be said to be doing better than average, the further down the table the better they have done.

    I concede Chelsea are the closest to us regarding this particular table, but as I say, we are top/bottom depending on how you look at it, of this set of statistics year after year.

    Or you may be talking about the equally depressing penalty statics published on Untold on the 6th of March 2014 under the headline: An absolute Scandal: When Arsenal penalty fortunes suddenly changed.

    Sorry I cant find the link for that but someone else may be able to help with that because they make unbelievable reading.

    Incidentally, I really had to laugh at some whingeing by Mourhino back in the Winter which was giving so many column inches, at a time when Chelsea DID actually have a two month period when the awarding of penalties did in fact turn against them.

    When you read the analysis on Untold you will see Arsenal have had 10 or 11 years of a bad deal, and not a word. Chelsea have 2 Months and it makes the papers.

    Anyway, just in case you where wondering, I think that might be where the ‘preconceived notions’ of which you speak, may of come from.

  15. @Rolf. Again. “sure, one day corruption will be revealed, it’s the natural order of things…” Really? You sounded like you were really very sad to admit that. You continued, “…and UA will be at the fore front claiming all the credit”.

    What a very sad, black day that will be for you and your sort! But then do you care? You are beyond shame to feel anything. That’s why you can come on this site to spew out all the dross you just did. What a sorry soul you are.

  16. @rolf
    ‘I don’t have a preconceived notion other than the belief that you can use numbers to prove just about anything if you present them in a particular order.’
    This popularly trotted out ridiculous statement is a preconceived notion by you and others to justify your position without having to provide any concrete evidence to the contrary.
    Numbers cannot lie.

  17. Cause and effect.

    1) Does Arsenal conceding more yellow cards early on lead to Arsenal losing the game?
    2)Is it Arsenal being in a losing position early on that leads to more yellow cards?

    To properly analyse and draw more meaningful conclusions you would need to factor in the game state at the time the cards were issued (i.e. Winning/Drawing/Losing)

  18. @Jaroda, please can you read the article a few times more ( if you have to) before running your own commentary? You will likely discover that the answers you seek are easily seen in the text or somewhere in between the lines.

  19. rolf

    It is a ‘truism’ that statistics can be made to say what you like them to say. But the fact is that ‘truisms’ only hold ‘true’ to a degree.

    The thing about statistics is, the more you have the better, more reliable they are.

    And Untold is nothing if not thorough in it’s research.

    As you may of seen today elsewhere, some don’t seem to appreciate the use of statistics as a tool to support there theories, but by and large I think that is born out of frustration because often as not they are hard to argue against.

    The point is it is very easy to discredit statistics. Just produce your own and PROVE them wrong.

    Sorry, but just saying ‘You can make statistics say what you want’ isn’t enough.

    Just saying ‘I don’t agree with them’ or words to that effect, is just an opinion, no more, no less.


    If I contest that Walcott is faster than Bellerin does that make it so?

    If you contest that Bellerin is faster than Walcott does that make it so?

    Of course not. That is just our opinions based on what we see with our eyes.

    But, if I time them both over 20 metres and show ‘statistically’ that Walcott is the faster, is that enough to ‘prove’ he is? Maybe.

    Also, is it enough for you just to say: ‘you can make statistics say what you want, I still think Bellarin is faster’. Maybe.

    But surely the best thing to do is to time them both a few times, over different days, under different circumstances and draw your conclusions from that. If you did that and came to me with a page of statistics that show Bellerin to be the faster of the 2 would you accept my protestation that you can ‘make statistics say what you want’ and ‘I still think Walcott is the faster’, to be an appropriate, compelling and creditable response?

    No, I didn’t think so.

    So rather than just doing that very thing, why not find your own statistics to ‘Prove’ the Author wrong. If you are correct it should be quite easy.

  20. Rolf

    I see nobody’s picked up your 11.14 comment.
    You may have something there (type 4).
    A nice coke & slapper undercover action like the Lord Sewell one would probably work, maybe even has.

  21. @jambug statistics show Rolf has responded 3 times without answering the question he on evidence is a troll! lol

    Another interesting article I’ve missed a few months of untold now its skim reading time to catch up!

  22. A very well put together article showing clearly what we have spoken about here time and time again.

    After watching our side in full strength and depth, I wonder how long into the season that will remain the same; before we start loosing players with thuggery unpunished so to make life easier for our neighbors !!!

  23. The whole point of these articles is that there “appears” to be grounds to question/investigate referee behaviour.
    Now, that assumption may be totally wrong, but the only way you can establish that is by investigation.
    This is the whole point of Tony`s preamble ( and with many previously written)
    Personally, I have never seen a detailed response/rebuttal.
    Lets confess, we are all slightly biased pro Arsenal(really?), but there is a lot of cash in the F.A. coffers and an investigation could easily resolve the matter.
    The mere fact that there is no investigation adds fuel to the belief that there is corruption
    Will there be an investigation ?, don`t hold your breath.
    This is not only an Arsenal problem, if let`s say one club is being favoured, many other clubs must be penalised.
    We have all seen this problem develop over the years and with betting syndicates now throwing out wads of money to get the right result, unless there is an investigation it will continue.
    Not only is this a possible Football problem, criminal activity is being accepted

  24. Mick

    You’re absolutely right. “numbers cannot lie”, the universe is built on numbers, but they can be massaged.
    As Mark Twain said “there’s lies, damn lies and statistics.

  25. Jambug

    I can’t provide any numbers ( to prove or disprove ) because I don’t have any. I don’t rely on stats and mostly believe just the evidence of my own eyes.
    Thanks for your patience and politeness.

  26. UA is not ‘deluded’ after all. Thanks Louis Huguenin for your work.

    @Jambug July 27, 2015 at 11:52 am,

    Thanks for that additional stat. Now it appears to me that many dangerous fouls against Arsenal did not feature in that stat because the refs didn’t call them as fouls (PGMO Selective Sight Syndrome). Whereas some of those cards against Arsenal are simply diabolical. Mandy noted this perfectly in her comment…”Arsenal players have to do relatively little to get cards, Callum Chambers at Stoke springs to mind”.

  27. Brilliant, well done Louis.

    As always, someone is always bound to come on here and dismiss the evidence without providing any to the contrary. It is shocking how some people’s minds work. Can any of these people remind me any Arsenal player who got carded after their 9th, 10th or 11th foul in a game, like Fellini did in that match, just to cite one example. For our players the cards come out at the first hint of a foul.

  28. @Mandy

    Have you got any more about Keren Barrett suddenly leaving his post?

    I tried googling – so far no results.

  29. The comment from Mark Twain “there’s lies, damn lies and statistics.” is one that invariably pops up when we have statistics on this site, as we so often do.

    I am not a statistician but I have a degree in psychology where the use of statistics is fundamental, and certainly for my work I had to take several stats exams during the studies. And it appears to me that normally the argument about proving anything with stats comes from people who have no training or background in statistics.

    Indeed we have had people on the site claiming that no sampling technique is valid because one can then take another sample from the same universe and get a different answer.

    But there are in statistics many, many techniques that help us understand human behaviour better, and trying to wipe out a whole section of mathematical study with a line from a novelist really isn’t very illuminating.

    Popularised and “common sense” arguments against a well-argued concept are not dismissals of that concept. You can only do it by taking the numbers and showing why another explanation is possible. Again quoting a novelist simply will not do.

    Nor will vague attempts to read my mind and tell me what sort of headline I will write in the event of something else happening.

  30. I have a comment on there being lies, damn lies and statistics.

    I am trained in materials science and engineering, in particular my first degree was mostly metallurgical engineering. Much of the science part of this field, revolves around chemical thermodynamics. Thermodynamics itself can be taught as an abstract set of rules for manipulating special kinds of equations. But with materials, we are talking about groups of atoms, huge numbers of atoms.

    We can describe how atoms interact using classical mechanics or quantum mechanics. And experiments can be done in the lab to verify the mathematics (and usually simplifications to the mathematics).

    If we now scale up the problem to microscopic or even macroscopic quantities of matter, we apply those equations to _all_ the atoms in the problem. If we average the solution over time, we recover the equations of thermodynamics. This process is called a few different names, one of which is statistical mechanics. The minor in my masters degree is statistical mechanics: I studied it from the different points of view of: chemistry, physics and materials science.

    Just words so far. Something that falls out, is that temperature is just a measure of the average kinetic energy of the atoms. And for fluids, pressure is just a measure of the average momentum.

    Temperature and pressure are real, we know what they are. That we can trace their origins back to simple atomic origins demonstrates this isn’t all some lie.

    Statistics comes with a philosophy. Ignoring the philosophy often results in doing one or more operations wrong, and coming up with an incorrect answer. A lie.

  31. Not quite sure what to make of these figures but I do know that when I try to get the numbers to tie up for just the games that I can isolate then they don’t tie up

    For instance I am not sure the clock stoped running if a player is substituted nor do I think the figures cover more than say 90 minutes


  32. I think there is merit to the idea of card minutes, How to be best make use of it isn’t obvious to me. Should a person ignore time added on for stoppages? Should a person make use of how many fouls that person was involved in before the card was issued? I did some work on the first game Arsenal played last season (against Crystal Palace), and one player on Palace was fouling all over, and I think was finally given a yellow after 9 fouls (and still fouled after that).

  33. @Jambug
    @Stan The man

    still keeping pet trolls, I see. If you’d stop feeding them, they’d go away, and this would be a more readable site.

    maybe you can enlist Va Cong for some “wait a bit before posting” help.

    To be fair, the “fouls required to produce a card” statistic was very useful, even though it was tainted as troll-food. Another “line of evidence” as the saying goes, independent of the matter under consideration.

    I re-read the article and still can’t see that the original numbers took into account the state of the game when the “card-minutes” calculation was made. If some measure like this gets used (Walter et al.) in the future, I suggest you consider using that datum in your calculations.

  34. youmustbejoking

    To whom do you refer as a troll?

    It can only be rolf, and as much as I don’t agree with him I wouldn’t call him a troll.

    His last post was:

    “I don’t rely on stats and mostly believe just the evidence of my own eyes.
    Thanks for your patience and politeness.”

    Not really the answer I was looking for but fair enough. Not trolling at all I would suggest.

  35. Pat, Gord beat me to a reference, FIF made quite a big deal of him leaving/ being sacked. It was also mentioned in some ofthe press. But not widely so, not in the context of being sacked, but leaving his post, with a few references suggesting he was making way for Webb.. But whatever the truth, and you don’t have to believe FIF the days when we would get Dean or Atkinson 6 or 7 times a year, Clattenberg once or less, we would invariably get Webb at OT, Dean against Arrys Spurs and Atkinson against Chelsea, that was down to Keren himself

  36. Yon the notion of this Type 4 match fixing, as already pointed out, IF there is corruption, enslaving the compromised is a very effective way to go about it.
    As for the notion Chelsea get preferential treatment to us, they have a manager who is known to take to fairly extreme lengths to tip anything he can in his clubs favour, I am sure he has observed the now retired master of this art, Joses fans in the media and AAA sharply contrast this characteristic to our own managers more measured approach, so if Chelsea are not getting preferential treatment to us, Jose is not doing his job.

  37. Anyone who calls a scholarly piece like Louis’ “nonsense” does not deserve to be taken seriously. Especially if they cannot come up with their own numbers to establish their line of thought and argument. No hard feelings, but no tender ones either.

  38. As I have said, Jose and the refs!!!M Wenger would be called a whinger though with such remarks.
    In the same paper, he calls for more protection for Eden Hazard for worry his leg could be broken by an opponent. Presumably he will also ensure Matic, Cahill, Ramirez and co also go easy on opponents to ensure legs are not broken, to avoid accusations of hypocracy of course.
    Clever stuff, putting pressure on refs via his adoring media. Fergie would be proud.

  39. Firstly many thanks to Louis Huguenin for the interesting concept that card minutes can be used to evidence bias or even corruption among our PGMOL referee fraternity (and whatever happened to that excellent female assistant referee?).

    However there would have to be further thought to ensuring that the game context is taken into account. The scoreline when cards are issued is clearly of potential relevance.

    I also have said before that I think referees will give out what are often marginal cards to appear to balance the cards issued earlier and thus appear neutral. This also would affect Arsenal cards when they are winning. However the biased referee will give a soft card to an Arsenal player to put pressure on their normal game and then after letting many opposition fouls, some of which were dangerous, go unpunished at a late stage appear to level the playing field. This also is a potential part of the game context issue.

  40. @ Louis Huguenin- A real great piece . An eye opener of sorts .Thank you.

  41. I really love this piece and all the post-arguments. In the end it doesn’t even out as cards go a long way to influence a game either in number of free kicks taken – direct or indirect, or the relative aggressiveness of a play pre/post card etc. It brings to mind the ripples on other games and eventually suspension after either two in a match or after 5 cards in the course of the season. The influence is very pronounced I must say. Now in itself, this statistics is not perfect but when other angles of bias are explored side by side it will beautify the conclusion…not an easy feat I must admit. To doubters over the use of statistics, it is baseless to argue without being able to present facts and figures.

  42. I really love this piece and all the post-arguments. In the end it doesn’t even out as cards go a long way to influence a game either in number of free kicks taken – direct or indirect, or the relative aggressiveness of a player pre/post card, the numbers of carded players in a game etc. It brings to mind the ripples on other games and eventually suspension after either two in a match or after 5 cards in the course of the season. The influence is very pronounced I must say. Now in itself, this statistics is not perfect but when other angles of bias are explored side by side it will beautify the conclusion…not an easy feat I must admit. To doubters over the use of statistics, it is baseless to argue without being able to present facts and figures.

  43. “To doubters over the use of statistics, it is baseless to argue without being able to present facts and figures”
    This is a contradiction in terms, but I know what you mean.
    Personally I have my own doubts about stats which can be displayed in different ways to support opposing arguments.
    I recently saw an article that said 10 per cent of US “soccer” following Twitter users support Arsenal ( which makes us best supported team ), but if you wanted to be negative you could also say that 90 per cent of them didn’t like Arsenal.
    I think the article above which is extremely detailed & thorough uses 1000 plus words and numbers to tell us what we already knew, that Chelsea get preferential on field treatment.

  44. I’ve just re checked and it’s 21.8 per cent who support Arsenal, so turn it on it’d head it still makes 78.92 against

  45. I think i read it on this site but my favorite comparison of statistics is that of a bikini it certainly exposes interesting stuff but can also hide the most important.

    obviously as with everything statistics can be manipulated up to a point but i have to say i am missing the manipulation in this case

  46. Tailgunner

    Ok so 21.8% support Arsenal

    That means the other 78.2% of support is spread over the other 19 PL Clubs, meaning they all average 4.1% .

    We win hands down.

    I know that’s a bit facetious but I’m just trying to make a point, which is:

    Yes you can manipulate statistics to say different things.

    Yes you can make statistics support your proposition.

    But on the other hand we all know when somebodies doing that, as above, it’s usually pretty obvious, and if you think that, surely it’s down to the objector to show just how they have been manipulated, and to counter them with there own ‘Non’ manipulated version, and there counter conclusion.

    Surely the best thing to do in the above example is to find out what % of fans support all the PL teams (hopefully it will add up to 100%) and then a conclusion on levels of support can be better evaluated. Better still, do or find more than one survey. That’s generally how statistics work. The more, the broader the samples, the better.

    Just constantly claiming:

    ‘You can make stats say what you want’

    ‘I know what I see with my own eyes’

    ‘I don’t need stats’

    ‘That’s crap’

    Isn’t enough.

    Bring your own statistics that prove the conclusion wrong and ‘that’s crap’ may then have some credence.

    Until then I’m with the statement:

    “To doubters over the use of statistics, it is baseless to argue without being able to present facts and figures”

    Yes, everyone’s ‘opinion’ is valid, but alone it would never win a court case against ‘opinion’ supported by ‘statistical facts’. You’re only chance would be to either, discredit those statistics, or counter them with statistics of your.

    Just saying:

    ‘with all due respect Your Honour that’s bullshit’ would not work. Well you could try but it would land you in some pretty deep water.

    Sorry if people don’t like that but that’s the way it works.

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