2015/16: An introduction to the Referees. Do not read this standing up.

2015-16 Referee Previews – An introduction to the Referees


by Andrew Crawshaw

The Official Web Page for the Barclays Premier League has the following to say about the PGMO :-

“Led by General Manager Mike Riley, Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL) is responsible for the training, development and mentoring of 79 referees and 257 assistant referees, including the 17 full-time professional Select Group referees. Formed in 2001, the PGMOL group officiate across all the Premier League, Football League and FA Competitions – all three organisations fund it.”

The Select group comprises

Martin Atkinson  – Born 1971, County FA West Riding (Yorkshire) , first Premier League game 18 Sept 2004 (Crystal Palace v Manchester City).  FIFA Accredited since 2006 and is Elite listed meaning that he can officiate any game anywhere in the world.

Mark Clattenberg – Born 1975, County FA Durham, first Premier League game 21 Aug 2004 (Crystal Palace v Everton).  Fifa Accredited since 2006 and another Elite listed referee.

Mike Dean – Born 1968, County FA Cheshire, first Premier League game 9 Sep 2000 (Leicester v Southampton).  Was FIFA accredited until he reached their mandatory retirement age.  The most senior referee on the rosta in terms of games officiated.

Phil Dowd – Born 1963, County FA Staffordshire, first Premier league game 8 Dec 2001 (Fulham v Everton). Was FIFA accredited until he reached their mandatory retirement age.

Roger East – Born 1965, County FA Wiltshire, first Premier League game 1 Sept 2012 (Swansea v Sunderland)

Kevin Friend – Born 1971, County FA Leicestershire and Rutland, first Premier League game 20 Sept 2009 (Wolves v Fulham)

Michael Jones – data missing from the FA web site, data from Football-Lineups.  Born 1968, Home County FA Cheshire, first Premier League game 30 Aug 2008 (Hull v Wigan)

Robert Madley – Born 1985, County FA West Riding FA (Yorkshire), first Premier League match 27 April 2013 (Southampton v WBA)

Andre Marriner – Born 1971, County FA Birmingham, first Premier League game 13 Nov 2004 (Charlton v Norwich).  FIFA Accredited since 2009

Lee Mason – Born 1971, County FA Lancashire, first Premier league game 4 Feb 2006 (Middlesbrough v Aston Villa)

Jonathan Moss – Born 1970, County FA West Riding FA (Yorkshire), first Premier League game 4 Jan 2011 (Blackpool v Birmingham)

Michael Oliver – data missing from the FA web site, data from Football-Lineups.  Born 1985, Home County FA Northumberland, first Premier league game 21 August 2010 (Birmingham v Blackpool).  FIFA Accredited since 2012.

Craig Pawson – Born 1979, Home County FA Sheffield and Hallamshire, first Premier League game 2 Mar 2013 (Swansea v Newcastle)

Lee Probert – Born 1972, Home County FA Wiltshire, first Premier League game 13 Jan 2007 (Sheffield v Portsmouth).  FIFA Accredited since 2010

Graham Scott – Born 1968, Home FA Berks and Bucks, first (and so far only) Premier League game 29 Nov 2014 (Burnley v Aston Villa).

Neil Swarbrick – Born 1970, Home County FA Lancashire, first Premier League game 11 Dec 2010 (Fulham v Sunderland).

Anthony Taylor – Born 1978, County FA Cheshire, First Premier League Game 3 Feb 2010 (Fulham v Portsmouth).  FIFA Accredited since 2013.

Name Total Matches 2014/15 Matches Red Cards Yellow Cards Reds/game Yellow/Game
Martin Atkinson 265 34 51 895 0.19 3.38
Mark Clattenberg 240 26 39 785 0.16 3.27
Mike Dean 365 29 72 1338 0.20 3.67
Phil Dowd 308 21 67 1090 0.22 3.54
Roger East 27 16 6 81 0.22 3.00
Kevin Friend 117 24 18 436 0.15 3.73
Michael Jones 146 22 22 458 0.15 3.14
Robert Madley 17 11 4 49 0.24 2.88
Andre Marriner 203 20 42 672 0.21 3.31
Lee Mason 182 26 30 573 0.16 3.15
Jonathan Moss 89 31 14 294 0.16 3.30
Michael Oliver 114 28 15 352 0.13 3.19
Craig Pawson 32 21 7 102 0.22 3.19
Lee Probert 145 7 25 372 0.17 2.57
Graham Scott 1 1 0 7 0 7.00
Neil Swarbrick 70 18 6 243 0.09 3.47
Anthony Taylor 106 30 21 353 0.20 3.30
All Referees 2427 439 8100 0.18 3.34


In summary

  1. There are only 17 referees on the Select List – this is still too few to ensure that all teams only have a referee a maximum of twice (once at home and once away). I would be far happier with a list of 22.
  2. There is very little difference between the number of Red or Yellow cards issued by the referees. All are well within expected statistical variation limits. I am excluding Graham Scott as he has only refereed one Premier League game to date.
  3. None of Keith Stroud (who refereed Crystal Palace v Leicester), Paul Tierney (who refereed Newcastle v Swansea) or Stuart Attwell (Leicester v West Brom) have been promoted to the Elite List.
  4. I would expect Lee Probert (who should now have fully recovered from injury) and Robert Madley to have a higher workload this coming season.
  5. It will be very interesting to see how many games Graham Scott gets, I would expect far fewer than the league average.
  6. We will continue to get repeat visits from referees this year and may well see one or two six times during the course of the season which is, of course, totally unacceptable whoever they are or however favourable.


A footnote from Tony (sorry to jump in Andrew but I thought it might help to reiterate…)

There is a worry about repeat refereeing because if a referee were to be influenced by the owner of a club, who were to say, “Do everything straight when you referee us, so there is no chance of suspicion, but when you referee X, Y, or Z and there is a chance to ensure they lose, we’d greatly appreciate it,” then the regular refereeing of certain clubs by one or two refs makes match fixing easier.

This might sound a bit spooky and “conspiracy theory” land, but it is in the briefest of summaries what happened in Italy.   On Untold, we’ve called it “Type 3 match fixing”.

Worse, in recent weeks we’ve shown statistically just how easy Type 3 match fixing is to achieve, through the use of the early yellow cards to defenders on one side, but not to those on the other.

Over the years our statistics have shown that the figures for referee accuracy reported by PGMO are dubious in the extreme, and that the old notion of referee errors “balancing out in the end” is utterly false.  For this reason, anything that could make it easier rather than harder to fix a match should be removed from the game, and that is exactly what PGMO repeatedly refuses to do.

Given its prolonged opposition to the type of video initiative that we saw in Europe recently, and its utter secrecy in general, and indeed its refusal to explain itself in any matter, the decision to keep the number of referees very low is yet another worrying sign.    One might also note the total lack of London referees, and very few from the south at all.  Very crudely I think we have about 10% of the referees from an area incorporating 65% of the population.

And sadly, looking at the new list of referees, nothing much is changing.

Click here for… The Untold Banner at the Emirates

23 Replies to “2015/16: An introduction to the Referees. Do not read this standing up.”

  1. I find it odd that so many of them are from Yorkshire and only 2 of them from ‘south of Watford’ (both from Wiltshire…) Very odd.
    I wonder if the equal opportunities board (or whatever they’re called this year) are aware of this?

  2. Who’s door does one knock on to finally get this mess sorted???

    Is there no sports minister interested in the integrity of football??

  3. Last year, and possibly the year before that, I put up similar data (in a response). As near as I can tell, the ONLY people chosen to be referees in the EPL are born in England. There has never been an immigrant as a referee. I think there is only a single EPL referee who has not been Caucasian (maybe it is 2). Perhaps 90 percent (more?) of referees appear to be currently living in the same county they were born in. If they are not living in the same district or village they were born in, they probably have only moved 10 miles or so.

    It is a very SELECT group of people. Too SELECT. Stinks to high heaven of discrimination.

  4. Seems very little has changed. Ref selector Keren Barratt is no longer there, Howard Webb is. Corruption is being highlighted throughout football.
    I hope,the battle hardened Webb can put an arm around the honest trying to do their best under pressure I hope any that are compromised or with other ideas think very carefully as to future actions, as a corrupt house begins to be taken down, and if they have done something they shouldn’t have , they should just pray none of it was transacted on US soil.

  5. Before we get too paranoid about referees and the bias most of them display against Arsenal FC, there were faint signs last term that we were receiving slightly fairer treatment.
    While Riley remains manager of the PGMOL though, there will always be the problem of bias and deliberate ineptitude in decision-making by match officials under his control.
    Much will depend on “Our Walter” and his cohorts whose eagle eyes will root out wrongdoing and Untold will publicise their findings.

  6. (Lack of) Progress Report

    Yes Nicky, I am too paranoid about referees. 🙂

    There are two ways to do running commentaries of games. One is to type everything in manually. The other is to use a “specialised keyboard”, in which hitting certain keys runs specific subroutines, which may pop up windows to draw specific information.

    I am looking at an example of the second type. I want information on fouls and cards. So, I look for keys indicating the time, who was fouled, and who did the fouling. And sometimes there is other information. But it is not just fouls, everything is there. The team I first started with, downloading games from 2014/15 is predictably Arsenal. I am into mid March now. At the beginning, each new game would have me adding tens of statements to parse, I might be averaging one new statement per additional game. At some point, it should probably become rare to be adding new statements. The commentaries also have errors in them, which I have to correct manually.

    While an EPL season is 38 games, I believe Arsenal played 56 last year. I am at game 45 now. I plan to look at Chelsea games next. While Chelsea also played significantly more than 38 games, in processing their games I can skip the 2 where Arsenal played Chelsea, because I will have already done them. I may have data on 5-600 games when done.

    It would be nice to find as I gather this data, that the bias this year is continuing to be reduced. But there is no sense starting to analyze anything until I have one team’s worth of data in. Anybody who is “purely an employee” and is seen to becoming more fair can probably be left alone. Anyone who is management or executive, who has been driving this bias needs to be found out and removed from football. Forever.

    On the corruption front, the septic one decided he wasn’t going to run again for his IOC position, whatever it is.

  7. Think this year, like last year, the main objective will be to ensure a highly changed and unstable Utd squad gets into the top four, possibly minus the keeper that got them there last season.
    Prediction…..Liverpool and Utd have made major,maybe too major changes, and along with City, all have managers potentially under serious pressure from the outset…or even earlier….I believe at least two out of those three are going seriously underperform next season. Not saying which ones, just two out of the three. Maybe good news for traditionally non top four clubs?

  8. @Andrew,
    Good write up in regards to truly limited number of select referees. Where are all the qualified referees and how come no one else was promoted? The Select Group is down 1 referee from last season due to the retirement of Chris Foy. Even more limited number of referees means more tired referees especially towards the end of the season.

    The FA should work on legislation to make a minimum requirement on the number of Select Group officials instead of continually trying to mess around with the homegrown rule.

  9. As someone who has refereed a number of different sports (ice hockey, football, volleyball) I find myself appalled at what I see in the EPL. I have always taken the task of refereeing extremely seriously even at the youth level. I have made mistakes and have been open about them…it would be the minimum that I would expect from these…professionals(sic).

  10. It’s not even just about how they treat Arsenal. The fact that there are not enough refs to manage the number of games that is played in PL, FA, CC are just not enough as mentioned above.

    This is disgraceful. I can only at this moment wonder how other leagues are in relation to this? Do they have the same problems or are their sufficient refs in their league?

    I had not even given a thought to the fact that there are no “multi cultural” (for want of a better name) refs as Gord points out. Is this suggesting that only Caucasians are capable of being honest? Or we could, in light of what we see ask: Is this suggesting that only Caucasians are capable of being manipulated?

    Which ever way one looks at it, it stinks (to use Gord’s phrase) to high heaven.

    2015 and still we have the same situation for the new campaign. Not good, not good at all.

  11. OMGArsenal and GoingGoingGooner

    You’re both Canucks. The Ox doesn’t like Country music.


    Para, as near as I can tell, the problems of attracting people to become referees are everywhere. But it seems that every country/FA that has referees, has a system that is entirely too political. And after a while you either kiss ass or leave.

    And this is just one aspect of the corruption that needs to get removed from football.

  12. @para,
    In response to your comparison of officials in other leagues in 2014/2015.

    PL: 21 Refs, aged 30-53 yo, 4 officiated only 1 match, Probert-7, Madley – 10 match, and 15 refs officiated between 16-32 matches!

    La Liga: 20 Refs, aged 29-45 yo, all officiated between 16-21 matches

    Bundesliga: 23 Refs, aged 31-47 yo, 20 refs officiated between 11-17 matches, 2 reffed 8 matches, and 1 reffed 7 matches

    France: 21 Refs, aged aged 32-46 yo, all officiated between 14-22 matches

    Italy: aged 30-44, 20 refs officiate between 15-20 matches, 3 refs did 3 matches, 4 refs did 2 matches, and 11 refs officiated 1 match

    The PL had some of the oldest refs and officiated more games. All the other leagues capped the number of matches each ref did between 20-22 matches. The PL alone had 8 refs that did more than 23 matches.

    Ref data from worldfootball.net

  13. Jerry 4:17am
    Wow, some truly shocking stats there. I also notice only the EPL and serie A (which also happens to be the only league where refereeing corruption has been exposed so far) are the only leagues with huge discrepancies between the number of games per official; I mean you find one official doing 23 matches while another does 1 in the same league! In the other leagues all refs had more or less similar numbers. That tells you there’s something wrong going on there. In the EPL and serie A, that is.

  14. Jerry
    I really think you might be onto something here, and hope someone takes this on and expands on it. For example it’d be interesting to see what the distribution of games for the season before that was like, and if the same officials who got a lot of games in 14/15 also got a huge number in the previous year. We also seem to have the oldest officials…

  15. Just took a look at the site, and interesting to note Atkinson did 32 matches all by himself in 14/15! 32 matches. And Clatternburg trailed behind the likes of Taylor and Moss.

    I looked at the previous 4 to 5 years and Webb was the top dog in most of those before he retired, no real surprises there. I also found it interesting that Mark Halse was getting the lowest number of matches during those years, only doing better than the rookies. Are refs paid per match? Now that’d be interesting. Maybe partly explains why Halse seemed to have an axe to grind with Riley.

    For anyone that’s interested the link is below;

    Thanks again Jerry.

  16. @ Gord- Have commented on country music on that post.
    In the meantime , its not always smart to follow the set patten .

    A priest was called away for an emergency. Not wanting to leave the confessional unattended, he called his rabbi friend from across the street and asked him to cover for him. The rabbi told him he wouldn’t know what to say, but the priest told him to come on over and he’d stay with him for a little bit and show him what to do.

    The rabbi comes and he and the priest are in the confessional. After a few minutes a woman comes in and says “Father forgive me for I have sinned.” The priest asks “What did you do?”. The woman says “I committed adultery.” Priest: “How many times?” Woman: “Three times.” Priest: “Say two Hail Mary’s, put $5 in the box and go and sin no more.”

    A few minutes later a man enters the confessional. He says “Father forgive me for I have sinned.” Priest: “What did you do?” Man: “I committed adultery.” Priest:”How many times?” Man: “Three times.” Priest: “Say two Hail Mary’s put $5 in the box and go and sin no more.”

    The rabbi tells the priest that he thinks he’s got it so the priest leaves.

    A few minutes later another woman enters and says “Father forgive me for I have sinned.” Rabbi: “What did you do?” Woman: “I committed adultery.” Rabbi: “How many times?” Woman: “Once.”

    Rabbi: “Go do it two more times. We have a special this week, three for $5.”

  17. Gord – you never cease to amaze me. From math; cooking; IT; stats; programming …. & on & on. Dude I thank God you’re a Gooner.

  18. A football fan could argue against if they so desire but it is undeniable that the PGMOB is a structure that has been designed or built to fail.

    It has no integrity.

  19. And who have we got for the first game…………………..Martin Atkinson 🙂

  20. @Al,
    I actually disagree with you in regards to the Italian refs. Even though they were caught for corruption, I feel that they are actually trying to transform so it does not happen again.

    For example, Italy had 38 refs, of which I would say their Select Group consists of 20 refs who did between 15-20 matches similar to other the leagues.

    Then they have another 18 refs that are preparing to fill in for the Select Group, hence only officiated between 1-3 matchs. I say preparing since these 18 officials are aged between 30-37.

    I think it’s a good mix to ensure that the Select Group does not get burned out and to ensure adequate cover if one of the Select Group gets injured.

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