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October 2020

Why do certain clubs get the same referee so often? Referees 2015/16 Half Time Review

by Andrew Crawshaw

The statistics – all in one place

In the first half of the season the PGMO have used 19 referees in the Premier League.  There have been 190 games in total so, if all referees had been given an equal workload, one would expect the an average of about 10 games per referee.

In the PGMO ‘real’ world, Martin Atkinson has been the busiest with 18, Simon Hooper was seen in the opening week and has since disappeared into a black hole.  Nine referees have done fewer than 10 games and five have done three or less.

Aston Villa must be as sick of Mike Dean as we are, and West Ham fed up with seeing Martin Atkinson – both have done four of their games the most of any combination of Team and Referee.  Whilst I’m glad it hasn’t been us this year, four times in 19 games is ridiculous.  Neil Swarbrick has had only six games yet half of them have been for Swansea – how in God’s name can that be allowed to happen!

Looking at the referees in descending order of games refereed

Games Multiple visits Home County FA
3 4
Martin Atkinson 18 Chelsea, West Brom West Ham West Riding (Yorkshire)
Mike Dean 16 Norwich, West Brom, Aston Villa Cheshire
Anthony Taylor 16 Liverpool, West Ham Cheshire
Mark Clattenberg 15 Chelsea, Man City, Man United, Durham
Craig Pawson 14 Everton, Leicester, Liverpool Sheffield & Hallamshire (Yorkshire)
Robert Madley 13 Man City, Stoke, Sunderland, Swansea West Riding (Yorkshire)
Jonathan Moss 13 Arsenal West Riding (Yorkshire)
Michael Oliver 13 Northumberland
Mike Jones 13 Newcastle Cheshire
Andre Marriner 11 Birmingham
Kevin Friend 11 Leicestershire and Rutland
Roger East 11 Newcastle Wiltshire
Lee Mason 9 Lancashire
Neil Swarbrick 6 Swansea Lancashire
Paul Tierney 3 Lancashire
Stuart Attwell 3
Keith Stroud 2 Hampshire
Graham Scott 2 Berks and Bucks
Simon Hooper 1 Wiltshire

Phil Dowd and Lee Probert are included in the Select Group but neither have been seen as a referee this season.

Here at Untold we have always held the position that no team should have any referee more than twice in a season, once at home and once away and that the PGMO should ensure that it has sufficient referees on it’s rosta to ensure that that happens.  The fact that  there are 22 entries in the above table that exceed this criteria in the first half of the season alone is a damming indictment of the competency of that organisation.

Simon Hooper  is on the National Group Referees list rather than the Premier League Select List.  His one game was Norwich (1) v Crystal Palace (3) on 8 August.  There seem to have been two controversial moments.  In Min 73 Jerome ‘scored’ with an overhead kick only to have the effort penalised for a high foot.  Jerome made a great contact woth the ball which he met cleanly, he them made contact with the head of the Palace No2 who was  aiming to head the ball to safety.  The defender was behind Jerome and out of sight at the time the ball was kicked.

Pundits called the decision controversial, to me there are arguments both for and against the decision.  The second was a not given penalty to Norwich towards the end of the game and here I think that Mr Hooper was wrong.  For a definitive answer I asked Walter for his opinion and here is his answer :-

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“The situation with the disallowed goal is something they talk about in the referee course in Belgium where I referee: when a player scores like that give him that goal unless he went in studs forward against a defender. This really wasn’t the case here. Should have been a goal for Norwich. 

“The penalty was also a clear penalty for me. Palace defender just barges into the back of the attacker without even playing the ball after that. Really piss poor from the ref to not give a penalty. As you say I would be spitting blood if this would happen to an Arsenal player.

“So a bad performance from this ref who is otherwise unknown to me. Each ref can have a bad day so I would give him another chance but he has to become better than what he showed in that match.”

Unlikely then that we will see Mr Hooper refereeing at the Emirates anytime soon and Norwich were right to feel aggrieved at the outcome of the game.  Here are the links to the videos of the incidents

Norwich City 1-3 Crystal Palace: BIZARRE High Foot Call on Cameron Jerome Goal

Norwich vs Crystal Palace 2015/2016 FULL MATCH REVIEW AND HIGHLIGHTS

Graham Scott is included in the Select Group Referees List.  He has only refereed two games so far this year, Sunderland (0) v Watford (1) in matchweek 16 and Norwich v A Villa in week 19.  To get a second game so soon Graham must have pleased the PGMO, and the text reviews of the Sunderland game don’t indicate anything controversial.  One yellow card no reds or penalties and the goal was good.

Keith Stroud is another referee on the National Group list.  He has done two games, Crystal Palace (2) v Aston Villa (1) matchweek 3 and Watford (2) v West Ham (0) in week 11.  In the first game a not given penalty to Palace and a goal (rightly) ruled out for offside were the two main talking points.  In the second game there were no complaints from either manager so I guess that we may well see more games from Keith in the coming weeks and months.

Stuart Attwell – Three games in weeks 5, 6 and 14.  No adverse comments from any of the managers involved so again someone we are likely to see more of.  He became the youngest ever Premier League referee in 2008 but following a string of poor performances was dropped from the Select List in 2012.  Would seem to be slowly working his way back.  His County FA is not listed in the FA official site for some reason.

Paul Tierney – Another “probie” from the National Group Referees list with three games in weeks 2, 9 and 12.  A penalty shout against Huth was waved away in the Southampton v Leicester game in week 9, apart from that nothing terribly controversial so I would think he will get more games this season.

Moving up the games done list we come to

Neil Swarbrick – six games, three for Swansea (all away games) that’s half of his games!  Ridiculous programming and open to all kinds of interpretation. Sunderland 1 Swansea 1 on 22 August, Villa 1 Swansea 2 on 24 October and Palace v Swansea on 28 December.  No reason, as far as I can see why he shouldn’t get more games.  No Arsenal game yet this season so no reviewed games.

Lee Mason – nine games including two Arsenal.

 Ref Review Crystal Palace – Arsenal

66% overall, bias 10/90 and 2 not given penalties to Arsenal

Referee Review: Arsenal – Everton 

58% overall, bias 72/28, Deulofeu not sent off and penalty to Arsenal not given.  Poor refereeing and well below the 70% minimum acceptable level.

Roger East – 11 games, 1 Arsenal.  67% overall, bias 69/31.  Another performance probably better than the numbers suggest.  A game of few fouls so as Walter says “errors count double”.  Two penalties missed, one for each team and a yellow card not given for a professional foul by Smith on the Ox.

Ref Review: Arsenal – Bournemouth

Kevin Friend – 11 games, 1 Arsenal.

Ref Review: Swansea – Arsenal

74% overall, bias 40/60 and a not given penalty to Swansea.  Acceptable refereeing with a rare Important Decision in favour of Arsenal.

Andre Marriner – 11 games, 2 Arsenal.

Ref Review : Newcastle – Arsenal

76% overall, bias 33/67.  Thauvin should have been sent off and a not given penalty to Arsenal.  Acceptable refereeing.

Arsenal v Man City

68% overall, bias 87/13.  Determined not to give cards, 7 yellow and 2 second yellow cards not given.  This laxity cost him a lot of points in this game.  Below the minimum acceptable level of 70%.

Mike Jones – 13 games, 1 Arsenal.

Ref Review : Watford – Arsenal

68% overall, bias 10/90 Capoe should have been sent off and not given penalty to Arsenal.  Below the minimum acceptable level of 70%

Michael Oliver – 13 games, 1 Arsenal

Ref Review: Arsenal – Liverpool

67%, bias 90/10.  Aaron Ramsey goal wrongly ruled out for offside, Lucas and Mignolet should both have been sent off.  Below the mininum acceptable level of 70%.

Jonathan Moss – 13 games, 3 Arsenal

Ref Review Arsenal – Stoke

71%, bias 100/0.  Not given penalty and Pieters should have been sent off right at the end of the game.

Ref Review : Norwich – Arsenal 

57%, bias 8/92.  O’Neill and Bennett should both have been sent off.  Alexis pushed into camera pit whilst airborne, still not fit.  Terrible refereeing.

Ref Review : Southampton – Arsenal

49%, bias 22/78, Koscielny and Wanyama (twice) should have been sent off, the first three ‘goals’ for Southampton should all have been ruled out – the first for offside, the second for a foul and the third because a corner kick was incorrectly awarded instead of a goal kick.  The fourth ‘goal’ was valid.

If Moss carries on like this his performance will begin single figures before the season ends and his performances used to be among the best, he has now entered into Dean/Atkinson territory.

Robert Madley – 13 games, 1 Arsenal

Ref Review : Arsenal – Sunderland

90% overall only 2 wrong decisions all game, one of them a non given penalty to Arsenal.  The best refereeing in the first half of the season by a distance – well done and come again.

Craig Pawson – 14 games, 1 Arsenal

Ref Review: Leicester – Arsenal, good performance from the ref

84% overall, bias 20/80 but very few mistakes and none that were Important.  Good refereeing as with Robert Madley please come again.

Mark Clattenberg – 15 Games, 1 Arsenal.

Ref Review : WBA – Arsenal

42% overall, bias 9/91.  Ollson and Morrison should both have been sent off, Olsson should have been penalised for a penalty, the Penalty that was correctly awarded should have been retaken due to encroachment and the goal that West Brom scored in Min 34 was from a ‘Phantom’ foul and shouldn’t have counted.  Apalling refereeing that directly cost us points.

Anthony Taylor – 16 Games, 1 Arsenal

Ref Review : Arsenal – Man Utd,

59% overall, bias 97/3.  Not awarded penalty for Arsenal and Schweinsteiger and Fellaini should both have been sent off.  Terrible refereeing

Mike Dean – 16 games, 1 Arsenal

Ref Review : Chelsea – Arsenal. 

41% overall, bias 5/95.  Too many errors to list.  Suffice to say a petition for him never to referee another Arsenal game got over 100,000 signatures.  He ensured that the three points were given to Chelsea rather than Arsenal.

Martin Atkinson – 18 games, 2 Arsenal.


54% Overall, bias 100/0, Tomkins and Noble should both have been sent off, West Ham ‘goal’ in Min 43 was from a free kick for a ‘phantom’ foul and should never have been given.  A game we would probably have drawn rather than lost

Ref Review : Arsenal – Tottenham

41% overall, bias 82/18.  Equal worst refereeing of the half season with Mike Dean.  Vertonghen, Dier and Giroud should all have been dismissed, Arsenal should have had three penalties.  Another game where the referee decided Arsenal weren’t going to win the game and manipulated it accordingly.

So the more games the referees were given by the PGMO, the worst were their performances in their games for Arsenal.  A damming inditement of all of the so-called Senior Referees none of whom should ever be allowed to officiate in an Arsenal game again.  Of course they are probably only following orders from their PGMO puppet masters.

Gold Medal for the best referee in the first half of the season goes to Robert Madley for the Arsenal v Sunderland game – only two wrong decisions all game.

Raspberries awarded jointly to Martin Atkinson and Mike Dean both of whom scored an appallingly low score of 41%.


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20 comments to Why do certain clubs get the same referee so often? Referees 2015/16 Half Time Review

  • WalterBroeckx

    Excellent review of the first half of the season Andrew.

    As you note the referees that have been sent more have the lowest scores… strange? Not for those who follow Arsenal over the years of course.

  • samuel

    God save my dear club Arsenal

  • Wolfgang

    The reference to MD is spot on. In the old d Riley awarded rf a record 13 penalties on the way to his epl triumph.
    That MU not winning regularly doesn’t surprise me. The network to help the rd is maybe gone but not out.
    We shall see especially if LVG makes a belated charge ,with the ref’s help of cours.

  • Pete

    Further to regional bias, the 9 most used referees are ALL from the North. So the bias is EVEN WORSE than just looking at the composition of the select list.

    Attwell is from Nuneaton in the Midlands.

    Therefore games refereed by region of origin:

    North: 136
    Midlands: 25
    South: 16

    However you compare it (by population, by club distribution, by attendances) this is just plain wrong.

  • Pete

    Further to the above, referees should be selected from a region different from either of the competing clubs. At worst, referees should originate from at least 50 miles from either of the competing clubs. Maybe longer. I would be interested to know what percentage of appointments fail these tests? Suspect almost all fail the first and a significant proportion the 2nd.

    This is the best way to avoid accusations of bias due to club supported (or rival club supported). Obviously does nothing to avoid accusations of bias for other reasons – but would be a start.

  • Mandy Dodd

    I am wary of regionalisation of selecting refs….if Riley was to appoint…say a north London ref, you could guess where his sympathies would lie, even if he claimed to support Stevenage!
    Will be interesting to see this table after our run of difficult away games, expect Atkinson and Dean to feature prominantly.

  • Pat

    Very revealing report. Thanks, Andrew.

  • Chris

    A picture is worth a 1000 words.

    I am convinced that a weekly map of the UK showing the ‘proximity’ (geographical) of referees to the match place/team would be a instantaneous way to highlight what is going on….

    Is there somebody out there who could program that ?

    Thanks Mr Crawshaw for the interesting background information

  • Andy Mack

    So we won’t have Madley or Pawson again this season, and expect Atkinson and Taylor at least 3 more times each.
    I don’t think they’ll be sending Mike ‘Blind’ Dean to run any more of our games this season after the petition, but we’ll see him far too much next season…

  • Pete

    Chris – what a great idea! Map could be circulated to media organisations, “opinion formers” (e.g. Graham Poll) or made available for easy upload? When, week after week, the disparity between referee locations and match locations – almost always with northern referees travelling south (where the away team may have made a very similar journey) would just expose the imbalance for what it is.

  • Chris


    not only location information (where ref lives), but as well Home County. Ok 2 maps then, or 2 different informations available on a click….
    Anyway, thing is maybe some Untold readers are good at programming and would take up the challenge to put info pictures the excellent analyses that we have here.
    Throw in some graph with ref performance….we’d have a winner in terms of communication.

    By the way, here in Switzerland a news story said that the Directros of the Board had recommended the use of video refereeing and it would be given the green light at the annual meeting in march in Cardiff. Sorry, story is in French :

    Has this news hit the pages in the UK ?

  • Gord


    For the moment, let’s ignore what the image is supposed to show. If we were to put a map of “the EPL” for any given year, we see two things. Parts of the map can change considerably from year to year. And parts of the image are compressed.

    For example, is there a team from Wales? Second question, how many teams are there from London?

    The two questions point to a need to “morph” the location information so that it is possible to see something. If 90% of the map is a single colour, that is what people notice. They won’t notice all the tiny regions of different colour in London.

    I can’t say I’ve tried to alter a map before. We assemble a list of all teams and their locations. Probably across all the leagues that participate in The FA Cup. And then for each team, we calculate the distance to every other team in the list. This is now a big list of distances, even just for a single team. We sort the list on distance, and perhaps pick off the 90 percentile distance. We then try to morph the map, so as to approximately equalize this 90 percentile distance to everyone else.

    Or maybe it will. Do you know a better way?

    With this morphed map in hand, and the locations of all the games on any given game day (team locations, referee locations), we first tesselate the game locations to turn the map into a bunch of polygons centered on the games to be played. We might then take 2 different colour schemes (lines on a RGB colour map), and calculate the colour for the distance between the home team and referee, and we do the same for the visiting team. We could either produce two maps (one using polygon colour for home, the other for away), or we combine the 2 colours and make 1 plot.

    If we look at the combination of colours, we could do this for all games of a season to show how consistently a team gets “home” referees. Or whatever it is you are trying to plot.

    I think the place to start, is figuring out how to morph the map, so that regions like London are not sooooooo compressed.

  • Chris


    I get your point, although I am not a statistics specialist – let alone image specialist.
    How about re-aranging the map so I don’t know each team is in a polygon that covers 50 (or any other distance) miles and is ‘bigger (like looking glass effect)’ than the scale of the map ?
    So in London we can show all teams, in Manchester as well. After the PGMOL may not have an idea of the actual geography of the UK – which could explain some stuff – but i guess even myself could kind of recognize a shape resembling the island, even if it is simplified….

  • Gord has images of the world showing what I am talking about. What I want to know, is how do we morph the map for the UK to accomplish something similar?

    Maybe just not enough coffee?

    In terms of the outline of the UK, I think the CIA World Fact Sheet/Book has the data (other places do as well).

  • Al

    Seeing this list of names is enough to make me lose hope. Disgusting men.

  • Rich

    Ah, the top two. Have to worry Atkinson is being ‘saved’ so he can be used two or three times in the run in.

    As for Dean, I’m not sure. I don’t think they could afford the stink of him at his worst for quite a while. Maybe they’re looking for someone else to step into the breach for a while.

    Surprised they used up Taylor for Newcastle when I was sure he’d be brought in for another job at Stoke. Who’ll get that one? Redemption for Mason?

  • finsbury

    Fortunately it all evens out in the end!

    Or. Maybe not.

  • Norman14

    Watching Wycombe v Villa and my worst fears are being realised in front of my eyes. Oliver is having a mare of a game, and is either ill, or has been nobbled by the PGMOL head honcho, Riley!

    It really is demoralising to see the game being ruined by the idiots who are supposed to be running it!

  • Andy Mack

    Did Madley try to help us by forcing Leicester and Spuds into a replay or did he give the Spuds the undeserved penalty because of some tiny totts favouritism?