A summary of the research by the Referee Review team
160 games researched in detail
It is commonplace for occasional visitors to Untold to write sarcastic comments about referees and our views thereon. The view, usually expressed very simply, and occasionally rather rudely, says “you always blame the refs when it is obvious to anyone that it is Wenger’s (or the players’) fault.”
In order to overcome this, over the years Untold has published a whole range of material about referees, using a wide range of analyses to consider how they have performed.
One of the biggest analyses undertaken was one in which all the weekend’s premier league matches were analysed each weekend, and the analysis was presented with video evidence to back up our claims.
This was an utterly enormous task, and it ran for 16 weeks – enough to iron out any local variations because of referee inexperience, adjusting to new nuances in the rules, and of course to take into account the possibility that it all evens out in the end. In short 160 games were analysed in depth, and the report showed on video exactly how and why our panel found errors where they did.
The analysis contained 11 sections:
- Details of match referees and assistants
- Matchweek 1 Summary
- Other Games where Referees arguably affected the Results
- Lucky players who should have been sent off but weren’t
- List of Major Errors on each Matchweek (with links to video clips)
- List of Major Correct Decisions on each Matchweek
- Major Wrong Decisions Made by Referees
- Major Correct Major Decisions Made by Referees
- Major Wrong Decisions Against Teams
- Major Wrong Decisions in Favour of Teams
- Possible Change in Points Week-by-Week Due To Wrong Major Decisions
That final section – number 11 – is the only one that is based to some degree on opinion, rather than on detailed analysis with video evidence, for here we contemplated what effect there could have been if major wrong decisions had been reversed. Of course the effect of a goal wrongly allowed is easy to analyse – you just take the goal away from the score. But the sending off of a player which should have occurred according to the rule book but which did not, might or might not have had an effect.
So yes, at the end, our team’s personal judgement came in to a small degree, but the rest of the analyses – the vast bulk of each review in fact, were simply down to looking at the video and applying the rule book – and offering you the video to look at so that you can see too how our team reached a decision.
In a typical weekend’s football in the Premier League our research – and yet again I must stress we present this throughout with video evidence – showed around 20 wrong major decisions – many of which had the potential to change the result.
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Among the many factors found, we noted that each weekend ten or more players who should have been sent off according to the rules of the game were not – and regarding this and other incidents our research team found that it most certainly did not all even out in the end. Some teams persistently got off lighter than others.
Quite why refereeing in the Premier League can be seen to be so inaccurate when analysed on video is not hard to understand – the game moves very quickly and by and large, some of the referees are not very good at making instant decisions. That is why we have constantly supported the notion of the video referee.
Whether there is match fixing going on at the same time of the type seen in Italy we don’t know, because the work that was done there to catch the criminals involved phone taps and email interception on a scale massively beyond anything we can manage. There could be wholesale corruption or could just be incompetence. However the fact that the video evidence shows bias for and against certain teams suggests something rather nasty is going on.
But it is noticeable that the PGMO which employs the referees has never once responded to this analysis, and while several newspapers have attempted to copy us they have never undertaken an analysis even 1% as deep as our sixteen week review.
PGMO has also persisted in being utterly secret about its approach and methods, and has refused either to explain why it employs so few referees, why it does not employ a geographical spread of referees, why it is so secretive and why it alone works in a way reminiscent of the darkest days of Italian football – an approach long since abandoned by the rest of the Uefa countries.
Maybe the media has good reason for holding back from this subject. Maybe PGMO has good reason for being as it is. Maybe there is a perfectly good explanation as to why some clubs fare so badly under the current system while others do rather well.
“But you are all Arsenal fans – you’re bound to find in Arsenal’s favour.”
As a preliminary to this research we ran Referee Decisions, a web site that analysed matches across the League using referees who had no association with Arsenal – but without video evidence. The results were the same, as you can see on the web site.
Now we’ve done it again and we have found similar results – this time with video evidence. For anyone who still thinks all our evidence is biased, even after studying all the video evidence we can only suggest that you do some research of your own and present it against ours.
We did it – it is possible for a small group of interested people to do it. So you could do it as well.
This review is presented at a time when the media is just starting to take a proper interest in refereeing and is beginning to question the competence or bias of certain referees. The media does have far more power than we do, and their hesitation in taking up this theme – and indeed their tendency over the years to fall back on the “evens up in the end” argument – is to their eternal great discredit.
But maybe they are starting to change their view, and if they do start doing proper analyses of referees and start pushing for explanations for the extraordinarily bizarre behaviour of PGMO and its referees, and then take credit for the whole thing, well, that’s just par for the course.
We know that we were here first, but that doesn’t really matter. The key point is to get this mess sorted out sometime soon, and if we have been instrumental in moving the process along then I think it is something everyone, from the review team through to every reader who regularly takes a look at Untold, can be proud to be part of.
The evidence in detail
Here are the 16 articles that carry all the analyses.