Referees will be over 100% accurate in matches with VAR according to PGMO figures

By Tony Attwood

On 13 August 2013 the Daily Mail ran a piece on referees which says, “According to the Premier League, 99 per cent of offside decisions are correct, for the third season running.   They also claim that 98.6 per cent of decisions made in the penalty area are accurate.

“The assistant referee makes on average 50 decisions each game; 45 of these are pure offside judgements, with four of these resulting in offside flags. Their accuracy? Again, a staggering 98 per cent.”

Pretty amazing.

On 20 March 2017 Sky, on its web site said, “According to the PGMO (Professional Game Match Officials) Premier League referee makes around 245 decisions per game, three times more than an average player touches the ball over 90 minutes. That’s one decision every 22 seconds.

“Approximately 45 of these decisions are technical – whether goal-kicks, corners or throw-ins – leaving around 200 decisions to judging physical contact and disciplinary actions.

“Of those 200, around 35 are visible decisions where an action is taken (fouls, restarts), and 165 are non-visible, where play is allowed to continue.  In total, refs make around five errors per game, meaning they are right 98 per cent of the time.”

Speaking on Sky Sports News HQ, Mike Riley summed up the feeling of self-satisfied perfection perfectly.   “You see week in, week out that referees make brilliant decisions.”

Amazing.  Absolutely incredible.  One might even say best in the world.

And yet it makes one wonder what the point of VAR is, in terms of Premier League football.  And fortunately in the Guardian yesterday we had the answer:

“Mike Riley has said that while Video Assistant Referees are not intended to make refereeing decisions 100% accurate, the game’s newest technological innovation will be viewed positively if it leads to a 2% reduction in errors by officials.”

Now, if your maths is up to it, you might see a problem here.  PGMO have claimed in the handful of press releases they have put out across the years that they are 98% or more accurate (98.6% as we noted above).  Now they are talking about a 2% reduction in errors for the games that gives us an accuracy rating of 100.6%.  An accuracy level above totality.

But let’s not quibble about the 0.6% success rate beyond possibility.  Let us say total success, total accuracy.

It certainly will make life easy for commentators and pundits because any single mistake by a referee will now mean the failure of the Perfect PGMO Referee (the PPR) and the VAR.  One of them will have to go.

And yet and yet and yet… the Guardian tells us that “before its trial run the authorities were keen to point out that the system is not supposed to usher in perfection.”

Well, excuse me for being a mathematical dumbo but when I did the compulsory statistics course as part of my M.Phil research degree (and took an exam in the subject as well) I worked the the basis that 98% plus 2% still gives us 100%.   I’m willing to lose the 0.6% as I noted above, but come on guys… it either gives perfection on some of those figures you have been throwing at us all these years are wrong.

So what can be the explanation?  Well, without giving us any facts or figures, and of course (this being PGMO and their coat hanging coterie in the press room) we now find that PGMO have downgraded their accuracy levels so that it seems “select group referees currently get 96% of decisions correct.”

Well!  A 2% drop in accuracy level over the past 18 months.  That is pretty drastic.  And interesting that until now, nobody told us that the inaccuracy level of referees had doubled in a year.  Now that is a story.

And of course this being the Guardian the first example of what might and what not might be affected involves, guess who.  Here’s the quote

“Simulation outside the area will not be looked at, meaning that Jack Wilshere would not have run the risk of being sanctioned by VAR for his apparent dive in Arsenal’s draw with Chelsea last Wednesday.”

The fact that much of Europe is way ahead of us (even though a previous PGMO press release suggested that England was completely ahead of everyone else) is mentioned in the Guardian, but only as a passing footnote.  But they do tell us that the place where the referee can go and look at the screen is called the “referee review area” and will be known as the RRA.  That’s good to know.

And here’s a spot more…

“Managers would get a warning for an inquisitive look in the early stages but deliberate encroachment would lead to them being sent to the stands,” we are told, presumably because we don’t want people knowing that referees might get things wrong and then not deal with it.

Why we have lagged so far behind other countries in introducing the video ref is, of course, not tackled, because the PGMO don’t want to discuss that.

Of course there is one big topic that no one is tackling: PGMO, the ultra-secretive enclosed organisation that tries to get its officials to sign a big “don’t talk to the media” agreement by waving tens of thousands of pounds at them when they retire from active refereeing, is in control of VAR just as much as they control the games.

What we really need is VAR that is shown to all fans inside the stadium and on TV.  But I find it hard to imagine the 100.6% accurate PGMO going for that one.

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30 Replies to “Referees will be over 100% accurate in matches with VAR according to PGMO figures”

  1. Interesting to see that The Guardian singles out the Wilshere dive as an example and not one of the many examples from one of the serial divers playing for other London teams or those from Manchester or Liverpool.

  2. Tony

    I think you are confusing several things and as a consequence not getting the numbers right.
    The articles and Rileys comments re enforces what we know namely VAR isn’t looking at all incidents just four types. Simulation outside the area will not be the subject of VAR hence the reference to the Wilshire incident.
    Riley says that refs make get on average 5 descions wrong a game so if as suggested there are around 245 descions a game and an 98% accuracy ( which no doubt many will disagree with) is correct that indeed suggests around 5 errors a game or over a season there are 380 games or in other words by PGMOLs own admission around 1900 errors in a season.So a 2% improvement in the errors by referees is not the same as a2% improvement to the of the overall number

    Riley, if your are accurately reporting his comments says that VAR will be a success of it reduces the error rate by

  3. 2%. which is much in line with the numbers coming out of Germany and by the way the majority of those involved in football seem to be regretting the day that they ever introduced VAR.

  4. riley seems to have an obsession with number 98
    no other way to explain all this clearly made up data

  5. Mike T, “If we’re saying that 4% of decisions are wrong, a 2% improvement is good for the game,” Riley said.
    which means he wants to bring the number of correct decisions to the magical 98%

  6. in other words, halve the number of errors
    assuming that 4% of decisions are wrong (10 per game) it is hard to reconcile with his other statement that VAR is “required only every two or three games”

  7. Mike T, are more clear quote from DM “We don’t want errors. If through this we make that four per cent (of incorrect decisions made by select referees) two per cent, we’ve benefited the game.”
    although it might be made up as well
    what a world we live in – journos can’t transcribe, people can’t do basic maths, and only riley and his bunch are infallible

  8. Lots to discuss about transfers surely.

    I hear we’re selling coquelin
    Sanchez to leave for £35 million? Also there are strong rumours that Theo could be on his way.
    Wenger has confirmed interest in Johnny Evans but is already complaining about possibly being outbid by man city.

    Why complain? Just make a bid if you want him or don’t.

    Anyway, I’m expecting movement this window.

  9. AlexanderHenry,

    well, just looking at the Firminho deal one can see that inflation is more then rampant
    Considering Amazon looks like bidding for PL rights, which will most probably send the PL revenue up again as competition with Qatar will heat up (Quatar just bought rights to the italian championship by raising the bar by 400 million euros more a year), one can say that for the time being the sky is the limit and that only clubs with deep pockets (or should I say deep oil wells) will be able to compete for top places.

    Sure enough Arsenal will gets its share of added TV rights revenue…but it does not have those oil wells or other external revenue/credit sources.

    I think we’ll have to satisfay ourselves with less trophies and the occasional cliffhanger going our direction – which considering the actual ‘efficiency’ of PGMOB is going to be hard to come by. Just pray for a coach like AW who loves football rather then one of the others who have a destroy and survive mentality.

    As far as I am concerned, we are not in a sports competition anymore. We are in a sport where trophies are an investment, not the result of some faire contest over a season. Throw enough money at it you’ll get it.

  10. Sorry, but I do not accept that a ref has 245 “decisions” to make in a game.

    If you take away goal kicks, corners (most of which are obvious) and throw-ins, what decisions could he possibly need to make every 20 seconds that could be regarded as “decisions”?

    I think that figure was invented to give the impression that the 5 mistakes that they admit they make in every game is insignificant.

    Those 5 decisions, and are there really only 5, will all be crucial and important to the outcome of the game.

    So if you look at them in the context of all the crucial and important decisions, then the percentage of errors goes up enormously.

    This is nothing other than a con.

  11. Chris

    Not only should our mean, disinterested owner make more funds available, but we could have done better with what we’ve had over the past few years.

    Spurs and Liverpool are currently outperforming us with less, especially spurs.

  12. If you want some other numbers apart from Riley’s numbers you can find them here (analysing 7000 decisions)
    or here (analysing more than 38.000 decisions)
    If we include goal kicks and throw ins the number of correct decisions was 90%.
    If we take those easy decisions away …. we get 82% correct decisions

    Some important decisions really score very low in those reviews

  13. Watching this morning edition of the Sky Sports News today, it was said during the program the VARs will be put into use for the first time in an Arsenal game in the Carabao Cup semifinal 1st leg match at the Bridge between Chelsea and Arsenal taking place tomorrow night. So, let’s wait to see how the use of the VARs in the match will pan out in it’s first use in an Arsenal game before we can say the application of this football electronics device is helpful in eliminating or has considerably reduced the PGMOL referees anti-Arsenal game referring policy or not.

    An admission of anti-Arsenal referring by referee Mike Dean that trailed Le Boss getting a 3 match dog out ban by the FA but was silent on what punishment they’ve given to the culprit, Mike Dean. bBut one would have expected the FA to rescind on their 3 match ban decision of Le Boss or at least reduce it to one match ban after the unprecedented admission of wrongful referring against Arsenal by referee Mike Dean which cost us 2 valuable points. But the FA in retropect did not give Mike Dean any reprimand of any such for his costly anti-Arsenal match referring speak volumes of how the FA is condoning Mr Riley’s PGMOL corrupt match referring by his appointed referees in Arsenal games in the PL.

  14. If I may say this, Man City’s 19 match winning run in the PL this season should not have been more than 15 wins on the run if the PGMOL match officials who referred in 4 of their games in the PL had refereed correctly in them by not allowed them the offside goals and the phantom penalty goals they allowed them to get away with and even by ruling off genuine goals scored against them by the oposition teams. I believe Pep Guardiola knows his Man City team got to where they are on the table through dubious means allowed for them by the PGMOL referees in at least in 4 of their PL games that I watched including that of Arsenal against them at the Etihad early in the season.

  15. Samuel

    I think you’ll find that man city’s outstanding season so far has got more to do with the fact that they have a squad packed with sensational players and probably the best manager in the world.

  16. I wish you’d bore off to a site more in line with your crass pundit media following Alex, you’d feel more at home

  17. Jigsol……….we do make about 1 decision or call every 30-40 seconds in a game a nd I am sure Walter and other referees on UA will confirm this. It depends on the game, it is NEVER the same; a kid’s game is usually less but can be more, a woman’s game has fewer fouls but more technical errors, a friendly or Sunday league game can be totally quiet or horribly demanding, etc. At the professional level, there are more calls to make because of the following;

    1) The speed of the game which is often 25-50% faster than an amateur game,
    2) Professional fouls, which players use continuously,
    3) Rotational fouling, now becoming ever more popular,
    4) Tactical and strategic game management by the coaches/which increase the likelihood of an infringement or technical issue,
    5) Managers using time wasting and game slowing manouvers.

    I am sure there are other things as well.

  18. Markyb

    Nothing to do with pundits or the media. As an Arsenal fan I am not happy with the state the club is in at the moment.

    It is being mismanaged on and off the field.

  19. Omg. Thanks.

    However, in a 90 minute game, in truth, for how many minutes is the ball in play, 70, 75?

    At every 30 seconds, that is 150 decisions. Where do they get 245?

    AS I said, the easy decisions do not count.

    5 mistakes out of the real number of genuine decisions is a very large percentage, surely?

  20. jjgsol

    You are looking at things wrong. Your attention can only be in one place at any given time. And perhaps one per 30 seconds is a useful guess. But that is in a restricted area.

    During some of the game, one goaltender is often part of the active area. But by and large we have about 20 players on the field. Twenty players times 90 minutes is 1800 player-minutes. At 0.5 player-minutes per decision, we could have 3600 decisions to make in a game.

    That is probably close to an upper limit on how many decisions might need to be made. Your idea might be close to a lower limit (180 not 150). The geometric mean of 180 and 3600 is about 805. 245 is about 1/4 of that, so maybe they still aren’t looking for enough decisions?

    I sure wish the transfer window would close, so I could participate on things here more. Too many dorks coming out of the woodwork to sell off everybody in the team, and spend tons of money on players who are probably no better.

  21. Sorry but how many players are near enough to the ball so that a ref needs to makes a decision about them?

    Not all 22. More likely one or 2 most of the time.

    And what are all theses decisions about?

    I am far from convinced.

    5 mistakes per game is simply not good enough, especially when one mistake can have a very marked effect on s game as we have seen recently.

  22. Why on Earth does the foul have to be near the ball?

    The laws of the game seldom mention where the ball is.

    There can be lots of fouling off the ball, and it deserves the officials attention every bit as much as fouls near the ball.

    Sorry, my last reply on this until after the transfer window closes. If you feel that the only thing that is important is the 3m in the vicinity of the ball, we won’t agree anyway.

  23. The effective playing time in the average match is closer to 60 minutes. Good matches with fluent football can have 65, rarely 70. Bad matches can go as low as 55.

    The interruption times are obviously the key:
    – A throw-in has 4 to 10 seconds, anything above that is time wasting (Arsenal players go as low as 3 seconds).
    – A goal kick or free kick incurs 20 to 30 seconds.
    – A penalty needs 1 minute, sometimes more if there are arguments and/or cards to be shown. I remember a few years ago in Italy it took over 5 minutes for a pen to be taken because of the endless “discussions” between the players and the ref.
    – On top of these, yellow & red cards take an additional 10-30 seconds, what with the ref doing educational speeches on the field and the ejected player(s) trotting off at snail pace.

  24. The total number stated by the PGMO is clearly disputable and just tossing out a number like 98% of the calls being accurate is just humbug. No one believes it and it is unimportant. The important thing is the number of game changing decisions that are wrong.

  25. Forget the refs decisions for a moment and consider the outrageous claim that 99% offside decisions are correct.
    If we take an average of 10 offside decisions per game and there are 10 games each week that rounds up nicely to 100 offsides a week to be judged by the linesman.
    They are therefore saying there is just a single wrong offside decision per week in total over all ten games to enable them to meet the 99% claim. What absolute nonsense, you often see two or three mistakes in a single game. How can the Mail not question this obviously ridiculous claim.
    Also in reaching their conclusion of 99% correct are PGMOL including offsides which should have been called but which were missed by the lino in their calculations or just counting those where the flag has been raised?

  26. alexanderhenry “Spurs and Liverpool are currently outperforming us with less, especially spurs.” – Sorry, I must have missed the part where both of those teams recently won 3 FA cups in 4 years.

  27. @ Jammy, you should know better, some fans been screaming that the FA Cup is no longer a trophy and is not important (this year it will be again) and top 4 is important (if Arsenal not in top 4). It’s all about Top 4 now Jammy. Well I feel sorry for that dinosaur who was ridiculed for years about being in top 4.

  28. Judge your strength by the number of your enemy!

    Good luck Francis, miss you already.

    Next Theo, Danny, Debouchy and if Monreal isn’t fit he can leave for free in summer as long as he doesn’t recover before the window closes.

    Mert: well it’s simply isolate and capitalise on, ship sailed. FA Cup, sorry I didn’t know you had that one last one left, my bad.

    Since I’m not sure if I fancied the FA Cup, when the league is so tight and EL maybe a realistic route to CL so I can’t say I’m disappointed much, only with the performance.

    3 games four penalties.

    Miss, Atkinson, Dean, Swarbrick in VAR! Laughable! So I’m laughing!

    Watford last autumn, Liverpool Mane, fake penalties, and double touches! Kill an Arsenal game, next Spurs, guess who!

    If you’re not sure don’t give it!

    you don’t know what you are doing, if it’s money and trophies then fan boy another club, not fit to enter the ground or mention the club, just as some are not fit for the shirt.

    Loaners are all gone, with the exception of Cohen I hope. Either not playing, injured or not performing. Giroud, depends on the offer.

    Iwobi, being his age, after being over hyped, Chuba losing focus! Both on bench! Every game full strength!

    Back 3 until we can plug the gap!

    DM, CB, RB, RW, CM, GK, CF in that order.

    Count, that’s 7 If LB goes to Cohen no need to consider him or Niles for registration.

    Gone latest by the summer, Monreal, Debouchy,, Per.

    That’s 3.

    Offload Theo now 4. 1 just left 5 and if you let go of Mo and Danny 7.

    If you want to be extra about it, you can consider Goroud as 8.

    Asano isn’t scoring unfortunately, but isn’t always playing and the club aren’t creating. Carl is injured again and Campbell is as good as gone. With Lucas preferring to be in Spain and likely not returning.

    Incidentally Cohen is not listed as on loan any more 🙂 and I can’t see Ospina being with us after the WC, which would be suitable for b Th club and player.

    The next major move is Theo, if we can get that done now and get quality in with the likely £40 plus million in January sales, we are sitting pretty financially and in terms of squad size.

    A good run of games now and if we can get to the EPL Cup we are going to be getting a head of steam at the right time.

    When your enemy is using all the dirty tricks there are, you are into something, keep going!


    3 contracts, sign some reinforcements then.

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