Matchweek 23 – Which team gets which referee the most: and why?

by Andrew Crawshaw

Firstly a brief look at the overall picture so far this year – which referees are over and under used, which teams should be sick of the sight of referees etc.

The games this coming weekend form matchweek 23.  To date the PGMO have employed 18 referees, each officiating between 19 and 8 matches.  The following table shows who has been busiest and who has been on holiday.  I have also added columns for each referee indicating the teams they have already visited three or four timesHere is the list :-

Referee (age and FIFA accreditation) Fifa? Number of Matches 3 * visits 4 * visits
Michael Oliver 32  Yes 19 Arsenal, Spurs, Man City, Southampton, Brighton, Watford Crystal Palace,
Craig Pawson 38  Yes 17 Everton, Liverpool, Man City, Newcastle, Spurs Stoke
Jonathan Moss 47 16 Chelsea, Everton, Huddersfield, Man United
Andre Marriner 46 16 Palace, Everton, Liverpool, Man United, Newcastle
Anthony Taylor 39  Yes 16 Man United, Stoke, Chelsea
Martin Atkinson 46  Yes 16 Burnley, Liverpool, Man United, West Ham
Mike Dean 49 15 Arsenal, Spurs, Swansea, WBA
Neil Swarbrick 52 13 Stoke
Graham Scott 49 13 Leicester
Bobby Madley 32  Yes 12 Bournemouth, Spurs,
Kevin Friend 46 12 Crystal Palace, Liverpool,
Lee Mason 46 11 Watford
Roger East 52 11 Burnley
Mike Jones 49 10 Southampton, West Brom
Lee Probert 45 9 Bournemouth, Southampton
Stuart Attwell 35  Yes 8 Newcastle
Paul Tierney 37  Yes 8
Chris Kavanagh 42 8

The mean number of games undertaken by each referee is 12.77 and the standard deviation is 3.44 so, assuming a normal distribution you would expect all referees to be between 16 and 9 matches.  This indicates that Michael Oliver is significantly over used, Craig Pawson slightly so and the three referees at the bottom of the table slightly under used.

It remains the contention of all of us at Untold who comment on referees and refereeing that no club should see any referee more than twice in a season (once at home and once away).  That all clubs have seen at least one referee three times by matchweek 23 is deeply disappointing with a further 15 weeks to go of the season.  PGMO’s incompetence in having too few referees continues.

This approach does not mean that there is corruption, but rather the fact that some teams see some referees a lot opens the door to corruption in a way that is completely unnecessary and could so easily be avoided.

FIFA accreditation

It must also be questioned as to why two of the least used referees, Stuart Attwell and Paul Tierney, who wave only done 8 games each, have FIFA accreditation.  If they aren’t trusted to do PL matches on a weekly basis why do they have that level of accreditation?  There is no wonder that there will be no English referees at the World Cup this summer.

It could be that they are just about the only other referees who are young enough bearing in mind that FIFA accreditation is only supposed to apply till the referee is 45 but their lack of use in the PL suggests that they are only there to make up the numbers.

Referee ages

Only 6 (one third) of the referees used so far this season are still in their 30‘ties Michael Oliver and Bobby Madley are both 32, Stuart Attwell 35, Paul Tierney 37 Craig Pawson 39 and Anthony Taylor 39.

Chris Kavanagh is the only other referee under the FIFA retirement age of 45

Neil Swarbrick and Roger East are both 52, surely too old to be expected to keep up with a full paced game for the full 90 minutes.

The remaining nine referees are between 46 and 49 and will also need to retire/slow down in the next few seasons.  Where will the PGMO turn to, to replace the current batch of referees, bearing mind that it is our contention that they should have 24 referees as a minimum instead of their current roster of 18?

The scheduling of individual referees must also be questioned.

  • Michael Oliver has only had four weeks so far this season when he hasn’t had a PL game, on top of his European and International Matches; the poor man must be exhausted by now.
  • Roger East has only been allocated 11 games this season yet four of them have involved Burnley – this is over a third of his total games so far with a single team.  Why?
  • Mike Jones with 10 games has had Southampton and West Brom each on three occasions
  • Lee Probert has even fewer games – nine; yet has seen Bournemouth and Southampton each three times
  • Stuart Attwell has the fewest games of all referees yet has still seem Newcastle on three occasions – again more than a third of his total games with a single team.

The number of different referees that each club has seen varies between 16 (Swansea) and 10 (Manchester United).  Remember that if Type 3 matchfixing exists then the fewer referees involved the more likely such an occurrence becomes.

Number of Referees seen by each club Clubs
16 Swansea
15 Bournemouth, Brighton, Stoke, West Ham
14 Huddersfield, Leicester, Man City, Newcastle, Spurs,
13 Arsenal, Chelsea, Everton, Southampton, West Brom
12 Burnley, Crystal Palace, Liverpool, Watford,
10 Man United,

Here we can see that Man United are conspicuous in having had two fewer referees than any other club this season.  Three referees have done single games (Dean, Scott and Mason), Oliver and Swarbrick have each done two, and as shown in the first table above four referees have each had three matches (Pawson, Marriner, Taylor and Atkinson) and Moss has now blown for them on four occasions.  There are eight referees who are yet to see United this season (Madley, Friend, East, Jones, Probert, Attwell, Tierney and Kavanagh).

As we have said before there is no proof that Type 3 matchfixing does take place within  English football, merely that the conditions are right for such an occurrence to take place.

Here is a table showing the Man United matches under all of the the referees :-

Referee Match Res Score
Jonathan Moss

(P4, W4)

Swansea v Man United W 0 – 4
Man United v Spurs W 1 – 0
Watford v Man United W 2 – 4
Leicester v Man United W 0 – 2
Craig Pawson

(P3, W2, D1)

Southampton v Man United W 0 – 1
Man United v Newcastle W 4 – 1
Man United v Southampton D 0 – 0
Andre Marriner

(P3, W3)

Man United v Everton W 4 – 0
Arsenal v Man United W 1 – 3
Everton v Man United W 0 – 2
Anthony Taylor

(P2, W1 L1 )

Chelsea v Man United L 1- 0
West Brom v Man United W 1 – 2
Man United v Stoke Matchweek 23
Martin Atkinson

(P3, W1, D2)

Man United v West Ham W 4 – 0
Liverpool v Man United D 0 – 0
Man United v Burnley D 2 – 2
Michael Oliver

(P2, W1, L1)

Man United v Leicester W 2 – 0
Man United v Man City L 1 – 2
Neil Swarbrick

(P2, W1, D1)

Stoke v Man United D 2 – 2
Man United v Brighton W 1 – 0
Mike Dean Man United v Crystal Palace W 4 – 0
Graham Scott Man United v Bournemouth W 1 – 0
Lee Mason Huddersfield v Man United L 2 – 1

I do wonder if Lee Mason will be allocated to another United game.

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13 Replies to “Matchweek 23 – Which team gets which referee the most: and why?”

  1. Excellent article Andrew. Once again exposing the strange way that referees are given matches in the PL….

  2. Is it possible to see a breakdown of games grouped by referee, results, controversial incident and if VAR would have altered the result and number of points?

    For example, Mike Dean (Merseyside) v West Brom (Midlands), 1-1, 89th minute penalty to WBA. VAR would have overturned = 2 points gained.
    Anthony Taylor (Manchester) v Chelsea (London) 2-2, Hazard dive for a penalty. VAR overturned = 2 points gained

    Not totally scientific but may produce a pattern.

    (For fairness, this should include those games where we benefited too from an incorrect decision (chuckle).

  3. @AFC Nemesis

    As we haven’t been able to undertake the Minuit by minute analyses of the referees performances this year, i’m afraid that we simply don’t have the raw data to produce a table with that level of data.. Sorry

  4. Within Moss and Marriner’s 7 games and 7 victories for United they oversaw five away games, all of them coming out as clean sheets for the visitors. Not saying United didn’t play well to get those results, just that I find those particular coincidences interesting to say the least..

  5. Okay Andy. Good article.

    I think there is a serious problem with our match officials. However, when you try to question this subject you are met with a wall of denial and a section of fans who think you are conspiracy theorists. The fact that only Italy and the PL have professional referees is interesting because we do not have a single one deemed good enough for the World Cup. Yet being paid as professionals means they should be the best.

    The reasons we have no referees at the WC can be explained in an article written by a former writer of yours, Kev (Proudkev). His evidence based article with quotes, was the catalyst for my interest in our standard of refereeing. In fact, I lost the article and couldn’t remember where I had read it until I found your site and Pete produced the link. Thanks!

    In this article your writer explained how the FA train referees to apply a different set of rules to those followed by overseas referees. Now this is interesting. He also produced evidence regarding FA merit tables and comments from a former referee about why there is a regional bias and how he tried to improve matters without success. His article was not the speculative nonsense we have to endure from our Professional Sports journalists or certain blogs, it was evidence based that has since been proven. I notice another referee from Manchester has been promoted to PGMOL, which he predicted too.

    The fact we have no referees going to the World Cup is a sad indictment of the FA and PGMOL and proof something is not as it should be. The FA are responsible for this but along with PGMOL and the referees, none of these are accountable or interested in addressing their shortcomings. The fact that a writer of yours was able to conduct such informative research means that either professional sports writers are not interested or incompetent. With no referees at the World Cup it seems only Untold knows why. Keep up the good work.

  6. The age profile of the refs is another cause for concern rarely talked about. Eleven out of eighteen refs are too old for FIFA accreditation. Amazing really. Thanks for all this data Andrew.

  7. Good piece, Andrew. When we watch other european leagues, we always comment that their refs appear much younger, slimmer and fitter. They also don’t have to keep blowing the whistle for breaks to get their breath back (Marriner, Moss, Mason, come to mind in particular.) Does it just seem that we’ve had Moss and Taylor a lot more this season?

  8. Well done Andrew exposing the way in which the EPL is decided by select officials. Selectively sighted, selectively decided & selectively remunerated. Select & above all Laws in England.

  9. Mike Dean, 49…. Jon Moss, 47…

    So why can I run faster than either of those and I’m not an athlete and nearly 67!

  10. Arsenal_62
    As I said before, if you don’t like what is served up on Untold why do you keep coming here. There are plenty of other blogs if you don’t like this one and as a bonus we will be free of your silly comments.

  11. “PGMO’s incompetence in having too few referees continues.” Surely it’s not that there isn’t enough of them, but more that they are not evenly distributed in the slightest? I’m sure that we’ve got about the same number of refs as other leagues, but the games are actually spread out evenly between them, unlike over here, where the top guys do far more matches than the guys at the bottom of the list. I think it is clear to anyone with half a brain why the PIGMOB operate in this way.

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