By Walter Broeckx
For many years I have been spending a lot of my spare time on reviewing the referees in the PL and more specific in Arsenal matches.
I have done this on my own and I have done this with the help of other Arsenal supporting referees. And we have done this with the help of non-Arsenal supporting referees. We even did it for a long time using video evidence. But in the end I had to stop this because other things in my personal life took over and I couldn’t spend the needed time to work on it any more.
But in all those years of reviewing one thing stood out among our findings: Arsenal were unlucky when we analysed the referee decisions. If being unlucky is a one season-long thing you can reasonably call it unlucky. When it happens season after season after season then we can no longer call it a matter of luck. Then it is a form of robbery.
And as you might remember, I have written articles by the dozen about how bad the influence of the PGMO refs was for Arsenal.
Apart from the real Untolders, who actually read all that we were writing in depth, we mostly got abuse. Abuse from those Arsenal supporters who said that we did it all to keep Wenger in the saddle and to give him an easy ride.
Abuse (although in fact it was less abuse than from those so called Arsenal supporters) who didn’t agree when their team was involved in our reviews, which is a point of view that can be readily understood. But they put it down to the fact that we supported Arsenal so we are biased.
And when we pointed out that the fact that we found the biggest bias against Arsenal when non-Arsenal referees were writing the reviews, that was mostly the last time we heard anything from them.
But now suddenly I found a link to an article that appeared on the espn website with their article “Luck index smashes cliche that luck evens out over time.”
And a rather interesting article as they did something rather similar that that which we have done. They just called it the Luck Index. And by “luck” they mostly meant wrong referee decisions. Now of course with my past I don’t consider this as having much to do with luck anymore. It is more ingrained in the refereeing in the PL and has become part of the meaning of life of the PGMO.
And I could go over the whole article and point at differences between their analyses and our analyses. But I will leave that up to you. I will only headline the main results and the most interesting points. And link that with something I have said in the past as to why referees do what they do, even when they don’t want to do this deliberately.
The main results of the ESPN analysis is that Liverpool has been robbed most points and Manchester United has benefited most. And Arsenal was the team that has lost the second most points in the season 2017/2018.
We should have gained 11 points more from our away matches! And maybe if we had received better refereeing in those matches we might have been in a better mental shape when going away in some other matches where the refs maybe didn’t directly screw us, but where, because of the past, we went in the match already with a defeat in our heads before stepping on the pitch.
Now you don’t have to agree with every detail they come up with. Just as you didn’t have to agree with each decision we reviewed. But the general trend that came out of our research and that comes out of the research of ESPN is what is important.
And thus when I see Liverpool being robbed most and Arsenal being robbed second most, and add to that that Manchester United was the luckiest one when it comes to referee mistakes we come back to an article I wrote about refs being influenced by their youth experience and who they supported when being a kid.
It is no secret that Liverpool and Manchester United hate each other. Liverpool because United took their crown away of having won most leagues. And Manchester United supporters hate Arsenal supporters because they came in and had a go at them when they were the kings of England in the PL.
Each ref once was a kid who dreamed of being a professional football player. Each ref supported a team. A local team quite often, but also 99% of the kids support a big team. And if we look at the ages of the current referees in the PL we can note that most of them grew up as young adults in the era of Manchester United and Ferguson. So as a kid growing up in the area as most of the current PL referees did, the chance that they supported that winning team was rather big.
And so they might have developed a certain subconscious (or conscious in some cases) bad feeling for Liverpool and Arsenal. I haven’t checked the numbers of mistakes from Liverpool games in the years for which we did referee reviews, but I do seem to remember that they didn’t really get the rub of the green in those years. But as I don’t support Liverpool in a way I couldn’t really care about them. If they feel hard done by, they should get their own team of referees together and do their own reviews and join us in questioning what the PGMO is up to.
But now seeing those numbers come back from an unbiased source it suddenly brings back that article I wrote about refs being influenced by the teams they supported as a kid.
And it shows once again that Arsenal has been robbed. Not just last season. But in a whole load of seasons that I can see looking at all the reviews I did.
I wonder how this will develop from now on. With Wenger gone, the person who personified the hatred of Arsenal for many supporters from other clubs, we might see a difference in the mind of some people.
But as long as Riley is in charge I am not holding my breath for that to happen. I fear that Mr. Emery will find it hard at times.
For more information about the ESPN article I will also direct you to the luck index and the adjusted league table. Not that I entirely agree with it all. http://www.espnluckindex.com/ and http://www.espnluckindex.com/adjusted-league/
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