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February 2019
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The curious case of the uneven effect of referee activity in the PL.

by Andrew Crawshaw

Below is a table showing matches undertaken by each referee for the ‘top 6’ clubs (I have also included Everton as they have had the most referees this season)

Total games Percent featuring top 6 Top 6 games Arsenal Chelsea Liverpool Man C Man U Spurs Everton
Anthony Taylor 20 65% 13 4 1 2 2 2 2 2
Martin Atkinson 19 73% 14 2 3 3 2 1 3 2
Michael Oliver 19 73% 14 2 2 4 3 2 1 1
Andre Marriner 18 72% 13 2 1 2 4 3 1 1
Mike Dean 18 66% 12 2 2 1 3 4
Jonathan Moss 17 76% 13 2 3 2 1 4 1 2
Kevin Friend 16 62% 10 1 1 1 2 3 2 2
Craig Pawson 17 76% 13 1 4 1 2 1 4 2
Paul Tierney 16 75% 12 2 1 3 3 2 1 2
Chris Kavanagh 15 53% 8 2 2 2 2 1
Stuart Attwell 13 53% 7 1 1 2 2 1 2
Lee Probert 11 27% 3 1 1 1 1
Lee Mason 10 60% 6 1 1 2 2 2
Graham Scott 10 50% 5 2 1 2 1
David Coote 7 0% 0 1
Roger East 6 16% 1 1 1
Simon Hooper 5 0% 0
Andy Madley 2 0% 0 1

As I am counting both teams in every game, the number of ‘top 6’ matches should be more or less 60% of each referees total (or it would be if the referees had equal workloads (which clearly they don’t).  Clearly the workloads of 8 the top 9 referees in the above table bear little resemblance to the 60% figure (Kevin Friend is the exception) and they are carrying far too high a burden compared with those at the bottom of the table.

As the PGMO have only used 18 referees there is no way any team can possibly avoid having referees on more than two occasions in a year as each team has 38 matches a season.  In fact the situation is even worse as between them the bottom 6 referees together have only the workload of the top two referees so effectively there are only 14 referees.  Most clubs will therefore see most referees on three or more occasions through the year.

But then there are some referees who are never allocated to some teams – Mike Dean doesn’t referee either Liverpool or Everton and Chris Kavanagh dosen’t go to either of the Manchester clubs which means some other clubs get these referees even more than you might expect.

When the PL was set up it was intended that there would be 24 referees as a minimum, that number would allow for each team to have referees a maximum of twice per season (once at home and once away)  The present arrangement means that some teams are having a majority of their games supervised by only four referees (Man U 13 out of 24 games by Marriner, Dean, Moss and Friend) and each of the top 6 have been visited by at least one referee on four occasions (Spurs have had both Dean and Pawson four times so far).

This situation is not new this year, last year both Chelsea and Man United had one referee on 6 occasions (Anthony Taylor for Chelsea and Craig Pawson for Manchester United), that’s nearly one sixth of their games.

As we have said before, these numbers do not prove that there is any type of match fixing going on in the PL, just that the conditions are there to enable it to happen.   And that those conditions don’t have to exist.

Next season the numbers are going to be even more stretched as the need for VAR referees and assistants is likely to deplete still further the number of available referees in the middle.

Footnote from Tony

The point is that Premier League football is awash with money, and therefore could easily afford to train up many more referees, give the top referees more weekends off for recovery and top up training courses, and still ensure that certain referees don’t take matches involving teams from where they live or teams for whom they declare their support.

The issue is totally one of why?   Why does PGMO restrict the number of referees so much, so that if any of them were bent or were making multiple mistakes they could be removed from the rota and given more training?   And why is the PGMO so utterly secretive about all its activities, in a way that other referee associations are not?

With our limited resources we can’t prove there is match fixing going on but we can show that the PGMO has deliberately set up a system of refereeing which makes match fixing easier to accomplish, and which makes it easier to hide.

Those who are concerned about this situation have undertaken major, unique analyses, from the review of the first 160 games of a season with evidence and the Football Decisions web site we ran, to the recent analysis of “caution” which Gordon presented, to show something is happening that is very odd, and yet curiously no one seems to be willing to do the research that friends of Untold such as Walter, Andrew and Gordon do, to explore what it is that is happening.

4 comments to The curious case of the uneven effect of referee activity in the PL.

  • The truth will set Arsenal free

    Not entirely true footballisfixed blog/ twitter feed has given a lot of information on whats happening in the premier league. Readers of untold should check them out.

    Valuable source of information for me.

  • We have regularly quoted them in the past – but I think the difference is that we are doing our own original research in a way that they don’t. But for anyone who doesn’t know them they are at

  • Gord

    That new referee from Australia, will apparently be officiating in the Championship and doing VAR for Premier games next season. According to one report on him.

  • @Swales1968

    A quick question on refs, why do they need to be sponsored by EA sports, why do they need to be sponsored at all if they are paid by the PL. Also the reason behind sponsorship is to get their brand seen as much as possible on TV, if a ref is doing a good job on the pitch surely we would not see the advertising unless it was by accident which seems a waste of EA sports money…..unless of course the refs are at the centre of attention and/or the TV companies have a deal to show the EA advertising whenever possible during a game????

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