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October 2020
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Referee oddities: no proof but an increasing amount of unexpected data


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by Andrew Crawshaw and Tony Attwood

Liverpool’s game against United on Sunday is being Refereed by Craig Pawson – the first time he has done a ‘Pool game this season – he is only their 10th referee this season the fewest appointed to any team.

In fact 17 of their games have been refereed by only five people.  As Tony would say “it doesn’t prove that match fixing is taking place – but it would certainly make it easy for it to happen”.  At eleven men in the middle, we have the second lowest of referees, there are a clutch of teams with 15 (the highest yet appointed).

In all 21 referees have been used this season so far, although four have only done a single game, two have done six, one seven and one nine.

And we have our old ‘friend’ Mike Dean for the fourth time this season!

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One other interesting piece of data hidden in the detail are the number of games the VAR Assistant referees have done – Andy Halliday has done 42 and Stephen Child has done 36.  Scott Ledger is next with 10.  Neither Andy nor Stephen has actually run the line yet this season!

The six teams with the lowest fouls per card figures are all southern-based:

  • Arsenal, (4.4)
  • Tottenham Hotspur (4.4)
  • AFC Bournemouth (4.5)
  • Norwich City (4.9)
  • Watford (5.1)
  • West Ham United (5.3).

The first Northern team in the list is Manchester City on 5.4 fouls per card.

At the other end of the scale are Leicester City (10.4), Southampton (8.1), and Liverpool (7.6).

The mean number (that is the average) is 6.1 fouls per card while the median (the position half way up the scale) would be 5.9 fouls per card.

Teams with figures lower than 4.7 and higher than 7.6 are statistically unlikely but of course not impossible in a statistical sense.

We can also take a look here at the “Minutes played under caution” data, which we have used in the past.  This indicates an extra stress period for teams, where the player knows that one more slip can mean the whole side going down to 10 men.  It adds an extra nervousness to the side which itself can cause difficulty, and were there to be any attempts by referees to influence the game against one side, would be a good tactic to use.  A yellow card early on makes a defensive slip much more likely somewhere in the 90 minutes.

Using the Minutes Played under Caution data – Liverpool have the fewest minutes of all teams at 740, Leicester at 971are the only other team with fewer than 1,000.

Arsenal on the other hand, with 2,126 are the only team above 2,000 so effectively the referees have punished Arsenal 300% more than Liverpool this season.

I calculate this figure by noting the time cards and penalties are awarded and subtracting each from 90.  For red cards and penalties I multiply the value by two, yellow cards just carry the basic number.  All cards etc in time added on in the first half are annotated as 45 minutes and at the end of the game I annotate them as 89 minutes.

Each of these sets of figures such as “minutes played under caution,” “fouls per card,” and “number of times a referee takes charge of a specific team” is an indicator.  None of them says of itself that there is anything fishy going on with refereeing, but each of them is somewhat suspicious.

We can see no reason why some teams have to commit far fewer fouls to get a card than others – but maybe it is just a quirk of the statistics.   And we would surely all be reassured if no team had the same referee more than twice in one season, for that would make it much harder for any dubious activity on the part of the referee to take place.

But when we see one team being refereed over and over again by the same official, and there is no explanation as to why some teams have to commit far fewer fouls to get a card than others, then it is perfectly reasonable to wonder what is going on.  Indeed it requires a great deal of faith in the neutrality of PGMO to believe there is nothing odd going on at all.

As ever, we have to say, we have no proof, but we do have an increasing amount of interesting evidence.

14 comments to Referee oddities: no proof but an increasing amount of unexpected data

  • markyb

    Dean in the middle and Twatkinson on VAR, goody goody, what could possibly go wrong.

    I suspect we will cop lots of bad fouls with at worst a yellow and of they get a chance another red for us probably awarded by Twatkinson on VAR.

    Dirty team Arsenal, discipline problem.

  • Laos Gooner

    One thing not commented on from the weekend in the engineered red for Auba was the fact that Meyer when first injured got up and hobbled in the direction of the palace bench. At some time during the geological epoch in which Video Assisted Rigging sparked its thought process into life to upgrade the yellow to red Meyer has returned to the pitch for treatment. Surely this is unsporting conduct. Should that not have been red? I am sure we could find replays and in slow motion highlight the deliberate nature of the actions taken by both player and medical staff which as far as I know contradict the guidance for officials regarding treatment of injured players. No mention in the commentary but that would require a comprehensive understanding of the game and the ability to report what one observes. Does the lack of comment indicate bias in reporting perhaps?

  • Dawie

    There is a few of my family and friends that support Pool, but even they are starting to ‘get’ it that there is something wrong with the refereeing in the EPL. I have stopped showing them the incidents when Pool players go over the top or stand on the feet of opposition players, but they now actually show these to me. Needless to say, I just ask them what was done to the player and leave them to ponder the situation.

  • Ben

    Please all read this especially those that justify criticising our players yet they are “fans”.

    https://www.arsenal.com/news/shkodran-mustafi-my-own-words

  • Gord

    OT: Football Integrity

    FIFA has a press release out.

    https://www.fifa.com/about-fifa/who-we-are/news/fifa-develops-new-and-enhanced-integrity-resources-for-member-associations-and-c

    This probably still won’t bring integrity to English (EPL) football.

  • Gord

    There are a few “news” outlets reporting that Bielsa of Leeds thinks Arsenal is unfair. He had Nketiah at Leeds for half a season, and gave him two starting appearances. Who is being fair?

    If he wanted to keep Nketiah at Leeds for the season, he should have been more fair.

  • Em

    @markyb
    Red carding an Arsenal key player (striker – Auba) is NOT enough, hence the enforcers have been appointed to ensure this time around the job is done to make sure Arsenal get zero point against the FA’s British manager.

    You may not be aware, Mike Dean was the same referee we had in our away game to the same Sheffield United that we loss 1 – 0. The PGMO is sending a clear message to any complainers that they do not care how it looks.

    @Laos Gooner
    Yes I saw the deplorable behaviours of Meyer and his medical staff. I highlighted this in a post after the game when it was claimed that Auba’s tackle had injured Meyer. It was clear to anyone looking that the medical staff had told Meyer to lie back down and not get up waiting for a VAR decision. He was only taken off to enforce the pretend that the red card decision was correct as he was injured, NOT (my opinion).

    Yes Auba red card was engineered and it being upheld by the FA was a foregone conclusion as the bias media made no attempt to have any really discussion on if the red card issued had been correct.

    When Spurs’s appealed SON red card given in the Everton game for being responsible for breaking a player’s leg (endangers the safety of an opponent as even stated by PMGO), the media were up in arms as to how it was a mistake and how SON was not that kind of player and did not mean for it to happen. I remember seeing various similar instance of his tackle being shown that did not result in a red card.

    However none for Auba, even as recently before the Arsenal game against Crystal Palace, Crystal Palace appealed the red card given to their captain for violent conduct and presented what there considered was 5 similar incident by other teams players that went unpunished as reason why there player’s red card should be rescinded. Sky Sport newspaper ran that story and even presented it on it TV broadcast.

    Even after the FA upheld the red card, I am yet to read or hear about the reason why it was upheld. The Media A.K.A Sky Sport News play a big part in the actions taken FOR or AGAINST Arsenal due to its very bias representation of everything Arsenal.

    The corrupt/bias FA by upholding Auba red card had to make sure it was giving it 3 British Manager all the help they needed in the upcoming games against Arsenal and did not want to risk it’s lapdog PMGOL referees not getting the job (Arsenal loss) done this time around.

    @Ben
    All I can say is a very big WOW, a very powerful story and statement from Mustafi, just wished all the so call alleged supporters get to read his story and reflect on their actions as supporters and also factor the additional problems these Arsenal defenders/players have to deal with in the form of bias referees.

  • Em

    Arsenal match refs appointments 2019/2020 season so far

    Ref VAR Ref 4th Official
    Paul Tierney = 3 3
    Anthony Taylor = 2 1 1
    Martin Atkinson = 4 1 1
    Mike Dean = 4 1
    Chris Kavanagh = 2 3 1
    Jonathan Moss = 1 1
    Stuart Attwell = 2 2
    Andre Marriner = 1 2
    Kevin Friend = 2 1
    Michael Oliver = 1 2
    Gavin Ward = 2
    Simon Hooper = 2
    Andy Madley = 1
    Graham Scott = 1 1
    Darren England = 1
    Tim Robinson = 2
    Lee Mason = 2
    David Coote = 1
    Peter Bankes = 2 3
    Stephen Martin = 1
    Craig Pawson = 1 1 1
    Keith Stroud = 1

  • em

    Apologies, that did not come out as I planned, have updated and resubmitting.
    Please read/follow as;
    Referee (Ref) (VAR-Ref) (4th Official)
    Name ? ? ?

  • em

    Arsenal Matches refs appointments 2019/2020 season so far

    (Ref) (VAR-Ref) (4th Official)
    Paul Tierney = 3 3 0
    Anthony Taylor = 2 1 1
    Martin Atkinson = 4 1 1
    Mike Dean = 4 1 o
    Chris Kavanagh = 2 3 1
    Jonathan Moss = 1 1 0
    Stuart Attwell = 2 2 0
    Andre Marriner = 0 1 2
    Kevin Friend = 2 1 0
    Michael Oliver = 1 2 0
    Gavin Ward = 0 0 2
    Simon Hooper = 0 0 2
    Andy Madley = 0 1 0
    Graham Scott = 1 1 0
    Darren England = 0 0 1
    Tim Robinson = 0 0 2
    Lee Mason = 0 0 2
    David Coote = 0 1 0
    Peter Bankes = 0 2 3
    Stephen Martin = 0 0 1
    Craig Pawson = 1 1 1
    Keith Stroud = 0 0 1

  • Menace

    There is one oddity – the Australian referee who did the VAR when we played Palace at home and Sokratis was robbed of a perfectly good goal. His appointment was against any previously declared method and showed the open PGMOL policy of ‘we do what we want’.

    To me the PGMOL are a corrupt racist organisation with no responsibility to the game or the clubs they officiate. There is obviously more select corruption to be delivered in the rest of this fake sporting season.

  • Em

    @Menace,

    Just noticed I missed him (Jarred Gillett) out on my previous list, one has to wonder why we have not seen him back doing an Arsenal game again considering what he allegedly did against Arsenal that should have made him a Mike Riley/PGMOL hero.

    I till this day do not believe he made that call (decision) to overrule our goal for an alleged foul and that some else in the VAR control situation room i.e. Team leader (Senior PGMOL lapdog) made the call and overrule him. Hence the reason why we have NOT seen him back doing an Arsenal game again as he may not be a Mike Riley/PGMOL team player.

    Arsenal Matches refs appointments 2019/2020 season so far

    (Appointed Referees) (Refd) (VAR-Refd) (4th Official)

    Paul Tierney = 3 3 0
    Anthony Taylor = 2 1 1
    Martin Atkinson = 4 1 1
    Mike Dean = 4 1 0
    Chris Kavanagh = 2 3 1
    Jonathan Moss = 1 1 0
    Stuart Attwell = 2 2 0
    Andre Marriner = 0 1 2
    Kevin Friend = 2 1 0
    Michael Oliver = 1 2 0
    Gavin Ward = 0 0 2
    Simon Hooper = 0 0 2
    Andy Madley = 0 1 0
    Graham Scott = 1 1 0
    Darren England = 0 0 1
    Tim Robinson = 0 0 2
    Lee Mason = 0 0 2
    David Coote = 0 1 0
    Peter Bankes = 0 2 3
    Stephen Martin = 0 0 1
    Craig Pawson = 1 1 1
    Keith Stroud = 0 0 1
    Jarred Gillett = 0 1 0

  • Mikey

    @ Em

    You may not have noticed the officials for the match against Chelsea next week. Atwell will be refing for the third time this season and Tierney will be in charge of VAR for the fourth time.

    If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck…………..

  • Em

    @Mikey
    You just cannot even make it up!!! We get the same referee that was part of the team responsible for red carding our key player and striker Auba when he (Paul Tierney) was the referee only in our last game on 11 January.

    So the same referee has been appointed if correct as the VAR referee in our 2nd next premier league game (21 January) during Auba suspension.

    Match fixing at its best, Mike Riley/PGMOL and the FA have no shame, O well, they need to look after their Golden Boy British Manager in his first season as manager in the premier league and make sure he gets his team into the champions League to showcase his hosts of English players he is looking to supply the English National Team.