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October 2020
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Which teams have had the most repeat visits by referees so far this season and other refereeing oddities

by Andrew Crawshaw

The PGMO have 17 referees on its list of Select Group (i.e those fully accredited to take charge of Premier League matches).  In addition, so far this season, four referees from the Select Group 2 have each taken charge of a single game.  This group comprises those referees accredited up to Championship level and (I presume) are awarded by their performance at this lower level with the opportunity to demonstrate their skills on the bigger PL stage with a view to promotion in the future.

The matches this coming weekend are for week 27 of our 38 week season so we are 71% of the way through the season.  Assuming an equal workload between the referees we should expect each to have done 16 matches, however, this isn’t the case.  Martin Atkinson has done 23, Anthony Taylor, Michael Oliver and Mike Dean have each done 21 whilst at the other end of the scale, Peter Bankes had done 7, Simon Hooper and Andy Madley 8, David Coote 11 and Lee Mason 13.

So despite all being accredited to the same level, it seems that the referees are not regarded as being equally competent.

It has long been the opinion of Untold that no referee should be given charge of matches involving any team more than twice per year, once at home and once away.  This is to minimize the risks of a referee having an undue influence on match results due to any overt or unintended bias or influence from home/away fans. 

With nearly three-quarters of the season gone every club had had referees at least three times and in the most extreme cases five times.  No team has seen all 17 Select Group referees and six clubs including Arsenal have only had 12 referees to date.

Here is a team by team table showing which referees have visited more than twice, the numbers of referees who have done one or two matches and the Select Group referees yet to put in an appearance.

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Club No of Refs seen Referees Visiting  Yet to appear
5 times 4 Times 3 times Twice Once
Arsenal 12 Martin Atkinson

Mike Dean

Chris Kavanagh

Paul Tierney

Stuart Attwell

2 5 Andre Marriner

David Coote, Simon Hooper, Peter Bankes, Andy Madley

Burnley 15 Michael Oliver

Mike Dean

Paul Tierney

Jon Moss

4 7 Andre Marriner

David Coote

Andy Madley

Bournemouth 13 Martin Atkinson

Chris Kavanagh

Mike Dean

Paul tierney

4 5 Craig Pawson

David Coote

Andy Madley

Brighton 14 Kevin Friend

Jon Moss

Graham Scott 5 6 Andre Marriner

Lee Mason

Simon Hooper

Peter Bankes

Burnley 15 Michael Oliver

Mike Dean

Kevin Friend

Jon Moss

4 7 Chris Kavanagh

Stuart Attwell

Andy Madley

Chelsea 14 Anthony Taylor

Stuart Attwell

Mickael Oliver

Chris Kavanagh

3 7 David Coote

Simon Hooper

Peter Bankes

Andy Madley

Crystal Palace 15 Paul Tierney

Jon Moss

7 5 Chris Kavanagh

Lee Mason

Everton 15 Anthony Taylor

Michael Oliver

Paul Tierney

6 6 Chris Kavanagh

Peter Bankes

Leicester 15 Mike Dean

Paul Tierney

5 5 Kevin Friend

Stuart Attwell

Liverpool 12 Michael Oliver Anthony Taylor Martin Atkinson

Chris Kavanagh

Jon Moss

Andre Marriner

1 4 Lee Mason

David Coote

Simon Hooper

Peter Bankes

Andy Madley

Man City 12 Mike Dean Michael Oliver

Jon Moss

8 1 Stuart Attwell

David Coote

Simon Hooper

Peter bankes

Andy Madley

Man United 12 Anthony Taylor Martin Atkinson

Mike Dean

Paul Tierney

Kevin Friend

Jon Moss

3 4 Graham Scott

David Coote

Simon Hooper

Peter bankes

Andy Madley

Newcastle 13 Martin Atkinson Stuart Attwell

Lee Mason

6 4 Mike Dean

Michael Oliver

Jon Moss

Andy Madley

Norwich 14 Kevin Friend Paul Tierney

Jon Moss

Stuart Attwell

4 6 Paul Tierney

Craig Pawson

Graham Scott

Sheffield 16 David Coote Simon Hooper Craig Pawson
Spurs 12 Martin Atkinson

Michael Oliver

Mike Dean

Chris Kavanagh

Graham Scott

3 4 Andre Marriner

David Coote

Simon Hooper

Peter bankes

Andy Madley

Southampton 16 Kevin Friend

Andre Marriner

Lee Mason

5 8 Anthony Taylor
Watford 14 Martin Atkinson

Mike Dean

Andre Marriner

Graham Scott

4 3 Jon Moss

Stuart Attwell

Peter Bankes

West Ham 12 Michael Oliver Mike Dean

Jon Moss

Andre Marriner

David Coote

4 3 Craig Pawson

Lee Mason

Simon Hooper

Peter bankes

Andy Madley

Wolves 16 Anthony Taylor

Peter Bankes

6 9 Lee Mason

Sheffield have had all but one of the Select Group referees this season, along with Southampton and Wolverhampton, the most of any Club, but why have they had David Coote four times – he has only been given 11 matches, so over a third of them for one club!  

Similarly, Wolverhampton have had Peter Bankes three times out of his seven starts so nearly half of his matches for one club.  Statistically, both are unlikely matches awarded randomly.

Arsenal, Liverpool, Man City, Man United, Tottenham and West Ham have all had the fewest referees this season with 12.

Here is the percentage of the matches for each of these clubs that have been refereed by the multiple officials

No of referees visiting more than twice No of matches with referees visiting more than twice % of matches potentially affected by  these referees
Arsenal 5 18 66.7%
Liverpool 6 21 77.8%
Man City 3 10 37.0%
Man United 6 20 74.1%
Spurs 5 17 63.0%
West Ham 5 16 59.3%

 Whilst there is no conclusive proof that referees are anything other than scrupulously honest in their work, the potential for match-fixing by a relatively small number of individuals is clearly there.  Nearly 80% of Liverpool and Man United games have been supervised by six individuals and two thirds of Arsenal and Spurs games by five.

The most used referees in the league have three times the workload of the least used.

The PGMO clearly does not select referees to matches randomly, so this means that there is active selection to determine which referees do which games.  This process in itself is clearly open to the possibility of bias coming into play.



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7 comments to Which teams have had the most repeat visits by referees so far this season and other refereeing oddities

  • Les Martin ( LeMmy )

    Whenever I see Dermot Gallagher on ref watch he has his hands in a double compass shape.
    Is this some kind of Masonic signal ?
    Is Dermot a Mason ?
    Could this be the secret society behind the PGMO secret society ? Just asking…

  • Mikey

    Andrew, the concept you have evidenced is obviously well known to regular readers. The issue for me is the one Tony has regularly raised. Why is nobody (especially the media) asking why?

    If it’s all open and above board then what does anybody have to fear. But if it’s all open and honest, why would the authorities put themselves in a position of being open to accusations of potential bias and/or corruption. Why not just change it and do it more randomly?

    I do understand that one or two referees may be seen (in theory) as more experienced at managing big games and that a top of the table clash at the end of the season may benefit from having such a referee in charge. But in terms of referees getting that experience surely less experienced referees need to gain that experience through getting more (and varied) matches.

    The issue is, I can see no logical explanation as to why the PGMO operate in this way and if there is, why don’t they tell us……..and why don’t the media ask them to tell us?

  • Chris

    @Mikey,

    the thing is, without asking about why and why not, this just proves that it DOES NOT even out at the end. LiVARPool! have results definitely being influenced by two referee being there for a third of the games … they are the only team with that configuration…and another 4 referees in charge of 45 % of the games. That is 3 quarters of the games by repeat referees

    Arsenal have 3 referees present for 45 % of their games…not any better in statistical terms

  • It’s not long now until we launch a major new initiative on refereeing in the Premier League. I think everyone who is interested in the “why?” question will find it… well, stimulating and interesting.

    Not long to go now.

  • Gord

    Thanks Andrew.

    A person does need to include the VAR people in who PGMO has oversee teams. I would say it is at least a (almost) calear and obvious why this is happening.

    https://untold-arsenal.com/archives/79627#comment-973913

    In the comment I submitted there, I reduced to text some data presented on how a change suggested by Wenger might have affected the EPL this season. VAR for whatever reason is providing real benefit to at least 2 teams; LiVARpool! and the spuds. In that “alternate reality” LiVARpool! would have one loss this season and no more talk about being invincible.

  • Fin Duggan

    Andrew, your closing observations on the PGMO selection process summed it up perfectly ! Begs the question what process did they use to select the officials for the Chelsea v Manchester United game ?
    Antony Taylor ( qualified through Manchester FA ) Referee
    Chris Kavanagh ( qualified through Manchester FA ) VAR
    Random ? Neutral ? I don’t think so. It was unsafe and unfair to both officials, both teams and all football lovers.

  • para

    I keep saying we need a ref league that allows refs to be promoted and relegated like the teams. This would mean refs get a sort of league table for points given to them in games. This would ensure that the refs try their hardest to be top by being better.