by Tony Attwood
An article on the Guardian website finally recognises the bias of referees, but yet again refuses to draw the obvious conclusions about PGMO, so that at the end the only question I was left asking was, “What pressure is PGMO putting on the media not to question their utter and absolute authority?” Even when an article agrees they are wrong, it seems they still are pure and perfect.
The article, “How the home team advantage is lost when no one’s watching” returns to the theme we have taken up time and time again these last five months, showing that referees are influenced by the home crowd.
There has now been a whole range of serious academic research we have cited here – which can be placed alongside PGMO’s own research that showed an accuracy rate for 98.5%. Now we know that lunatic figure of 98.5% cannot be true, given the home bias figures; which then raises the question, how did the PGMO get its figures so wrong, and why did no one in the media (except Untold – and maybe one or two other blogs whose commentaries I must have missed) question this?
Interestingly the Guardian in passing also cites a study from the United States which shows that before spectators were banned from big events following two such events deaths increased by a staggering 9% in nearby areas.
And then as they recall, over a quarter of a million people attended Cheltenham race course in early March. Goodness knows how many of them got the virus. But clearly no one was thinking about statistics when the authorities gave Cheltenham the go-ahead.
That Cheltenham figure is of interest to those of us who study the history of things, because at the time of the outbreak of the first world war there was a major argument about closing down football, but at the same time enormous pressure from the monied classes to keep race going open.
In the end the Football League and FA Cup stopped, and small scale leagues were organised by the northern dominated League, while the clubs in the south were left to fend for themselves. The London and southern clubs did this perfectly well without the help of the Football League, and played generally to small crowds. Horse racing was unaffected by the war.
What this meant was that when the flu pandemic struck, the virus spread through both types of sporting events. Now of course all sports have stopped – although allowing that quarter of a million to gather at Cheltenham undoubtedly aided the spread of the disease dramatically. In my view the British Horseracing Authority and the government should be held to account, but I expect they won’t be. They never are.
All of which makes the affect of empty stadia on referee decision making seem very trivial – which it would be if during non-covid times the PGMO didn’t claim 98.5% accuracy for their decision making.
The Guardian reports that “Using data from 6,481 matches played before and after the mid-season shutdown in 17 countries, [the study] finds that the removal of fans reduces home advantage by narrowing the gap in the number of yellow cards for away teams compared with home teams by a third. Why? Fan absence lessens pressure on referees to punish away teams more harshly.”
That isn’t of course the only finding from such studies. Earlier analyses we have reported also shows that the amount of time added on by referees at the end of matches is much longer if the home team is consistently attacking to score to turn a defeat into a draw or a draw into a win, than if the added on time could be beneficial to an away team that is pushing to get the final goal that might give them a draw.
As they say in the report, the influence on referees is not surprising, for “figures of authority respond to short-term pressures…. Think of the national disgrace of Covid deaths in underprepared care homes into which we actively pushed patients to empty hospitals. Part of the reason? The NHS has the fans that our care homes too often, tragically, lack.”
Whether the electorate in the UK will ultimately punish the Conservative government for that and other decisions during the virus only time will tell. But in football it is clear, nothing changes, simply because no one in the media takes the bias that has been revealed in refereeing, and calls for serious change.
In fact the reverse happens as, for years and years the PGMO, aided by the media, has been telling us that our referees are brilliant, making hardly any errors. Now we know what our everyday observations have been telling us for years, and what the ground-breaking 160 game analysis that we published confirmed. Referees are nowhere near as accurate as PGMO likes to claim.
That in itself wouldn’t matter if it were not for the fact that refereeing in the Premier League is organised in a totally different way from that in the other main leagues in Europe. In the Premier League far fewer referees are used, and certain referees get to referee the same clubs over and over. Thus bias is all too likely to occur, as is corruption. Worse, all PL referees are asked to sign “non-disclosure” agreements so that they don’t reveal secrets about the PGMO after they retire, and I am told (but cannot prove) that those who don’t sign such agreements are warned about action if they reveal awkward facts afterwards.
I can’t say why the media don’t want to report on the in-depth studies into refereeing from Reading University and LSE, but they don’t, or if they do, their summaries are very facile. Yet the evidence is out there. Refereeing in the PL is different from refereeing in the rest of the known universe, and that does not make it better.
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