Excellent newspaper article proves ref bias and points to media complicity in hiding it

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.


14 Replies to “Excellent newspaper article proves ref bias and points to media complicity in hiding it”

  1. OT


    Fascinating reading. The litany of failures at the CL makes for interesting reading.
    It reminds me of a Mr Wenger, with not even a tenth of the budget of Guardiola had close to the same succes rate over 11 years – losing one final to Barcelona – and being labelled specialist in failure with the whole so called press calling him any names and screaming for his firing.

    I don’t see this being asked for about Guardiola, and no one questionning the 1 billion investment in defeats….

    Which considering what we all see day in day on in the so-called press is not surprising, is it ?

  2. Chris

    Thanks for the link.

    ‘Litany of failures’ !

    At least somebody is telling it as it is. I have been saying for years how I would like to see how ‘the best manager in the World’ would do given a zero nett budget to operate under as was Wengers remit for 10 years.

    Don’t get me wrong I like Pep, he seems a pretty decent guy and is certainly a great manager who advocates a style of football that is nice to watch.

    But come on, the guy spends Millions and millions on his teams, so that is the least we should expect.

    I have argued with City fans who visit this site, that given their enormous spending on players and coaching staff, rather than being ‘A brilliantly run club’ they are actually under achieving.

    They should be winning the premier league just about every year and the very least we should expect is for them in Europe is to be reaching CL finals on a regular basis, and they haven’t even reached one.

    It seems that in Europe Man City are rubbish, except of course in their ability to threaten people with bankruptcy and avoiding right and proper justice for their shenanigans.

    Still, given the tone of the City fans who have regularly visited this particular blog, and no doubt will do again, they actually seem quite proud of that.

  3. @Nitram,

    I fully agree. Guardiola is very good at coaching a team of galacticos. And even then, it needs a very delicate balance for such a team to win a CL as we have seen. Until he has taken over some god forsaken team and brought them to a PL win, I’ll stick with my opinion of a goach for galacticos and not a football coach.

    It will be interesting to compare how City and Arsenal are doing next season….I am starting to think that Arteta, who has learned from Mr Wenger and from Guardiola, will manage a team that will climb up the ladder.

    By the way, the CL semi-finals are played between 3 german coaches and an french one. Add Klopp and you’ve got 4 german coaches in charge of the best teams in Europe.

  4. As to accuracy and professionalism, I just ask Mr. Riley this question:

    How many PGMO referees work the UCL matches?

  5. @Nitram,

    the Guardian is in full Guardiola lobbying mode…. Just the title says it all : “To suggest Pep Guardiola has failed is ridiculous – but Champions League losses grate ”


    They ought to stop writing stories about referee bias and start writing some about ‘press bias’. Because whichever way you put it, 1 billion to get a CL and 4 times in a row not to get to semis is what ? A quarter of a success ?

    Again, I am repeating mysef, but when I rememember all the sh.. that was thrown at Mr Wenger, reading the torrent of excuses and justifications given to him is just annoying.
    Why don’t they just state that Guardiola is the Messiah and we can get on with our lives ?

  6. Chris

    Again right on the money, if you’ll excuse the pun.

    As you say Wenger was endlessly ridiculed for failing to land the CL, even during a 10 year period when he was operating on a zero nett spend.

    Given that spend, reaching the quarter finals, as we often did, was actually a reasonable performance. That is why I was prepared to concede what a remarkable performance it was for Spurs to reach a CL final, even though ultimately yet again they flattered to deceive and have ultimately fallen back to where their spending suggests they should be. But credit where credit is due, getting to the final was a great achievement.

    But back to City, on the basis of ‘Nett spend = success’ the minimum City should be doing is reaching the Simi’s EVERY year, and regularly reaching a final, with the odd triumph. Obviously with the massive clubs they are up against I’m not suggesting they should be winning it year after year, but to me going out when they do, every year, is clearly abject failure and far more worthy of ridicule than was Wenger and Arsenals exits at similar stages.

    The Guardians defence of such obvious under achievement is another clear indication of how that paper, as well as others, apply a completely different set of rules to what we should do, compared to others.

    I mean given how we were constantly told that CL qualification meant nothing, and it was all about trophies, that means crappy old Arsenal with their record 14th FA Cup triumph were in fact the 2nd most successful team in the Premiership this season sitting only behind Champions Liverpool. Above Man City who only won a measly League Cup, and way above Man Utd, Chelsea and Spurs who won nothing, not a sausage, bugger all !!!!

    But given what we read, both from the media and our own fans, you’d never believe it.

    OR was Wenger right after all and IT IS ALL ABOUT CHAMPIONS LEAGUE QUALIFICATION ?

    I mean if indeed that is the case, then he is owed one hell of an apology from both the piss taking media and our own banner waving ingrates.

    Cant see that happening any time soon can you Chris?

  7. Nitram,

    no I can’t.

    And just so I say it once (but not twice…) : I was admirative of Sp*rs season 2018-2019.
    There won’t be a repeat anytime soon not with their actual coach and I wonder if getting such a constellation of players in their prime at bargain basement prices is going to be possible again.

    On the Arsenal side, I think that with Arteta we have gotten Mr Right, and he’s got to ‘DNA’s if I can say so : Mr Wenger and tiki-taka. I always felt that Wengerball was the most pleasing to watch, and I’ve seen some of it appear again. So I0m looking forward to what comes and I believe that the team we have is much better then people want to admit. Just hope AMN stays. And ream of Ozil getting out of his slump….

  8. “So I’m looking forward to what comes and I believe that the team we have is much better then people want to admit. Just hope AMN stays. And dream of Ozil getting out of his slump.”

    Me too on all those points.

    To state the bleedin’ obvious I have said all season that both Liverpool and Man City are quite a way ahead of us at this time, and that is despite us beating both of them towards the end of the season. But I have also been saying all season that we are at least as good as Chelsea, Spurs, Man utd, Liecster City and Wolves. I believe ourselves and those 5 teams could of finished in any order and nobody could really of complained. Perhaps the difference for us from finishing top, or at least higher up that group rather than bottom was the disruption of a change of manager mid season. Who knows but either way there’s not a great deal between the lot of them, but here’s the thing I think it is our squad that has the most potential for improvement due to the amount of excellent young players in it and Arteta really hitting his stride in his 1st full season.

    For us to put in a good challenge for the top 4 those youngsters would only need to make the normal progress you would expect, and allied to the 2 new players we already have it isn’t in my opinion a big stretch to see us finish in the top 4 next season.

    It wont be easy mind because those sides may also improve, especially Chelsea and Man Utd who are definitely going to spend and possibly spend big.

    So in conclusion I am hopeful rather than expectant of a top 4 finish, either way they will have my unwavering support from start to finish.

  9. Sorry for the intrusion. But I ask @goonersince72 and @Porter not to interject this dialogue between @Chris and @Nitram.

  10. Nitram,

    let them spend….as always, you never know how a player will adapt and too many new players disrupt what is available and create problems at least in the first months. I’m totally not convinced of Chelsea’s defense, their midfield lost an important cogwheel to us. They are in for a hard time. Manure don’t have it easier. So lots of disruptions coming ahead.

    So far, we’ve got Willian, Saliba whom we may consider new. The rest have been here already and know the house. The disruption is going to be minimal, and they ought to be eased in without many priblems. The more so that there is talent at their position, so they are not coming in in ‘saviour-where-have-you-been-all-our-life-please-lift-us-to-heaven’ mode.

    The one guy I’d break the bank for is Ceballos, and him coming next year means no disruption either.
    And I am saying that confident in the fact that Aubameyang will sign an extension

  11. The Ozil situation may change now that Sanllehi has gone. Sanllehi had a lot of influence with human trafficker Jorabchian. That might mean Coutinho may not appear at the ems.

    Arteta has been magnificent and hopefully will continue his methodical approach of team building. The money will be available should Arsenal need it. It always is.

    There are some wonderful years ahead of us and the club will give us supporters a great deal of confidence in the next few months. Financial control is being visibly applied, yet there are several doubters of the integrity of the ownership.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *