Newspaper’s misleading data claims there is nothing wrong with PL refereeing

by Tony Attwood

The Observer newspaper yesterday published one of the most atrociously misleading pieces of PGMO propaganda yet seen.

The article published on 6 December 2020 is headlined:

Sing when you’re winning? Home support doesn’t really help football teams

The evidence offered in the article shows nothing of the kind, and it is obviously misleading, yet it was written by a serious and well-known journalist.  As a result the possibility that it was produced in order to mislead and deflect research into the PGMO is something that must be considered.

It is of course possible that it has been produced as a  result of sloppy journalism, or it could be a left over from a previous era (given that it uses research that is now so old that when one follows the link the paper supplies to its original running of the story one gets a warning of how old it is) and used as a filler on a slow news day.  We have no way of knowing.

And it should not be assumed that Jamie Doward the author is to blame.   He has (his blurb assures us) worked for the Observer for nearly twenty years as a business reporter, the Home Affairs editor, the Religious Affairs correspondent, the Social Affairs Editor, the diarist and the Senior Reporter.  Not so much on football it seems, but still he clearly must know really fake news when asked to write about it.

Just look at the headline

“As fans return to the Premier League, a study finds empty stadiums affect the number of bookings, not the frequency of home wins”.

But for anyone with the time to read on, and follow the links that take us back to the original research, it is clear that the data was taken from the Reading University research undertaken across 23 different leagues across the whole of Europe.

The generalisation from this data from different leagues at once puts it outside of our own area of interest in which we argue with a wide array of data that there is something seriously wrong with refereeing in the PGMO run Premier League.  But the paper’s headline tries to suggest it is relevant to the Premier League.

It does this by not making it at all clear that this data is from across Europe.  And yet they say that “In the Premier League and Championship, games played in empty stadiums saw the proportion of home victories drop from 43.4% before the pandemic to 42.0%.”  That is utterly untrue.

It takes barely five minutes to total up the figures for the Premier League as of this weekend, and compare it with the league table up to 31 October 2019 (when all teams had played five games at home) and see the numbers.

Indeed we have to ask, why go back and quote a piece of research that is a year old, and which has been debated endlessly in the past, when it takes but five minutes to do the research for this season and compare it with this stage last season?  Why create such a misleading fake story – unless it was to show that there has been no change in the Premier League results?  And why do that?

The only reason can be to stop people realising that the level of home wins is down to the referees.

I have taken the figures up to 31 October last season, as this was the moment when 100 games had been played in the Premier League and compared that with the nearest datapoint – when 106 games had been played in the league this season – the end of play on 6 December 2020.

Subject Home Draw Away
Percentages of results 2019/2020 (crowds present) 43% 29% 28%
Percentages of results 2020/2021 (empty stadia) 37% 20% 43%
Difference between the two sets of games -6% -9% +15%

What we can see is that far from the proportion of home victories having gone down by a mere 1.3% as the Observer says, they have actually dropped by 6%.  What’s more because the level of draws has also declined by 9% (not mentioned in the Observer report) the level of away wins is up by 15%.

In short while at this stage last season the percentage of home wins was 43%, now the number of away wins is 43%.

We know why this is – it is fully explained in the London School of Economics research, which shows that referees are influenced by home crowd noise – which proves that the PGMO claim to 98% accuracy pre-pandemic was a total fabrication.

What we don’t know is why the Observer ran this false story now.

To be clear the figures are misleading because the assume that all leagues in different countries work in the same way – something which assumes there is nothing amiss with refereeing in any particular league.  Given that referees in each league are subject to very different rules and regulations (for example, how often they are allowed to ref the same club) there is no justification for this.

So why did Jamie Doward write an article which uses old data from across Europe when it has long been clear that refereeing matters in the Premier League are utterly different from those elsewhere?

Maybe it was just sloppy journalism.  Maybe the Observer sports desk didn’t have anything else to put in, and said to an office junior “Find us something to slip in here sharpish”.  Or maybe PGMO said to the Observer, “those annoying bastards at Untold Arsenal are still talking about the LSE research which shows definitively that referees are influenced wholesale by the crowd, and presenting contemporary figures to show that referees have been far more inaccurate over time than we’ve ever admitted.  Publish something that stops that will you?”

The Observer deliberately using old and irrelevant data in this way is worrying.  If it was a slip, they will undoubtedly apologise and present contemporary data related just to the Premier League.  If they don’t then we may take it that PGMO is seriously having a bash at fighting back against our revelations.

7 Replies to “Newspaper’s misleading data claims there is nothing wrong with PL refereeing”

  1. Tony, I think the years in the Subject column of your table above have been flipped. the first row appears to list the 2019/2020 data

  2. Even the blind person who is not sighted to be watching Premier League football matches as they are being played in the stadia or shown on the TV screen knows that something cynically serious that bothers on the dishonest side in Premier League football match refereeing has been ongoing at the PGMO.

    More so in particular, when it comes to the PGMO Premier League match officiating officials refereeing in Arsenal PL games. An unacceptable situation that has led to the the anti-Arsenal match refereeing in the PL notion being tailored around to be ongoing for more than a decade at the Mike Riley’s controlled PGMO. Which has stalled Arsenal from winning the PL title.

    For Arsenal looked they would have won the PL title many times over in the past fourteen seasons if hadn’t been for the PGMO been clever in perpetuating their anti-Arsenal match refereeing in the PL agenda against Arsenal Football Club criminally designed to be hurting Arsenal every season.

    Now, Arsenal have played eleven Premier League matches out of the total of the thirty eight matches they will play this season. And they have garnered thirteen points out of the 33 that were on offer to them to garner.

    But if the PGMO will allow Arsenal but not hinder them in their remaining 27 PL matches left for the club to play, I bet and believe Arsenal will come good incredibly at end of this PL season’s campaign to finish in one of the top-four places despite the early season unwelcome results that they’ve suffered.

    For, Arsenal can take the 81 maximum points of the 27 games left for them to play and finally finish the season on 94 points to clinch one of the top-four places in the table. But if the PGMO will allow them as I’ve said.

    To attempt the possibility of clinching one of the top-four place spots this season, Arsenal should from their next home match in the PL start to position themselves to fight a cruelsome battle with the PGMO on the field of play in their sworn anti-Arsenal match refereeing in the PL agenda designed against AFC. And repel the agenda by expelling it from their games playing in the PL henceforth till season’s end.


    I am sure many have noticed what has become Harry Kane’s MO, taking out opponents when their feet are off the ground, with force, incredibly dangerous. And the actions of a coward who knows his position in the English game allows him dangerous liberties.
    the refs and pundits turn a blind eye, as they do to darlings. If us punters have noticed this, I am sure refs and pundits have.
    He is going to seriously hurt someone one day.
    Not condoning violence, but in the absence of any chance a ref will punish Kane, Just wish we had a player that could have summoned the spirit of another era , of Keown, Bould Adams, or even Dennis and offered some retribution on Kane for this repeat offence, this time, on Gabriel, a three week ban would have been worth it

  4. Mandy sorry publication of your comment was delayed – one of the infinite number of safety settings I have introduced in the past 12 years is one in which any comment with links in it gets held until I clear it. It is just that we are bombarded by comments that are nothing more than adverts. So that’s what held yours up.

  5. Mandy Dodd
    In rugby, both union and league, taking a player out whilst he is off the ground even by a few inches let alone in mid air like the Kane examples always results in a foul being called, plus very often 10 minutes in the sin bin or even a red card, depending on the severity of the offence. In all the cases involving Kane he took the players out deliberately whilst they were high in the air, of that there is no doubt, and in all cases the victims were caught completely unaware they were about to be clattered. In rugby they would have been punished with red cards without doubt. And yet the refs see it as Kane who is the one fouled. He even got a penalty awarded to him for the Brighton one on Alana.
    Good old Harry, he can do no wrong. Imagine the outcry if it were Xhaka doing the same thing.
    The refs are a disgrace, they are endangering the safety of the players they are supposed to be protecting from dangerous play.

  6. Mandy, I was on that Twitter thread last night and earlier today. It’s great that fans of other clubs agree that Kane is no longer whiter than white, and a few referees have noticed what has been going on too. This type of foul is similar to the incident where Arnautovic pushed Debuchy into the advertising hoarding (that also went unpunished). They were both cowardly attacks that present little risk to the perpetrator, whilst presenting a high degree of risk to the victim.

    I had a “disagreement” with a Sp*rs fan on that thread. He claimed that what Kane was doing was “perfectly within the laws of the game”, so I quoted the rule book to him.

    I see that Bellerin was punished for a foul throw for the third consecutive EPL game. Reguilon’s throw-ins were deemed to be legal. Atkinson is tilting the pitch.

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