Are football journalists biased, lazy or just ignorant?

By Tony Attwood

If you are a regular reader you will know that whereas when crowds were present, the home teams in the Premier League were likely to win games more often than the away team.   Since games have been played without crowds present the reverse has been true.

The explanation for this (as I’ve noted several times) is that evidence now clearly shows that PGMO referees are influenced by the crowd – and thus are biased, rather than working at a 98% accuracy level, as PGMO has stated repeatedly.

But that leaves another question.  Is this just something that has affected PGMO referees, or is it spread across other leagues? has a page devoted to statistics from various leagues and this allows us to see what the current state of play is elsewhere.

Leagues  ▴ Played Home Wins Draws Away Wins Home advantage
Premier League 164 37% 24% 38%
Championship (tier 2) 269 42% 28% 31% 11%
League One (tier 3) 238 42% 22% 37% 5%
League Two (tier 4) 254 41% 26% 33% 8%
National L. North (tier 6) 154 39% 30% 31% 7%
National L. South (tier 6) 132 36% 23% 42%
National League (tier 5) 168 42% 20% 39% 3%
Women Super League 55 38% 20% 42%

In 2018/29 181 games were home wins out of 380 played – which is 47%.  128 were away wins – which is 33%, and 20% were draws.

So in the current season home wins are down 10%, with those games now turning into away wins or draws.

But only two other leagues (National League South and the Women’s Super League) have copied this trend.  In all the other leagues the home advantage has remained.  How can this be explained?

One possible explanation is that the referees in the lower leagues do not give an advantage to the home team because of crowd pressure, because the crowds are much smaller and much less vocal.  But there is another factor – although this is based very much on my own observations.

In times when we are able to go and watch matches, when I am unable to watch Arsenal I tend to go and watch teams local to my area (the East Midlands) and I do find in watching the games that referees seem to be a lot more lenient in terms of what fouls they call.

If that is true, then it is quite possible that the extra leniency is more extended to the home team than the away team, perhaps because the away team are always “fighting” that bit harder being on unfamiliar territory.  That is a supposition of course, and doesn’t explain why National League South is different in this regard from other leagues.  Nor indeed why the Women’s Super League is getting different results.

Certainly the Premier League refereeing is different from the rest because it is the only set of referees who are employed by PGMO and who work to PGMO rules.  They are, after all, the elite referees.

If anyone can explain why these results are showing up as they are I’d be delighted to hear all theories.

8 Replies to “Are football journalists biased, lazy or just ignorant?”

  1. Talking of journalists (even though this article isn’t ?). Anyway.

    As predicted by Untold this didn’t take long did it.

    From The Mirrors Samuel Meade who is their ‘Sports Brand Writer’ apparently.

    “Intriguing reports have surfaced claiming Arsenal star Bukayo Saka is interested in joining Liverpool, with Jurgen Klopp a known admirer of the 20-year-old”.

    And where are these reports ‘surfacing’ I wonder? Oh look:

    From Foot.lon

    “Liverpool have been linked with a move for Arsenal youngster Bukayo Saka, with Jurgen Klopp reportedly looking to rebuild his attack around the player he once dubbed as “exciting”.

    ‘Linked’ by who I wonder. Oh look:

    From The Mirrors Samuel Meade who is their ‘Sports Brand Writer’ apparently.

    “Intriguing reports have surfaced claiming Arsenal star Bukayo Saka is interested in joining Liverpool, with Jurgen Klopp a known admirer of the 20-year-old”.

    And so it goes round and around.

    Well I never !!!

  2. And going a bit deeper, where has Mr Meade seen that “Arsenal star Bukayo Saka is interested in joining Liverpool”.

    Funny enough he doesn’t say. Apparently it just ‘surfaced’.

    From where I wonder? The cesspit of fake stories the Mirror dredges through on a daily basis ?

  3. Dear Tony,
    As a Frenchman raised near Monaco, I’ve been an Arsenal supporter since 1996 (guess why!). I still remember a fantastic game between Monaco and Toulouse on the summer of 1987 (5-1) with Glenn Hoddle distributing assists like candies and Mark Hateley upfront (doesn’t it remind you of something? Ozil/Giroud maybe?). You might have heard of who was the Monaco manager in those days. The funny part is, years later I was living in North London (Green Lanes) next to Highbury, and who comes up to manage AFC? Mr Who! To cut it short: 1) Arsene is and has always been a visionnary, a builder and an exceptional human being. 2) Following your blog since 2013, I can say that it is easily and by far the most interesting one on Arsenal FC. I hope that one day I can come back to North London and share a good game with you guys in the stands. Until then I think it was time (after 8 years!) to send this message and let you know my appreciation of your work. Because, as you say Tony, people tend much more to write when angry, and not enough when they value something. Take it as a – small – gift, it’s Christmas time after all!

  4. Nitram
    It appears the Saka to Liverpool nonsense emanates from Ian McGarry of The Transfer Window podcast who claims Saka is on Liverpool’s shortlist. Where he got it from is not clear.

  5. mick shelly

    Thanks for that. But in any case:

    “……Saka is on Liverpool’s shortlist” is a lot different to “……Saka is interested in joining Liverpool” as Meade says.

    So basically that’s just a lie from Meade then ?

    A journalist from The Mirror making things up. Would you believe it.

  6. mick shelley

    Again, the fact this character he has been told Liverpool have contacted Saka’s representatives is different to Saka saying “I’m interested in joining Liverpool”.

    However, thanks for the link. I haven’t read it yet as I have to be in a particular state of mind to settle down and watch paint dry.

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