Just how much are Premier League referees biased in favour of home teams?

By Tony Attwood

For a long period during the pandemic, Premier League games were for the most part played with no crowds present.  Simultaneously the traditional balance between home and away wins was upset.   During the “no crowds” period only 38% of games ended as home wins while 40% were away wins and 22% were draws.  The average across the Premier League years before this past season was 46% home wins, 26% away wins and 28% draws.

None of the mainstream UK media commented upon this amazing and extraordinary turn around in results, nor on the research carried out at London School of Economics (part of the University of London) which is described in full here which was one of the leading research programmes that delved into the issue.

This was probably because the clear finding from that research is that the reason for the change in statistics between when a crowd is present and when it is not, is that the crowd affects referee decisions.

As far as we can tell, the PGMO which runs refereeing in the Premier League has taken no notice of these statistics, not just because it suggests that referees have been biased by the crowds, but because of the years of claims made by PGMO that they were the best in the world, and that for their referees to be biased in any way was unthinkable.  In a very short period of time the entire credibility of PGMO was undermined.

And given that PGMO have the media in their pockets, they’ve got away with it.

Indeed articles even appeared which suggest that the whole home/away change was a myth.   This reached its low point when subscribers to the highly recognised New Scientist magazine received as their daily science email, a report which contained no statistics but which suggested that the whole change in home and away figures was a total myth.  Emails and letters to New Scientist protesting at this were unanswered.

This was an example of “gaslighting” – which we have covered in some depth and which we have suggested is the fundamental approach of PGMO and the media in relation to football.   It is an approach that simply sees certain issues as irrelevant and not worthy of consideration and thus ignores them, instead debating some other point such as transfer rumours.

Now however we have some further data to consider in relation to home wins, away wins and draws when there is a crowd present.  This is an analysis provided by WhoScored concerning individual referees and whether the results of games they oversee are home wins, away wins or draws.

As noted above during the “no crowds” season only 38% of games ended as home wins while 40% were away wins and 22% were draws.  Here is what has happened this season with the referees who have overseen over 20 Premier League games this season

Referee Games Home Win% Away Win% Draw%
1. Paul Tierney 24 37.5 37.5 25.0
2. Anthony Taylor 24 41.7 25.0 33.3
3. Craig Pawson 24 54.2 29.2 16.7
4. Mike Dean 23 34.8 39.1 26.1
5. Martin Atkinson 23 56.5 26.1 17.4
6. Michael Oliver 23 56.5 26.1 17.4
7. Jonathan Moss 23 65.2 21.7 13.0

The only referees whose games have resulted in figures close to those of the “no crowd” season, in which by definition referees were not biased by the home crowd, are Paul Tierney and Mike Dean.

For ease of comparison I’ll set them out together here

Referee Games Home Win Away Win Draw
Paul Tierney 24 37.5% 37.5% 25.0%
Mike Dean 23 34.8% 39.1% 26.1%
No crowd season (all refs) 380 38.0% 40.0% 22.0%

I think probably more than any other figures this shows that the majority of Premier League referees are biased by the crowd.

Again for ease of comparison compare these figures

Referee Games Home Win Away Win Draw
6. Michael Oliver 23 56.5% 26.1% 17.4%
7. Jonathan Moss 23 65.2% 21.7% 13.0%
No crowd season (all refs) 380 38.0% 40.0% 22.0%

Obviously because of the hyper-secrecy of the PGMO we have no real idea of what sort of training their referees get, and if their referees are even made aware in training of the fact that there is a tendency for referees to be biased by the crowd.  If there is, clearly the training is not good enough.

But let us consider this another way.  Supposing the view is taken that these home / away figures are mere statistical quirks.  (As one who has spent a lot of time with maths in my career I would find that hard to argue, but let’s just imagine it for a moment.)  What then?

We would be trying to explain why over half of the games Pawson referees are home wins, while only around one-third of Dean’s games result in home wins.  And why only one in every eight games that Moss referees is a draw while with Taylor it is one in every three.

These figures clearly show that five of the seven most used referees in the Premier League are influenced by the home crowd.   It is one of the most shocking pieces of statistical evidence against the competence of Premier League referees revealed thus far.

Gaslighting: how refereeing in the Premier League is manipulated, and why the media never speak about it.

(Footnote: the first ever mention of gaslighting in connection with football other than in this article appeared in the media just six weeks after the launch of the above series on Untold)

16 Replies to “Just how much are Premier League referees biased in favour of home teams?”

  1. One should mention that 3 of the above mentionned referees are leaving at the end of the season, among them Dean, if I am not mistaken.
    So their organisation has shwon again how utterly incompetent it is by not being able to usher in a new generation.
    Like any player (or employee) ageing, the ideal exit goes via a period of progressive reduction so knowledge can be transfered, replacements can be trained and acquire experience, etc.

    Here…nada. All 3 of them have refereed a large number of games for the past years which makes no sense froman organisational perspective.

    Yeah…. the Premier League, the best in the world – this is what they want all of us to believe that can’t even get the refereeing organised correctly with all their billions in revenue.

  2. You have completely neglected the point that familiarity with your own ground and pitch, and the motivation by the fans impacts the players.

  3. The general proposition seems valid, but the Emirates must be an exception to it.

  4. I believe referees are affected by the crowds but to what extent do home crowds affect a home team’s behaviour or vice versa? I have only played before crowds in the hundreds and depending on the how close the fans were to the pitch or who rabid they were, they did affect my behaviour somewhat.

  5. I guess it’s reasonable to assume that the home fans are going to have an influence on the officials, it’s doesn’t make it right but it’s understandable because of the emotions involved as referees are only human, but that’s where VAR comes in and that’s where the ability of our officials can be questioned?

    Of course the home fans can also influence their own players positively and alternatively have a negative effect on the visitors, Stoke comes to mind, but yes those figures from lockdown were eye watering, I mean didn’t Liverpool have their worst home record since Billy Liddell?

  6. Cresswell sent of for West Ham. I make that 2 red cards in 4 games for WHU. I don’t hear the pundits banging on about their disciplinary problems.


  7. It’s actually 4 red cards in 8 games for West Ham. Moyes has been sent off. I also forgot about Cresswell’s red card against Olympique Lyonnais.

    Not a peep from the commentary team about West Ham discipline. Ian is often to be found in the Darke.

  8. the statistics for the Frankfurt WestHam game are interesting.

    Frankfurt: 9 fouls, 5 yellows
    West Ham : 4 fouls, 3 yellows one red and the manager a red.

  9. reiss will play a european final, against mou’s roma
    feyenoord had a very clear plan, which completely annihilated marseille – and arne slot did that with 5 attack-minded players on the pitch (kökçü, til, sinisterra, dessers and … reiss himself)
    our lad played a very disciplined part perfectly, so much so that slot took off til and sinisterra before him, which he seldom does.
    there were two other colney boys on the pitch; saliba was good – he’s very strong, and very good on the ball – guendouzi was disappointing, he should have done for marseille what kökçü did for feyenoord but never seemed able to harness his emotions, had poor touches, made a lot of wrong choices …
    now about the refs, i guess we’ll be given the chance to check out how uninfluenceable tierney really is very soon, won’t we?

  10. Tammy Abraham scored a lovely goal for Roma, certainly worth enquiring about him in the summer?

    Odd to see one whole stand empty at the velodrome…

  11. kev, the public had been shut out from the stand by uefa because of the incidents that took place when marseille played chuba akpom’s paok in the quarter-finals
    marseille’s fans never learn their lesson, though, there were incidents again tonight, but of course french “pundits” kept saying it was all the dutch fans’ fault …
    the mou just settled his business with tottenham’s levy on french tv, that was fun; not as funny is the amount of playing time he gives to ainsley, which is actually non-existent: unless some roma players get injured there is very little chance reiss and him will come across on the pitch in tirana
    you couldn’t help having a go at the scousers, could you? i hope the still-possible quadruple doesn’t give you too many sleepless nights!

  12. OT

    so Chelsea will get a goodbye present from the previous owner of around one and a half billion €…..and no one is saying anything.
    Or maybe he’ll get his money back sometime in the future behind closed doors…
    Why does anyone abide by FFP anymore is something I cannot understand. With such a precedent it cannot be upheld – at least it seems to me.

  13. @LG

    I did wonder if it was some kind of disciplinary issue at O.M.
    There were reports of crowd disturbances in Frankfurt so it seems it’s still there bubbling under the surface, the Frankfurt fans are quite vociferous and in your face so I hope things don’t go wrong when they meet up with the Rangers fans in a few weeks?

    Have a go at the Scousers, moi?

  14. The BBC finally seem to have cottoned on to the fact that the ball is in play for less than 60 minutes in an average PL match. You have to wonder what took them so long. I remember seeing him hold onto the ball for at least 17 seconds on multiple occasions when he played for Wigan. I think the longest I saw was Fraser Forster holding the ball for 21 seconds in a game against Southampton 7 years ago.

    Football is expensive enough as it is. The fact that you only get to see 6- minutes’ worth per match makes it even more so.

    The Pulis/Stoke figures are shocking, but unsurprising.

    value for money

    My feeling is that the ball should be in play for 90 minutes.

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