By Sir Hardly Anyone
Mike Dean, Jonathan Moss and Martin Atkinson all retire after the last round of games in the Premier League this season. But are they biased referees, or the ones who can ignore the crowd and referee the game without crowd interference?
That has become the prime question but not a new question. Science Direct in 2004 was one of the first publications to raise the issue when they found that “The presence of crowd noise had a dramatic effect on the decisions made by referees. Those viewing the challenges with background crowd noise were more uncertain in their decision making and awarded significantly fewer fouls (15.5%) against the home team, compared with those watching in silence.
“The noise of the crowd influenced referees’ decisions to favour the home team. It is suggested that referees’ decisions are influenced by the salient nature of crowd noise, the potential use of heuristic strategies, and the need to avoid potential crowd displeasure by making a decision in favour of the home team.”
We had a perfect example to test this out during the pandemic when games were played with no crowd present. You can follow the entire set of research through the links in the article “Wholesale referee bias returns”
We can see the horrific nature of concistent referee bias through these figures – with the crowd present the home and away win figures are consistent. Take the crowd away and they are reversed. But as the article linked above shows, there is a lot more evidence than just the figures.
|Season||Home percentage of points||Away percentage of points|
*Season up to 12 December 2021.
But what of this season? Whoscored have provided us with the data.
In short half of the referees are showing persistent signs of bias through these figures.
I know of course that the now retiring Dean is shown on this chart as unbiased, and of course, we know how much Dean has annoyed Arsenal fans. But, there are many ways of being biased, and here we are just looking at one. I am not making an allegation against Dean nor saying everything was fine with him, rather I am looking at one issue – is the referee influenced by the crowd?
And I am working on this approach because it has the advantage of being measurable. It is statistically inconceivable that 64% of the games Moss has refereed actually should have been home wins, when the overall analysis suggests it should be around 35%.
But there is more to it than that. If referees are chosen evenly for games, and were all refereeing to the same standard, then although we might expect some variance between the level of home and away wins for each referee, it ought to be small. But among the main referees the level of home wins varies between 34.6% and 64%. Where is the explanation for that?
So should we just shrug our shoulders and say that is how it is?
Actually no, because next season Atkinson and Moss are becoming managers at PGMO. This means PGMO will in part be run by two guys whose refereeing figures are bonkers, to say the least.
That means any hope we might have had (which was vanishingly slim) of any type of reform, has now gone. These men will not tarnish the memory of their past careers by suddenly saying that refereeing has been very poor in allowing this bias of referees primarily toward the home team. To do so would through the whole management of refereeing by PGMO into doubt.
Instead, I expect to see justification with a wholesale effort by the PGMO, backed by the ever compliant media, to ignore the figures shown here and carry on as if there is nothing odd at all in the analyses of referee behaviour.
After all, they’ve got away with it this far. Why on earth would they stop now?
- What does Europe think of the Premier League? Less and less it seems
- So did Arsenal make progress this season? And what of the rest.
- All change with PGMO and the refs.. But what change?
- The last five years proves one big thing: nothing is guaranteed.
- Injuries Time to sack Tierney according to one part of the media
- Next season starting lineup and the new Financial Fair Play rules
- The huge bias of referees is proven. PGMO and media fight back.