Does the media really have an effect on Arsenal results



By Tony Attwood

My own view, based on two strands of clear evidence and then extrapolating the likely effect it that yes, the media does have an effect on Arsenal’s results.  I’ll try and explain how.

First, we know that different referees have different levels of bias toward the home teams and against  away teams.   The article “Just how much are Premier League referees biased in favour of home teams?” looked at the results for this season.

Second, we know from the coverage we have given the topic, Arsenal get a huge amount of negative cover from the media, particularly with stories of the failure of Arsenal administration dithering and failing to secure players on long term contracts.

Third the media regularly suggests that Arsenal are trying to buy around 130 players that they end up not getting (we already have 81 players arriving, 27 leaving this summer).  The implication is always that other clubs get who they want; Arsenal don’t.

At the same time, the story is put out that Arsenal lacks ambition – and with the story from Football.London this morning that reads, Mikel Arteta’s dream Arsenal starting line-up if Edu secures Youri Tielemans transfer

This story suggests Arsenal will make only one change to the lineup for next season, and that won’t be from the signing of a new centre forward – which is what the media have been telling us is utterly essential if the club is to progress.

The prediction from Reach plc (a newspaper group that says,  “We are champions, campaigners and changemakers”) is that next season’s line up will be

Aaron Ramsdale

Thomas Partey, Youri Tielemans Bukayo Saka

Martin Odegaard, Gabriel Martinelli, Emile Smith Rowe

As you can see there is no new centre forward and in fact only one new player – Tielemans.

So constantly fan disgruntlement is enhanced on two fronts.  One by suggesting Arsenal are going to buy five new players, and then by suggesting only one will be forthcoming.

This is most certainly likely to lead to some blogs and the newspaper outlets starting complaining before the season began and one early defeat could turn them very much against the team.

Which brings us back to referees.   We know from the significant academic research reported here that most PGMO referees are biased by the noise the home supporters make and as a result their matches produce many more home wins than away aways.   Only a handful of referees resist the pressure of the home fans.

But if Arsenal fans turn on their team, Arsenal won’t get that bias in their favour at home, and so will suffer.  But because that research about referee bias is never reported in the mass media, the media will blame the club, when in fact the real reason comes from the fact that fans at the Emirates are not putting the pressure on the referee that happens at other stadia.

Given the facts that we have repeatedly covered here showing referee bias due to home crowd noise, a media set-up which leads fans to feel disgruntled by the lack of transfer activity effectively reduces the referee home bias and delivers draws and away wins.

I am not saying the media is deliberately anti-Arsenal.  They might be, but that’s not the key issue.  The issue is that if the media lead fans to believe that the way to progress is through multiple transfers, and Arsenal don’t make multiple transfers, some fans will turn on the club at the first sign of defeat.  That will reduce the impact of the crowd, and it is the crowd that for many referees is a key factor in how decisions are given.

Put briefly, Arsenal need unstinting home support, but the media is set up to portray Arsenal as a club that dithers and is ineffective in the transfer market.  Thus at the first sign of a poor start to the season the fans will turn.  This will remove the pressure on referees, and they will stop giving us the home bias that they give other clubs.  As a result, we slip down the league.

9 Replies to “Does the media really have an effect on Arsenal results”

  1. Good article which echoes my take on the same theme.
    Like Nitram (where is he lately) I believe that refs decisions are subliminally affected by the negative media coverage of most things related to Arsenal as well as the crowd effect. They know they will receive no media criticism if they give 50/50 decisions against Arsenal whereas with say Liverpool they would get slaughtered for doing a similar thing so are more likely to give the decision in their favour.

  2. Don’t play the martyr, play the game. Arsenal fans, manager and players alike seem incapable of learning that. Its an attitude that pretty much makes success impossible.

  3. @Jod
    Four FA cups in the last nine years would seem to contradict your comment.
    Unless you do not consider four FA cups in such a short space of time as success!

  4. It seems clear that referees are affected by home crowds; I think there is a positive correlation between the calls of the referee that aid the home side and the results. What is missing is a study on the affects of home crowds on player performance. This might be more difficult to get, though.

  5. you better tell reach plc that a team cannot fielding 7 players in 11 a-side match. the referees decisions may change the match outcome but to say the Arsenal supporters and fans in attendance all in agreeance and believe the negative articles in the media, to then cause them to turn on the team and then cause the team to gave shitty performance is a bit reach. we can make assumption all we wanted but players dip in form or failed to perform in a match happen for many reasons, not sure where the wicked media narratives fits into how the team perform and it sound really crazy (like some tinfoil hat wearer) to put the blame onto the media for team bad result

  6. GoingGoingGooner makes a good point. I think the refs have more effect on the results than the media. How much the media affect the refs is anyone’s guess. The refs clearly have home and away bias as you’ve documented in charts. However I’m still of the opinion that the biggest effect on the refs and hence results is Mike Riley and the PGMOL, his personal fiefdom. Anyone who follows this blog knows I have an eternal, vehement animus toward Riley SINCE THE 50th MATCH DEBACLE. If anyone thinks the refs are not biased against AFC they should watch or re-watch that match. When he retired he’s made head of PGMOL. And look at the Riley buttboys retiring after this season and going straight into ref management. If you think anything will change with Riley gone you’re mistaken. Dean will have every ref dancing a jig after every goal against Arsenal. The media will turn a blind eye, the FA is too busy trying to fill their pockets and the fans are blissfully ignorant. Maybe I’ll throw all of my club support and attention to a non-EPL side. I’ve always had a soft spot for the Monkey Hangers! Go Hartlepool!

  7. The media have quite a big effect on this club, carding of certain players, undermining of great managers, and I’m sure referees.
    And even without the national media, we have the odious AFTV and it’s various offspring though I’m sure many are turning against that bunch.
    Arteta is aware of all this and is making steps to counter it, he refers to it as changing the energy or something similar , think in general, he’s doing a good job, but the media will resist

  8. and if we’re to admit that media does have an effect on Arsenal result is like admitting that our players is so weak that they cannot cope and easily succumb to pressure from outside football

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