How which referee a club gets has a major impact on the result of each game



By Tony Attwood

We have shown that referees vary enormously in the way that they call fouls and hand out yellow cards – although to be fair, this has been understood by many supporters for some time.

We have also reported a wide range of analyses going back to 2004 which show not only that by and large referees are biased toward the home team but why this happens.

Also in the most recent research, we have shown that Arsenal have often been getting home-biased referees when Arsenal are away, and away-biased referees when Arsenal are at home, making the club’s task significantly harder.  Inevitably other clubs have been getting the reverse.

Now it is time to see in a little more depth the referee impact on teams.  In the table below we look at referees in terms of all their Premier League games in the season in order to chart the variance between one referee and another.

In this table below, the referee with the lowest mark is shown in brown while the referee with the highest mark is shown in red.

The point at this stage is not to show any bias for or against Arsenal but to consider the level of variation between one referee and another.  .  Figures are again from WhoScored.

Referee PL Games Fouls per game Fouls per Tackle Yellow  per game
1.Anthony Taylor 28 10.29 0.63 1.79
2.Paul Tierney 27 10.22 0.58 2.00
3.Mike Dean 26 9.54 0.59 1.65
4.Martin Atkinson 26 7.00 0.50 1.23
5.Michael Oliver 26 9.88 0.68 1.38
6.Craig Pawson 26 11.92 0.76 1.96
7.Jonathan Moss 25 8.92 0.57 1.16
8.Stuart Attwell 20 9.75 0.56 1.65
9.David Coote 20 11.05 0.70 2.20
10.Andre Marriner 19 9.47 0.59 1.42

What we can see is there is a wide range in all categories for these referees who have all been in control of 19+ games last season.

If we look at fouls per game (and these figures are of course the average for each referee) the referee who ON AVERAGE across all his games gives the most fouls, doesn’t do it by a small number.  Coote gives 58% more fouls than Atkinson game by game.

If we look at fouls per tackle, Pawson awards 52% more fouls per tackle than Atkinson.  And if we look at yellow cards Coote gives 79% more yellow cards per game than Atkinson.

Now even if it is impossible that Atkinson, Pawson and Coote could be given training so that they can recognise what constitutes fouls and yellow card offences equally, it wouldn’t matter quite so much if each referee saw each team the same number of times.  But that does not happen, as we have seen.

If we become a little more specific and look at referee impact just on away teams we can begin to see the variability that we have noticed in results, where you may recall we have shown that some referees can oversee many more away wins than others.

Referee impact on away teams

Referee PL Games Fouls per game Fouls per tackle Yellow  per game
1.Anthony Taylor 28 9.29 0.55 1.82
2.Paul Tierney 27 11.44 0.79 1.81
3.Mike Dean 26 9.69 0.57 1.50
4.Martin Atkinson 26 8.65 0.53 1.23
5.Michael Oliver 26 11.31 0.74 1.50
6.Craig Pawson 26 10.27 0.62 2.19
7.Jonathan Moss 25 8.92 0.58 1.16
8.Stuart Attwell 20 8.45 0.52 1.85
9.David Coote 20 12.80 0.78 2.40
10.Andre Marriner 19 9.74 0.52 1.89

Here again, the differences are enormous.  Coote gives 51% more fouls per game against the away team than Atwell.   And here is the most amazing statistic of all… Coote gives more than twice as many yellow cards per game against the away teams than Moss.

In short, which referee a club gets for each match is extremely influential in terms of what happens in the game and what the result is likely to be.   And that surely should never be the case.

2 Replies to “How which referee a club gets has a major impact on the result of each game”

  1. its funny, despite atkinson giving lowest yellows per game, he seems to dish out the yellows against us

  2. @ let Arteta build,

    well, if you consider that this means any time fouling Arsenal players gets away with it….Arsenal are screwed…because it is not like the players may not be aware of how a referee behaves himself and then adapt their agression levels and antics to them.

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