Referee Craig Pawson: his bias does Arsenal no favours against Bournemouth

By Bulldog Drummond

Just a week or so ago we looked at the issue of referees and the question of home and away bias.  You can read the whole article here but in essence, as we showed in the research from last season, and indeed through the pandemic, home advantage is not natural, and not a given.  It is donated by a referees who are influenced by crowd noise.

This was proven through a series of analyses of what happened during lockdown, and there is some more background information on this in the article “Results from crowdless games” which produced this table.


Season Home win Draws Away win
2021/22 43% 23% 34%
2020/21 37% 24% 39%
2019/20 45% 24% 31%
2018/19 48% 19% 34%
2017/18 46% 26% 28%
2016/17 49% 22% 29%


As you can see, during the year in which there were crowdless games the home win percentage dropped by around 7 percent.

But what really exercised us was the fact that there emerged a group of six Premier League referees for whom away wins became the norm.  What this means is that if certain teams, in their away matches, regularly get the away-favouring referees, they have immediately got a major advantage.

These referees give away wins in at least 40% of their matches.


Referee games Home Win % Away Win % Draw %
David Coote 20 25.0 40.0 35.0
Andre Marriner 19 26.3 57.9 15.8
Kevin Friend 18 33.3 50.0 16.7
Robert Jones 12 8.3 50.0 41.7


Thus for each away game we need to look and see if we have any of those referees, and I am sorry to say this weekend we don’t.   We have Craig Pawson, who showed himself clearly to be in the “home win” category of referees.  Here are his figures for home and away wins last season with some other home-leaning referees.


Referee games Home Win% Away Win% Draw%
Jonathan Moss 25 64.0 24.0 12.0
Stuart Attwell 20 60.0 20.0 20.0
Martin Atkinson 26 53.8 30.8 15.4
Michael Oliver 26 53.8 26.9 19.2
Craig Pawson 26 50.0 34.6 15.4


So before we begin the game there is a significant advantage to Bournemouth – this referee gives 50% of his matches as home wins and only 34.6% as away wins.   And do remember that as the research has shown, this is nothing to do with some sort of natural advantage of being at home – it is entirely down to the influence of the crowd.  This was not only proven through the pandemic when games were played without a crowd but also reproduced through a series of trials and experiments overseen by senior academics and club directors, and openly discussed elsewhere.  See this article on home bias in refereeing decisions from the journal Science Direct, for example.

Last season Bournemouth got 46 points from home matches and 42 from away games.  However, the last time they were in the Premier League matters were rather different…


Team Pld W D L F A GD Pts
18 AFC Bournemouth home 19 5 6 8 22 30 -8 21
17 AFC Bournemouth away 19 4 1 14 18 35 -17 13


Bournemouth did do considerably better at home picking up 62% of their points totals from home games and just 38% in away games.

Last season Arsenal had particular difficulties away from home compared with the games at Arsenal Stadium.


Team Pld W D L F A GD Pts
3 Arsenal home 19 13 2 4 35 17 18 41
6 Arsenal away 19 9 1 9 26 31 -5 28


Of course the team has improved this year but the combination of last season’s poor away form, and a home club favouring ref could give us difficulties for this match.

So far this season across the Premier League nine of the games (45%) played have been home wins, seven have been draws (35%) and four away wins (20%).   Thus already we can see confirmed the home bias which as the research shows is caused by the effect of the crowd upon the referee.

This is the effect Arsenal will have to be fighting in this game, an effect which will be aided by the referee.


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