RefWatch – Arsenal v Stoke City (18/12/2010 15:00)

RefWatch – Arsenal v Stoke City (18/12/2010 15:00)

By DogFace

  • Referee:              Lee Mason
  • Assistant 1:         Mick McDonough
  • Assistant 2:         Patrick Keane
  • 4th Official:        Keith Stroud

Good morning stat-fans and welcome to what is a rather threadbare RefWatch.  The reason being that we have on our hands a couple of new(ish) boys – the up’n’comers and movers’n’shakers in the ‘Select Group’ in the PGMOL… ones to keep an eye on – know what I mean?  Something tells me that these lads are going to be made of the ‘right stuff’ to fit into the mould of what a EPL referee should be i.e. coupon busters and generally inconsistent randomisers of form.  Lee Mason has actually been around a while and has been introduced quite gently into his role – but what with the departure of Styles, Riley, Wiley and the imminent departure [no doubt] of Foy, Halsey, Walton and hopefully Dowd, who clocking on a bit and appear to be struggling for fitness, these are the guys who will be stepping up.

I would like to digress here to make, or at least argue, a point… there are currently only 16 referee’s in the ‘Select Group’ – this number seems shockingly low to me, if a team were to gain influence over 1 or 2 referees then, statistically speaking, the advantage gained in the competition would be all the higher because of it [the low number] i.e. 1 referee = 1/16th or 6.25% of all matches – although this assumes that each referee will get the same amount of matches – which they don’t.  It seems that referee like Mike Dean, Howard Webb, Mark Clattenburg, Phil Dowd and Martin Atkinson not only get more matches but are also chosen for the more ‘high profile’ games i.e. Sky matches and the games that involve the teams considered as ‘title contenders’.

So – it follows that if a team, a ‘title contending’ team, were to gain influence over one of these referees the actual % of influence on their chances of success would rise significantly – not only in the games that they played under that referee but also the games their competitors played under him.  If I were a cynic I would look at my data for these referees and try to work out whom, out of the ‘title contenders’, is doing rather well… or bucking the trend in a positive manner; it would go a little something like this:

  • Mike Dean:                         Tottenham Hotspur
  • Howard Webb:                                 Manchester United
  • Mark Clattenburg:           Manchester City
  • Phil Dowd:                          Manchester City
  • Martin Atkinson:              Chelsea

This is not only in terms of positive results for that team but also negative results against that teams rivals… there are also other referees, lower down the food chain, who have shown a positive influence against the handicap for these teams – and this worries me… it speaks of their ambition and would also explain [in my mind] the reasons for the dissolution of the ‘Top 4’ in recent seasons – add to this the financial fair play rules and the global depression hitting clubs like Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester United and you have – well, you have what we see – a competition and/or brand that is losing its credibility among the fans of football – but, through its seeming unpredictability against the betting line (or handicap), gaining huge interest from the fans of gambling – particularly in massive underground markets in Asia.

I’ve tried searching for some kind of regulatory structure around the PGMOL and/or a system of meritocracy or ‘performance based’ selection – but this is either non-existent or totally void of transparency other than the results i.e. Howard Webb is considered the best referee… but we won’t tell you why!

This self regulatory nature of club/fan based ‘trust’ would be fine if the PGMOL were fit for purpose – unfortunately I am coming to the conclusion that it is not and this ‘trust’ is breaking down so fast that no amount of censorship through initiatives such as the ‘Respect’ campaign can disguise the tacit agenda for corruption or paper over the gaping cracks in the systems integrity… not that the bookies or the ‘new wave’ of club ownership give much of a toss about the scarf-waving fans – the big money is in the global markets and media rights; and these markets have a firm foundation in gambling liquidity and the influx of mug money; with the globalisation of our sport, integrity, local community and club history mean nothing.

Let’s have a look at Lee Mason:

  • Full name:                          Lee S Mason
  • Date of birth:                     29 October 1971 (1971-10-29) (age 39)
  • Place of birth:                   Bolton, Lancashire, England
  • EPL Referee Since:          2005/2006
  • EPL Games to date:         69

This’ll learn you Mason for giving us nowt!

Ahh… look at that picture – Lee tries desperately to protect his testicles when indulging in a bit of ‘creative obstruction’ while Stoke retaliate by upping their game and do a bit of the old ‘rotational fouling’ on him.  Stoke lost this match 2-0 (26/12/2009) and hopefully Lee will cherish this memory and it will subconsciously influence his decision making process on Saturday!

Lee Mason has not been great for us, although this can partly be explained by the fact that he has only ever refereed Arsenal ‘away’ games – although only a small part as we have seen a higher than average number of uncharacteristic underperformances from Arsenal with him at the whistle.  Most notably, during the 2009/2010 season, we lost 3-2 to Wigan Athletic (18/04/2010) and, before then, during the 2006/2007 season we were defeated 1-0 to Sheffield United (30/12/2006).

Two defeats wouldn’t be ‘that bad’, but it is if you consider our form under Lee Mason consists of only 5 games, consisting of 1 win, 2 draws and 2 losses… that’s relegation form!

Therefore it is no surprise that Arsenal currently languish in 19th place in Lee Mason’s personal Points Per Game League (for matches in the EPL), with an average of only 1.00 PPG.  In Lee Mason’s personal Handicap Swing League (for matches in the EPL), Arsenal comes a lowly 13th with an average negative swing of -0.20.

Arsenal currently resides in 26th in Lee Mason’s personal Booking’s Per Match League, for matches in the EPL, with an overall average of 2.80 BPM.  In Lee Mason’s personal Fouls Per Booking League, for matches in the EPL, Arsenal come 28th with an overall average of 3.50 FPB.

You can see from the graph above that Lee’s intolerance for Arsenal in the challenge is not consistent with that of our opposition and last season this flipped the other way (the Wigan Match) – although one would suspect that the actual fouls given against us (bookings or no) benefited Wigan in a physical game consisting of territory being gained through free kicks and set pieces.

Let’s move the statistics on now and see what effect Lee Mason has on Stoke City’s form:

Stoke City fair considerably better under the whistle of Lee Mason, having had 8 games consisting of 3 wins, 3 draws and 2 losses.  This seems on the generous side of ‘about right’.  This normality continues when we see that Stoke City are currently in 10th (9 places above Arsenal) in Lee Mason’s personal Points Per Game League, for matches in the EPL, with an average of 1.50 PPG.  In Lee Mason’s personal Handicap Swing League, for matches in the EPL, Stoke City came in at 11st (2 places above Arsenal) with an average positive swing of 0.19.

Stoke City are currently in 18th (8 places above Arsenal) in Lee Mason’s personal Booking’s Per Match League, for matches in the EPL, with an overall average of 2.00 BPM.  In Lee Mason’s personal Fouls Per Booking League, for matches in the EPL, Stoke City are 18th (10 places above Arsenal) with an overall average of 6.13 FPB.

So, overall, Stoke City can have absolutely no complaints with the appointment of Lee Mason for this match… although it seems that, of late, Lee has been clamping down a tad on Stoke in the challenge (possibly due to that hoof in the knackers he took) – and this is about the only good news we can gleam from his stats.

Our fourth official for the afternoon is one Keith Stroud… we have no pretty graphs for Keith as he’s only refereed 14 EPL matches including one match each for Stoke City and Arsenal – we won and Stoke drew – but our respective form is not really worthy of much more analysis than that.

Let’s have a look at our Rev Vs EPL Asian Handicap Swing graph for Lee Mason… just to make sure that there are no other interesting trends sailing under the radar there that may have an effect on our game (I’ve only included teams with enough data to count):

What’s interesting here to note is that both Arsenal and Stoke have near identical swing figures for the most recent seasons so, upon initial inspection; there are no clues there with regards to which side of the betting line to take.  Aston Villa seems to have done quite well with him against the handicap… and oh look – there is a meteoric rise of Manchester City in his numbers from the 2008/2009 season onwards – this season they currently stand at an incredible +3 against the handicap – although the sample data is low, the trend so far seems clear.

And this is yet another in a long line of worries for me as we, along with the other ‘title contenders’, represent a clear and present danger to their [Manchester City’s] Premiership ambitions and avaricious lust for silverware.

So – in conclusion I would say that we, as fans, we can either face the facts here and attempt to claim our game back by calling for regulation and change to a system that is tailor made for corruption; the game has changed, globalisation is swamping us and what currently stands in terms of the self regulatory establishment is archaic and no longer up to the job – or we can internalise the issues relating to our underperformances, kick the cat and just blame it all on Wenger… I’ll leave it for you to decide where the more constructive path to enlightenment lies

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46 Replies to “RefWatch – Arsenal v Stoke City (18/12/2010 15:00)”

  1. Dogface, you have left me sitting with open mouth here.

    Only 16 refs in the select group means that when you have 1 let alone 2 refs on your side you know that you can manipulate 2 games each week in your favour!!

    And that on a day I have seen in my newspaper over here two new articles about possible corruption in football and in regards with refs.

    I just have done an interview with a young promising ref in Belgium (28 years and candidate to get a Fifa badge in the futures) and he told me that in Belgium you have 27 (twenty seven) refs to do the games in our PL. It means that refs only get games in the PL every 3 weeks or sometimes even 4 weeks. So every ref has less influence on the total outcome of the league. It means that in Belgium when you have a ref in your pocket he can only help you once in 3 weeks.

    How on earth can the PGMOL have let it come this far? This is a disgrace if you ask me.

  2. Correct Walter!

    A Disgrace! A system that has been made for corruption.

    We want more refs… we want 50 referee’s and a transparent system that awards games based on consistent and impartial performance! We want a ref league with clear fact/figures and an independent body to oversee it.

    When do we want it?


  3. Lego – this post is called RefWatch and it discusses the Stoke game.

    Remember that please.

    You will have ample chance to prophesise our imminent ‘humiliation’ on a more relevent forum – I am sure of that.

  4. Dogface: what you cant face

    Comment removed – the writer is writing about a different match, in which the ref is not even known.

  5. LEGO: What a pathetic comment! Every game is a chance to win – Im glad we are being written off but to be done in by your fans well that takes the P. I mean dont forget Barca do not change their formation or tactics even if they are getting battered – if wenger doe his homework we can do it.

  6. What a …

    Post removed – it has nothing to do with the topic. As it says in several places on this site, as a simple courtesy please direct your comments to the topic that the writer has outlined – or alternatively write another piece

  7. In an ideal world you should avoid that refs have the same team more than once in a season. So in the EPL this would mean you should have at least 40 refs available. An then still in the Carling Cup and FA cup you will have the chance of getting the same ref. But then you only will have this ref twice in a season.
    This would make it for anyone who wants to “buy” a title much more difficult. Or he should go for “buying them all”.

    Also for the refs this would be of much benefit. It has always been the intention of the Belgium FA to give you one team only once in a season. For some reason (they blame the computer) this doesn’t work out the last seasons. And I must say it is not good to go 3 times to the same team in one season. They know you and you know them. So you can become biased depending on how they have treated you or how a player(s) have behaved the last time. A human reaction but one that can be avoided if you don’t have the same team again in the same season.

    The fact we have had Atkinson already 3 times this season is not good. And we are not even half way the season!!! If this continues like this we could have had him some 7 times maybe this season. (Not saying he was terrible in some way!!) But just imagine if in the first game he had a very big argument with Arsenal or with the manager. If he would take this in his head in the next games he could cost us a lot of points in the same season. If he would only have us once in a season the chance of forgetting what happened would be more possible.

    How on earth can the FA only have just 16 refs in the select group????????

  8. Lego, could you please stick to the topic. Or write your own blog and then you can comment on your own articles.
    You might have missed it but some people really are trying to have a discussion on the refs and on the terrible state the PGMOL is in. And this based on another impressive article from Dogface if I may add.

    This is far more worrying for any Arsenal (and other EPL teams) fan than the visit of Barcelona in some 2 months time. And I think we will have enough articles about this game in which you can express you fear.

  9. Not only that Walter but these same referee’s are often used as 4th officials – the opportunity to express a bias within such a small group is magnified massively.

  10. Yes, you can have your influence as a 4th ref. If you talk to your first ref before the game and laugh a bit about how fragile those Arsenal players are and other blah blah you could have some kind of influence on the ref in how he is looking at things. Or you could tell as the 4th ref something like: You know player X has the nasty habbit of doing this (or that) and so the ref will be looking for it and will punish it more than he would have done if the 4th ref wouldn’t have mentioned it.

  11. Comment removed – pointlessly provocative, and with nothing to add to the general debate. In honesty I would have left this in had it not been for the whole series of posts that had nothing to do with the article. But to throw in abuse as well just annoyed me. Tony

  12. The 4th official is in constant radio contact with the ref at all times – so he can say Player A just kicked out at Player B – or keep quiet… it is a rachet effect of selective enforcement of the laws.

    There are other refs from the lower leagues who are draughted in to cover and learn from the select group also as 4th officials – and no doubt some of these will be selected to replace the existing ones.

    I beleive that only a few seasons ago the number stood at 20 – but even then some of them never got a game.

  13. Just because i am pointing out basic open facts to you does not mean i do not support arsenal.

  14. My biggest fear for Arsenal this season is getting into a dogfight with City for 4th.

    I love the FA & betting association’s attempts to deflect from the ever growing cynicism towards the refereeing by concentrating on a betting scam in the SPL.

    He was sent off for calling him a “Fucking cheat”. However no-one has considered the fact that the player was probably justified in his actions.

  15. off and on topic but I took the following lines from the BBC website about the Motherwell sending off:
    “The home side were growing in purpose in the closing minutes but lost momentum and any chance of salvaging a point when Jennings was dismissed.

    The ‘Well midfielder was incensed when nothing was given after Gow tumbled in the penalty box and WAS SHOWN A STRAIGHT RED CARD AFTER CHASING O’REILLY DOWN TO COMPLAIN. ”

    And now read my ref review again of the UNited game and how Webb did nothing when Fletcher came chasing him down. I always think it is nice to see how based on other evidence I get it right and how Webb was just a complete zero in that game when handling that situation.

    Webb, was it bias or not competent… or both… Only he can answer that question. Only he knows. But it was one of the 3 options I have told you.

  16. Very much ON TOPIC Walter and Decker – these are good examples close to home for anyone who say’s “it can’t happen here”.

  17. Lego is on a wind up. Attention seeking cunt.

    Anyway I agree. Employ more referees. But you know the PGMOL controls everything. They do whatever they want.

    -0.20 damn. All looking negative for us. And not forgetting Ryan “Innocent” Shawcross.

  18. Wah lah, I say I hope Lee Mason not try to equal record of 2006/2007 season and crash our AH swing to -2 ball!!

    He a bit the cunty one, I say sell short on both markets hor.

  19. I think some of the decisions taken by the twerp Webb against us was shocking – the thing i dont get is – it will not improve and despite wenger’s maoning agianst the refs we wont get a good result

  20. Raised awareness and fan-power are the only things that will change our ‘luck’ and save our game…

    This is not just about Arsenal here – we need a fair competition or the sport we love will die.

    The situation with the SPL gives us hope that the subject of corruption and bias can break the mainstream and the Serie scandals of 2006 also show that this sort of thing, not only goes on all the time, but it can come out and be dealt with… although not very effectively – it was a clear out of sorts.

  21. an interesting and also a scary read, what i dont understand is why 16, whats with 16 refs, surely there is more refs in the country with the same grade refs status as the 16 numpties we presently have. also why cant we bring in the best refs from other leagues to oversee these so called big games.
    Dogface what can a person do to get this madness solved.

  22. DogFace,

    quality post as always. Also Walter thanks for your input.

    I think the majority of fans would like the media to raise some questions regarding the standard refereeing of our game and the numbers of officals. Not only do they ignore this subject entirely they even try to dispel any doubts by labeling anyone who like AW raises vaild points as moaners and bad losers. The media are complicit in this whole affair. You know because discussing whether footballers are sissies wearing snoods is way more important for the future of England….

  23. Personally – I think everyone in the UK should write to their MP to raise it as a question in the house of commons. Do this every week – it’s an easy way to raise awareness.

    Other ways are just to make people aware of the facts – typeface has nailed it – there is a stigma attached to anyone who dares to complain. The media are complicit because they, like the bookmakers who sponsor them), are far more interested in keeping their cosy places on the great big gravey train that is the EPL.

    More public interest will bring the situation into the mainstream – only then can something be done.

    The best thing to do (as a start) is bitch about it down the pub with your mates rather than banging on about how Arshavin was shit and Wenger should be sacked – and other such subjects that you are permitted to discuss by your media-prompted peers… then leave comments on blogs. then write your own blog – then get a guest spot on a blog that people actually read and write something called RefWatch.

    Go on – be original, think outside the box – all that shit.

  24. A bad day. First I hear we have Barca, then I read we have Mason. I have doubts about Mason’s ability to referee at thius level. Just look at the mistakes he made in the recent Everton v WBA game. He missed some huge decisions and then sent off Arteta. The tackle leading to the red card was awful, but Mason missed two awful challenges immediately beforehand. He is indecisive, gets tangled up with play and is not sufficiently strong or consistent for a game of this magnitude.

  25. gr8 n insightful discussion, got really consumed by it.
    All this is equivalent to challenging for title even after point deductions.

  26. Should The Arsenal really be spending so much time discussing who will be the referee in any game…..let alone a home game against Stoke City?
    All this hot air could have been spent getting on the 34 bus to go and watch the Arsenal youth team play at Barnet on Monday night.
    As it was they ended up playing in front of a very, very sparse crowd (I heard 200).

  27. Thank’s for your input Sean… but it is kind of the whole point of this Article – you should write an article about the up and coming youth fixtures.

    I’m sure Tony would love to publish it.

    Head back in the sand now – there’s a good chap.

  28. EPL was created by gambling mafia for gambling purposes.

    This Lego character is going around many other Arsenal blogs and just talking non sense. He has only surfaced since ManU game, and he took offense at Snooping aroung… Article (may be even that was his first post). he’s either a Sp@rs fan or a writer on some AAA crap. Just ignore it.

  29. H’mmm. The key decisions by Webb, Riley, Dowd, Atkinson Foy et al in the PL, especially in games involving the Arsenal, always make me suspicious but you DogFace have raised this to a new level. Clearly, betting against the Arsenal in these major gambling markets, e.g. Asia, can be really profitable for big players who I am sure are aware of these referees penchant for “strange” decision-making (to put it generously.) It is scandalous how the league and the media stand idly and allow the PGMOL to create a system that is so ripe for corruption.

  30. Something that has crossed my mind after this is the fact that with my ref review I can see what they do wrong in our games but in fact when Dean is handing out some extra decisions to Chelsea (just to name a team) this also has its effect on our own position and could cost us also our place in the league.

    But to do a survey of all the refs like I do on the Arsenal games would cost me too much time. But it sure would give us a more complete and interesting picture of what the refs are doing in our games and most of all what they are doing behind our back….

  31. I told you once Walter that there were employment opportunities in which you could just watch and analyse matches and report your findings. I told you that these jobs existed in Asian gambing syndicates and the major market makers.

    These are the people with the power and money to organise the level of analysis required to give a complete picture… I could do it with the correct data – but Opta data is worthless for what I want – it simply reflects the decisions of the referee! Why can’t I see some independant data regarding what SHOULD have been a foul and what SHOULDN’T have been a goal!?!

    I’ll tell you how to do it too – get 5 guys like you and pay them peanuts (in the great scheme of things i.e. a market of £5,000,000,000 liquidity for an EPL w/e in the tax free Asian black markets) to watch matches and flag incidents – take the average across the board and you have a good clear guide to what’s really happening.

    The ‘bettor’ mug public are atomised to such an extent that any ‘inside edge’ no matter how pathetic is guarded jealously… for once a secret is out – the market will collapse and it has no value. The same principle exists in share dealing – both are gambling markets where ‘inside information’ is money and corruption is self-regulating.

    The PGMOL, I assume [this is not an accusation], know all this [inside information] and it is used to guide and ‘improve’ the EPL brand through randomisation of results via the selection process of referees – it is either that or, it seems, they exhibit something akin the hapless incompetance of their duties as the keystone cops!

    One hand washes the other as football slides towards the ‘big win’ and into the realm of a purely gambling sport… like dog racing or some shit like that. The greed of men with inside information will leech all that is worthy from what is idealistic – again, corruption regulates itself through greed.

    And it is the common man who will pay for his ideals… and made to feel a fool for his simple pleasures.

    To prove me utterly wrong then all they [the PGMOL] have to do is publish the algorythms for referee selection and make transparent the data regarding referee competance. While we are at it the EPL need to publish the algorythms for assigning match selection for the league as, quite frankly, that stinks too. Where is the independent body for this? Where?

    I guy who I respect a lot (you know him walter) once told me that the #1 sport in the UK used to be rowing. You would sometimes get over a million people line the banks of the river thames to watch a race.. then markets emerged on the result and the bookmakers came – speculation and corruption crept in and the races became fixed. The fans lost faith and the great sport of rowing died for it was no longer a sport.

    I’m glad what I write makes people think… I try very hard to express the things I see which are clear as daylight to me – alas I am not so good at interpreting what I know… it is always ineffable for me – like a shadow, it is frustrating.

  32. If I would be retired I really think I would take the time to try to analyse all the games (or the games of our nearest competitors to start with) but unless I have won the euromillions this weekend (haven’t checked yet) I still have to work some 12 years minimum and 16 maximum(if they dont change the law during this period)

  33. Come to think of it, it would be interesting to give it a try in the next weeks and compare it with the data I have in our games. I have a week holiday between christmas and new year so I could try to give it a go in those days.

  34. If you think logically in a competitive market place (i.e. the EPL), it would be most strange if managers, Directors alike didn’t think about who they could influence to tip the deck a little in their favour.

    1. Referees.
    2. Disciplinary panels.
    3. Fixture lists.
    4. Euro-weekend fixture organisation with Sky.

    Etc etc.

    I guess you need to ask whether that should be part of the competition or whether all that should be regulated.

    The purist will say: regulate it! Others may be more flexible….

  35. Walter – we have Clattenburg for the Chav match… and Rhys – most fans would say “it’s ok for us to do that” but “bang out of order” when others do it… such is the way of the post modern tribalism that ‘fans’ call ‘support’ – the bigger picture gets lost in the persuit of the spectacular.

    The fairest thing, I reckon (and I’m right) is to regulate dat shit before football at the highest levels morphs into the ‘sporting’ equivilent of dagenham dog racing meets WWE.

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