By Tony Attwood
The Southampton v Arsenal game was interesting from the point of view that we have been exploring that some referees are very much home team refs, while others are much more balanced in their approach.
This table below shows the PGMO referees who have handled five PL games or more this season, in the order of the percentage of home wins they have overseen… it runs from over 75% of the games ending as home wins down to around 14%. Which itself raises a question, how come some referees oversee so many home wins, and others the opposite?
Today we had Robert Jones and his figures compared with other PL referees can be seen below…
To explain this variation in the number of home wins referees have, without including any referee bias in the explanation, one would have to say that it is just by pure chance that Gillett and Pawson don’t see games that are home wins. If you think chance works like that, then fine. Most mathematicians and statisticians would expect to find an explanation beyond chance.
It looked to me as if the Arsenal team were not fully prepared to deal with just how far the referee would allow Southampton to get away with fouls, knocks, pushes and the like in the second half.
I’m not quite sure why this was. Maybe the Arsenal management were not fully prepared themselves for the way in which Southampton play, but if so the answer surely is that Arsenal’s team should be prepared. More likely they were not fully prepared for the way the referee would handle the game.
The figures we published before the game gave a pretty clear indication of what was to be expected, but in case you missed them too, here they are again…
|Team||Tackles pg||Fouls pg||YelLow PG||Fouled PG|
And the comparison table…
|Team||Tackles per foul||Tackles per yellow||Fouls per yellow|
Our comment before the match was that “Southampton can tackle more than Arsenal before getting a foul called against them. Southampton can tackle a lot more (an amazing 56% more in fact) than Arsenal before getting a yellow card against them. Southampton can foul a lot more than Arsenal before getting a yellow card.”
Now of course one referee can change these figures, and it looked as if the Southampton players didn’t quite realise or perhaps didn’t quite believe what they could get away with. But the most likely explanation for what happened was that at half time their manager told them, and they duly responded – secure in the knowledge that the mass media would stick to their apparent agreement with the PGMO not to mention this sort of imbalance.
So what is going on in the world of referees?
Well, by the end of the Arsenal match there had been 114 premier league games played this season of which 58 were home wins, 31 were draws and 25 were away wins.
That is 50.9% were home wins, 27.2% were drawn and 21.9% were away wins. But let us compare this with today’s referee Robert Jones. Instead of 50.9% home wins he has had before today’s game 71.4% home wins. Instead of 21.9% away wins he as 14.3% away wins.
Now of course I am not saying that Mr Jones has been bought. Rather that his style of refereeing is one of those that is unduly influenced by the home crowd. And that referees are influenced by the home crowd there can be no doubt.
Of course you could argue that “it just happens” that Mr Jones oversees matches that are destined to be a draw and he is not influenced by the home crowd in this regard, although if you are a regular reader of Untold you’ll know we have a number of articles covering a lot of research that shows that home crowds do influence referees dramatically.
Links to three are given below, but if you want a quick summary, the research has been undertaken by several serious academic groups, and generally consists of showing referees videos of matches which are stopped at a significant moment. Half of the refs hear the crowd noise, half don’t. It turns out that the decisions they make are strongly influenced by whether they hear crowd noise or not. Here are just three of the many articles on this subject.
- HOW THE PREMIER LEAGUE REFEREES ARE BIASED: AN ANALYSIS
- THE HOME AND AWAY SCANDAL: IGNORANCE, OR COVER UP?
- IN THE PREMIER LEAGUE 2021/2, 50% OF REFS SHOWED SIGNS OF PERSISTENT BIAS
So we had a referee who is very much influenced by the crowd, and that was certainly the case today. But at least we got away with a point. And we are still top of the league.