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Part 2 of our series on refereeing. (If you have not seen the previous article it might be a good idea to have a read through, to see where these statistics are going).
By Walter Broeckx, the ref detective
When I was doing my ref review and thinking back at the season so far I came up with a rather worrying thought.
In fact it all started after some 55 minutes in the Chelsea game. We had just scored our third goal and ref Clattenburg so far had a very acceptable game. Okay he missed the penalty on Van Persie but this was not enough to raise questions. But then the further the game went the more I got a feeling that this was not the same ref as in the first 55 minutes.
It felt a bit that at the start of the game people and the ref had been thinking: “oh, Chelsea will batter Arsenal once again and Drogba will have his usual goals and at the end of the day Arsenal will be finished and it will be back to business as usual”.
But then suddenly the script changed and before we all realized it we had a 3-0 advantage. And then like I said the ref changed almost completely as if he was thinking: oh my god, this wasn’t written in the script like that. I must do something or at least try to do something. And he tried. But it was too late.
So this was the moment I started having some bad feelings. A feeling that I couldn’t place yet, until I started doing the review of the table of the games so far.
You must remember that only since the Fulham game people, (apart from us believers over here), started to see that we could be in with a chance for the title. When you go on top after some 15 games played you are always in with a chance. Before that we were considered as certainly not good enough.
So let’s start with the full season so far (same table as in my previous article)
And until that moment in the season we had the following total results until the Carling cup game against Wigan
|Total included CC Wigan||1070||1091||1664||484||1156|
And now comes the interesting part: starting from the Fulham game we get the following results from that moment on
|After CC Wigan||197||50||341||137||184|
And just look with me and see what I have seen:
Cards: suddenly the standard has dropped a lot and more cards are wrongly given.
Penalty decisions are just plain crazy. From every 10 calls a ref has to make only about 1 (one) is correct!!!!
Goals: they also go down but not that crazy as the penalty decisions.
The other category is slightly better but in fact this is down to the excellent game Clattenburg had for 55 minutes against Chelsea. If I only take the last half hour (when he was trying to tilt the game) this figure would have been just 27 %. The same low average as before.
But the overall score has gone down to an unacceptable 46%! It has gone down from 64% in the games before to 46% since we really are in the title fight!!!! This is as good as meaning that even a blind man with a guide dog could have done better.
Let’s put it in another way. The first graphic is the first 18 games
So in those first 18 games we had 3 refs who had a score of below 50. So a chance of having a real bad ref every 6th game. An average I could live with.
And then we have the graphics for the last 4 games after we have turned in to a title candidate
And now when you look at this statistic you see that we have 4 games after each other that we have a ref that has a score of below 50. So in the first 18 games only 3, and now 4 in a row.
I do admit that I only took the points from Clattenburg after the 55th minute. As this was visible, not only for me but for many other people who look at the refs, that he suddenly changed his approach in the game. But even if I take his game as a whole it still means that we had 3 refs under the 50% mark in 4 games. What a change compared to the first 18 games where we also had 3 but in 18 games.
Who can explain this sudden drop in standard of refereeing? Is this just a coincidence? A bad day at the office for all the referees we had? And the fact that it got so painfully visible during the last games is something that many of us will have sensed and will have had the feeling.
But I must say that when last night I checked the numbers I really had something like : ”Oh no, not again”- feeling coming over me. Is this 2007-2008 all over again? Are we seeing another run of XXXX referees who take away all the hard work from the players?
People always talk about the conspiracy theory. As mostly it is a theory based on feelings. And now for the first time I actually think that with my weekly ref review I can indicate that it could be more than just a theory. We will see in the next weeks how much it was a coincidence. How much it had to do with the (unlikely) bad form of all our refs in the last weeks.
I noticed the fact that from the moment we got in with a real chance for the title the numbers changed drastically. And most of all: it is backed up by the numbers in my ref review. Numbers I had on my computer but I actually didn’t take notice until I started doing the ref review of the first half of the season in total.
At a moment like this I feel satisfied with all the hard work and long hours I have spent analysing the games over and over and to see that I can point at something for the first time based on numbers and not just on a feeling.
But on the other hand I feel very down as we can have the fear that we are not just playing against 11 men on the pitch. No, we also have to deal with whoever is in charge when it comes to refs. And as a ref I feel very down because the crème de la crème of the refs in the EPL are not doing what they should do: be neutral!
Why, I cannot tell you. This is something that only the people from the inside can tell you. But just like in Italy, the truth one day will come out. A disappointed person who did not get what he was promised will be breaking the omertà in referee land. Or a person who feels disgusted about the system he has been part of. Only one person has to find his honour back to stop it. Maybe a top ref who steps out of football completely will be the whistle-blower. But as most of them keep getting some kind of job within the football world most of them will shut up and remain silent. They buy loyalty, they buy their omertà
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