What the media won’t tell you about football, part 4 – referee variations


The real facts about football that the media will never touch

The first point to note about the research that proved that the advantage that home teams have is largely down to the way referees are influenced by the noise of the crowd (see part 3 linked above) is that PGMO and the media said absolutely nothing about the research. 

There was no admission of referee error, and no explanation of how this could be.  Everyone carried on as before without saying a word.  PGMO had previously claimed referee accuracy rates at over 98%, and so to admit even the existence of the whole range of research that showed that referees were seriously affected by the crowd, would have been highly damaging to their credibility.

The second point to note is that the general media that cover football every day fell in with his and said nothing about it either.  It was one of the biggest betrayals of their readership ever.

The third point is that until Untold Arsenal examined these figures no one published the details of how Premier League results varied under different referees.  But these figures which revealed the home bias of some referees, and the abject refusal of the media, the Premier League, the FA and PGMO to discuss the issue, made us start looking.

We found two key issues.  One came from the academic research cited in the last article that showed that the home crowd influenced the referee in at least one specific way: the amount of time added on for stoppages.  Fifa tried to detract from this finding, in the 2022 world cup, by adding on far more time than ever before.

But that was subterfuge, for this whole affair was blown open in 2020/21 when many games were played without crowds or with only tiny crowds present.  And it is important to note that without the abject compliance of the football-reporting media, the football authorities would never have got away with it.

So let’s look at the average results from the ten referees in each PL season who in each case oversaw the most games.


Season Home Win% Away Win% Draw%
2018/19 44.98% 37.46% 17.55%
2019/20 47.47% 29.32% 23.31%
2020/21 35.9% 42.5% 21.5%
2021/22 44.74% 33.08% 22.16%


That sudden change in 2020/21 coincided with the arrival of games without crowds. Games in the most widely viewed league in the world using the most experienced referees available to PGMO.  Suddenly the home win level dropped by getting on for 10%; away wins shot up by comparison.

And this at a time when the research had indicated time and again that it is the crowd that influences referee decision-making.  It was the final proof, if that were needed that when a crowd is present, the crowd can influence the referee if that crowd really gets behind its team.  

So now let’s look at the vagaries of the individual referees and their results.  And this is where it gets very frightening because it is quite clear that season by season there are PL referees who oversee a disproportionate number of home wins, and others who oversee a disproportionate number of away wins.

In 2018/19, for example, 63% of Moss’ games were home wins.  In 2021/2 it was even higher at 64%.   Home teams must love it when they see they have Moss in charge.

Referee Oliver on the other hand must be an away team’s favourite.  40.6% away wins one season, and a staggering 57.1% away wins the next.  He doesn’t just ignore the home supporters’ howls, he actively rules against such calls.

Of course, there chance could be responsible.  One referee just happens to oversee a lot of games in which the home team is dominant.  But that doesn’t explain how the figures changed so much when games were played without crowds.

No, we know now beyond any doubt that referees are influenced by crowds – there is no other explanation for the rise in away performances when there is no crowd in the ground, and the LSE experimentation carried out by academics with professional referees judging games on video hearing or not hearing the crowd noise, gives fulsome proof.  The refs are influenced by the crowds. 

In short, each club’s chances of victory are increased or diminished by the referee they get.  Here’s the full table…


Referee HomeWin% AwayWin% Draw%
Average 2018/2019 44.98% 37.46% 17.55%
Highest 2018/19 63.0 (Moss) 58.3 (Tierney) 27.6 (Atkinson)
Lowest 2018/19 26.9% (Pawson) 18.8 (Taylor) 0.0 (Tierney)
Average 2019/20 47.47% 29.32% 23.31%
Highest 2019/20 62.5 (Taylor) 40.6 (Oliver) 33.3 (Mariner)
Lowest 2019/20 34.4 (Oliver) 19.2 (Kavanagh) 9.4 (Taylor)
Average 2020/21 35.9% 42.5% 21.5%
Highest 2020/21 45.5 (Kavanagh) 57.1 (Oliver) 32.1 (Taylor)
Lowest 2020/21 25.0 (Taylor) 36.0 (Dean) 4.5 (Kavanagh)
Average 2021/22 44.74% 33.08% 22.16%
Highest 2021/22 64.0 (Moss) 40.0 (Coote) 32.1 (Taylor)
Lowest 2021/22 25.0 (Coote) 20.0 (Attwell) 12.0 (Moss)


And yet there was not even a discussion about possible referee errors in the media.  Either the journalists were too stupid to realise the implication of the figures or PGMO told them to lay off the subject and they obeyed.  There was no public debate, and no admission from PGMO that its wild claim that 98% of referee decisions are correct was false.  Nothing save some reporting of the academic work, with the suggestion that, well, it was all academic.

So why has none of the media ever picked up on this?  That question remains.



4 Replies to “What the media won’t tell you about football, part 4 – referee variations”

  1. I can’t recall or imagine a game ever when Arsenal’s chances of winning were enhanced by the choice of referee

  2. OT,

    interesting to see that one of Sp*rs top scouts has signed for Arsenal.
    He seems to have turned out a Brighton offer (he originaly came from there)
    Sure looks like Sp*rs have a ship that is not shipshape anymore if people like him leave.
    Maybe one issue is that it’s now hard to convince talent they have a chance at Sp*rs, but stand a real opportunity at Hale End.
    Anyway, their problem.

  3. The research that you keep misrepresenting without referencing never said the “sole” reason for increased away wins when games were played without fans was due to referee factors. It could as well be due to the away team being less intimidated or the home team being less motivated. For the sake of new readers you could post a link to the study and let everyone read and decide for themselves

  4. You can read the reference points Chris on https://untold-arsenal.com/archives/81170, but since you are making a statement about what it said and didn’t say, you obviously know the research, so why aren’t you posting details of the source of your assertion? Certainly the research I am referring to does not make that assertion – so please let us know where you got that.

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