This article is part of the series : REFEREE REVIEW 2012
Untold Arsenal has a team of qualified referees who have reviewed more than 40% of the EPL games from last season. The reviews themselves were based on full match video footage with the advantage of video technology features such as slow motion and pause.
By reviewing those 155 games we have made a database of more than 7000 decisions that have been judged by our panel of dedicated and qualified referees.
The numbers you will see (from Untold) are based on those decisions and those reviewed games.
After giving all the numbers of the different teams and how they did under the refs and in the games we reviewed it could be that you will say: well this is an Arsenal website so no wonder your numbers show an anti-Arsenal bias. Some people might say: you are biased and I don’t believe you and I will stick my head further in the sand. And of course you are entitled to do think this and to stick you head in the sand.
But before you ingest too much silicon dioxide it might be interesting to see at how other people stand in this matter. So let us then look at what people have found who are not Arsenal supporters.
And to do this we should turn our attention to the website debatabledecisions. You can find them if you click on this link http://www.debatabledecisions.com/
Now they are not Arsenal supporters, in fact in their panel is no Arsenal supporter at all. You can find the names of the people who sit in their panel and check out their twitter account and you can see there that they don’t support Arsenal. So hopefully that good enough basis for an unbiased source.
Let us try to check out what we found and what they found.
First of all, if you don’t want to look for it yourself, I want to explain how they work and then you will see the different approach compared to our way of working. They base their decisions on what is shown on Match of the Day. So if an incident is not shown on Match of the Day it is not counted in their decision table. And that is a big handicap for the debatable decisions website. Because I have seen it on a few occasions that when I did a whole game as a reviewer and then saw the highlights on MOTD that important and key decisions were left out.
I will give you an example of this. In the game Everton-Arsenal with the score at 0-1 for Arsenal Everton scored a goal that was ruled out for offside. That was a wrong decision. The goal should have been given and it should have been 1-1. Now on the debatable decisions table they count it like that. And that is because on MOTD they didn’t show an incident in the second half when Rosicky was very clearly pushed and tripped in the Everton penalty area. It was a blatant foul and a crystal clear penalty. But because it wasn’t shown on MOTD (wonder why it wasn’t shown?) the people from the debatable decisions website didn’t take this in their tables.
But apart from that they do their job in the way they do it. And maybe the most important thing is to see if we can discover trends in what we have found and what they have found. So I will now compare the debatable decisions table and put the league position number next to it from our reviewing system. And this is then what you get:
And now it is getting interesting. Because the team we found that benefited most from the refs their mistakes was Stoke and the same was found by the debatable decisions website. And we found that Arsenal was the team that suffered most from the wrong decisions and guess what…the debatable decisions website had the same findings.
And another thing is that we showed that in our numbers Stoke got more decisions in their favour away from home and guess what… the people from the debatable decisions found the same. Coincidence you say? I call it great research and hard work from our referee reviewing team.
So you can call us biased about Arsenal but isn’t it a big coincidence that we and they agree on the fact that Arsenal has been hit the hardest from wrong decisions? And that Stoke was favoured?
It does show an important trend and that is what makes this comparison so important. I also notice that for a lot of teams the place in both tables are close to each other. And most teams are standing in the same half of the table on both occasions. This is the case for 14 teams out of 20. There are only 2 teams where the difference in both tables is more than 10 places. Those teams are Aston Villa and Liverpool. And some of those differences could be down to the fact that the choice of games can have its influence and the fact we only did 6 Aston Villa games.
Another big difference team is Manchester United. But for those who take a closer look at our review results they will notice that we agree on the fact that United had some major decisions going against them. We even showed that lot of the advantage they get is from the small decisions in the field. And then we also have the little fact that well …MOTD doesn’t show all the decisions. I do think however if you put those two tables together you will get a rather accurate picture of how things were in the PL last season.
This is how it would look then and the team in position 1 was the most favoured based on our two different tables and the team in position 20 was the least favoured.
After putting to bed the false words ‘it all evens out at the end of the season” for a lot of teams we can now announce officially that there is something very spooky when it comes to referees.
Because I don’t think there are two teams more separate in the PL than Arsenal and Stoke. Arsenal is known for their put the ball on the floor and play a technical style of football. And Stoke for what some call a rugby style of football. I will put it gently and say that they are famous for being able to kick the ball high and far up field and run after it.
Stoke players; well at times they do tend to get a bit physical. I think Ramsey will call this an understatement. So would Adebayor feel it. Their players are big, strong and tall and the Arsenal players are relative small and weak (in a way of speaking).
One could say that Arsenal wants to play the game within the rules (yes they will make fouls that is inevitable and is part of the game) but they want to have a game where the ref applies the rules so they can play their technical game. And Stoke wants to rough up their opponents, push and shove, walk the border lines when it comes to the rules. They have brought time-wasting to a new level with the towels being brought out for every throw. Pushing and shoving keepers from right to left when they want to take a throw.
You can’t find two more opposite styles. And then it is so strange to see that the team that is bending the ruled all the time is getting most of the wrong calls from the refs and most the wrong decisions in their favour.
This brings up a few questions.
Might it be that the refs are silently in favour of the “kick them off the field” tactics ? Now that would be an outrageous thing. The refs should be there to make sure that the laws of the games are applied and they should be the one that should make sure that the players are protected on the field. If this is the case then the refs should be removed immediately as they do not do what Fifa and Uefa want them to do.
Another possibility could be that the refs are afraid of Stoke. I know this doesn’t sound a possibility but could it be that the fact that those big defenders who kick and push and shove are bringing fear to the refs? I know it sounds not possible but there has to be some explanation. If it would be the case then the refs also have to be removed as they are not fit to wear the referee shirt.
I must say that when we started this reviewing I didn’t know what we would find. But this is one of the most unexpected results of our search. Not just the fact that we at Untold found this big difference between Arsenal and Stoke. But that it is confirmed by an unbiased source.
And this is something that the PGMOL needs to examine and needs to find an answer and most of all: PUT IT RIGHT FOR NEXT SEASON!
And about our numbers being biased? Well they could be biased to a certain degree. Our referee reviewers have tried to do their utmost best to not being biased in the games we reviewed. But still there could have been some bias. But we are open about it. We are clear about it. And so you could take the Arsenal numbers with a pinch of salt even.
But that ladies and gentleman does not explain then why the findings of Untold Arsenal and those from the Debatable Decisions website are the same for a large part. And that does not explain why Arsenal has been hit that hard by the referees!
You can shove us at Untold Arsenal aside by saying we are biased. But if that is the only reason to push our findings out of the way, you cannot do the same with the debatable decisions website. As they do not have one Arsenal supporter in their panel.
So it is back to you now: do you want to stick your head in the sand and ignore all this? That is an option you can go for. But be warned: silicon dioxide can be dangerous. Don’t say we didn’t warn you when you cannot breath any more.
Ref Review 2012 - the index
- Cazorla and Sahin, Vapour Transfers and the trapping of RVP
- How Arsenal survived in the Premier League last season
- Ref bias in the Premier League: Manchester City
- Ref bias in the Premier League: Manchester United
- So who is benefiting from all the strange referee decisions