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 are based on those decisions and those reviewed games.
In this article, we focus on the most important decisions made by referees this past season. The decisions about red cards, penalties and goals. I think nobody will disagree when I say that these are the most important decisions that can directly and openly have an affect on the outcome of a game. Those of you who are referees or have been referees in the past will know that the “other” decisions that have been taken care of in an earlier article can also show something. But there are other decisions wherein the impact is not clearly visible. The decisions discussed in this article reveal that the outcome is more clear to see.
Before we start with the red cards, I would like to make the point that this is only about the decisions on the field. In case of doubt, we agree with the ref and stick to his decision. If an incident has occurred behind the referee’s back (something he hasn’t seen), the decision has been marked as not correct. The FA having taken action after the game is something we didn’t take account of in our numbers. We only judged the ref and his decisions on the field.
The league average on red cards was 21.43% of correct decisions. A ridiculously low number.
|Correct decisions||red||+/- Average|
The first thing we notice is that in the games we reviewed, only against Aston Villa did the refs get it spot on when a red card had to be given. This shows that it can be done. But Villa is the only team to even come close to a perfect score in these types of decisions.
12 teams have a higher score than the league average. So this means 8 teams have a lower score. And 4 of those teams have a score of 0 (zero). This means that the refs didn’t make any correct decisions on red cards! Be it nott sending someone off who should have been sent off, or sending someone off who shouldn’t have been sent off… nothing was correct.
Do you have any other word apart from ‘disastrous’ for such a score?
As this is an Arsenal blog I would like to point at the fact that Arsenal had a score higher than the league average. In fact the score from Arsenal came closest to the league average. So if you think 1 correct decision in 5 decisions is alright, then the refs did all right in Arsenal games. Needless to say, I totally disagree with this and that I think that the score should be around that of Aston Villa. For all teams, in fact.
This type of decision leaves a sour taste in my mouth. Obviously, referees are not that interested in keeping the game clean. I have seen players slapping their opponents on the head without being sent off. I have seen players kicking each other when the ball was out of play or on the other side of the pitch. I have seen two footed tackles with studs showing over the ball. I have seen studs planted on knees that could have easily cost a player his career. I have seen nasty and disgusting things that don’t belong on a football field. Things that belong in cage fighting, but not in football.
And far too many of those things went unpunished by the refs. Sometimes even without calling a foul. At times it looked like the refs were afraid to show the needed red cards. I think this is cowardly behaviour from the refs. Maybe inspired by the fact that the media are too quick to say: the ref ruined the game by handing out that red card. This is bollocks! It is the player who commits the assault or who punches another player that is guilty of ruining the game! I repeat: IT IS THE PLAYER WHO DOES THIS WHO IS RUINING THE GAME. NOT THE REF.
The ref is only ruining his game and that of the team who wants to play football when he doesn’t give a red card when it should be so.
After making myself clear on this we move on to the penalty decisions. Again I would like to point at the fact that in case of doubt we give the referee the benefit of the doubt. The overall league average of correct penalty decisions was 62,24%.
|Correct decisions||penalty||+/- Average|
In the penalty decisions we see that again Aston Villa have once again most decisions in favour of them. With a score of 83.33% they have a score above the 80% mark and this means that the refs have done more than 21% better than the league average.
In this table we have 3 teams with a score above the 80% mark in fact. Wigan and Swansea also join Aston Villa.
If we look at the 70% mark (the minimum score that is acceptable) we see that only 8 teams have a higher score. So 12 teams have to live with the fact that the refs couldn’t produce the strict minimum that should be reached.
At the bottom of this table, we find Blackburn. With a score of just 30% of the penalty decisions in their games as correct. Decisions in Fulham games were just slightly better with 33.33%.
Mike Riley, do you think this is serious? Do you think this is acceptable? This is awful refereeing. There are not enough words to describe my disappointment about those numbers.
I know lots have been said about Arsenal and penalties in the past season. And yes Arsenal has been treated badly with a score of 56.06% correct penalty decisions. But we weren’t the only victims. Not that this is a big consolation of course.
Teams don’t deserve this, no matter which team is on the field. Each teams deserves good and fair referees who are capable of scoring at least 70% on this type of decisions and for penalties the bar should be raised to at least 80% if not more.
Leaving this behind us we move on to the most important type of decisions: the goal decisions.
These decisions are what win games and what win titles or lose titles. This is what should be the most correct of them all. And to start with, there is some good news: this is the decision that the refs got the highest score in. The overall league average was 91.75% correct decisions.
So this is good, one could say. But I’m not that easy satisfied. This type of decision decides who takes the points home and should therefore have a score of 99%. I could have said I want a score of 100%. But even I will admit that 100% perfection rarely exists. So I could take the 1 mistake in 100 goals.
But what I cannot expect is the fact that the number we have found means that almost 1 goal in 10 is wrong! That is an average of almost 3 wrong goals each matchday. That is awful.
Let us move on to the table.
|Correct decisions||goal||+/- Average|
The team that came closest to the score that I would like to see was Newcastle. The refs, therefore, in the games featuring Newcastle, have done a good job, showing it can in fact be done. The final score of 97.86% is decent and is more than 6% above the league average. And as they like to be good neighbours, the score from Sunderland comes close to the Newcastle score.
In fact we have 12 teams that have a higher score than the league average. But this also means that we had 8 teams that didn’t manage to get the average score.
Arsenal are leading the pack of the teams that didn’t got the league average score in 13th place.
To be fair, 19 teams are rather close to the league average if you want to look at it in a nice way. But there is one team that has seen the most biased referees of them all. Stoke are that team and in their games, the refs came up with a score of 66.67% correct goal decisions.
This means that of every 10 goals that were scored in games that had Stoke on the field at least 3 were not correct! This is a disgrace. Teams don’t deserve such crap decisions! No team does!
FINAL TABLE AND CONCLUSIONS
If we put all the tables together and calculate the average we end up with an order that we will show you below.
The higher the place in this league table, the better the decisions have been in total for the games with the teams involved. Of course there are individual cases in some games where things will have been the reverse of what the situation really was. But this is an average referee league table based on 155 games.
This is not saying that the teams on the top got the decisions their way. Or the one at the bottom got the decisions against them. No, this is the score of how the different referees did when the teams were on the field. This is a league table based on the percentage of correct decisions in total from the refs. This is completely different from what we will show you in the next article when we look at the bias.
But the next table shows which supporters have been blessed with good refereeing in general and which teams have been pestered with bad refereeing. This is based on all the different types of decisions we have given you so far.
THE FINAL REFEREE LEAGUE TABLE
So Swansea have seen the best refereeing in the whole league last season. closely followed by Aston Villa and West Bromwich Albion.
The 3 teams that have seen the worst referees this season are QPR, Fulham and Stoke.
Check out your own favourite team in this table and try to remember whether what you’ve seen was good or bad from the referees in general. Don’t think of it as a scenario wherein your team was either awarded or denied an advantage. That isn’t the point of this table. The only thing that matters is whether the refs were correct in their decisions for both teams.
I will pick my own team of course. It is in 14th place, on the side of the league table where we have seen poor refereeing.
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