Referee Decisions is a web site that publishes reviews of referees by referees.
We cover as many football matches from the English Premier League as we can by watching videos of matches, and recording each decision, noting if it was right or wrong. The reviews are all done by qualified refs. If you are a qualified referee and would like to help us there are more details on how to do this below.
Also below there are details of what we have been doing in the past, and details of how to join us if you are a qualified ref. But if you would like to see what the referees are doing to your club, just look on the right side of the page and you will see a heading Category Specific RSS.
Scroll down that list until you see your club and then click on your club’s name. You will be taken to a page that shows all the articles we have published about your club – including a review of how the refs treated your club in 2011/12 (except of course for Reading, Southampton and West Ham who we didn’t review in that season while they were in the Championship).
In the 2011/12 season, over 40% of all the matches in the Premier League were covered in this way, and the results that were published were extraordinary, in the sense that they revealed a much lower level of competence than is generally ascribed to referees.
Perhaps even more importantly, the research revealed that the old adage that mistakes “all even out in the end” is the opposite of the truth. An extraordinary, some would say frightening, bias was revealed.
Of course all such projects have to start somewhere, and in our case the referees who came together to start this project were all Arsenal supporters. And that of course opens the project up to a claim that it, itself, was biased, especially as our analyses included Arsenal games.
We didn’t want to pretend we were something we were not, so we published our findings on a site that openly proclaims that it is a site that looks at football through the eyes of Arsenal supporters. And we have compared our results to another web site that reviews referee performances in a different way and which has no links with Arsenal – and our results were in many regards very similar to theirs. So we are encouraged to believe that we are on the right lines.
As I say, we all start somewhere, and this is our origins. But what we want to do now is expand the number of referees and to include in our number referees who are by their inclination supporters of other teams – or perhaps no team.
Our instructions to those who join with us are simple: referee the match on TV as you would referee any match – with impartiality and fairness. We don’t think our referees this last season were biased in a pro-Arsenal way, but we are wanting to expand and take on refs who are most certainly not pro-Arsenal, to allow us to be able to answer any pro-Arsenal bias claims and most importantly to allow us to be able to cover many more matches.
We will then publish our reports on this club-neutral web site, that has just been set up for this purpose.
Below you will find a link to our analyses for the past season – and within each article on individual clubs you will find links to the games we covered. But you might already have a couple of questions, so I’ll try and answer them.
First, is there any money in it? The answer is no. It’s a labour of love. Of course we dream that maybe just as Opta started out as a little research project among friends and turned into a multi-million pound business, so might this. And if so, money will be shared out, but for now, no. All I can say is that we started our Arsenal site three years ago with no readers, and last month it got 800,000 visits. So we do know a bit about getting an audience.
Second, do I have to do lots of matches? Again no. If you can only do one a month, we’d like to have you on board, although ideally we’d like one a week – or even more if you can give the time. The only thing we ask is that you are clear in your commitment. The one thing we want to avoid is taking on a ref who says “yes, I’ll do two reviews a week” and then we get nothing. We know circumstances change and sometimes we can’t do what we offer to do – we just ask our ref reviewers to keep us informed.
Third, what actually is measured? We have a standardised grid – just look at some of our reviews and you’ll see what we do.
Fourth, will I be identified? No – our ref reviewers are listed by number “Ref Reviewer 3, Ref Reviewer 8” and so on.
Fifth, is anyone taking notice? Yes – the BBC picked up on our work, and ran a significant story on what we are doing. Then, the PGMOL (the organisation that runs Premier League ref affairs) suddenly changed its web site from an open site that talked about educating fans into the laws of the games, into one that only members of PGMOL could enter. (Of course we can’t prove that was down to what we were writing, but it was one hell of a coincidence). And the entry on Wikipedia about PGMOL now mentions our work (although of course this could change any day!)
If you are a ref and you are interested, just email WalterBroeckx@hotmail.com and tell Walter about yourself. If you want to know more about the blog and how we are putting all this together, write to Tony.Attwood@aisa.org
If you are a statistician, journalist or a blogger and you are interested in our data for collaborative analysis, just email TheAmazingDogFacedBoy@Gmail.com and tell DogFace about yourself and what format you require the data to be presented. Our data sets are far more extensive than the match reports presented on this site so please ask it you don’t see the information you are looking for.
If you are a wealthy philanthropist and you wish to make a donation to help fund our service and the work that goes into it; then we will accept all donations gladly.
We do hope you will be interested in talking to us. Please, if you are interested, but are unsure, do get in touch.