A short manual on how to understand our reviews


What we are trying to do is to analyse the performances of the referees in the PL.

To do this we review as many games as possible and mark the referee in his decisions. By decisions we mean not just the calls he makes but also the calls he doesn’t make. Because it is also a decision from the referee to not make a call.

We review the game using the images we have at our disposal through various sources. TV companies, club channels. All we can lay our hands on.

We look at each game from the first till the last minute and make a report of this and then we publish it, those are the things called Match Reviews.

Now how do you read such a match review? It is build up consisting 3 different parts



The first part is a chronological report of the game starting from the first second and ending at the final whistle. We show you each decision that the ref had to make in this game and see if he was correct or not. In case of doubt or when we don’t have good enough replays to prove the ref was wrong, we give the decision as correct.

MIN: We have a column for the minute in which the incident took place.

TYPE: Then we have the “Type” of decision. Well they contain virtually anything that can be given by a ref: offside, yellow, goal, penalty, red, foul, free kick, throw in, goal kick, advantage, … you name it, it can be there.

This type also refers to a certain weight we put on a decision. I think everyone will agree that some decisions are more important than others. So we decided to put weight on some decisions. More about that later on.

FROM: We give (as far as we could see) the name of the team who is responsible for the event.

ON: and the name of the team involved in the event.

C/NC : This is maybe the most important column as in this we give our judgement. If we mark the decisions with a “C” it means we think the decision from the ref was Correct. If you see an “NC” in this column this means that we judged the decision from the ref as Not Correct.

COMMENT: We also give a bit of comment about the incident. Sometimes this can be short (eg trip) and sometimes we need to explain some things and we have to give some more text on the decision.

WEIGHT: The weight we have given is:

Goal Kick 1
Throw in 1
Offside 2
Corner 2
Foul 3
Free kick 3
Yellow 3
Advantage 3
Second yellow 4
Goal 5
Red 5
Penalty 5

The more important for the final result a decision can be, the more weight it gets. The decision to give a throw in on the half way line, does not have the same impact as a foul in the penalty area. Please note that only advantage play, incorrect and good ‘non’ (such as turning down a penalty appeal) calls are weighted in the analysis as these are the areas that the referee has got it wrong or is required to make a judgement call under pressure. It’s our internal marking system against our datasets – you may have a better way of doing it? Let us know.


In this part we look at how many correct decisions were made in the first half, the second half and then we give the total of the game.

We summarize each decisions type and then you can see how many correct calls he made on each type.

We also calculate the TOTAL % of correct calls (in which we give each decision the same weight)

And we also calculate the WEIGHTED % of correct calls. In this we include the weight of each decision to get this final result.

An important note : in some countries a ref has to get a total score of at least 70% over the whole season or he will be demoted from the top league.

This means that a score below 70% is a bad performance from the ref.

Between 70-80% is considered as just enough.

Scores higher than 80% are good.

Scores above 90% are very good games from the ref and are rather exceptional.


In this part we try to see if the old saying “it evens out” holds any truth for this game.

We look at the correct and not correct decisions for each team and compare if it evens out. Making correct decisions is what the ref is paid for so we don’t put too much attention to that.

But the Not Correct decisions are the most important ones to detect bias. If it would even out then we should see both teams having a score of around 50% at the end of the game. This would mean that the mistakes he made were nicely split by the two teams on the pitch. So the further away from the 50% score the more a bias is noticeable. We don’t know the reason for this bias, we just notice it.

The incorrect against % should be read that the higher the score you see, the more decisions went against this team. A score lower than 50% means that the decisions were more in favour of that team.

The last number is the total of fouls committed by a team and the total of fouls given by the ref. This also gives an indication on if the ref treated both teams in the same way. If a ref gives only 50% of the fouls from one team and gives 80% of the fouls from the other team there is something wrong.

What you as a reader can do

Your most important task is to check the reports. We try to be as accurate as possible in our reviews. And we can imagine that sometimes you don’t agree with something we decided. If this should be the case there is no need to start shouting and abusing our referee reviewer. Just as on our football field we will not tolerate abuse against our referees.

You can of course tell us the decision you disagree and explain to us (if possible with the laws of the games and/or the instructions as a guide) why you think we are wrong.

We will look back at the incident and let you know what we think of your remark.

Just shouting and swearing at our referee reviewers and calling them names are not considered as arguments. We try to keep it nice over here and try to behave as decent human beings.

What you as a ref can do?

Join our referee reviewing team. Just leave a comment and we will get in touch with you.

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9 Responses to A short manual on how to understand our reviews

  1. Xavier says:

    Great break down. It took quite some time for me to understand all this from the first time around so I’m glad you broke it down. This should be a sticky article or maybe it could go up beside the “Home” button so that we can quickly refer to it if needs be, and you can just update it if you decide to refine your methods.

  2. Pingback: Match Review: Lee Mason – Stoke City Vs Arsenal (0 – 0) [26/08/2012] « Untold Arsenal: Arsenal News. 800,000 visits last month

  3. Andrew Crawshaw says:

    Walter, I have looked at a couple of the new style reviews which are very different to the old style, and I think an improvement. I am not sure about the comments for goal kicks and throw ins – the rest are self explanatory. Could you please include a ‘worked example’ in this introduction as I am unclear if the team listed is the one that took the resultant kick/throw in or the one that played the ball out of play (which I think is the answer).

  4. Pingback: Match Review: Kevin Friend – Arsenal Vs Southampton (6 – 1) [15/09/2012] « Untold Arsenal: Arsenal News. 800,000 visits last month

  5. rusty says:

    @Walter and @DogFace — great work on the new site! Everything looks very sharp, and I think giving these reviews an independent platform will help make the project inclusive of more teams / fans.

    As far as the weighting system — I understand most of the weights ok, but it confused me that goal kicks and corners were given different weights. Isn’t an incorrectly-awarded goal kick also an incorrectly-denied corner? Which weight would that decision receive, or would it be split into two separate incorrect decisions?

    Also, please elaborate on the definition of “advantage” — when it is wrongly given, normally the ref should have called a foul, so is that marked as an incorrectly-given advantage AND an incorrectly-denied foul? Conversely, if a ref calls a defensive foul and improperly stops a promising attack instead of playing advantage, is the foul call correct (as there was a foul) but the advantage call incorrect?

  6. DocBrody says:

    Wow, this is very helpful.

    My only comment is that I feel the reviews ‘bury the lead’ by taking the chronological approach and leaving the totals and bias summary to the end. Perhaps a standardized sentence where you fill in the blanks could be placed at the top of every review… Something like:
    “Today’s referee, [insert name], made [X%] correct calls ([Y%] weighted), with a bias of [Z%] in favor of [insert team name].”

    Just an idea. Regardless, these reviews are fascinating. Great work.

  7. Patrick Blaze says:

    am i right to assume that the reviewers are only from arsenal as it seems that there’s a possibility of biasness to the club? because many would certainly say that you people are just arsenal fans trying to justify the losses you get. kindly advice.

  8. nick allen says:

    patrick , i welcome this question as it is one i have raised before, the reviews of arsenal matches are very much biased against decisions made for and against arsenal rather than this site holding referees accountable for decisions so as to improve performance it seems to be a arsenal forum for attacking referees… im dissapointed as i feel if done right and not through tinted spectacles this site could have been a great idea. 🙁

  9. Walter Broeckx says:

    Half of the reviewers who work(ed) on this site are Arsenal supporting referees. Others are supporting : 2 Liverpool, 1 Aston Villa, 1 Everton, 1 Tottenham, 1 Southampton

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