How the Refs Treated Man City last season

Referee Decisions 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.  Here are the details for our findings on Man City.

We are still looking for more refs to help us do our reviews.  To learn more please see the article on this site concerning this.

Untold Vs PGMOL - ManchesterCity 2011/2012.

We reviewed 32 games of Manchester City last season. That is 84, 21% of their games in the PL. I think this is a great result of course. I wonder how many Manchester City fans will have realised this before the start of the season and even up till now. An Arsenal blog having referees to cover not just Arsenal games but also almost 84% of Manchester City games. Well we did.

Of course this means there are 6 games missing. 6 games we would have loved to do. But as not all games were on TV we couldn’t do them. And maybe having a few referees more could have helped a bit too. So if you are a ref and think this might be interesting to do next season: please let yourself be know to us and join our ranks.

Let us first see how competent the referees have been. A note to new readers: these numbers have no real connection to the teams involved. Because these numbers are of course of the 32 games Manchester City was in but also about the opponents in those games.

And if you are new I just will tell you that the difference of weighted and un-weighted can be found in these different type of decisions. Other and offside decisions have a weight of 1. Yellow cards have a weight of 2. And goals, penalty and red cards decisions have a weight of 3. This is for your information to understand the difference when we talk about un-weighted or weighted numbers. In the un-weighted version of numbers we gave every decision a weight of 1. In the weighted decisions we put the weight as explained on to the decsions.

PGMOL Vs EPL - Basic Competency - ManchesterCity 2011/2012

So the first numbers are not bad. Not bad at all if you compare to the league average. The league average is giving us some 72.49% correct decisions and here we have a total of 74,75%  So that is 2,26% higher than the league average. But I ask you to think about the fact that this means that 1 decision in 4 decisions was wrong from the ref. I must say I’m not impressed by that number at all. But if you are comfortable with the league average, then this is a good result for the refs.

If we put weight on the decisions we have the same thing. This time the score of the refs in the Manchester City games is 2,37% better compared to the league average. The score of 73,72% still means that refs make one mistake in every 4 decisions and that just doesn’t seem right to me.

Let us now take a look at the different type of decisions that we have covered in these reviews. And again I stress that this has nothing to do with anything going for or against Manchester City. Just the result from the refs in the Manchester City games.

PGMOL Vs EPL - Basic Competency Breakdown - ManchesterCity 2011/2012

You might be impressed by the fact that 90.265 % of the goal decisions are correct. I’m disappointed as this isn’t even the league average which was 91.753%. People who love the game should know by now that this should be a score of around 99% correct. Goals are the most important thing in football so this should be correct the most. It decides who gets the points. So this should be the most correct type of decision.

Offside decisions….  Mike Riley, the head of the PGMOL claims that this is correct for 99% of the decisions. Well in the games we reviewed from Manchester City we only found 88.550% correct offside decisions. In fairness only a difference of less than 2% compared to the league average but what a distance with the claimed 99%.

The other decisions, which covers most fouls in the field, are some 3% better than the league average. The final result of 75% means that 1 decision in 4 was not correct. But this is better than the league average so well not that bad if we accept the league average as the norm.

The penalty decisions are 7% better than the league average. They come close to the 70% line and that is the minimum line I want to see for any decision from any ref in the PL. So one could be satisfied with that but just after goal decisions comes the penalty decisions as the most important ones. So we should be focussing and working to raise the number of correct calls.  So not really bad, but should be better.

Let us take a look at the red cards decisions. The league average was 21,42% correct and for the games with Manchester City in we come to 19%. So even worse than the already unacceptable low league average. Not good is the only thing than can be said about this.

To wrap this up we come to the yellow cards decisions and we see that they are just a bit better than the league average. But better by not even 1% is not something to open a bottle of bubbles and start a wild celebration.

So far all these numbers have been not linked to Manchester City or the opponents. Now we will try to make that difference. From now on we will see how those “mistakes” from the ref were divided between the two teams. In the perfect world from the PGMOL and Mike Riley there will be no difference between the mistakes. Let’s find out.

PGMOL Vs EPL - Incorrect calls Breakdown - ManchesterCity 2011/2012

And what do we see Watson? First of all that we have done 32 games and 16 away from home and 16 at home. So nicely spread.

As our overall league numbers have shown there is a negative away bias when you go away from home of -1.826 bias points.  According to Mike Riley and the PGMOL there is no such thing as home or away bias (there is no bias at all they claim) but we found one over the whole league.

And now we see that Manchester City had a negative away bias against them from -2.750 points. That is almost 1 negative bias point more than the normal average you can expect.  So away from home Manchester City didn’t get a lot of wrong calls going their way. Or better said: they got more things going against them than a team can expect.

The positive home bias you can expect in the PL is +1.826. Manchester City has a positive bias of +2.187. So that is a bit more than the normal home bias. But if we add those two we see that Manchester City has a little negative bias in total.

If we put weight on the decisions we can expect a negative away bias of -2.619. Manchester City had to overcome a negative bias of -4.687.  So that is almost 2 bias points extra against them away from home! So things didn’t go their way in general when away from home.

At home you can expect a weighted home bias of +2.619 points. Manchester City had a positive bias of +3.499 points. So that is almost one bias point extra in their favour at home. So this is also more than the average home bias you can expect.

In total however this leads to a negative bias swing of -0.595 points against Manchester City based on the 32 games we reviewed.

Let us have a look at the different refs who did those games.

EPL vs PGMOL - Incorrect calls Breakdown by Referee - ManchesterCity (Un-Weighted) 2011/2012

We had 14 different refs in the 32 games we did.

8 refs had a negative bias against Manchester City and 5 had a positive bias.

The ref with the most negative bias was Peter Walton. So Manchester City will not be unhappy to know he left for the USA. Michael Oliver also had a big negative swing but just as Walton only did one game. Michael Jones and Lee Mason and Mark Clattenburg also have a too big negative bias to be good.

A bit to my surprise the negative bias from Webb, Foy and Probert is rather small in the un-weighted numbers. Mike Dean has the lowest negative bias against City.

On the positive side we have Atkinson, Marriner and Taylor with a not that big positive bias. Friend and Dowd have a bigger positive bias.

EPL vs PGMOL - Incorrect calls Breakdown by Referee - ManchesterCity (Weighted) 2011/2012

If we put weight on the decisions we see that now we have 6 refs with a negative bias against Manchester City.   Ref Probert had a zero bias score (well done) and we have 7 refs with a positive bias.

The score from Walton looks ridiculous. This is the person who is trying to bring good refereeing to he USA.  Jones, Oliver and Clattenburg have a rather big negative bias. Foy and Webb have a relative small negative bias.

On the positive side we welcome Lee Mason who had a negative un-weighted bias. So he has given them a few big decisions it seems.

The positive score from Mason, Atkinson, Marriner, Friend and Dean is still rather low. The score from Taylor and Dowd has gone up to a score you don’t want to see.

PGMOL Vs Manchester City - Incorrect calls Seasonal Handicap - Manchester City (Weighted) 2011/2012

If you look at game 2 you see a big negative bias swing but it didn’t affect the points from City. But in week 5 we saw a dip in the bias and also a dip in the points. If we see a bias at the start it is not a big one. The first real bias in their favour is in week 6.  The bias then is kept somewhat between the +10 and -10.

Around week 14 and 15 Manchester City got two consecutive games with a negative bias. But in week 16 we see that there is a big swing the other way round. In week 23 we see the biggest negative bias swing against Manchester City. They lost that game.

They had a dip in form around weeks 30-32 but the bias was in their favour in those games.

What I do remember on a few occasions was the fact that a few times a Man C player didn’t got sent off when it should have happened.  This is something that can be seen in the high for decisions.

The bias in favour of Manchester City remains rather small in the last 5 games. The negative bias was always bigger in those games. Was someone trying to stop them?


One thing has to be said: apart from the odd game when things went a bit extreme in their favour I don’t see much evidence that Manchester City got the title on a PGMOL-silver plate.  Of course there have been a few games when they got the rub of the green but not really on a systematic basis. The negative bias numbers clearly show that.

I noticed a few times the ref was not brave enough to send a Manchester City player off when it really had to be done.  That is throwing a bit of a referee shadow over the results.


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