Ref Review 2012/13: Arsenal. If you think football in England is not biased, best not to read this.

By Walter Broeckx

This article is part of the series of the Referee Review 2013. You can find links to earlier articles on the bottom of this article.


After having dealt with the different teams and after having examined all the refs and this leading to the best ref of the season according to the views of our referee reviewers this is now the end of the series of analyses of each team in the league in terms of the referees involved.

As we have noted it might be that some referee performances are a one off. But if a ref has the same bias against a team it might show something more.   Likewise, if a ref has a big bias in favour of a team it also is saying something about that ref.

A little word of explanation about the graphics you will see. The ultimate referee performance is the bias score (which is based on the wrong decisions) which is around zero. Alas you will find very few of those scores in the total series. So the zero line will be the middle line of each graphic.

If a ref has positive bias score for the team involved you will see a name (of the ref) and a green line and a number. The bias number for that ref.

On the other hand if the ref had a negative bias you will see again a name but then with a red line and a number. The negative bias score for that ref.

The longer the lines are means the higher the number and the higher that bias has been from the ref. Short lines are better and would be nicer for all. I also included a little table in the graphic just with the names and with a red or green label. This is for those who want to throw a quick look at the names as sometimes the numbers did get in the way with the name.

You can see links to each and every article in this huge series at the end of this final article, and fittingly our final entry in Arsenal.

Arsenal bias per ref


Now as you have seen in the earlier articles we have on most occasions a mixed image. Some green lines, some red lines. And if all goes well all the teams should have as many green and red lines. But on a few occasions we have seen that this isn’t the case for all the teams.

We have seen with only 2 green lines and lots of red lines. But we also have seen teams with lots of green lines and only two red lines. Like Manchester United.  But now we only see the red colour in this graphic. I know the colour of Arsenal is red but surely we should expect a bit of green in there. But nothing of that to be seen.

When refs make mistakes then they sure make sure that their mistakes don’t help Arsenal.  And let me once again point at the fact that these numbers have been gathered by refs who in majority do not support Arsenal.

If you want to be kind to refs you could say that Kevin Friend and Jonathon Moss are more or less acceptable.  Their negative bias is rather small.

But all the other refs and I mean ALL have a disgraceful bias score against Arsenal.

This brings us to the question: why? Why is it that all refs take no chance whatsoever and make sure that in case of doubt they give their decision against Arsenal. Might it be that it could help their own career? Might it be that the general feeling is that giving a debatable decision against Arsenal will not harm the ref or bring him in to trouble.

Looking at these numbers it seems to a company policy from the PGMOL: thou shall not give decisions in favour of Arsenal.

Regular readers will know now that we will add the numbers from last season. And those regular readers know how things were last season. But for those who are new: welcome to the world of the PGMOL of last season:

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

And what we see is the same terrible  consistency from the refs. In the season 2011/2012 we had one ref that seemed to stand up to the negative score against Arsenal. And that was Clattenburg. But if we look at the numbers of last season we notice that he has changed a lot. From being rather neutral he has turned in to one of the bad refs also. Did I mention company policy by the PGMOL?

Another ref that had a rather low negative bias score was Moss. In two consecutive seasons one could say that he finished in second place in the lowest negative bias table against Arsenal. So this shows that he seems to be a ref that can do a good job in general when Arsenal is around. At least he comes very close to being able to keep the neutral part of a ref alive when he is doing Arsenal. Moss is the reason I don’t lose complete faith in the referees in England.

If we want to find bad referees for Arsenal…the list is long. Too long. Way too long. The worst refs are Taylor, Mason, Probert. When you see their name you can be sure that decisions will go against Arsenal. Is it a coincidence that their name is also low in the competency tables? One could say that they are not only poor refs but also show a big bias in being poor.

Poor and unacceptable is what they are. And this is something that Arsenal has to overcome. Each season. And almost in every match in a season.

Mike Riley can come up with all kinds of numbers. Like saying that the refs have to give fewer fouls and that there isn’t as much diving as used to be and credit this to his refs. I would like to hear him talk about the bias a bit more. I would like to hear Riley talk about the wrong decisions. Because that is something he never talks about. As if refs don’t make mistakes.

They do, Mr. Riley. And for some reason this team seems to suffer whenever one of your refs is on the field. Now why don’t you come out and explain that. Or maybe are you happy with the situation as it is?

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