REf Review 2012/13: Does it “all even out in the end”? At last the answer!

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.


On this site we have published all kinds of reports over the season 2012-2013.

We have dealt with the different teams. We have looked  more closely at the refs themselves, leading to the best ref election of the season according to the views and based on the numbers found by our referee reviewers.

We then had another look at the bias from the refs for and against each individual team.

The next step was to look at the four most important decisions on the football field that could have the biggest impact on the final result of games.

We have examined the wrong decisions about second yellow cards, red cards, penalties and goals.

These are the “important decisions” as we call them.  Decisions that can change games. And it is important to see how many decisions teams suffered in the games we reviewed. This will bring some extra light on the famous saying that it evens all out at the end of the season.

For some it might but shouldn’t it even out for all at the end of the season? Because if even for one team it doesn’t even out at the end… the playing field was not level. As it should be level for all!

So in this article we have taken all the previous important decisions and put them in total tables. We make no difference any more for the type of decisions. Because they all are the most important decisions. Decisions that can change games and results.  We will show you first the decisions that favoured the teams, then the decisions that made teams suffer and finally we will present you the total and the difference between the favourable decisions and the ones they suffered from per team.

That final table could be somewhat comparable with the debatable decisions website that was active for a while. But our table should be called: the wrong decisions table.

Let us first start with a table that shows which teams was favoured most from wrong decisions.

Favoured decisions

The first number I want to bring under your attention is the Arsenal score. Because at times people came over here and said: hey you are originally from an Arsenal side so your numbers are biased. We have made it clear that the last season the games were reviewed mostly by non-Arsenal supporting referees.  And I think the score of Arsenal shows this.

If we were really only wanting to show how bad Arsenal was treated then we might also want to cover up when Arsenal was favoured. (Because of our supposed bias of course) But look at our result. According to our reviews Arsenal has been lucky 13 times last season with referee decisions. So suggesting we only wanted to show the bad side about Arsenal and the referees can be put to bed now.

If we look at this table however we can see that in the important decisions there is some kind of big bias. As the teams that were favoured most are in general the teams that were fighting for CL spots.

That Manchester United came out on top with 24 decisions going their way might not be a big surprise to people who have followed football over the years. The team in second place is Chelsea and then we have Tottenham in 3rd place. They are far ahead of the rest of the teams.

The middle of the league teams in this table are Arsenal and Manchester City.

But to our surprise we also found ‘smaller’ teams like Stoke and Sunderland. Teams that are generally not linked with top spots in the league. So what can be the reason for this seemingly happy relationship with referees?  Local bias? I don’t know, your guess is as good as mine.

May I also point at poor Swansea that only really benefited once in the games we reviewed from a big referee error. QPR is the only team that went down that got rather lucky in this table with the refs.

Now let us move on to the other side of the coin: the teams that suffered from the important wrong decisions.

Suffering decisions

Now if we look at this table we see again some interesting things. Like the Arsenal score.  Arsenal had to overcome 33 important decisions last season. That is just under one important decision per game one could say.

But we also notice that Everton wasn’t really a refs favourite.  And also Chelsea was not really having a ball at times with the refs.

We even can say that Manchester United got some wrong things going against them over the season. Some 10 decisions. That is 1/3 of the total decisions Arsenal had to overcome.

The team that suffered less is Southampton. At least one could say that they didn’t get much but also didn’t suffer that much in total.

And that leads us to the question: does it even out? Well have a look at this table then:

total decisions

And this table is what you could call the “even out table” for important decisions of course.

And what do we see? That Arsenal have suffered most from the wrong decisions. If we compare the favourable decisions with the ones they suffered from we see a big difference. In total some 20 decisions going against them. More than the double than the team who ends second on the negative scale and that is Everton closely followed by their neighbours Liverpool.

And if we look at the other side of the spectrum we see that Manchester United had the biggest bonus from wrong referee decisions. A total of 14 big decisions going their way. Now who wouldn’t end up champions with such a big push in the back?

If we take a look at the the difference between MU and Arsenal we can come to the conclusion that there is in fact a gap of  34 wrong decisions. Or in other words: Arsenal has to overcome 34 important wrong decisions before they can play on a level playing field with Manchester United.

So the question, “does it even out?”  can be answered with a short : NO!  And just as last season we have shown once again that people who say this sentence (it evens out at the end) are just saying it without any justification. It is just some spin, media spin probably. For the second time running we have showed that it doesn’t even out.

Apart…apart for one team: Newcastle. They ended up with a zero. Seven big decisions going against them and seven big decisions going for them. And even that doesn’t mean it has evened out for them.

And as I said before even if we would find one team where it doesn’t even out, the the league can be called unfair. Now we have shown that for 19 teams it doesn’t even out so how can you call this league fair?

This entry was posted in Arsenal, Aston Villa, Chelsea, Everton, Fulham, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Newcastle United, Norwich City, QPR, Reading, Referee Reviews, Southampton, Stoke City, Sunderland, Swansea City, Tottenham Hotspur, WBA, West Ham United, Wigan. Bookmark the permalink.

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