Ref Review 2012/13: “It all evens out in the end.” Are referees really that unbiased? Wigan

By Walter Broeckx

This article is part of the series of the Referee Review 2013. Other articles to this subject can be found on this site. Including reviews of games, reports on teams and reports on refs


In our last article we showed that there is the home bias as we showed in the season before in our reviews and this still was very much there in the last season.  The next thing we will do is show you how the team bias has been. And this is something that will be more interesting of course for each team. This is where one can see how things have happened in the favour of a team or when things went again that team.

We will show this in a table for each team highlighting each type of decision. We will show you the totals when the team in the article got a favourable decision and when they got it against them.  As you know the traditional mantra “it all evens out at the end of the season” should be visible. So why don’t we try to see if things did even out for each team or not?

In the table we just show the decisions without putting any weight on the decisions. That is something for later on. Now we just take each decision at the same value, which is of course not saying all because a wrong penalty call is a bit more important than a wrong throw in decision.

The first team we cover is a team that went down: Wigan Athlectic.

We  reviewed 14 of their games in total and that is 36,84% of the games they played in the PL. So a rather low number, but still well above the normal sampling rates used in this kind of exercise.


In the second column we see the type of decision. And in the column favoured we see how many decisions favoured Wigan when we reviewed them. And in the column Penalised we see how many times a wrong decision went against them.  The total swing is the difference between the favoured decisions and the penalised decisions.

A negative number in this column means that the total was against the team and a positive number means that the total decisions was in their favour.

In the last column we see the average swing per game, based on the games we reviewed. And this gives an indication on how many decisions went against a team or were in favour of a team. The lower the number the lower number of decisions that were wrong. And a positive number indicates that in each game they get some decisions in their favour and a negative indicates how many wrong decisions against them, the team had to overcome.

So if we look at the total numbers we see that for Wigan it most certainly  looked as if the outcome of the season was that the bias swing is very low.  Almost non-existent in fact. Based on 14 games one could say that it evened out for them.

So a rather even score for Wigan in this table and we might come to the conclusion that the refs didn’t have much to do with the fact that Wigan was one of the teams going down.  Put another way, Wigan were treated fairly.

At the end of this series we will show you a total table with the final numbers of each team so you can have a look at it in one view. I can tell you it will be a very interesting table.

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