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.
For the next ref in our series we have ref Martin Atkinson. Another one of those 42 years old refs we have in the PL. And a Fifa ref too.
In the season just gone ref Atkinson did 24 games in the PL and we reviewed 17 of his games. That is 70.83 % of his games we have been able to cover. So a high number and this makes it more interesting of course when we look at the results. In fact this is the ref with the highest percentage games covered in last season. So how did he do when we look at all the decisions?
In those 17 games we reviewed we have seen that Atkinson had to make 2610 decisions in total. Our panel of referee reviewers found that he had 2225 of the decisions correct. This is one of the lower scores we had in the PL. And that doesn’t sounds good for a Fifa ref if you ask my opinion. Fifa refs should have higher scores than the other refs as that is why they should get a FIFA badge.
Of course for those who have been following us for a while, you know that judging them as correct is not the same as being correct completely. When we can’t judge a call or when we are not 100% sure he made a mistake we call the decision correct. But it might be that if we had seen other angles we might have seen an incorrect decision. So in general the numbers could even be flattering the refs, but this goes for all the refs and not the refs we are looking at today.
But the general score is one thing. What matters more is seeing how his important decisions have been made, and this is something we can see in the next table.
In the 17 games we reviewed we have seen that Atkinson had to make 1309 important decisions and our panel judged 962 of those decisions as correct. Giving him a final score of 73,49% correct important decisions. This is some 3% better than last year. But he will not find himself amongst the best refs with this score. Far from it in fact.
His foul/free kick decisions go below the 80% mark. And that is not really good stuff I think. As we have said he is a FIFA ref and should be able to get a higher score.
If we look at the disciplinary actions he had to take we see some bad scores. Only 50% of the yellow cards were correctly given. I think it is more down to not give yellow cards in an even way for the same fouls as that is something that came back in the reviews on a few occasions.
And when it came to give that second yellow card it went from bad to worse. 0, yes zero of those decisions correct.
And red cards decisions are also completely bad. 1 decision correct from 7 decisions he had to make. Poor.
And his penalty decisions also are not really up to the standard we should expect from a FIFA ref. Not even 4 out of 10 decisions were correct.
And this leads us to the highest score…but that highest score is in fact the worst of them all. Let me explain. The goal decisions show that he has one of the lowest correct decisions of all the refs. If we take goals and own goals together he only gets 84% correct decisions. From the 50 goal decisions he had to make 8 of them were not correct. This is way too high. And so in percentage terms he has a high score but this is incredibly low and not acceptable at this level.
Teams win titles based on goal decisions. Teams get relegated on goal decisions. So with Atkinson last season in charge the chance of errors was very big. When I see this number and remember Riley claiming that 99% of the important decisions were correct I wonder what game he was playing at the time but it sure cannot have been the real football played in the PL.
Let us see if the bias numbers are better for this ref.
And for those who have been following football in the past this will not be a real surprise. The team that got most of his wrong decisions going their way was Chelsea. What Webb is for Manchester United, is Atkinson for Chelsea. We know it and most people know it. Only the PGMOL seems to not know it. Do they really live on planet earth or are they living in a different world they created themselves?
Other teams who do rather well when Atkinson is around are West Ham, Newcastle and Stoke. And to a lesser extent Manchester City and Manchester United.
Tottenham and Sunderland are the teams that could say: it evens out when Atkinson is in charge. Aston Villa and Everton got a very slight bias in their favour and the same could be said about Wigan.
Teams that he didn’t do any favours or in other words that suffered from his mistakes are Swansea and Liverpool. And top of the bill on the wrong end of his wrong decisions was Arsenal. A very big bias when Atkinson was around last season.
So is there anything good to say? Well I could try to say that 6 of the teams involved in his games got rather low bias scores. And that is fine for those 6 teams. But that doesn’t make up for the other 8 teams who have a high bias in favour or against them.
FINAL CONCLUSION: These numbers are not really FIFA standard material I think. This ref could and should have higher numbers. When a ref has a FIFA badge it should indicate a high level of skills. And this should become visible when you review the games. This wasn’t the case last season at all. So it seemed to be a bad year for Atkinson. But he wasn’t the only FIFA ref to have a bad year. Maybe the PGMOL should look at the way they nominate refs to Fifa.