Ref Review 2012/13: Were refs biased in Tottenham’s favour last season? The Ref Review continues

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 this part of the series we have a look at each team and see how the bias panned out for each team. This is based on the decisions themselves without putting any weight on each decision. A total table will be published at the end of this and then you can compare each team with the other teams.

And it will be an interesting table I can assure you that.

First we are providing a table for each team highlighting each type of decision. This gives the totals as for when the team in the article got a favourable decision and when they got it against them.

If the traditional mantra “it all evens out at the end of the season” is true it should show in these statistics – and indeed for some clubs we have already reviewed, that is the case.

But as I said, in the table we just show the decisions as a decision and we didn’t put 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.

But now let us move to the fourth team in our survey:  Tottenham Hotspur.

Last season we undertook referee reviews of  33 games of Tottenham which was  86.84% of their games.  This is the second highest number of games we did of any team in the PL. So I think this looks a very reliable amount of data and we can consider these numbers as good as they can get.

In case you are concerned about a possible anti-Tottenham bias from our review team you can read the article in this series where we let you know which teams our reviewers support.   All the data is gathered, reported and analysed on    At the end of this article you will find the commentaries and background published on this site.

tottenham hotspur

In the second column we see the type of decision. And in the column headed “favoured” we see how many decisions favoured Tottenham when we reviewed them. And in the column headed “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 decisions the team has to overcome.

In the 33 Tottenham games we did there were 403 wrong decisions in total. That is 12 wrong decisions per game in total.  227 wrong decisions went in favour of Tottenham and 176 went against them. That is a positive difference in favour of Tottenham of 51 decisions. If we look at the numbers of games you can say that they have an advantage of around two decisions per game, in the games our referees reviewed of course.

If we look at the decisions in detail we see that the foul/free kick decisions are largely in favour of Tottenham.  Also the wrongly allowed goals are very much in their favour and the same goes for the penalty decisions. I think if we give the weighted bias numbers later on this might have a big influence on their bias result.

The only big negative bias we could find was the red cards. That was something that had a bias against Tottenham. Other negative bias results could be found in the advantage, corner and goal kick decisions, decisions which we think are less important. In the important decisions things went more Tottenhams way.

But even without weight it is clear that the refs gave more wrong calls to them than against them.  Not many – just two a game – but it could make a difference.

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