Referee Review 2012/3: Aston Villa. A very significant bias

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 an 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 series and then you can compare each team with the other teams.

And it will be an interesting table I can assure you of 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 next team in our survey:

Aston Villa

We did 23 games of Aston Villa and that is 60,53%  of their games. A rather high number of games done in fact. So unless the complete opposite happened in those 15 other games we can think that this should be the pattern for the whole season.


Aston villa


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

We had a total of 294 wrong decisions in the 23 games we did with Aston Villa.  That is just under 13 wrong decisions per game. Again this is too high to be good.   But more importantly now is to see how the dividing was of those wrong decisions.

Of those 294 wrong decisions we had 169 in their favour and 125 going against them. The difference is 44 decisions going in favour of Aston Villa  in total. This is a rather big  bias in their favour.

When we look at the decisions we see that they got a big benefit from the fouls/free kicks decisions.  A very big number of decisions going their way. We also see that the corners, goal kicks and yellow cards swung their way in most cases. And of the very important decisions we see that they sure were lucky when dealing with penalty decisions.

If we look at the decisions going against them we see that this is mostly about advantage, indirect free kicks and throw ins and those can be classified as not that important decisions. But one big thing is that Aston Villa had a negative swing on the goal decisions. And that is of course a bad thing to have. I think that is the type of decision you want your team to have a positive bias.

In fact this is the type of decision where there should be no bias at all. But alas we didn’t reach that point yet and given the way the authorities work in football we probably never will.

All in all Aston Villa had a lot of favourable decisions going their way and the only really negative point is the goal decisions. And yet that type of decision just be the one that divides the points at the end of the day.

Editorial note: if you want to comment it is perhaps worth having a look at some of the background to this research in the articles below, if you have not come across Referee Decisions before.  We have had situations in which supporters of various teams have not done this, and made comments which, in retrospect they maybe wish they hadn’t.

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