Stoke and the refs: a review

Last season a group of qualified referees reviewed more than 40% of the EPL games. The reviews themselves were based on full match video footage with the advantage of video technology features such as slow motion and pause.

By reviewing those 155 games we have made a database of more than 7000 decisions that have been judged by our panel of dedicated and qualified referees.

The numbers you will see are based on those decisions and those reviewed games.

Below is the review we published in the summer on Stoke and the refs.  We are publishing it again because we hope to attract more referees who are willing to monitor what the refs in the Premier League get up to.  If you would like to help us please have a look at our earlier post on our desire to recruit Stoke fans who are qualified refs to help us in this venture.

Untold Vs PGMOL - StokeCity 2011/2012

We managed to review Stoke 8 games last season. That is 21,05% of all their games. For those who say that this is not sufficient we will not completely disagree with you. We would have liked to have done more games. Alas, because of a lack of reviewers and a lack of being able to get their games on TV this was not possible.

So if you want to raise this number for next season and you are a ref: join us. Give us a sign and we will pick you up. Let us see how competent the refs have been in the games that involved Stoke.

PGMOL Vs EPL - Basic Competency - StokeCity 2011/2012

The first unweighted numbers are  a kick in the private parts of any ref and most of all in the private parts of the PGMOL. This is a disgrace! There are no other words to describe this. This is 8% below the league average.  This is getting close to just throw a coin up and see how it falls to decide if the ref gives a foul or not.

And if we put weight on it…the numbers sink to an alarm bell level of just above 60% correct decisions.  I cannot find words strong enough to describe my disgust about these numbers. And the words that I find are not really suited to be published.  So I will keep it to these words for now: Shame on you, referees!

Now let us see where it all went wrong and have a look at the different decisions.

PGMOL Vs EPL - Basic Competency Breakdown - StokeCity 2011/2012

As a ref this is sickening. I really feel sick when I look at the numbers of the most important decision type of it all: the goals. As this is the most important decision type (as it determines how many points you get from a game) this number should be around 99% correct. The refs in the games from Stoke only managed to get 66.667% correct. Like the total is saying from the 15 goal decisions that we had in the Stoke games only 10 have been correct! This is totally unacceptable. Not even a pub team league would allow such low numbers.

The offside numbers are also not good enough. Far away from the 99% claimed by Mike Riley.  But only 3% away from our total league findings so if we look at the wrong goal decisions we kind of take it like that. Even though the final number is unacceptable in my view.

The other decisions are… just give the ref a coin to decide if he will blow for a foul or not. This will get him close to this score of only 65% correct decisions.

The penalty decisions have been bad. Only half of them were correct. This is another 10% lower compared to the league average and in my eyes again totally unacceptable.

The red cards… sorry this is getting depressing for me as a ref. Not one decision was correct in the games we reviewed. NOT ONE.  Please help me to find at least one little spark of light in this darkest referee tunnel I have ever seen.

And even in the darkest hour of despair you can find a little ray of light. And this can be found in the yellow card decisions. As this is the only type of decisions where the referees did better than in the overall league result. But doing 1% better than the unacceptable league average is not that good but in the light of all what we have found before we take it as something good.

So the conclusion up to now: the refs have been rubbish in the Stoke games. Now the next step is to see if we can find a pattern in this madness.

PGMOL Vs EPL - Incorrect calls Breakdown - StokeCity 2011/2012

And…. for the first time in my life I have been hit by the lightning. That is how it feels. The former numbers were just poor for the teams involved in the Stoke games. Now the numbers are a major shock.  Let me explain.

The normal away bias a team has to face in the league is around -1.826. But when Stoke go away it has a positive bias of +6.333!  And the normal home bias a team can enjoy at home is +1.826 and Stoke has a positive bias of +5.400.  This is completely out of line with all I have ever seen before.

People could have said: oh well it is the intimidating atmosphere at the Stoke City football stadium that puts pressure on the refs. But these numbers just show that away from home Stoke City gets even a better “support” from the referees.  If this would be a radio show then now you would probably hear a very long awkward silence that seems to last forever. As I am just speechless for a moment.

So let me move on to the weighted bias numbers.

And there again a team away from home can expect a negative bias from some -2.619 and Stoke City ends up with a positive bias of +9.333!  And also the home bias is far better than the normal +2.619 as it goes up to +8.800! So an enormous positive bias swing for Stoke and most of all the away bias is totally out of line with all that we have seen before.

Let us see who the refs were who did all this and by now I expect some big, big swings from ref to ref.

EPL vs PGMOL - Incorrect calls Breakdown by Referee - StokeCity (Un-Weighted) 2011/2012

Only one ref from the 7 who did Stoke City games has a negative bias score. That is Mark Halsey. And this is a rather small negative bias score. We have seen worse.

Mike Dean (much to his credit) has a zero score, well done! And also Mark Clattenburg can have a pat on his back because his positive bias is only 1 bias point.

But the scored from Howard Webb and Peter Walton are less nice. The positive bias towards Stoke is getting big. And Chris Foy… who did 2 games and on both occasions seems to be very,very friendly towards Stoke.  And the king of Stoke is Lee Mason.  Let us see if we can see something different if we add weight to the decisions?

EPL vs PGMOL - Incorrect calls Breakdown by Referee - StokeCity (Weighted) 2011/2012

Now we have two refs with a small negative bias. Halsey and also Dean who made a big mistake against Stoke it seems in one of his games.  If we look at the high lines of Halsey both for and against it is plain to see that he just made a complete mess of his whole game.

Clattenburg is keeping it close to the middle with only a small positive Stoke bias.

The score from Webb has gone up, and so have the score from Walton if we put weight on the numbers.

And what can we say about Foy and Mason? This is no more about making some mistakes in their games.  Those are totally unacceptable scores.

PGMOL Vs StokeCity - Incorrect calls Seasonal Handicap - StokeCity (Weighted) 2011/2012

If we look at this table we can see that the first game from Stoke was an absolute mess but it did gave them a point.

We must also say that not all games where they had a big positive bias gave them 3 points. But most of the time the positive bias did result in winning some points. As in the games we reviewed we cannot find a big negative bias we cannot see if the wrong calls cost them points.


This is the worst case scenario from a ref points of view. And the best case scenario if you are a Stoke City fan and you don’t care how the points come in, as long as they come in.

The referees (almost all of them) have been rubbish in the Stoke City games.  And in their rubbishness they have favoured Stoke City.

Why? If only I knew. There seems to be no logical explanation at first. Stoke City with all respect is not a big team so there can be no big team bias.  It has nothing to do with home bias as they got an ever bigger away bias.

As far as I know, unlike QPR, Stoke has no sponsor ties with the PGMOL. So if anyone can explain this to me, be my guest.

But this is so totally bad that this result itself is a total and utter disgrace for the PGMOL. The PGMOL failed in making sure that the refs who did games in which Stoke City was involved was refereed in a fair way. And that is what they are supposed to make happen.  They didn’t provide this.

A complete failure and disgrace for the PGMOL. That is what these numbers tell me.

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