The most unbiased ref in the PL 2012/13

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.


After having dealt with the different teams and after having examined all the refs we now are bringing it all together. In the last article in this series we have shown the competency tables of the refs and if you missed it you can have a look over here.

But now we will add the bias numbers into the competency. And they sure have some weight and will have an impact on the final score.

When we think of referees we like them to be competent. The more competent the better. But as I have said many times before that is not all that is needed. Because we also need refs that show no real bias.  We can accept refs making mistakes. But when those mistakes are constantly going against one team then the ref, however competent he may be, is not doing his job in a proper way.

We know the idiotic ‘wisdom’ spouted by pundits and many fans : ‘it evens out at the end of the season’. A ‘wisdom’  that we have proven to be utterly wrong in the years we have done the referee reviews.   The consistent direction in whose favour the errors go is not a good thing to notice when you do referee reviews.

And of course the same is true the other way round.  It is bad to see a team suffering time and time again from the errors a ref is making.

So the best ref is not only a ref with a high score in the competence but also a ref who has a lot of teams with a low bias score. And that is what we will show you in this article.

First of all we will show you the ref table where we look at the good bias. By good bias we mean a low bias score for as many teams as possible.

We calculated this in the following way. Any bias lower than + or -3 on the bias scale you have seen in the referee articles is considered as good or acceptable.  And then we have added those low bias scores and compared them with the total teams in the survey of that ref.

An example: if a ref has 10 teams in the games we reviewed and he had 4 of those teams with a bias between -3 and +3 he gets a score of 40%.  If he only had three teams he would have a score of 30%. And of course the more teams with a low bias score the better and we will see a table where the highest score is the best of course.

And if we only look at that we get the following table

low bias table

And now we see a rather familiar face returning.  Last season one of our conclusions was that Mark Clattenburg was one of the least biased refs in the PL and despite having a rather bad year for his standards in competence he still managed to be the most unbiased refs and have the highest score in the low bias numbers.

A rather surprising name in second place with Lee Mason.  And in 3rd place we have 3 refs. Howard Webb, Jonathan Moss and Michael Jones, each ending up with the same score.

But of course we don’t stop right here. We can praise but we also need to punish. Because having many teams with a low bias is fine. But it all goes out of the window when on the other hand you have high scores against some teams. Or against a lot of teams. And we also made a table of this.

In this case we decided that for each time a ref had more than + or – 6 bias points with a team he would get a 5 points penalty per team. So in the next table we will show you, you will see that when a ref has had 3 teams with a bias higher than -6 or +6 will have a score of 15 points. Penalty points as you will notice in the 3rd table we will show you.

So in this case the higher the score the worse it was. So a ref with lots of (penalty) points in this table and a high position was a ref that made a lot of teams suffer. The lower his total points the better. Being first in this table is bad.

High bias table

And now we see at the top positions referees that have had a lot of teams suffering from their mistakes. Anthony Taylor is top of this table. A score of 40 means that 8 teams had suffered badly from his mistakes. An indication of a very unbalanced ref. Michael Oliver and Neil Swarbrick are the other refs that make the top 3.  A top 3 that no ref wants to make.

At the bottom we find Jonathon Moss. He had no teams suffering an extraordinary high negative bias. Other refs who were fine in this region were Martin Atkinson, Kevin Friend and Chris Foy. Well done sirs.

The final table shows these two tables combined. We took the number of the first table and then deducted the score of the second table. And then we get the table where we can see who was the most unbiased ref in the PL in total. And by most unbiased we took not just the good/positive low bias score but we also took away the points for the high bias score.  And if we look at that we get the total bias score and this table looks like this:

total bias table

And putting it all together we see that Jonathan Moss was a ref with not the highest low bias score but because he lost no points with teams that suffered a lot he takes the first place in the bias table.

Mark Clattenburg had the best low bias score but lost a few points and therefore loses his first place. And Martin Atkinson wins a few places because of the fact that he had only one team suffering badly from his mistakes.

In the next article we will look at putting the competency and the bias tables together and then we will know who was the best ref in the PL last season.

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