After Mark Clattenberg’s late penalty award on Saturday, I wondered about referees and their impact on games.  How great an impact do they have?  Are some swayed by the home crowd?  Do others have subsconscious propensities to favour underdogs?  That sort of thing.  I don’t know that these questions can really be answered, but the following culled from might make for interesting reading.

I took each game played in the Premier League over the last three seasons and, using somewhat arbitrary cutoffs, coded each according to what the bookies thought would happen.  There were five groups:  strong home win, home win, uncertain, away win, strong away win.   Then I looked to see what happened for each ref under each circumstance.

The results are as follows (see key for explanation, but for clarification: 13/17 means 13 home wins from 17 games where home team favoured to win; H% is home winning percentage in games that referee has overseen):

Some remarks:

A Marriner – Both upsets were Liverpool away games

A Wiley – nothing to declare

C Foy – Fulham’s record with Chris Foy during Roy Hodgson’s Great Escape in 07/08: P3, W3, D0, L0, Pts 9;  Fulham’s record without Chris Foy: P15, W3, D3, L9, Pts 12.

H Webb – Unsurprisingly, highest number of games with no clear favourite, suggesting he’s entrusted with the big ones (he often gets Liverpool v Utd and Liverpool v Everton)

L Mason – With Clattenberg, highest “home winning percentage”

M Atkinson – If the home team is favoured, it usually wins with Atkinson officiating (32/39)

M Clattenburg – All four of Clattenberg’s big upsets were when the away team was strongly favoured (4/10).   These were at Wolves, Man City, Villa and Bolton, so hard to say he’s being influenced by a baying crowd.  Has “denied” Man Utd four times when they were clear favourites away from home.  Has joint-highest “home winning %” with Lee Mason

M Dean – Lowest “home winning percentage”, perhaps because he’s the only ref to be given more games where away team is favoured than home team is favoured.  Despite this, high number of big upsets, including three over Man City

M Halsey – Has overseen two big upsets over Chelsea (at Wolves and at Birmingham)

P Dowd – Most “surprising” results overall (upsets + surprises). Home teams have won seven out of ten games when away team favoured

P Walton – Gets a lot of games with one side strongly favoured, and rarely oversees an upset.  Solid and unspectacular or not trusted with conflict?

S Attwell – Has only been given one game where away team is favoured (Spurs at B’ham), which probably causes the relative lack of surprises.  Is he being broken in gently?  Is it working?  Has never refereed United or Chelsea, but has overseen Hull and Portsmouth five times each

S Bennett – Not a single upset on his watch!

6 thoughts on “Ref-watch

  1. Wow. I suppose I should pay more attention to refs now.

    (Where are all the other, more intelligent, comments??)

  2. I’m not sure I’ve understood this and/or it makes sense and/or there’s any significance in the figures.

    I’ve no doubt that the senior refs get allocated the more high profile and/or difficult games. I’d also guess that they are the senior refs because the assessors rate their performances highly, notwithstanding the opinions of managers and fans.

    I remember a game at Loftus Road against Liverpool refereed by Graham Poll. The entire crowd, myself included, was incensed by his inept performance. On Match of the Day though all his decisions proved either to be right or defendable apart from an offside goal he gave us which no one at the game seemed to notice.

    Poll did have a manner about him that wound supporters up and Clattenburg is similar. I do wonder though if they can win. Those with personality try to referee by getting players on their side but too often that seems to be a forlorn hope.

    Two simple solutions.

    1. Punish dissent harshly. Make sure that this is a well publicised initiative but card any player who gives the referee abuse. It’ll soon stop.

    2. Allow the 4th official to use technology and make sure that obvious errors are eliminated. So simple. A word in the refs ear. “I’ve seen the pictures – that was/wasn’t a penalty” ” Rooney’s just battered a defender behind your back”

    Won’t affect marginal decisions but would put right glaring injustices.

    A Swiss ref could still send off RVP just because he can.

    1. The dissent thing is a good point. If you refuse to use video reffing, why not go after dissent, after all it does two things:

      1) Stops players wasting time when a questionable decision is given by surrounding the ref (time that could be used for a replay??)
      2) Puts the ref’s under less pressure – they get respect and can focus on getting calls right rather than worrying about having a 6ft4inch Christopher Samba squaring up to you.

  3. As Tony says, my biggest frustration with match officials is not that they make mistakes but that they are not allowed the assistance of the technology that could resolve match changing situations before they affect the result.

    Not only have the International FA dragged their heals on implementing technology, they seem obsessed with going down the route of developing something new just for goal line decisions. We don’t need that, all we need is a 4th official to be allowed to look at the live feed and inform the Ref when required.

    Don’t get me started on the pundits holier-than-thou attitude towards officials who make mistakes.

  4. Clattenbergs been given a month “off” by the F.A, after our game…

    they need to make a route for ex – players becoming refs, I know theres obvious loyalty issues but the players would “respect” them more prahps? whats mentioned above is already happening to a certain extent;- the 4th official sees a obvious pen – foul on duff – clattenberg misses it – tells him hes norsed up again – clattenberg goes ooh bugger, cant have this 2 weeks running and gives us a pen at the next opportunity to make amends…

    not enough for the assesment team whoever they are.

    also lets hear what the refs and surrounding players are saying, via their mikes ala rugby, then interview them after the game, this will make a huge difference to players harrassing and give the refs a chance to justify decisions or not…

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