The Referee Bias League Tables, where's your team?

Welcome back to THBN, back with a new man at the helm after a break. We will kick off our return straight into a controversial subject, referee bias, does it exist?.

Are referee bias towards certain clubs and do the stats add weight to the generally held view that top teams are favoured by referees?

Well to look at this we have looked at the stats for last season to begin with and produced tables showing there was indeed a marked bias for one team in particular. We have backed these initial findings with a look over a 5 year period and finally an 11 year period, again putting them into league table order.

Penalties received verses penalties against gives us a plus or minus score and we can determine the extent to which a side is favoured. A plus score means you receive more penalties than you concede and conversely a minus score indicates you concede more penalties than you are given.

Between the top and bottom of our league table for last season, there was a ratio difference of 16 penalties (+10 to -6). Clearly Martinez had a point last season.

Team - For Against +/-
1   Chelsea - 11 1 +10
2   Man U - 6 0 +6
3   Man C - 6 2 +4
4   QPR - 4 2 +2
4   West Ham - 4 2 +2
6   WBA - 7 6 +1
7   Liverpool - 6 5 +1
8   Fulham - 6 6 0
9   Stoke - 5 5 0
10 Sunderland - 4 4 0
10 Newcastle - 4 4  0
10 Reading - 4 4  0
13 Everton - 2 2  0
14 Arsenal - 5 6 -1
15 Southampton - 3 5 -2
16 Norwich - 2 5 -3
17 SPURS - 0 3 -3
18 Aston Villa - 3 8 -5
19 Swansea - 0 5 -5
20 Wigan - 1 7 -6

Well no surprise who the top 3 are, but QPR sitting 4th is a surprise, Arsenal a lowly 14th and SPURS way down in 17th after being one of only 2 teams not to receive a penalty all season, Swansea being the other.

Is the league table different over a period or is the apparent initial bias, borne out over time? Let's look at the 5 year table then for the teams that were in the Premier League last season.

5 Year Table
1   Chelsea - 38 16 +22
2   Man U - 34 14 +20
3   Man C - 35 20 +15
4   Everton - 26 13 +13
5   Fulham - 22 14 +8
6   Liverpool - 27 22 +5
7   West Ham - 21 19 +2 (4 seasons)
8   QPR - 7 5 +2 (2 seasons)
9   Reading - 4 4 0 (1 season)
10 Swansea - 6 8 -2 (2 seasons)
11 Southampton - 3 5 -2 (1 season)
12 Stoke - 22 26 -4
13 Sunderland - 21 26 -5
14 SPURS - 18 23 -5
15 WBA - 20 25 -5 (4 seasons)
16 Arsenal - 24 31 -7
17 Norwich - 4 12 -8 (2 seasons)
18 Aston Villa - 22 31 -9
19 Newcastle - 16 27 -11 (4 seasons)
20 Wigan - 19 31 -12

Again the top 3 are the same being the only teams to be given 30+ penalties, SPURS are down in 14th and surprisingly Arsenal in 16th, Wigan sit bottom of both tables, which won't come as a surprise to Wigan fans.

Everton have shot up the table, Newcastle have sunk but the rest remain in similar positions. Let's move on to the 11 year trend then and see what this throws up. Do the stats show teams are favoured historically over an extended period of time?

11 Year Table
1   Man U - 63 26 +39
2   Chelsea - 64 30 + 34
3   Arsenal - 60 44 +24
4   Liverpool - 61 40 +21
5   Man C - 53 42 +11
6   Everton - 40 35 +5
7   QPR - 7 5 +2 (2 seasons)
8   Fulham - 47 48 -1
9   West Ham - 34 35 -1 (8 seasons)
10 SPURS - 44 46 -2
11 Newcastle - 46 48 -2 (10 seasons)
12 Swansea - 6 8 -2 (2 seasons)
13 Southampton - 12 15 -3 (4 seasons)
14 Stoke - 22 26 -4 (5 seasons)
15 Reading - 11 16 -5 (3 seasons)
16 Norwich - 4 12 -8 (2 seasons)
17 Aston Villa - 52 63 -11
18 Sunderland - 26 41 -15 (8 seasons)
19 WBA - 24 39 -15 (7 seasons)
20 Wigan - 28 45 -17 (8 seasons)

Statistically there is no doubt certain sides are favoured. If you challenge for a title or are a regular Champions League team, referees treat you better, expect SPURS.

Man United and Aston Villa have played all 11 seasons, United have finished with a +39 total and Villa with a -11 figure, that's 50 penalties difference!

Let me just list the teams who have played all 11 seasons to highlight this clear bias.

1   Man U - 63 26 +39
2   Chelsea - 64 30 + 34
3   Arsenal - 60 44 +24
4   Liverpool - 61 40 +21
5   Man C - 53 42 +11
6   Everton - 40 35 +5
7   Fulham - 47 48 -1
8   SPURS - 44 46 -2
9   Aston Villa - 52 63 -11

The worrying thing is that the results are actually not surprising to the neutral fan, except probably for SPURS and Villa.

Have referees ever looked at these stats, because better players and worse players can be argued to an extent, but surely not to the tune of 50 penalties.

The penalty statistics research revealed some interesting notes, so here's one or two for each team, pick out yours.

Arsenal - been awarded more penalties at home than any other team 44, haven't been in a positive situation since 2007-08 (+3), +8 the season before and +7 the season before that.
Aston Villa - last positive season 2010-11 (+1)
Chelsea - one of 4 clubs to be awarded 10 or more penalties in a season (Man U, Arsenal, Newcastle) and the only club to be awarded 10 or more penalties twice in last 11 seasons.
Everton - last negative season was 2005-06 (-6) and 3 times have never received a penalty away 2002-03, 2005-06, 2007-08
Fulham - last negative season 2007-08 (-1), have received more than 4 penalties only 3 times (2002-03,2008-09,2012-13) in the last 11 years
Liverpool - have saved more penalties than anyone else 11, only 1 negative season in 11 years 2009-10 (-1)
Man C - last negative season 2009-10 (-2)
Man U - one of only 2 clubs not to concede a penalty in a season (Arsenal 2005-06), the only club to receive no penalties against twice (2012-13, 2007-08)
Newcastle - not has a positive season since 2007-08 (+1)
Norwich - have never been awarded a penalty away, not been awarded more than 2 penalties and never had a positive season in their 2 seasons
QPR - didn't have a negative season in their 2 seasons
Reading - have never had a positive season in their 3 seasons
Southampton - never had more than 4 penalties a season
Stoke - have only had 1 positive season, their first in 2008-09 (+3)
Sunderland - have only ever had 1 positive season in 2009-10 (+3)
Swansea - never been given an away penalty, one of only 3 clubs to go a season without being awarded a penalty (Spurs, WBA)
SPURS - last home penalty awarded was in the 2010-11 season
WBA - only Man U (6) have missed more penalties than Albion's 5
West Ham - have only been awarded 2 or more penalties away once 2009-10 (2), of teams playing more than 6 seasons they have been awarded the fewest penalties away 7
Wigan - only had 2 positive seasons 2007-08 (+1) and 2008-09 (+2)

Quite frankly there are plenty of statistics one could have called upon, home v away for instance, have certain teams been favoured at home or penalised away, Norwich with no away penalties. The stats are clear though as they are, the top 4 have have been favoured over time and referees don't like SPURS.

Hope you have enjoyed the read, leave your thoughts and don't be a stranger.


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