Do referees show bias against football teams? Let’s review the data
REFEREES have one of the most unenviable jobs in football. They’re there to make sure everyone adheres to the sport’s rules, stopping football from turning into free jazz. They have to do things that penalise players and teams and the fans don’t like them, as a rule, one bit.
However, most referees and officials are alright when it comes down to it.
This doesn’t stop people from believing otherwise. In the news this week, Stoke City chairman Peter Coates has had his wrists slapped for his views on football’s match officials.
He’s been fined £5,000 for accusing referees of “bias towards other teams”.
The Stoke chairman was upset with the officiating in home games against Swansea, Southampton and West Ham. Coates contested the charge, but the Football Association ruled that his comments, made to local media, brought the game into disrepute and found him guilty of improper conduct.
That all said, statistically, it does look like some referees don’t like certain teams. Let us look at them shall we?
Arsenal fans don’t like Mike Dean much, as the Gunners have a very poor record when he’s officiating their games. A few years ago, Dean refereed 17 manages against Arsenal, where they won only one match in four years. If that wasn’t enough for Gooners, there was a moment in his career when he was accused of ‘celebrating’ a goal scored by Louis Saha.
In May 2000, Barry Knight wrote himself into Bolton’s history for all the wrong reasons. In a First Division play-off semi-final between Wanderers and Ipswich Town, Knight issued 12 yellow cards, two red cards and awarded three penalties against Bolton. Sam Allardyce, Gudni Bergsson and Paul Warhurst were all fined by the FA for their comments about Knight’s performance. Allardyce felt he had a point when the FA decided that Barry Knight should never officiate a game at Bolton again.
In Liverpool, Horward Webb is not a favourite. Many have seen him as someone who favours Manchester United. Former Liverpool player Ryan Babel got himself a fine for a joke on Twitter which saw Webb in a United jersey.
Webb has been in charge of 22 Liverpool games since 2009/10 of which Liverpool have lost 14!
At Chelsea, no-one likes Chris Foy, especially Jose Mourinho. “During the week the players were speaking about the situation and I think from now on, the next time we have Mr. Foy, I have to work my people in a different way because I don’t want this,” said Mourinho after a match. That’s because Foy has shown 8 red cards to Chelsea players in the 10 matches that he has officiated in, giving out none to the opposition.
A number of sides don’t like Mark Clattenburg, especially on Merseyside and in Manchester. Clattenburg’s performance in the Merseyside derby in 2007 resulted in a 6 year hiatus from Goodison Park. He’s been accused of consulting Steven Gerrard before sending off Tony Hibbert and other mistakes saw him receiving death threats from Toffeemen.
In Manchester, one thing that unifies the blue and red half of the city is a distrust and hatred of this particular ref. He’s been accused of awarding soft penalties against both teams and, in one infamous incident, sent off City’s Gareth Barry after an argument. Barry accepted his ban, but maintans that it was Clattenburg who initiated the feud.