The PGMOL vs Arsenal: Data Shows A Clear Pattern of Bias

Mike dean vs Arsene Wenger

The award of a phantom penalty vs Arsenal by referee Mike Dean in the New Year’s Day match versus West Bromich Albion has generated a storm of indignation among Gooners worldwide, outraged that once again a major game-changing decision was made this season which has deprived the club of critical points needed to regain its place among the top-4 in the Premier league.

Notably the now discredited mainstream media has studiously avoided any meticulous, analysis of Dean’s decision unlike, for example, their blanket coverage whenever Jose Mourinho engages in one of his now frequent theatrics to deflect attention from his continued failure to return glory to Manchester United despite his massive and ever increasing spending on new players over the past three years. Contrary to the data I have unearthed and which is freely available, the football media, especially the broadcasters and others feeding on the PL gravy train, have no interest in revealing the rottenness at the heart of the PGMO which would give lie to their propaganda that they cover the “greatest league” in the world.

As you read, I hope to demonstrate that the PGMOL is an arrogant, unaccountable, biased body of officials that is unfit for the purpose. They are a refereeing mafia who flaunt their power to arbitrarily apply the rules of the game in favor of or against certain clubs. This is the antithesis of honesty and even-handedness that football fans expect from officials. Until the PGMOL is reformed or destroyed and a more open, transparent system of refereeing is implemented, it will remain a permanent blight on the English game that may well destroy the country’s reputation of having one of the most competitive leagues in the world.

To best understand the flagrant, unapologetic bias of the refereeing mafia, go no further than the 2004-05 season when Arsenal met Manchester United in what was billed as “Game 50” in the then unbeaten run of the Gunners. The match was officiated by none other than the current leader of the PGMOL, the notorious Mike Riley. To say that Riley refereed the game in United’s favor would be a gross understatement. Wikipedia described it thus:

The match saw a series of unprofessional fouls that were overlooked by referee Mike Riley, such as Rio Ferdinand on Fredrik Ljungberg in the 19th minute and striker Ruud van Nistelrooy’s studs-up challenge on Ashley Cole. Arsenal dictated much of the early play and created several openings, but as the game progressed Manchester United threatened. The home team were awarded a controversial penalty in the 73rd minute, as Wayne Rooney allegedly tumbled over Sol Campbell’s outstretched leg. Van Nistelrooy converted the penalty kick and late in the game Rooney scored for 2–0. The result ended Arsenal’s record-breaking 49-match unbeaten run. Many Arsenal fans were disgruntled, as they believed Rooney had dived and the penalty should not have been given. (Battle of the Buffett)

PS: The Wikipedia report fails to mention that Riley permitted the Neville brothers to target Jose Antonio Reyes, the Arsenal wide forward, who had been scoring goals at will, giving him the kicking of his life, until he was totally ineffective and had to be substituted while his two nemeses remained on the field unpunished.

Rather than being sanctioned for a disgraceful example of biased refereeing, shamed by the mainstream media and ultimately stripped of his license as would any member of the professions who engaged in such blatant malpractice, rather than being punished, Mike Riley was elevated two years later to the head of the PGMOL. This promotion went without protest from the Premier League or the FA which to my mind is nothing less than an endorsement. To be crowned with the lucrative, ultra-powerful role as head of the referees is apparently Riley’s reward for demonstrating his loyalty to the English football Establishment, by conducting such a blatant hatchet job on Arsenal, in one of the biggest and potentially most historic games in Premier League history. Is it any wonder therefore that the tactics employed by Riley to victimize Arsenal (overlooking professional fouls, permitting violent tackling and calling a phantom penalty) have become the tools du jour of the PGMOL as part of what they now euphemistically describe as “game management”.

After doing my research on Penalties For and Against in the Premier League between 1996 and 2016, the data demonstrated the most effective weapon used by the PGMOL against Arsenal is Penalties-Against. On January 30th last year I did a piece entitled A 206% Increase In Penalties vs Arsenal Is Proof of Bias. Among my findings were the following:

  • The traditional top-four clubs in the premier league (AFC, CFC, LFC and MUFC) have the lowest Penalties-Against (PA) compared to the rest.
  • During the first 10 years of the Wenger era, when Arsenal and United dominated the League, they had the lowest PA, with MUFC marginally ahead within a relatively narrow range of 0.2 goals. LFC had the highest PA which makes sense since they have been less successful in winning titles although averaging 3rd in the League.
1st 10-Year League AFC MUFC LFC CFC
Total 684 16 14 30 24
Club Avg 3.4 1.6 1.4 3.0 2.4

But in the second 10-years of Wenger, which coincided with the Mike Riley reign there was a strange illogical development:

  • While there was a 38% increase in penalties-against for the top 4 , not only did Arsenal experience an explosive 206% increase in PAs but the average number of penalties was higher than the average for all clubs in the premier league, 4.9 vs 4.7.
2nd 10-Year League AFC MUFC LFC CFC
Total 943 49 30 40 30
Club Avg 4.7 4.9 3 4 3

In other words, in the Mike Riley era, PGMOL referees adjudged AFC to be significantly worse than all the traditional top-four clubs in penalty-area defending. So much so that that it had been surpassed by LFC, a club whose average league position declined from 3rd in the first 10 years of Wenger to 5th in the second 10 years. During that time Arsenal’s average league position had only declined by one place, from 2nd to 3rd in the standings, but was judged to be far worse than its rival Liverpool when it came to conceding penalties. Hello!

Since I published my findings, not one single person on the internet, whether they be competing blogs, media watchers and spies who troll for potentially damaging information (trust me, they monitor this blog), none of them have disputed the facts and my conclusions. I suspect, they have concluded the best way for this evidence of clear malfeasance by the PGMOL to die a natural death is by neglect and lack of attention.

But there is more bad news dear readers. Rather than the trend stabilizing or declining, in the recently ended 2016-17 season, PAs for Arsenal took an unusual jump as the graphic below demonstrates.

Rise Fall and Rise of Penalties Against

In live and living color, we have the remarkable occurrence that, from one season to the next, Arsenal jumped from 1 PA to 10, from an average of 4.7 to practically double the number. I dare anyone to give a statistical justification. Is it any wonder that with so many PAs, which is proven to be a 95% probability of a goal being scored, Arsenal lost the points necessary to qualify for its traditional top-4 position.

Of course there will be insinuations that this was a mere statistical outlier and Arsenal’s PA trend is no worse than the other traditional top-4 clubs. Au contraire. Inclusive of the 2017 numbers, over the 11 year period that premierleague.com maintains this particular data, not only is AFC’s PA trending far higher than its traditional top-4 rivals but no other club has experienced such a dramatic increase year-on-year. The graphic below is self evident.

PAs Arsenal vs Traditional Top 4

The chart is remarkable for its clarity. Since 07/08, which coincides with Riley’s promotion, there are only two seasons out of eight when Arsenal’s PA was less than all of its main rivals, i.e. 10/11 and 15/16. Moreover no other club has seen such a remarkable increase in PAs from one year to the next, a jump of 9. They all tend to trend upward or downward over time and not in sudden spurts.  Moreover, none of the traditional top-4 has higher PAs for any one season. Arsenal has the record for the two highest PAs in any one season, 9 in 09/10 and 10 in 16/17. The next highest is Liverpool at 8. As most statisticians will aver once may be a coincidence, twice forms a trend.

So far this season, Arsenal is joint top-of-the-pops with Liverpool in PA, 3 is the count up to the WBA game. All its rivals sit at a measly 1 PA so far. Halfway through the season it is not looking good for Arsene Wenger and his troops. At this rate I am not convinced we will make the top-4 and return to the lucrative champions league.

While Mike Dean can act with impunity and award or deny penalties in clear contradiction to the guidelines explained to the teams at the beginning of the season (according to Petr Cech), on the other hand Wenger is to be censured and gagged for mildly criticizing the referees. He is now up on a charge of bringing the game in disrepute and will be no doubt suspended.

Yet we continue to hear loud silence from the guardians of the game, i.e. the FA, the Premier League and the mainstream media as the PGMOL acts with arrogant impunity, unaccountable and opaque. Their leader a major tilter in his days as a referee as exemplified by Game 50 yet his tenure is unquestioned.

Meanwhile disparate standards are being applied to Arsenal with adverse consequences for the club. It has been observed by many that, so far this season, major decisions by the referees have cost the club 10 points and instead of lying comfortably in 2nd place, the club struggles between 5th – 6th. Yet the PGMOL and its defenders in the football Establishment are fighting tooth and nail in the backrooms and secret hallways to have PGMOL referees make the final call when VAR is introduced in the PL next season.

Where is the outrage among the leading Arsenal fans, bloggers and tweeters? Are people under the illusion that fairness will return to the PL simply when VAR is introduced? Do some secretly hope that this continued victimization of the club will force Wenger into premature retirement, opening the way the owner to adopt the sugar-daddy model and spend billions of dollars on over-priced players and their super agents in the hope of curry favoring with the football Establishment and the media?

As is often said in politics, people deserve the government they get. Don’t we deserve an infinitely fairer, open, honest, transparent refereeing setup than the PGMOL?

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100 comments on “The PGMOL vs Arsenal: Data Shows A Clear Pattern of Bias

  1. You won’t see this down at East Grinstead FC

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Think I like that last ref.
    Can we get him to move to England (not South of Watford though!)?


  3. seemingly Arsenal are preparing a video tape of all the ‘concerning coincidence’ calls that went against the club this season as a material evidence in Wenger’s personal hearing regarding the FA asking for further clarification from him over his comments pre/post chelsea game.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Good for Arsenal, that will be a long video

    Liked by 1 person

  5. As always, Shotta, I appreciate your making the effort to analyze data. Having done it many times, I know how time-consuming it is. The nature of my work as a laboratory scientist means that I tend to focus more on experimental design rather than secondary data analysis. That said, my caution with drawing conclusions is that this seems like an incomplete data set to me – what you might call a flaw in the experimental design. Edy gets at this a little with his comment @2:35: what we are looking at is the available data on Penalties Against. What we are missing IMO is Penalty No-Calls. For me, the best analysis would be Penalties Against/ Total Penalty Decisions Made in order to know the rate of PAs. If Arsenal’s increase in PAs (which does seem high) was also accompanied by an increase in No Calls, then the picture looks a bit different. That might show that it’s not actually an increase in the PA rate, but in fact an increase in the number of opportunities for a penalty call to be made. I don’t know that it would show that, but I do know we haven’t asked that question.

    How could we determine the number of penalty no-calls? It would be difficult. Obtaining the negative data set is always hard. You could try to watch film, and count the number of penalty appeals by the opposition (now that would be a laughable task). Or, you could count the number of penalty appeals waved away by the official, and add that number to penalties given. That would give you at least a credible count of the number of penalty decisions made. But I’m sure not taking that task on, and I don’t expect anyone else to do it either. I just urge caution at drawing conclusions with the incomplete data set we have.

    I don’t think it would be at all helpful to look at Penalties For along with Penalties Against. That introduces the additional variable of a team’s attacking style vs. its defending style, and would make drawing conclusions even harder, to me. I think you have to look at one or the other, as Shotta has done here. Also, looking at whether or not calls are correct would be another wrinkle in the experimental design – but that’s the one that really gets at me. I wish there was an easy way to look at it. I know how it feels subjectively, but that has the flaw of being subjective. When I feel hard done by is when a penalty is awarded and the opposition didn’t even appeal for it (looking at you Mike Dean). They appeal for everything! Anyway, I find myself squarely in the “I think they sometimes do a spectacularly bad job but I don’t think there is a conspiracy” camp. I suspect Arsene does as well.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. He admitted it !!!!!


  7. My comment caught in the spam filter again, I guess? I’m beginning to think you guys don’t like me anymore (sad face).

    Liked by 2 people

  8. no anicol, the video is said to be for the latest one, where the FA asked him about his comments pre and post chelsea game, the ban is for whatever he said in the Refs room.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. The Football Association have made the following announcement.

    “Arsène Wenger will serve a touchline ban for Arsenal’s next three matches after he was charged with misconduct.

    “It follows an Independent Regulatory Commission hearing today at which the Arsenal manager admitted that his language and behaviour in the match officials’ changing room after the West Bromwich Albion game on Sunday [31/12/17] was abusive, improper and questioned the integrity of the match referee. He was also fined £40,000.”

    Copyright 2018 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to http://www.arsenal.com as the source.

    Read more at https://www.arsenal.com/news/fa-statement-arsene-wenger#g0piV5bPAFcU6pXH.99

    Read more at https://www.arsenal.com/news/fa-statement-arsene-wenger#tjIo32QcO4AVjvmV.99


  10. You are not in the spam filter K !!

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Pleading guilty – whatever next

    Liked by 2 people

  12. How about allegations of being a pedophile?

    Liked by 1 person

  13. “From what I’ve heard and seen in tunnels and dressing rooms down the years, I’m surprised and shocked to be charged”

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Clearly some of these bravehearts are not made of the same stuff as some of those S.American refs.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Weird, A5. Must have been too wordy and got shot off into the ether by WordPress. Maybe at lunchtime I’ll try again.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Ok, now I see it. Weird.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Arsène to Mike Dean: You’re a cheat.

    Dean ran to the FA with tears in his eyes: That darn Wenger called me a cheat.

    FA: We charge Mr Wenger for calling Mr Dean a cheat. Did you do it.

    AW: Of course I did. When I have something to say I say it.

    Yep. Arsène plead guilty. Let’s hang him by his feet.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. It was an interesting comment Alabama – I have no requirement for scientific rigour so I torture and manipulate data all day long to give me the answers I am after all too often. Occasionally though even I am confounded by reality.

    Liked by 2 people

  19. Reports in Argentiana say Arsenal are in talks with Boca Juniors for forward Cristian Pavón, he is 22 later this month

    Liked by 1 person

  20. How old is he now

    Liked by 3 people

  21. Jaysus, BBC wanker having sly digs at us while commentating on Everton Liverpool game.

    Liked by 2 people

  22. I agree with PG you goading bastards….

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Once you see it you can’t un see it. It is destroying the game.


  24. Good effort Shotta my friend, anything to keep some kind of pressure on these shitty twats treating the entire English footballing community with a level of contempt one would only normally find in politics …

    Liked by 5 people

  25. Another hard research work shotts. Thumbs up to you. But will it be heard?
    What can Arsenal and Wenger do to stop this hate campaign against the club by Pgmo? What we can do as a fan?

    I am depressed.

    God help us.

    Liked by 1 person

  26. this is an interesting piece of data but isn’t really significant from purely statistical point of view, or obvious for that matter
    the underlying dynamics of refereeing is not that easily quantifiable
    direct comparisons of penalty decisions (including ref positioning) might be more revealing
    eg why did a slight touch to hazard resulted in penalty, but a slight touch to amn did not, or why did the ref award a penalty to liverpool today but didn’t for a similar offence against laca
    otoh this might be interesting to some readers https://blog.acolyer.org/2017/01/25/toward-sustainable-insights-or-why-polygamy-is-bad-for-you/

    Liked by 1 person

  27. Shotts this a brilliant piece of research and presentation of data. Its actually the latest in a long line of data showing the bias we are faced with, or at least the negligence of officials which seems to show its ugly head in our games negatively rather than positively when involving our rivals. Untold have been making accurate assessments on this for years.
    I believe the big incidents are just the tip of the iceberg and actually the way small incidents are managed has a bigger effect on the game. We all remember how fegie used rotational fowling to keep his team from getting a spanking when he knew his side were going to be outclassed withpure football.
    Officials couldn’t cope with it then, they didnt understand how they were being conned and a decade later they still haven’t learned how to deal with it or how deliberate fouls, not dealt with correctly, will affect games late on. Against wba Jack was continually brought down and the lack of bookings meant this could continue and in the end it was Jack that tired. Dawson serveral times turned his back to delibrately obstruct and stop onrushing players, because this was not penalised early on he simply continued with impunety. The facical pen decison would not have mattered had the ref officiated the game so football could be played, which all the rule changes are supposed to insure.
    Rule changes and a desire to make the game more beautiful will never work if officials are still dragging their stoneage knuckles with an attitude of negative football.

    Liked by 4 people

  28. Arsenal U18 v Aston Villa: Virginia Clarke-Ballard-Spencer Adams-Thompson Benson-M. Smith Olayinka-Coyle-Saka Balogun
    Subs: Barden, Beckford, McGuinness, Swanson, Okoflex.

    coyle has given AFC the lead from a penalty in the second half

    Liked by 2 people

  29. Wenger on if Mislintat identified Mavropanos: “Yes. We talk. We know the players. It’s not that we discover, we know every single player in Europe before Sven arrived. Sometimes, in a little club in Germany, he might know somebody we might ignore”

    Wenger on Mislintat & Sanllehi: “For them, it’s more difficult than for me, because they have to adapt to a new environment, they discover suddenly a different structure. I have no time to take care of my (FA) charge because I have meetings with them, to talk about how we can make it all work because, for them, Sven, it’s important to know all the scouts””

    Liked by 2 people

  30. Coyle with anther penalty makes it 2-0

    Liked by 2 people

  31. Jeorge Bird@jeorgebird
    3m3 minutes ago

    Full time. Aston Villa 0 Arsenal 2.

    Coyle’s brace makes it four league wins in a row for Arsenal U18s.

    Liked by 1 person

  32. Shotta man, well done and well written
    Welcome back. trust u guys are gradually getting better from Marie / Irma
    That ref that hit the player, I really did laugh

    Liked by 2 people

  33. Arsenal Fixture News
    ‏ @AFCFixtureNews
    2h2 hours ago

    The U16s were 4-1 up; Villa pulled to back to 4-6, Arsenal scored 2 late goals, final score 6-6!

    Liked by 2 people

  34. seen a piece on BT sport with ref chris foy about VAR, and he says on the chambers penalty if he had been the VAR he have told mike dean it was “categorically no penalty”, but that Mike Dean could over rule the VAR decision

    Liked by 1 person

  35. seemingly Couthino move to Barcelona is done, £115M with £40M in add ons, No wonder Liverpool showed ambition in spending £75M on VVD,

    Liked by 1 person

  36. Jon Moss will take charge of Arsenal’s FA Cup third-round clash at Nottingham Fores


  37. with six players out injured, and a league cup semi final midweek, tomorrow’s team selection could be interesting. Wenger says he will make “a few” changes,

    One interesting aside to the selection, is that it might hint at the immediate futures of some of our players, most notably Debuchy and Walcott. Rumor has it that both might be sold this month, and if they are to be sold to English teams, then their value will be less if they are cup tied. so if either of them don’t play tomorrow it would suggest that a move away is close.
    Similar with Alexis, if he actually plays in the game, it might suggest that a move this window is less likely, although him not being involved would not add to chances of him being sold, as its unlikely he would be used in normal circumstances. Some rumors this evening that City have today made an offer for him. But it is the silly season so till any transfer story gets legit confirmation it should remain in the silly season category, just like the rumors we are buying mahrez, lemar, malcolm and pavon.


  38. eds

    They bought Chambo as his eme

    Liked by 1 person

  39. Sorry hairline crack on screen!

    < They bought Chambo as his HG replacement.
    More of a confidence player then most, as could be understood by observing his long long recovery from his game management induced knee knack with interim niggles. It'll be another few months before he settles properly and then we can judge him in comparison to the very very promising youths eager to fill his shoes at AFC.

    Liked by 1 person

  40. I can understand that people like to play with numbers. We live in an era which some describe as “casino capitalism”, don’t ask me I haven’t a clue about how such magic sorry economics works. I like to walk on sure ground myself, preferable on ground that has been calculated to do the job specified. Always found solid foundations to be reassuring myself – there’s actually a numerical law to protect foundations that can be found under the Party Wall Act – the old 45 degree law that all civil engineers are familiar with. Fortunately for you and me.

    But well, ignoring league table and such there are other stats that have had a massive impact on the game. For one example: the medical council’s stats on concussions from waaaaaaaaaaaay back in day have had an impact on the sport – lighter footballs, better rights for players, the favourite topic for the blaggers the higher wages (nevermind the footy!) that followed studies of punch drunk retirees and Jimmy Hill’s chin all followed from that.

    There it was/is/will be.

    Liked by 3 people

  41. CLUB STATEMENT: Stoke City can confirm that the contract of manager Mark Hughes has been terminated with immediate effect.

    this makes me sort of sad, I actually enjoyed seeing him and stoke struggle, they were the perfect fit, a unlikeable man and an even more unlikeable club

    Liked by 3 people

  42. Demz
    ‏ @Demmy_Lad
    40m40 minutes ago

    Liverpool have made almost £250m off the likes of Suarez, sterling and coutinho.

    They have managed to give £175.5m of that to Southampton.

    Liked by 1 person

  43. Guess Stoke will try for Dyche?

    Liked by 1 person

  44. My best effort at a post is up folks.

    Liked by 1 person

  45. I really enjoyed this article. Well written, concise and backed up with fact. Great Stuff Shotta


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