It is amazing how far we as human beings, including us football fans; will go to deny reality, specifically to deny facts that do not conform with our deeply held beliefs. Denialism is a very common element of human behavior and is defined by the psychologists as:
“…a person’s choice to deny reality, as a way to avoid a psychologically uncomfortable truth. Denialism is an essentially irrational action that withholds the validation of a historical experience or event, when a person refuses to accept an empirically verifiable reality.”
The problem however with calling anyone or group of people a denialist is we are all guilty to some degree or other. After all denial is a psychological defense we all use at times to reduce our anxiety when reality feels particularly disturbing. Short of being clinically diagnosed as suffering from paranoia or delusional disorder, we all have the impulse to be denialists.
Unfortunately most human beings refuse to accept we are all psychologically inclined to act irrationally. That is why the majority will always be victims of those forces in our society who happy to take advantage of our irrational fears and anxieties and our impulse to retreat into denialism.
In some of my previous posts (most notably Fear And Despair vs The Arsenal) I used the example of the stock market to highlight how Arsenal fans, in particular, are emotionally manipulated by the media to believe the club is on the verge of disaster, despite an unmatched history of consistency in the Premier League and the consequent massive growth in the fanbase during the Wenger era. As a result many fans, perhaps a majority, have the irrational belief that a self-sustaining club like Arsenal will somehow achieve better results by getting rid of arguably their greatest manager ever.
Yet it is almost an absolute certainty that Stan Kroenke will never pursue the “sugar-daddy” model to compete with City, Chelsea and United. Furthermore, as long as the club grows organically and the value of his investment increases, there is almost zero probability Stan will sell his majority stake to Usmanov or, for that matter, to the Chinese vultures who no doubt are circling in the hope of acquiring a flagship PL club to add to their portfolio. If Arsenal PLC was a liquid stock on Wall St, the professionals, who profit by betting against human psychology, would never tire of taking money from the lemmings who sell whenever the media is unanimous that disaster is near.
That was a somewhat long-winded introduction to my main subject which is the denialism when it comes to the facts I have unearthed and published re PGMOL referees. Despite the data and accompanying statistics which show a historical pattern of bias against Arsenal in Penalties-Against, there are a multitude of naysayers who pooh-poohed my findings as if they were the exception and not the rule. One wonders if they would be satisfied if, someone had the wherewithal run a parallel PL league on a neutral planet with neutral referees using VAR and testing whether the distribution of penalties for was correlated with a club’s league ranking.
Not having those resources, I decided to test my hypothesis of bias by observing whether the average number of penalties awarded was in any way correlated to league standing in the PL. Surely it is reasonable to assume that the best ranked teams get the most penalties and vice-versa. If there is such a correlation, does Arsenal’s average penalty count correlate with its average league position?
When the data is mapped graphically, we get a downward sloping graph from left to right which indicates the average 1st placed teams get 6 penalties per season and the 20th placed teams are down to just 2.6 pens. Obviously it is not a perfect slope. There is a lot of noise in the mid-table from 5th position downwards. This is partially explicable by the fact that these clubs are very inconsistent from year-to-year in contrast with the consistency of the historical top-4. But the pattern is unmistakable; over time, there is a negative relationship between league position and the average penalties a team earn.
To prove my point I did a statistical test to verify whether there was any correlation between the two variables. According to the Spearman test, (the data covers the past 11 PL seasons) there is a 84% correlation between average league position and Penalties-For. On the contrary, while Arsenal averaged 3.5 in the league between 07/08 and 16/17, there is only a 40% correlation between Arsenal’s league position and the penalties it has been awarded, a more than 50% difference from that of all PL clubs. This is a disparity which in my opinion cannot be justified by glibly saying Gooners are “making excuses”, “picking on the refs”, etc. This is a significant chunk of data spanning 11 years and covering 418 games. Something stinks and it is getting smellier.
Needless to say, the mainstream media and the major Arsenal bloggers, refuse to analyze and publicize the freely available data which reveals the PGMOL to be thoroughly biased and unfit for the purpose. By keeping quiet they are not merely in denial, they are very much aiding and abetting a corrupt, faulty system of officiating.
One wonders if the same PGMOL refs will be allowed to make the final penalty and offsides decisions when VAR is soon introduced into the PL.
Do football fans really believe that after making such a big show of using VAR in the recent Carabao Cup matches, the PGMOL and its allies in the football Establishment will meekly give up their power to influence games? If you do, then surely you have taken permanent residence in the State of Denial.