Saturday Soccer Stats – Do refs affect goals?

07/03/2015 | By | Reply More
PREVIEW: QPR v Spurs (Sat, 15:00)
With the Premier League taking a back seat to the FA Cup this weekend there is an opportunity for Spurs to move back into the top six and close the gap on fourth placed Man Utd to just three points.

With QPR having lost six of their last seven matches things are looking bad for the promoted side, especially as they only have two remaining home games against current bottom-half teams and those are against arguably the two best sides in that half of the table, Everton and Newcastle. When hosting the current top-half sides this term, QPR have failed to win in seven attempts (W0-D3-L4). Home or away against these sides their record is a less than stellar W0-D3-L12 although they have kept things level until half-time in six of the seven at home. In fact over the last 20 games only Leicester have had as many Draw/Loss doubles (seven) and it looks as if the promoted teams are struggling at the end of their matches.

Spurs have been in good form as they’ve won five of their last eight away matches, and defeats at Chelsea and Liverpool are understandable. Moreover, they’ve scored at least twice in six consecutive matches and they have a superb record against promoted teams since 2012/13, having won 14 of 15 matches home and away.

However, Spurs have conceded in 10 of their last 11 away matches and in 12 of their last 13 trips to bottom-half teams so it may not be an easy away win. They’ve won nine of their last 15 trips to bottom-half teams but were ahead at half-time in just four of the nine wins and six were despite conceding.

Half of QPR’s last 12 home games have had at least three goals with five having four or more and they’ve shown an ability to score this season. However, Spurs should win this, particularly with the bite of Joey barton missing from the QPR midfield. Rather than take the 1.85, though, we prefer the extra value of 
Spurs to Win with Both Teams to Score at 3.75 or the Draw/Spurs double at 5.0. Furthermore, correct score backers might have noted that four of Spurs’ last five away wins have been 2-1 scores and that can be backed at 9.0. We’ve pointed out some strong over-goals stats in this game and Over 3.0 Goals is a tempting 2.25 while Over 1.5 Spurs Goals can be backed at 1.83.
Premier League Referees – Do Refs Affect Goals?
Referees have been in the spotlight seemingly more so than usual this season, with Roger East mistakenly sending off Wes Brown instead of John O’Shea last weekend the latest in a catalogue of errors made by officials. Persistent erroneous decisions have led various pundits to plea for video technology to be introduced to review refereeing decisions, but instead of looking at refereeing mistakes, we decided to look at what effect different referees have on match goals markets. We looked at the active referees that have officiated at least 20 Premier League games since 2005/06 and to start off we simply looked at the average number of goals that were scored in games they were in charge of.  The results are shown below:


Referee Matches since 05/06 Average Goals per Game
Phil Dowd 237 2.90
Andre Marriner 184 2.86
Michael Oliver 100 2.82
Kevin Friend 109 2.79
Anthony Taylor 95 2.78
Mike Dean 256 2.78
Mike Jones 127 2.72
Chris Foy 217 2.71
Mark Clattenburg 202 2.68
Jonathan Moss 76 2.67
Neil Swarbrick 63 2.67
Lee Mason 166 2.66
Stuart Attwell 45 2.51
Martin Atkinson 244 2.50
Craig Pawson 27 2.48

It is important therefore to see how these statistics translate into the match goals markets by looking at the percentage of each referee’s Premier League games that had Over/Under 2.5 goals, as well as those that had Over 3.5 goals, and then compare the respective returns on investment.

This shows that the two strongest ‘overs’ referees are Phil Dowd and Mike Dean, as backing Over 2.5 goals in each of their games would have seen you return a 4% and 2% profit respectively, with O3.5 goals returning a 5% profit from Dowd’s games and 6% from Dean’s. It is important to note that the prices for the goal markets that we used for this study were average odds, and at best prices returns are likely to be around 5% better. Strikingly, had you backed Under 2.5 goals in Dowd’s 237 games over this period, you would have made a 17% loss, with Swarbrick even more costly to ‘unders’ backers, although admittedly over a smaller sample size. Backing Over 2.5 goals in games officiated by Mark Clattenburg and Neil Swarbrick would also have netted a profit, although neither of these are as strong for Over 3.5 goals.

In terms of ‘unders’ referees, there are three that would have returned a profit had you backed Under 2.5 goals in their games: Jonathan Moss, Staurt Attwell, and Martin Atkinson. Indeed, fewer than 46% of Atkinson’s and Attwell’s games have had Over 2.5 goals, and backing overs in games that they refereed would have seen you make a 13% and 23% loss respectively.

When looking for a connection to refereeing styles and goals it is interesting to note that there appears to be a correlation in the number of bookings a referee awards and the ROI in the goals markets.


Referee Booking Pts
(all matches 14/15)
Yellows Ratio
(all matches since 05/06)
Kevin Friend 46.9 3.6
Phil Dowd 47.3 3.6
Mike Dean 50.7 3.5
Neil Swarbrick 45.6 3.3
Lee Mason 39.8 3.3
Mark Clattenburg 41.7 3.3
Mike Jones 40.4 3.2
Anthony Taylor 48.1 3.2
Andre Marriner 34.4 3.2
Martin Atkinson 41.1 3.1
Stuart Attwell 27.7 3.0
Craig Pawson 44.0 2.9
Michael Oliver 44.2 2.9
Jonathan Moss 40.2 2.8
Chris Foy 47.4 2.7

Here we see that the most ‘overs’ referees, Dowd and Dean have the second and third highest ratio of yellow cards to games in all their matches managed since 2005/06 and that there is a clear gap in their yellows ratio to the referees below them.  Similarly, the ‘unders’ referees, Moss, Atkinson and Attwell are very much on the lower end of the bookings spectrum.

These stats are brought to your by our friends over at Football Form Labs. Check out their site and the powerful software that sits behind these comments


Category: Football trading strategies, Trading strategies

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I left a good job in the consumer technology industry to go a trade on Betfair for a living way back in June 2000. I've been here ever since pushing very boundaries of what's possible on betting exchanges and loved every minute of it.

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