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Study Says Refs Favor Home Side in the EPL

A new study aims to prove an old suspicion that referees' favor the home team. Research covering 2,500 matches in England's Premiership says that statistically, referees are more likely to show yellow and red cards to players on the away team. The study, conducted by the University of Bath in England, also attempts to show inconsistency of different referees. Some are more likely to discipline players through yellow and red cards than others, with underdogs more likely to be punished than bigger clubs. "Managers have been right to highlight inconsistencies," Dr. Peter Dawson, an economics professor and Wigan Athletic supporter, said. "But without proper analysis of refereeing decisions over a period of time, their comments look like the usual post-match gripe." Dawson added that he hopes the research encourages match officials to think twice before they make what could be perceived as a home-biased decision. Predictably, Keith Hackett, the general manager of Professional Game Match Officials Ltd, dismissed the research. "It's not the message we're getting from our match assessors or independent match delegates," he said. "We have a mix of personalities as referees and no two games are alike - that is the nature of the Premiership." A look at Arsenal's 2003-2004 season, in which the Gunners went undefeated in lifting the Premiership title, provides some interesting perspective. While their home and away records were similar, they received just 23 yellow cards at home compared to their opponents' 40. Away from home Arsene Wenger's team and its opponents each had 27 bookings. The research shows the Gunners also conceded fewer fouls at home than they did on their travels.

Read the whole story at The Times Online »

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