How would the Premier League table look if refs got all the key decisions right? A quick glance at the Right Result league tables for the last 3 seasons will tell you how crucial refereeing decisions can be for certain clubs.
In the 06/07 season, refereeing mistakes allowed Tottenham to claim a European spot while pushing Aston Villa all the way down to 11th. At the other end of the table, West Ham escaped relegation not just because of Tevez but also thanks to poor refereeing decisions.
In the 07/08 season the difference was crucial near the top of the table, with refereeing errors allowing Liverpool to pip Everton to 4th spot and Chelsea finishing in 2nd place ahead of Arsenal.
The 08/09 season hasn’t been without it’s share of controversy either. Rafa’s claims apart, the title for a third year in a row was unaffected by refereeing errors but we saw Newcastle and Middlesbrough both get relegated when they shouldn’t have, while Sunderland and Hull City stayed up even though they should have gone down.
The purpose here isn’t to rewrite history or to vilify referees – like players, they too are human and they can make mistakes and given the pressures they face it’s hypocritical to lambast a referee for getting one decision wrong while praising a player like Carlos Tevez for his ‘work rate’ regardless of his (relatively) poor finishing skills.
Rather, ventures like the Right Result Table highlight the magnitude of the task facing the English FA, the Premier League and FIFA when it comes to improving the game so that referees get more decisions right without compromising on what makes the game so enjoyable to watch.
Have a look at the Right Result tables for the 06/07, 07/08 and 08/09 seasons and see for yourself what might have been for several clubs in the English Premier League (and the English Championship).