As we approach the half-way point of the AFL season, I like to do my annual on Home Town Umpiring Bias stats and see if the usual trends continue – and YES they do: UMPIRES RELENTLESSLY FAVOUR THE HOME TEAM as they did last year and every year in the last fifteen or so since I’ve been examining such stats.
THE PARAMETERS USED
Firstly, let me explain the parameters I use. I keep it simple.
I look at TWO MEASURES, first the percentage of total frees paid to Home Teams across 4 categories.
These categories are
1 VIC HOME TEAM v VIC AWAY TEAM
2 NON-VIC HOME TEAM v VIC AWAY TEAM,
3 NON-VIC HOME TEAM v NON-VIC AWAY TEAM and
4 VIC HOME TEAM v NON-VIC AWAY TEAM.
The second parameter I look at, and the MOST IMPORTANT is GAMES OF LARGE DIFFERENTIALS (GOLD) in relation to free kicks across the same four categories.
Such games are I define as games where one team gets 56% or MORE of the total free kicks (and therefore the other side gets 44% or less).
Now over the last 5 or 6 years the consistent trend has been that while ALL AWAY TEAMS suffer, the teams that generally suffer the most are NON-VICTORIAN AWAY TEAMS playing HOME VICTORIAN TEAMS.
Interestingly, when I first began looking at the stats back in the early 2000s the teams that did worst were NON-VICTORIAN AWAY TEAMS playing NON-VICTORIAN HOME TEAMS. This year that trend has returned.
Generally, the most even category is VICTORIAN HOME TEAMS v VICTORIAN AWAY TEAMS. Also generally, but not universally, VICTORIAN AWAY TEAMS against NON VICTORIAN HOME TEAMS, while coming off second best, still get a BETTER DEAL than the NON-VIC TEAMS when they are playing away.
WEST COAST EAGLES EFFECT
A further consistent finding is that THE WEST COAST EAGLES are by far the most favoured team in the comp (not just home but home and away combined) .
WHEN THE WEST COAST FIGURES ARE STRIPPED OUT OF THE DATA IT IS SHOWN THAT THE NON-VICTORIAN AWAY TEAMS do very much worse from umpires than their Victorian counterparts when playing away. (please see attached spreadsheets and note stats with Eagles included and then removed)
In all the categories over all the years since 2007, there are only two occasions where Away Teams have topped Home Teams.
UMPIRES FAVOUR HOME CROWD TEAMS END OF STORY! To debate this is pointless and obstinate.
Disturbingly for Non-Vic Teams, they come off worse than their Victorian counterparts ESPECIALLY WHEN THE EAGLES AFFECT STRIPPED AWAY.
This bias against Non-Vic teams reached its apogee in 2016. Note in the attached tables that in 2016 in GOLD the bias in favour of Home Vic Teams was 19 to 2!!!! With the Eagles contributing one of these. NON VICTORIAN TEAMS PLAYIG IN VIC OR TASSIE HAD A 1 IN 20 CHANCE OF HAVING SUBSTANTIALLY MORE FREES THAN THEIR OPPONENTS.
This is a disgrace but the bigger disgrace was the tainted Grand Final of 2016 where the umpiring bias was clearly evident and so detrimental to Sydney that one can make no valid judgement on whether the better team won on the day.
2018 CURRENT STATUS
Regrettably the bias is not getting any better. It has to end. The AFL cannot consider itself a premium sport when this fundamental issue remains unsolved. The only time the Melbourne media gets involved is when the Eagles have a landslide game in the west but Non-Vic Teams cop the same treatment regularly when playing away.
So here are this year’s figures.
Note, neutral games – where teams play in venues like Alice Springs are not included. The “derbies” “showdowns” etc of Sydney, Perth, Adelaide are not included in the stats for Home Non Vic v Away Non Vic as both teams are from the same city. The first half of this table shows the percentage of frees paid to Home or Away teams as a percent of TOTAL frees in that category. The lower half of the table shows the split in GOLD games.
|HOME VIC||AWAY VIC||HOME NON-VIC||AWAY VIC||HOME NON-VIC (not including derbies)||AWAY NON-VIC||HOME VIC||AWAY NON VIC|
|GOLD in favour of –||11||6||8||4||6||2||9||3|
INTERPRETING THE TABLE
Looking at this table we see that in every category the HOME TEAM leads the AWAY TEAM.
In GOLD Games the best AWAY TEAMS can hope for is a 1-2 ratio. (in both instances Vic Teams doing the best)
We can also see that by percentage the teams worst off are Non-Vic Teams playing away to other Non-Vic Teams but not far behind comes Non Vic Teams against Vic Home teams.
In GOLD when the WC EAGLES are stripped out of this category it is only 5-4 in favour of Non-Vic Home Teams when hosting Vic Teams. Apart from playing the Eagles, visiting Vic teams might as well be playing away at the MCG.
***By the way, so far in the three derbies, showdowns etc played the GOLD is 2- 0 in favour of the Home Teams.
The BROAD TREND IS THE SAME AS USUAL: THERE IS A HUGE HOME TEAM BIAS IN UMPIRING AND WHEN PLAYING AWAY, VICTORIAN TEAMS ARE RELATIVELY A LOT BETTER OFF THAN NON VIC TEAMS. This finding is particularly relevant in discussions on Grand Finals being played at the MCG between Victorian and Non-Victorian Teams.
TABLE 1 attached shows total frees paid over the season to each category
TABLE 2 shows the total season breakdown of GOLD games in each category
TABLE 3 shows the percentage of total frees and GOLD GAMES in the categories NON VIC HOME v VIC AWAY but with WCE Eagles home games stripped out. And VIC HOME V NON VIC AWAY with WCE away games stripped out.