Victorian-based football teams get significantly better of the umpires year in year out. The stats prove it. I never see this matter raised on the Victorian-centric footy shows, nor by the AFL itself, nor by those in charge of the umpires who should have eradicated this bias years ago.
The picture displayed shows what every non-Victorian fan knows, and what my stats over the last six years shown – when you’re playing in Melbourne you will be savaged by the umpires. In the incident above Tippet took the ball out of the ruck and was penalised for “prior opportunity” when tackled by Dusty Martin. But have a look where the tackle is, it’s around the neck and illegal, and what’s more the umpire is in perfect position to see that. Why did he take the easy and soft option of penalising the away player? That’s what we’d all like to know, week in week out. Why is it that when Victorian teams play away interstate they are treated almost as well as when they play away in Victoria, but non-Vic teams are always on the rough end of the stick when they play away, whether in their city, in another interstate city, or in Melbourne?
Mind you, there is one change in the stats so far this year. Usually Non-Vic teams are worse off when playing away to other Non-Vic teams; (for example Brisbane playing away to Crows) that is, even worse than when playing away to Vic teams – but this year they are worse off playing in local derbies, or against Victorian teams.
TABLE 1 – Percentage split of frees Home/Away for 2016 to end of ROUND 9
|Percentage of frees||HOME VIC v AWAY VIC||VIC HOME v NON-VIC AWAY||NON-VIC HOME v VIC AWAY||NON-VIC HOME v NON-VIC AWAY||NON-VIC HOME DERBY|
The table above shows the percentage allocated to Home and Away teams in the various circumstances. In an individual match, I consider that any time a team gets 56% of frees that is SIGNIFICANT so as you can see, Vic teams ON AVERAGE are getting an almost significant advantage. You can see when Vic teams play each other this spread doesn’t occur. This is not a one-off, the stats are incredibly consistent year after year.
TABLE 2 shows the split of what I just mentioned in SIGNIFICANT GAMES – games where the split of frees is 56% or greater to one team. These are the games for example that the Vic media jumps up and down about when one of their team winds up on the wrong end of the count at Subiaco. But every year this table has shown that Non-Vic teams travelling to Melbourne (or Tassie) are on the receiving end. 2016 is no different.
TABLE 2: Games split where there is a significant difference (56% or more) to one team 2016 up to end ROUND 9
|GAMES WHERE ONE TEAM GETS A SIGNIFCANT AMOUNT OF FREES||HOME VIC v AWAY VIC||HOME VIC v AWAY NON VIC||HOME NON VIC v AWAY VIC||HOME NON VIC v AWAY NON VIC||NON VIC DERBIES|
TABLE 2 very clearly shows what I am talking about. Victoria teams playing interstate are almost on a par (7-6) but only once so far this year has a Non-Vic Team received significantly more frees than its opponent when playing away against Vics. The bias that AWAY NON-VIC teams face is staggering and no amount of obfuscation can hide that the reason comes down to the Umpires.
The trend is almost identical to last year where for the season Home Vics were 12-4 against AwayNon Vics in significant games. That makes it now 19-5 in favour of Vics for 2015-16!!! And last year Home Non Vics were 6-0 against other Non-Vics, which makes it a running total now of 9-1! So for Non-Vics playing away they are a combined 6-28, that’s 5 times more likely to be on the wrong end of a significant free kick disparity when they play away. The breakdown for Home Non-Vics against Away Vics over the period is 13-10 , a small advantage when playing at home. So the data is consistent: Vic teams playing away face hardly any disadvantage, Non-Vic teams playing away face substantial disadvantage, even in their home city.
So the Facts are undeniable – but what’s the reason?
Are the umpires simply intimidated by Home crowds who support overwhelmingly one team? No, it’s not that simple. If it were, the Victorian teams would be getting a hiding when playing away. One really needs a breakdown of the practice of individual umpires in various games. Clearly the AFL umpiring department could do this. Perhaps they could find something like – Non-Vic umpires are determined to not seemed biased because the weight of umpiring admin and media scrutiny is in Victoria, and they may even therefore be the ones who penalise Non-Vic teams the most, OR Victoria umps live and work in a situation where they are unintentionally influenced to favour Victoria teams. I don’t have that answer, only the bare facts that the AFL should have long since investigated.
But one thing is certain Umpiring is biased and the bias is predictable before the season’s first ball is even bounced. And it has been this way forever. If Collingwood or Hawthorn or the Scott bothers’ teams were on the wrong end of this equation we’d never hear the end of it, but as it involves non-Victorian teams what we get is … silence.