Men In Black

Which referees are more likely to award our FPL players penalties?

Unbeknownst to many of us, referees help shape our Fantasy Premier League (FPL) hauls every week in some small way.

The post-VAR world, of course, was meant to be different: no longer would Jon Moss’s potbelly dictate whether he was far enough up with play to deliberate on penalty decisions, nor would a Tranmere Rovers defeat on a Saturday ensure red cards akimbo in a Mike Dean-officiated Sunday evening clash. VAR would self-police and regulate, right?

Whilst any further discussions on the topic will do nothing to improve any football fans’ mental well-being, the revised VAR implementations that the PGMOL introduced ahead of 2021/22 could have ramifications for Fantasy managers – in particular, the suggestion that penalties will be harder to come by in this upcoming season. 

LAST SEASON

United defence still suspect but Shaw and Fernandes hit new FPL heights

1,023 goals were scored last season in the Premier League – just shy of 10% (102) were penalties. 125 penalties were awarded in total, each allowing the taker (and goalkeeper alike) to grab some much-coveted Fantasy points. On nine separate occasions, Bruno Fernandes (£12.0m), last season’s top points scorer and the third most owned asset prior to this FPL campaign kicking off, grabbed 45 of his 244 points from 12 yards.

Moreover, the set-and-forget captain triumvirate of Fernandes, Mohamed Salah (£12.5m) and Harry Kane (£12.5m) are not only the dearest players in the game but far from coincidentally have command of their side’s penalty-kick responsibilities – whenever James Milner (£5.0m) is not in the pitch, in the Egyptian’s case.

It’s for that reason that penalties, and the award of them, is important. And who awards penalties? Evidence suggests that more times than not, we still rely on the little chubby guy in the black.

With that in mind (and with the potential of penalties drying up in this post-apocalyptic new world of officialdom), we’ve pulled some interesting numbers together, spanning the last five Premier League seasons, to gauge who the most prolific penalty awarders are.

REFEREE STATS

→ Who was booked in the 93rd minute, scored a winner in the 97th minute and then dismissed for his celebrations in the 99th minute in Gameweek 3?

For the upcoming season, there are 22 referees on the Premier League’s roster – 12 of which have refereed games across each of the five seasons that we have drawn data from.

Whilst the data points to some very pertinent pieces of information that could be used by Fantasy managers, the headline (if that’s what we call it) is that two of those 12 officials feature across all five campaigns as having awarded above the average penalties per game for each season.

For many, it will come as no surprise to hear that the dynamic duo in question is the aforementioned Mike Dean and fellow whistler Anthony Taylor.

The below table will work to give some context, but any of you looking for big flashing numbers – an average of 0.266 penalties per game have been dished out by Premier League refs across the last five seasons. As well as scoring over the average in each individual season, Dean averages 0.344 awards per game across the cumulative five campaigns, while Taylor is slightly more finger-pointing happy at 0.356 awards per game across the same period.

Broken down in layman’s terms, whilst the average Premier League ref awards a penalty once in every four games, these two bombastic blowers are firing off one in every three.

Above: Table presenting average penalties award per game (ppg) per individual referee on current Premier League roster over each of the last five seasons, in relation to the average penalties awarded per game in a given season. Bold lettering indicates instances of over average.

VIEW MORE REFEREE STATS IN OUR PREMIUM MEMBERS AREA

What other interesting titbits can we take from the above and apply to our weekly Fantasy planning?

It might be that Michael Oliver, bar a season of clemency in 2019/20, is perhaps even more trigger happy than Taylor and Dean in pointing to the spot.

Incredibly, the Northumberland man awarded more than twice the per game average in penalties last season – a noteworthy 19 in 28 games.

Or that, apart from a slight head stagger last year, felled attackers need to be nigh-on decapitated before Andre Marriner shows any compassion.

Going into his 18th season as a top-flight official, the Midlands man has awarded only 68 penalties in 359 Premier League games

Of course, Chris Kavanagh has come in below the average in every season accounted for.

A few super nerdy things that the data above doesn’t display, but feeds into the argument may be the fact that in both 2016/17 and 2020/21, Oliver had the highest ppg average of all referees in those particular seasons.

Additionally, in three separate seasons, he has scored above average in ppg, fouls to tackle ratio, and fouls per game indexes simultaneously – a pointer to not only penalty awarding but perhaps to set play opportunities in general.

Whilst not featuring in the above list due to being fairly new to the Premier League refereeing scene, David Coote has also boasted above-average scores in the same three indicators in each of the last two seasons.

Another non-featured official includes Simon Hooper, who is the sole other representative in terms of over average ppg last season, clocking 0.42 ppg.

A quick word, finally, to roster newbies Michael Salisbury, Tony Harrington, John Brookes and Australian A-League import Jarred Gillett, who has spent the past two seasons conducting his business in the Championship.

And the standout news here is Harrington, who certainly shows no sign of being shy when it comes to extending from the elbow. In 58 Championship fixtures, he has overseen across the last two seasons, he has awarded 22 penalties. A repeat in the Premier League would see him soar past even the dynamic duo of Taylor and Dean.

FINAL THOUGHTS

In conclusion, the burning question is how can this data influence and inform our Fantasy management. Let’s be clear, in so far as making or breaking your season, weekly referee appointments ain’t going to factor into managers thinking over the long-term

But where it almost certainly can aid and provide insight may be in the scenario of perhaps being stuck between two or three captain possibilities in a given weekend.

Should the fixture Gods smile down from on high and one has multiple penalty-taking captain possibilities vying for the armband, maybe reference back to this article can help stricken selectors come to a conclusive decision.

Remember.

Oliver, Taylor and Dean: penalty-giving machines

Marriner, Atko and Kav: no penalty chance do you have.

449 Comments Post a Comment
  1. MoSalalalalalalalalah
    • 3 Years
    3 months, 11 days ago

    A) Lukaku + 5.5 midfielder (-4)
    B) Ings + Mahrez

    1. RogDog_jimmy
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 1 Year
      3 months, 11 days ago

      Nope.

      (How is the second not a hit if the first is)

      1. NateDog
        • 1 Year
        3 months, 11 days ago

        Guessing they already have Ings and would move him to Lukaku for A

    2. Freshy
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 11 Years
      3 months, 11 days ago

      reckless
      are you feeling lucky?

  2. Tonyawesome69
    • 2 Years
    3 months, 11 days ago

    Not great. Easy decision with Gundo out and price likely to

  3. ChilliBoi
    • 4 Years
    3 months, 11 days ago

    What should I do:

    A) ESR > Benrama
    B) White > Ayling
    C) Or either of those guys to??? (Have 0.5 ITB)

    1. RogDog_jimmy
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 1 Year
      3 months, 11 days ago

      Odergaard news certainly makes me think ESR might need to go eventually - so I guess that one.

      I wouldn't be moving defenders around at this stage.

      ESR to Mbeumo might be interesting too - keep the money.

  4. zman575
    • 1 Year
    3 months, 11 days ago

    digne to benrahma for a 4 point hit? feel itll be worth over next 6

    1. Vertigo
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 3 Years
      3 months, 11 days ago

      Who are the other two in the equation?

      1. zman575
        • 1 Year
        3 months, 10 days ago

        ill be trading bench fodder. digne to amartey/livramento and brownhill up to benrahma.