Last Updated: 13 May 2022, Author:


The Referee Report: how Premier League refs are affecting games

We take a look at the creme de la creme of English Football's officiating finest over the last 5 years to see who are the strictest, who are the hardest working and who is your team's kryptonite…

There are plenty of jobs out there that you look at and think, "I could do that"... but we can guarantee one occupation you'd think twice before having a go at: the role of a Premier League referee.

Being a referee in what might be the most competitive league in the world comes with its own unique set of challenges - not least being branded a w**ker anytime you blow that whistle and make a call that displeases the other side, even if it's right.

A thick skin is required to make it at the top, as well as a keen sense of discipline. After all, you wouldn't want to be seen as a pushover, would you?

Here at AceOdds, we've taken a look into exactly which Premier League referees are the most no-nonsense when it comes to dishing out their cards.

Who are the most card-happy referees in the Premier League in the last 5 years?

RefereePlayedYellowsDouble YellowsStraight RedsYellow Cards Per GameRed Cards Per Game
Mike Dean12449514133.990.22
Lee Probert3269332.160.19
Graham Scott78200392.560.15
Craig Pawson1144175123.660.15
Jonathan Moss1244061243.270.13
Michael Oliver1384327103.130.12
Stuart Attwell92340473.700.12
Martin Atkinson1303842132.950.12
David Coote64225613.520.11
Kevin Friend110330393.000.11
Anthony Taylor135462593.420.10
Andre Marriner117319572.730.10
Andrew Madley40107222.680.10
Chris Kavanagh99328363.310.09
Paul Tierney105360173.430.08
Lee Mason64189132.950.06
Simon Hooper42118202.810.05

To the great surprise of absolutely no one, Mike Dean tops the charts when it comes to referees who have handed out the most cards per game over the past 5 years - both yellows AND reds!

The iconic Dean - England's answer to Pierluigi Collina - has become a staple of English football over the years. He has become so famous that he even appeared on television's Ted Lasso as a fictionalised version of himself, booking the assistant manager for calling him a "d*ckless wonder", only to comment as he saunters away that he's "been called worse". Given his track record for disciplinary actions, you'd suspect he's probably right.

He averages nearly 4 yellow cards per game and a red card every 5 games. It just goes to show that Mike Dean isn't a referee to be trifled within this league.

At the other end of the spectrum, you've got Simon Hooper, who, with 42 Premier League games under his belt, is still yet to give someone a straight red card. His sending off per game rate means that every 20 games he'll send someone off, probably only because his hand was forced when a player has got a gun out and shot someone, and even then, it'll likely be a second yellow for unsportsmanlike conduct.

2021/2022's Strictest Referees

RefereePlayedYellowsDouble YellowsStraight RedsYellow Cards Per GameRed Cards Per Game
Anthony Taylor17682240.24
Jonathan Moss18424-2.330.22
Andrew Madley1021112.10.20
Chris Kavanagh1251-24.250.17
Andre Marriner1349113.770.15
David Coote1567114.470.13
Martin Atkinson1635-22.190.13
Mike Dean1859113.280.11
Michael Oliver1856113.110.11
Darren England10381-3.80.10
Kevin Friend12581-4.830.08
Stuart Attwell13431-3.310.08
Craig Pawson1879-14.390.06
Paul Tierney1981-14.260.05
Simon Hooper1030--30.00

It would appear that Mike Dean has mellowed in his old age, as this season, Anthony Taylor looks to take up the mantle of most authoritarian ref. After all, why not, if that's what it takes to get yourself on TV and nail your status as a celebrity referee?

With 4 sendings off this season already, he is averaging a sending off almost every 4 games - take THAT Mike - and is also looking at 4 yellow cards per game to top that off. 4 definitely seems to be Anthony Taylor's magic number this year.

Featuring at the bottom again is trusty Simon Hooper. Happy not to send anyone off and make sure everyone on the pitch has a nice time. Bless him.

Who are the best referees for your Premier League team?

RefereePlayedFavourite TeamBogey Team
Michael Oliver138Southampton (86%)Watford (9%)
Anthony Taylor135Man United (61%)Burnley (18%)
Martin Atkinson130Man City (61%)Watford (0%)
Mike Dean124Arsenal (67%)Southampton (14%)
Jonathan Moss124Man City (87%)Villa (17%)
Andre Marriner117Man City (75%)Burnley (0%)
Craig Pawson114Man City (82%)Palace (0%)
Kevin Friend110Man City (88%)Watford (0%)
Paul Tierney105Man City (88%)Villa (0%)
Chris Kavanagh99Liverpool (91%)Brighton (17%)
Stuart Attwell92Man United (71%)Southampton (18%)
Graham Scott78Tottenham (82%)Watford (13%)
David Coote64Everton (86%)West Ham (0%)
Lee Mason64Man City (100%)West Ham (17%)
Simon Hooper42Wolves (60%)Norwich (0%)
Andrew Madley40Southampton (50%)Norwich (17%)
Lee Probert32Leicester (71%)Southampton (0%)

Premier League referees go through their entire lives being accused of bias. Of course, with a sport as tribal as football this is always a given, but as superstitions go there are definitely some referees you should have some trepidation about when they’re announced as your next match official.

While a lot fall into the categories you might expect - Manchester City feature heavily in highest win percentage because they happen to win a lot - there are a few surprises in there when it comes to teams you wouldn’t expect to find in the upper echelons of the league table.

Michael Oliver, otherwise known as the hardest working man in Premier League officiating, has a total of 138 games under his belt in the last 5 years.

Of the 7 games he has officiated for Southampton, they have seen a remarkable 86% win rate - which is a staggering percentage considering their form has hardly set the world alight in recent years. Though, in fairness to Michael Oliver, he did send somebody off for The Saints in one of them…

David Coote is another curious case. While Everton are his favourites with 86% from 7 games, which is strange in and of itself, the real head-scratcher on this one is that West Ham are yet to win a game where Coote has been in charge.

While Coote isn’t the harshest when it comes to booking the Hammers - or even sending them off - his record is sure to provoke large groans whenever the match officials are confirmed over the London Stadium’s tannoy.

The full breakdown of Premier League refereeing across each team

TeamMichael OliverAnthony TaylorMartin AtkinsonJonathan MossMike DeanAndre MarrinerCraig PawsonKevin FriendPaul TierneyChris KavanaghStuart AttwellGraham ScottLee MasonDavid CooteSimon HooperAndrew MadleyLee Probert
Man City81%60%62%87%60%75%82%88%88%71%71%80%100%----
Man United36%61%61%57%57%62%29%38%57%38%71%-29%----
West Ham26%55%50%42%25%13%50%33%38%43%23%60%17%0%---

Here you can see the full breakdown for every referee and team in the Premier League as it stands - with the exception of Brentford, as they haven't been in the league long enough for us to make a fair judgement!

Feel free to dive in and wildly speculate about which referees are clearly biased against your team while carefully ignoring the match officials you assumed had a vendetta against you but are actually quite kind on balance. After all, that's what football's about, isn't it?

If this article has wet your whistle to place a bet on the number of yellow cards or red cards a referee is likely to give out, or simply to bet on whether a team will win or lose once the officials have been announced, use our free bet calculator to work out your winnings.


Using data provided by Statbunker, we have analysed the performance of Premier League referees over the previous 5 seasons: 2017/2018, 2018/2019, 2019/2020, 2020/2021, 2021/2022.

Data concerning referees overall was used for referees who have officiated more than 30 games in the last 5 years.

Data concerning referees in the 2021/2022 season was used for referees who have officiated more than 10 games so far this season. Data was collected on 01/03/2022. Any games that occur after this time have not been counted in this study.

Data concerning specific clubs was used for referees who have officiated more than 5 games in the last 5 years. As such, Brentford do not feature in this study as they do not have the prerequisite 5 games minimum from any referees.

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Last Updated: 13 May 2022
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