Thursday 1 April 2021 10:31 am

Is Mike Dean really the strictest referee in the Premier League?

Mike Dean is many things – showman in a world of automatons, purveyor of the no-look booking, gift to gif makers – but is he, as some would have it, the strictest referee in the Premier League?

A study of officiating in English football’s top flight over the past five seasons has attempted to answer exactly that question.

The report, by betting resource OLBG, looked at factors including fouls per card, cards per game and fouls given per game to rank the Premier League’s busiest refs.

Read more: What is the ‘Swiss model’ set to be used in the Champions League, and why have big clubs chosen a system common to chess but unheard of in football?

Cards per foul

The average number of fouls given for each booking issued is one way of measuring the strictest referee in the Premier League.

Stuart Attwell tops that ranking, having shown a yellow card for every 5.51 fouls called.

But Mike Dean is second, reaching for his pocket every 5.59 fouls.

No other official is close, with Craig Pawson, who issues a card every 6.32 fouls, next.

Graham Scott allows by far the most fouls per booking, at 8.72.

Cards per game

A referee’s average number of bookings per game is another illustration of their eagerness to brandish a card.   

And on this metric, Mike Dean lives up to his reputation as the strictest referee in the Premier League. 

The Wirral whistler averages 1.93 yellow cards per game, ahead of Stuart Attwell’s 1.89.

Again, those two officials lead the way by some distance, with Craig Pawson (1.74) next.

As with fouls per card, Graham Scott is by far the most reluctant to issue a card, taking a name just 1.14 times per game.

Fouls per game

It’s not all about cards; the average number of fouls awarded is another indicator of how quick to whistle a referee is.

Paul Tierney tops this particular table, averaging a fastidious 11.39 fouls per game.

Craig Pawson (10.99) is on the podium again as the second keenest whistler, followed by Jon Moss and Lee Mason (10.94).

Mike Dean (10.80) is a relatively restrained seventh, while Stuart Attwell (10.34) boasts the fourth lowest figure – positively zen-like in comparison to his card stats.

Andre Marriner awards the fewest fouls on average, 9.29 per game, with laidback Graham Scott (9.92) next.

So who is the strictest referee in the Premier League?

If it’s cards you want, Mike Dean and Stuart Attwell are your officials.

Fouls? It’s Paul Tierney. All-round consistency of interference? Craig Pawson.

Who that makes the strictest referee in the Premier League is probably a matter of opinion.

It’s hard to argue against Graham Scott being the least strict, though.

For more referee stats and full details on the data, see the OLBG blog here.