The Monster’s Back: Afl Umpires Favour Victorian Teams: It’s A Fact


Those of you who have followed my statistical analysis over many years will know that it has long been established that Victorian teams get a better deal from umpires. Essentially Vic teams at home get a large free kick advantage when playing visiting Non-Vic Teams yet are only slightly disadvantaged when playing away from Victoria.  For many years I felt this was the case but it was still gratifying to see it supported in black and white stats.  At the half-way point of this season it looked like things might be ready to change. Vic teams had started the season pretty close to the Non-Vic teams but as the pointy end of the season approaches the stats have reverted to the usual bias. NON-VIC teams are getting smashed when playing in Victoria, Vic teams are not being hurt when playing away.

Whether one simply looks at the percentage of free kicks paid to home and visitors, or at games where one team gets a significant free kick advantage (I define this as 58% or more to one team, 42% or less to the other) it sucks to be a Non-Vic travelling team.

So here are the basics

Games On Neutral Territory: (ie: where teams from the same city play one another):HOME TEAM 50.5% of frees AWAY TEAM 49.5%

Games Of Significant Difference – 17: in favour of Home team 10, Away team 7

Vic Home Team V Non-Vic Away: HOME VIC 54.7%  AWAY NON VIC 45.3%

Games Of Significant Difference – 14: in favour of Home team 11, Away team 3

Non Vic Home V Non Vic Away HOME 53.8% AWAY 46.2%

Games Of Significant Difference – 6: in favour of Home Team 6 Away team 0

Non Vic Home V Vic Away: NON VIC HOME 51.5% VIC AWAY 48.5%

Games Of Significant Difference 9: Home Non-Vic 6  Away Vic 3

The figures show that when there is no city difference the split between home and away is negligible.  When Vic teams travel they are slightly disadvantaged but nowhere near as disadvantaged as non-Vic teams. Have a look at the significant games- when non-Vic teams play away there have been 20 significant games and the split is 17-3 in favour of the home teams. FACT: AWAY NON VIC TEAMS ARE BEING SMASHED BY UMPIRES.

Surely it is time for Campbell and his crew to address this and give non-Victorian teams the “level-playing field” Eddie and his cronies are always going on about. On the very few occasions Victorian teams get hurt when playing away you never hear the end of it. For Non-Vic supporters we know in advance we are going to have to be a 5 goal better side to win by 1. Isn’t it enough advantage that Victorian teams get a Home Grand Final!

About dave warner

East Freo supporter, musician, writer who has used football themes in songs (Half Time at the Football, Suburban Boy, Free Kicks) and books (City of Light, Footy's Hall of Shame)


  1. Dave Brown says

    Interesting if not at all surprising, Dave. Is West Coast an exception to this? A question can also be raised as to whether the decision to centralise AFL umpires in Victoria has exacerbated this in terms of reinforcing the idea in umpires’ subconscious that Victoria is the norm and interstate is the other.

  2. This is very worrying Dave. Why can’t non-Vic sides play by the rules?

  3. Dave, what would be really cool would be a breakdown of frees for & against for Sydney games at the SCG for the last two decades of the previous century. then if you really wanted to confirm umpiring bias, try the statistics for all Collingwood games at Victoria Park from 1970 to 1999.


  4. kath presdee says

    I’d also like to see what the differential is between WA teams and non-WA teams. You usually don’t get a coach so frustrated that he comes down and seeks the opinion of the emergency umpire as to what was going on. It wasn’t a good look from Leon, but completely understandable from my point of view.

  5. Cat from the Country says

    A Victorian team if you are not the Cats it seems

  6. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Ironic in finals the above generally does happen ( greatest case is hawks v crows prelim final in 2012) absolutely disgraceful exhibition of so called umpiring and then the grand finals is umpired well with the game let flow more.

  7. David Zampatti says

    Nice work by Dave W as usual. In response to Dave B I did a bit of extra digging into the strange case of West Coast’s free kick count, and there have been a couple of interesting developments. As usual, they are solidly up on the count this year at 311/271, or 53.4% – not quite as big a bias as for Victorian home teams, but substantial enough to count.

    Interestingly, all the damage was done in their first eleven games, where they recorded a staggering 213/150, or 58.6% of the free kick count. During that time, they only lost one count (and that only 19/20), and had six of Dave W’s significant differences in their favour. Incredible.

    Since then, however, the worm has turned quite dramatically, the count in their last seven games going against them 98/121 – almost entirely due to two blowouts 13/25 and 8/24, both, unsurprisingly, away games in Melbourne, against – no surprises here – Richmond and Collingwood. They have lost the count in five of those seven games, although both their “wins” were by significant differences.

    So what to make of it. I believe West Coast have been an outlier because for many years under Worsfold they played for free kicks, even when it worked against them. It’s possible – and the figures seem to suggest – that at some point this year they realized that they could do better by playing footy instead, and have stopped. It’s been some weeks, for example, since I’ve seen Shuey duck for kicks.

    There may also be a change in umpiring perception now that they are on the up and up – the almost frantic free kick orgy enjoyed by Richmond and Collingwood against them suggests that even deeper motivations than the reflex to give West Coast free kicks (I call it the Dean Cox effect) have kicked in.

    Naturally I have no expectation of any favours from the umpires this Sunday (the first derby was 20/13 to the Eagles, and their TV sponsor has been hard at work this week blowing wind up the back passage of one of the weekend’s umpires).

  8. Dave Brown says

    Thanks David Z. Interesting

  9. Paul Spinks says

    Confucius say: he who use selective data to prove point can prove prejudice.

    Which Victorian teams? Are all Victorian teams equal?

    Which non-Victorian teams? Are all non-Victorian teams equal?

    The analysis is bit too complicated for my feeble brain, and six months or a year too short a time frame.

    You obviously have access to the data, It’d be great to have info that was more exhaustive, but simpler. Like, a table of free kicks for and against every side at every venue for the past ten years (or five years at least). That way we might get a more accurate guide to long term trends at a glance. Including teams ‘played against’ at shared venues would be even better. Twenty five years would be perfect. A lot of work, I know.

    I’ve also never doubted that umpires are influenced by crowds and various factors that are likely subconscious. Geelong has had terrible stretches, but had a dream run around 07 & 08. This year we were being done like a dinner, but have fared better in recent weeks. I’ve always felt Sydney probably gets a rawer deal – out of mind out of sight? How do the other northern clubs go?

    But I used to think umpires could determine the outcome the of matches – they don’t. They might give a side possession, but if you’re good enough you’ll get it back.

  10. Neil Belford says

    Very true Dave, and as for any sooking Cats supporters the stats don’t lie. As a neutral observer at KP last Saturday night I was just amazed by the extent Swans were smashed by the umpires. I don’t think they gave up because of the Cats defence I think they were gutted by the procession of howlers. I checked later – it was something like 22 – 13.

    There was not a word of this in the media. If it had been at the SCG Gillon McLaughlin would have had to have been apologising for it. And I am not being critical of the Cats, they were doing the damnedest and its not like they were going to say ‘no I don’t think that’s right Umpy, you better throw it up’.

  11. Stats do show exactly what we see every week…. Crows VA feeling at the moment is typical example…. Eddie betts.. get canceled often over head and no free…. Hawkins charge a crows defender lowers his head I to defenders stomach and get s a free in front of goal????
    And it’s not just umpire bias towards Victorian teams,
    It’s also Victorian commentator bias … Although that’s another subject. (Actually it’s so bad I watch with sound off much of the time)

  12. You could probably put a moisture sensor in Eddies knickers and be able to tell with 100$ accuracy if its a Victorian team that has the ball at that point in time or not. It might get overloaded when the Victorian team actually kicks a goal however.

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