ANALYSE THIS: Have Manchester City really been awarded too many penalties?

imageFOOTBALL – Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has been quoted as saying that there would be a House of Commons inquiry if Manchester United were awarded as many penalties as Manchester City. Since the beginning of the 2010/2011 season, City have been awarded 20 penalties at the Etihad Stadium and United 13 at Old Trafford. However, as those totals encompass only 45 or 46 matches, it seems rather a limited dataset to draw conclusions from. We went back to City’s return to the Premier League 10 years ago to increase the size of the dataset in order to produce a more valid analysis.


Taking this much bigger sample of data, we find that it is Manchester United who have actually been awarded more penalties at Old Trafford than Manchester City have been at Maine Road and the Etihad Stadium. Arsenal, though, have been awarded more than both. The number of penalties City have been awarded in home matches over recent seasons seems high but no conclusions can reasonably be made unless this continues over a much longer period of time.

So, perhaps we should ask for a House of Commons inquiry as Ferguson suggested. Over a long period of time, United have been awarded more penalties at home than City have. Of course, the difference between them is not significant.

Ferguson also focused on penalties awarded for the two clubs rather than against. Looking at the latter, City’s opponents at Maine Road and the Etihad Stadium have been awarded 50% more penalties (24 v 16) than United’s Old Trafford opponents since 2002/2003. Does that seem fair Sir Alex?


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