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  • Brett Rosenheim

The Impact of Referee and VAR Reviews on the Fantasy Premier League

In the world of fantasy football there is always a competitive edge you can capitalise on, whether it is knowing Divock Origi is getting the nod because Roberto Firmino is out for the week at home vs. Aston Villa or knowing that Harry Kane has 14 goals in just 9 appearances against next opponent Leicester City. Using URef data that has been gathered over the 2019/20 Premier League season, we have analysed a series of particular FPL advantages that we feel should be taken advantage of throughout the new season. Specifically, the regularity at which players are involved in VAR penalty reviews and the amount of bookings each referee gives out per game.


Penalty Review Involvement


Common knowledge in the FPL world is the significance of the ‘Fantasy Assist’, which differs from the regular assist. These Fantasy Assists refer to converted penalties/free kicks won, shots that have hit defenders which have been deemed own goals, shots that have hit the woodwork and have landed to a teammate who has then scored, the list goes on, but you get the idea. For the purpose of this article, URef has composed data that shows 12 players who were the most involved in VAR penalty reviews in the 19/20 season to give an insight into which players you can count on to score those Fantasy Assists!




Sterling, Rashford and Mahrez all won 3 penalties for their respective clubs over the season, no player won more for their club.


Interestingly, 8 of the 12 players come from just three clubs (United, City, Chelsea), unsurprising given United and City were highly ranked for Team Fortune over the season.


It is worth mentioning that Bruno Fernandes joined Man. United in January and already notched up 3 VAR penalty review involvements. He could be a key player in FPL this season given his involvement/game ratio as well as the fact that he is Man United’s primary penalty taker!


While Sterling and Kane were more unsuccessful than successful in their reviews, the frequency at which they were involved in calls is a strong indication that they will be heavily involved once again this coming season.


Booking Frequency per Referee


Watching your player receive a booking can be heartbreaking, especially in close matchups and especially if the referee’s call is harsh to say the least. While it can be easy to avoid adding those players to your team that are notorious for giving away silly fouls and receiving bookings every other game, URef has exclusive data on the busiest Premier League referees and their average number of bookings per game over the 19/20 PL season!




If Atwell or Dean are officiating a big matchup for your FPL team, be aware of bookings as they were the only referees to brand over 4 yellow cards per game, well over the average of 3.38 yellow cards per game.


Graham Scott averaged more than double the number of red cards than the average PL referee at a red card every 4 games! This is despite giving out 1 yellow card less every 2 games than the average ref.


Only Andre Marriner, Chris Kavanagh and Michael Oliver recorded fewer yellow cards & red cards than the average referee last season!


While bookings are part of the game and more often than not it’s up to the players to stay disciplined, the referee has the ability to change the outlook of the day, so you want to make sure you’re in the know when it comes to which referees are ‘trigger-happy’ and which referees prefer to facilitate a free flowing game!


If you want to maintain a competitive edge over your opponents during the season, stay alert regarding who wins that Leicester City penalty that Jamie Vardy slots away, or that Manchester United free kick that Bruno Fernandes places in the top corner, as well as making sure to avoid the ill-disciplined David Luiz when Mike Dean officiates the Arsenal fixture away from home!


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