Every football fan has had a sneaking suspicion that certain referees give their club a hard time.
That sense of paranoia may be fuelled by things such as the number of cards dispensed by individuals during games, or the awarding of penalties to opposition teams.
Usually it is simply a case of confirmation bias, but Free Super Tips have used a new algorithm to examine which teams are actually favoured by referees.
Using data from the last five seasons - from 2012/13 to 2016/16 - and applying an affinity algorithm that takes cards, fouls and penalties given, they have come up with some interesting conclusions.
WHO IS THE REFEREES' 'FAVOURITE' TEAM?
Bournemouth are, somewhat surprisingly, the team most favoured by referees in England's top division, with a 66 per cent level of 'referee affinity' and, according to the research, Cherries fans should be quietly thankful when Jonathan Moss officiates their games.
Arsenal and Liverpool follow Bournemouth with 64.6% and 62.72% referee affinity, while Swansea and Everton complete the top five. Chelsea follow in sixth with 61.72%.
Interestingly, Tottenham and Manchester United seem to be considerably less favoured compared to their rivals.
|Team||Club referee affinity||Best referee|
|Leicester City||60.08%||Andre Marriner|
|Manchester City||59.86%||Jonathan Moss|
|West Ham||59.29%||Lee Probert|
|West Brom||59.1%||Howard Webb|
|Newcastle United||58.47%||Lee Probert|
|Manchester United||58.15%||Lee Probert|
|Crystal Palace||56.63%||Andre Marriner|
|Stoke City||56.05%||Robert Madley|
* Newly promoted clubs Brighton and Huddersfield Town not included due to a lack of Premier League appearances.
** The affinity percentage data ranges from 30% (negative) to 90% (positive) with 60% (with a range between 54% and 66%) representing the point of neutral bias.
DO REFEREES FAVOUR MANCHESTER UNITED?
As you can see from the table above, the idea that Premier League referees might subconsciously favour Manchester United is not borne out in reality.
In fact, of the traditional 'top six', Arsenal appear to receive the most favourable treatment from referees.
The Gunners are followed closely by Liverpool and Chelsea, while Manchester City and Tottenham even seem to fare better with referees than the Red Devils.
Interestingly, according to the data, Man United now receive 33.3% fewer penalties than they did during Sir Alex Ferguson's reign, as well as being deemed to have committed 37.67% more fouls.
Top six breakdown:
|Team||Club referee affinity|
|Arsenal||64.6% (above average)|
|Liverpool||62.72% (above average)|
|Chelsea||61.72% (above average)|
|Manchester City||59.86% (above average)|
|Tottenham||59.78% (below average)|
|Manchester United||58.15% (below average)|