Just 10% of match analysis on Match of the Day is about refereeing decisions, an exclusive Trinity Mirror Data Unit investigation has revealed.
He said: “I suppose I hark back to the days when maybe people watch football matches they talked about what happened over 95 minutes and not what happened in 40 seconds of the 95 minutes because that’s all my interviews ever seem to be.
“Was it a penalty, was it not a penalty, should the referee have given a free kick, was it handball, and I would sometimes like to get back to discussing how well we did in the second half, how well Newcastle did in the first half.”
Sure enough, when the show cut back to the studio the panel immediately started talking about the referee’s decision to award Palace a penalty for shirt-pulling.
It’s a conversation that lasted 1 minute 42 seconds.
That may not sound like a particularly long time to discuss a potentially match-changing decision, but it represented 40% of all the match analysis carried out by the pundits.
The refereeing decisions in that game made up almost half of all the game’s analysis (48%) after being discussed for a total of 4 minutes 11 seconds.
With this level of scrutiny fans could be forgiven for thinking that refereeing levels are at an all-time low.
But how normal is it for referees to find so much of the media spotlight thrust upon them?
To find out, Trinity Mirror Data Unit have been through every Match of the Day/Match of the Day 2 broadcast since Boxing Day - a total of 61 different matches.
We hasten to point out this is in no way a criticism on Match of the Day - it’s one of the best shows on television, features fantastic analysis and is worth the licence fee on its own.
But as the country’s leading highlights show its coverage probably best represents the national debate on issues such as refereeing.
Our analysis found that only 10% of the punditry analysis of the 61 matches in our sample was about refereeing decisions such as red cards, offside goals and penalties.
Of course, not all matches have controversial incidents in them.
When there is one, the team tend to go into them in a big way.
Top of the list was the AFC Bournemouth-West Ham United game on December 26 when 75% of analysis was about controversial refereeing decisions.
The Huddersfield Town-Stoke City game on the same day saw 64% of its analysis time dedicated to penalty calls.
The Boxing Day schedule is a busy schedule though, so time will have been short in the show to talk about much else for those games.
The Huddersfield Town-Burnley game had 71% of its analysis time spent talking about a non awarded penalty. However, that game was shown at the end of the billing so the pundits won’t have had much time available to talk about much else.
After those games is the Liverpool-Tottenham Hotspur game on February 4 when 48% of time was dedicated to the two Spurs penalties.
The West Bromwich Albion -Arsenal game on December 31 had 41% of its analysis time dedicated to refereeing decisions.
Meanwhile, the Swansea City-Tottenham game on January 2 had 40% of time dedicated to Davison Sanchez’s non-sending-off, while the Palace-Newcastle game also had 40% of time dedicated to refereeing decisions.
Just over a third of analysis time of the Newcastle-Swansea City game on January 31 (37%) was on ref decisions, while a third of time for Manchester City-West Bromwich Albion on January 31 and Watford-Southampton on January 13 were on controversial calls by the ref.