Which AFL Club Got The Most Free Kicks?

We delve into the data to find which AFL sides were awarded the most free kicks in 2016.

Fri, 25 Nov, 11:24 AM
If you're a footy fan, chances are you've blown up at the referee for a one-sided free kick count at some point in your life. Likewise, plenty of punters have blamed decision-makers for a close loss.

So which AFL club received the most net free kicks awarded to them in 2016? Well thanks to The Arc the stats are in. Note these figures exclude finals series matches.

Over the course of the home and away season, the Western Bulldogs were awarded 451 free kicks and gave away only 370. That left the premiers with 81 net free kicks and it comes as no surprise to learn that's the biggest differential of any team.

North Melbourne came in second with 67 net frees, while it's clear daylight to third place, Collingwood who got a net 39 frees over the season.

The data also shows home is clearly where the frees are, with all sides but for Melbourne receiving more frees than they conceded.

The Dogs advantage when playing at Docklands was particularly strong, averaging around 4 net free kicks per game. That's similar to the West Coast at Subi, Adelaide at Adelaide Oval, or North Melbourne and Richmond also at Docklands for 2016.

While the Crows and Eagles tended to give away more frees than they received when playing away, the Dogs, Kangaroos and Magpies actually averaged around 2.5 net frees when playing away. So the argument could be made that the refs favoured these sides the most this season.

The only team to have negative net free kicks both at home and away in 2016 was Melbourne, meaning the Demons will have plenty of complaints since they just missed out on the top eight.

But how does 2016 stack up historically? Although the Dogs got a lot of net free kicks, they just scrape into the top 20 for the AFL era.

Interestingly, only five teams have cracked the century for net free kicks - the 2008 and 2012 Eagles, the 1995 and 1996 Pies, and Fitzroy’s 1993 team. The 2016 Dogs fell well short of that mark.

Even so, you'd be right to think a side that gets the most of these fifty-fifty decisions in their favour would have the edge in most matches.

Assuming officials smile on the Western Bulldogs again, these stats could well make the difference to the Dogs' chances of winning back-to-back premierships in 2017 and makes the 5.50 odds they're paying with Bet365 look like value.

Written by Tim Alexander

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