Can Leeds United be the First Club Promoted Without Being Awarded a Single Penalty? – by Rob Atkinson

Lash Lorimer

Peter Lorimer demonstrates his penalty technique – from the days when we used to get them

Assuming Leeds United are not awarded a penalty at the DW Stadium during their televised meeting with Wigan Athletic on Sunday (and it’s a fair assumption, as we have seen this season, when some pretty good claims have been ignored) then the Whites will have clocked up 54 league matches without getting a single spot kick. In that time, many an obvious penalty has been refused United and, of the nine awarded against them, there have been some right stinkers, such as the ones given to Stoke and Brentford since the start of the current campaign.

This has now become quite a story in various media, and it makes you wonder what effect it might have on the referees and other officials in charge of United’s games going forward. My guess is that it will simply steel their resolve; no self-respecting, God-fearing, righteously Leeds-hating referee wants to be seen as bowing to external pressure, after all. So it could be a while yet before Leeds get a penalty, and when they do, Pablo Hernandez will probably miss it (as he did our last one, sometime around the Napoleonic Wars).

So – assuming that the record continues – could we actually go a whole league season without one single penalty kick? That’s not unknown, actually, at least in the Premier League, which is the only division for which I’ve seen these statistics. It’s still quite rare, though, and I honestly do wonder whether, in the Championship, with its higher incidence of what we may term “agricultural defending”, it’s really feasible that a club can actually draw a blank for the whole campaign. But I stand to be corrected and, as ever, I welcome any informed input.

Even if any team has previously played a second tier campaign without even one penalty, I’d have serious doubts over whether that team would have managed to be promoted. Any club looked on so unfavourably by match officials must surely feel as though its card is well and truly marked, especially if they keep on getting dodgy penalties awarded against them. That’s been the Leeds United experience so far this term – and yet, despite the additional problem of injuries to key personnel, the Whites ride high in the table, and will look forward to kicking on when (if) the treatment room gets a little less busy.

Leeds have shown every sign so far that, at their best, they don’t need refereeing generosity (or even common sense) in order to win Championship matches. They’ve managed to stay right up there, even in spite of some appalling decisions against them. So – assuming I’m correct to say that no team has ever been promoted without at least one penalty being given to them – could Leeds United be the first to achieve such a difficult challenge?

I actually think that United really could see their penalty drought extend to cover the whole season, despite the fact that we have tricky players who can only be stopped by chopping them down – and yet I remain optimistic of success, hopefully via the automatic route. Because, as well as the “no penalties for you, Leeds” rule, there’s also the well-established law that United just don’t do play-offs. So it’s top two or bust for us, penalties notwithstanding.

I’d really like to know if this would be a first, and I might even check the odds and have a moderate punt on it. But, if any friendly Statto out there knows better, and can prove that I’m barking up the wrong tree, and that it’s all been done before – then, please, let me know. Ideally before I part with any of my brass to Big Bad Bert the Bent Bookie. Thank you.

13 responses to “Can Leeds United be the First Club Promoted Without Being Awarded a Single Penalty? – by Rob Atkinson

  1. Reality Cheque

    There is still a hell of a lot of football to be played yet before our destiny is determined Rob, but I am very heartened and positive due to the fact that despite all the very valid observations you cite regarding refereeing bias against Leeds United we still have 4 more points and have suffered no fewer than 4 less defeats compared to our first 15 games last season despite having played 6 of the other 8 teams currently occupying the top 9 positions along with ourselves. Add to that the fact that we have suffered long term injuries to half a dozen key players for practically half of the opening 15 games of this season and it does indeed suggest that we may have a damn good chance of promotion regardless of the match officials consistent efforts to impede our rise to glory. So, maybe, just maybe, your little “investment” with Big Bad Bert may give you a very handsome return.


  2. In keeping with the commentator’s curse or to be more scientific
    ‘Sod’s Law’. I have a strong feeling that we will get one, if not two penalties against Wigan. Such as it is with waiting for a bus.
    My advice therefore is to avoid Bert like the plague.
    Having said that, what do I know ?
    Not more than a month before he was sold – I put a bet on Ronaldo Viera to break into the England squad whilst playing for Leeds.


  3. In truth I am quite relieved that my foresight has a checkered history, as I am concerned that Samu will do a Benteke.


  4. Life is LUFC

    I’m not a stat geek. However I had a look at last year and I know it has nothing to do with the league but Leeds did get 5 penalties against Burnley’s 3 in the Carabo…..Oh damn it League Cup match even after playing extra time.
    So what is the point of this message……well working on how the FA and EFL warped minds really do work they probably think Leeds have had their quota for the next ten years across all competitions. Assuming Leeds only get a penalty awarded every two years.
    Do I get any brownie points or even a penalty….if I have the same luck as Leeds I’ve just scored a home goal and if it were not for bad Luck Leeds would have no luck at all.


    • The good thing is, when we get all the big guns back (and maybe a few cheeky January reinforcements) we might well be good enough not to need any luck – fingers crossed!


  5. Good of you to show a picture of our last awarded spot kick deftly being converted by Lash, Rob.
    Who knows, we may get the scum in the FA cup and get awarded one at Old Tr#ford?


  6. It would be remarkable but something we have to accept as pretty likely especially at ER where you can just see that look on the refs face that he’s not even going to show a yellow let alone award a pen to cheating dirty Leeds!
    Anyway as far as records go I think we may be heading for Guinness Book based on attached link
    Leeds have never done things the easy way so what an achievement it would be and contrast to all the plastic trophies won by the Pride of Devon under Fergie fuelled by so many dodgy pen awards!!


    • My thoughts exactly. It’s annoying, this penalty drought, but it’d be a deeply satisfying “screw you” to the powers that be, if we went up without one.


  7. Well, based on that maybe we finally got a break with Roofe’s goal or maybe he really was that blind as a bat he and the linesman missed it! I do think there is a not so hidden agenda against us.


  8. I hope the next penalty award is in injury time at the City Ground with the game deadlocked at 0-0. The Pen is given for a contentious handball decision. Video replays subsequently show the ball actually hit Roofe’s hand. Kenny Burns spontaneously combusts. MOT


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