Liverpool were the ‘unluckiest’ team in the Premier League last season while Manchester United were the ‘luckiest’, new research claims.

The Reds dropped 12 points in matches affected by wrongly disallowed goals or incorrect decisions on penalties and red cards, says a study conducted by ESPN, intel and the University of Bath.

It says United gained six points over incidents that went in their favour. Manchester City remain top in a new simulated table accounting for ‘luck’.

However, the study found Huddersfield should have been relegated instead of Stoke when ‘incorrect’ refereeing decisions were taken into account.

It also found Brighton would have finished six places higher – moving up to ninth and earning an extra £11.5m in prize money on their return to the top flight.

Conversely, Leicester would have finished 14th instead of ninth, ending the season with £9.7m less in prize money. Fourth-placed Liverpool would have swapped with second-placed United, and champions City fallen three points short of their 100 mark.

Once incidents had been indentified, an alternative outcome of the affected matches was predicted, using a model that also considered factors including team strength, form, and home advantage.

For example: in Liverpool’s 0-0 draw with Manchester United at Anfield on 14 October, the study concluded Jurgen Klopp’s side should have been awarded a penalty in the 63rd minute, and the new simulated scoreline was a 1-0 victory for the home side.

Once the process was completed, the Premier League table was redrawn to reflect the new simulated results.

Assistant Professor Thomas Curran from the University of Bath said each game was simulated “thousands of times to model how it should have turned out”. He said the project was “one of the most detailed pieces of research we have ever conducted”.

Former referee Walton added: “The results demonstrate the impact and importance of refereeing decisions on a game. “With the Premier League deciding not to introduce VAR for the coming season, it is interesting to see how much luck plays a part in the way the league unfolds.” (BBC)