Last year's replacement referees might simply have been less subtle at it.

Nailed to Newmark's Door, quasi-scholarly analysis.
Players aren’t put off by the barracking of the home fans, but the umpires are. It makes sense when you think about it – if tens of thousands of semi-hysterical people were scrutinising your performance, you’d want to try to please them if you could, if only subconsciously. The away players have nothing to gain from the home fans – if they do well they’ll get abuse, if they do badly they’ll get mockery. But the officials can make the home crowd happy and then surreptitiously bask in the warm glow. Away players can’t alleviate the pressure of being in a hostile environment. Referees can.
When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth. "[The authors of the study] used the numbers to make it look like it was happening" is a call for more careful analysis of the numbers, which the reviewer may or may not have done.

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