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Are Premier League matches fixed? The final proof. Part 2.

Arsenal on Twitter @UntoldArsenal

Untold Arsenal on Facebook here

By Tony Attwood

This article follows (rather logically I thought given that it is called “part 2”) from part one which is here.

The first step towards resolving the issues raised in part one must be to ask what we feel about the quality of refereeing. I believe the first article reminded us that there are anomalies in the current situation, such as the fact that some referees in England are flagrantly ignoring and disobeying Fifa rules – such as the rule about hampering goalkeepers, or the one about playing advantage to a defender.  I also brought up the fact that in using a consistent marking system for refs, some refs do fall very short of the mark, and clearly have problems in running a game.  Not all, but some.  And we observe that nothing happens to these refs.

These simple facts – and Walter’s series of articles dealt with these in much more depth, and they are all still available on this site – suggest that something odd is happening, something which does not fit with the “nothing is wrong” or “it all balances out in the end” theories.  Combine this with Dogface’s analysis of referees made before games and the fact that it is possible to make predictions about how individual referees will behave, and we clearly have something to be concerned about.

But here is my real point.  Everyone can see that Fifa instructions are not being carried out by refs in England, and yet no one is doing anything about it, and the refs are not commenting on it.   Even if you don’t go along with any other point being put forward here, you do have to ask, “Why? is this happening?”  Or if you want something fairly straightforward to resolve try this one: “How come that the FA and Fifa can’t even agree whether the FA has the right to take action in the Rooney affair?”   We are not actually talking here about whether Rooney committed a foul or whether he should have been shot at dawn, but actually we are asking, does our governing body have the power to take action?   If even that can’t be agreed then something has gone desperately wrong with the governance of the game.

And that is all before we get to the Dogface analysis.   So this is my main point.   We can keep this debate dead simple and look at very easy to grasp issues, and even at that level there are huge issues that urgently need answering.

Can you imagine this elsewhere in our society?   “I don’t think we can handle this in the County Court,” said the District Judge.   “Well its certainly not our area,” says the Bench in the Magistrates Court.   “Not one of mine,” says the Judge in the High Court.   “Ah well, better just leave it then,” says everyone.   Put like that it sounds crazed, and that indeed is exactly what it is happening in football.  Makes a bit of news for half a day and then it dies away – and yet the questions being raised here are utterly fundamental to the game.  Without the resolution of these issues there is no game, because key issues are being ignored.

This is why I think that comments such as “let’s stop arguing about this and face the fact that Wenger is no good” really don’t get it.   If the League is bent, as I am suggesting given  the evidence presented over time on this site, then it doesn’t matter how good or bad Wenger is.  Not a bit.

Put all this together and what really concerns me is that there is nothing being done to investigate the growing level of evidence that something is wrong, save in the very specific area of match fixing for gambling purposes.   For example there is a Fifa enquiry going on into a couple of international friendlies in which every goal scored was a penalty.   As usual the statements emerging are those that talk about “unusual betting patterns”.

As I am sure you will know, investigations often take place into “unusual betting patterns”, and some refs are suspended for collaboration.   The betting industry has a great interest in protecting its own huge earnings from football, so any thought that some punter is cheating gets them on the move immediately.

I am quite happy to say that match fixing of that type (1000-1 against every goal in two games being a penalty) is being controlled in English football.   But there is nothing happening anywhere to investigate match fixing on the Italian “Calciopoli” model where refs were continually given favours in order to give occasional decisions to certain teams.

It is not as if top level English football has always been immune to such activities – if you have read the story of Arsenal’s promotion in 1919 you’ll know that is was caused in no small part by the club’s determination to publicise the match fixing by Manchester United and Liverpool, which the League wanted to sweep under the carpet.   That wasn’t Calciopoli but it was corruption on a significant scale – corruption to ensure that a London team went down in the final season before the cessation for the First World War, rather than a northern team.

And it almost worked – until Sir Henry Norris stepped in and demanded that the matter be properly discussed – and ultimately three Man United and four Liverpool players were banned for life – but no action was taken against the clubs.

OK that example (close to our hearts as Arsenal fans) is nearly 100 years old, but my point is that even 100 years ago the FA and the League were conspiring not to investigate match fixing and wholesale corruption.  I’m arguing that for reasons I will discuss later, nothing has changed.  And if you don’t like the 100 year old example, try going back over the case of Bruce Grobbelaar.  When he sued the Sun for libel, the Supreme Court (the House of Lords at that time) ruled that he was not damaged since there was enough evidence of wrongdoing on his part that his reputation was already torn to shreds.   That case revealed that it was indeed possible for one player to fix a game.  Again not what I am suggesting is happening here, but in fact something far harder to organise.

Of course my historic comparisons don’t show us that match fixing in the Italian style is happening.  And yes, my thought that there is something seriously wrong with refereeing in England might also be explained through the fact that there are some very poor refs out there, and Walter has made the very strong point that we have such a tiny number of refs, and the moderating of these refs is so secret that it is not surprising something is wrong.

But that leaves us with the question, why are we in this situation? Why do we have so few top level referees?  And why are the marks they get not revealed?  And why are refs who get under 70% marks not removed to a lower division?  Why do we not have refs that follow Fifa rules, and why do authorities in England allow them to get away with this?  Why can’t our FA and Fifa even agree as to whether the FA has power to look again at the Rooney Event.

My point therefore is simple.  If you argue that there is no Italian style corruption, you have to answer the questions in the previous paragraphs.  If you can’t find an answer that involves no corruption, then corruption is all you have left.

Given that Dogface has shown us that it is possible to predict which ref will cause problems for Arsenal, then we begin to see that even with an answer to the “why are we in this situation” question in some way, we are still not in the clear.  The problem is much deeper, because without giving any evidence to suggest everything is fine, and without even bothering to consider our evidence, the powers that be are just pushing on saying, “oh its all ok really.”

Indeed we could begin to argue that it is the fact that nothing is being done in the face of this evidence that something is wrong, (other than the continuous attempt to show that the problem either doesn’t exist – as in the “refs are getting fed up with all this criticism” type of comment – or that if it does exist it is only as a result of gambling and the gambling industry always lets us know) that actually does show something is seriously wrong.

In short, if nothing was wrong, the authorities would have no difficulty in knocking down the arguments and points made by Walter, Dogface, and (as summariser) myself.

If the authorities were being straight about this situation they would be investigating Dogface’s predictions, and putting the obvious errors (lack of refs, not removing refs when they get low marks, differences with Fifa) to right.

It is the lack of activity that is the final nail in the coffin of a just and fair EPL.

So let’s conclude with a look at why the authorities in the UK, and their allies in parts of the media, don’t want us to even think that something might be wrong.

The EPL makes big money out of TV and some money out of gambling.  The gambling industry makes money out of the EPL.   The media invest big money in football rights, and then gradually get that money back (or in Sky’s case, quickly get that money back).

If the feeling began to develop that there really was something wrong and that an Italian style corruption had seeped through the game then the league, the FA, the media and the gambling industry would all lose out very heavily.  In fact one can say that the whole bunch of them has a very strong vested interest in football being shown not to be corrupt.

That is why they not only don’t take the allegations seriously, but also why they don’t bother to answer any of the evidence put forward.  They can’t risk the notion being put about that football is bent.  Exactly as 100 years ago.

But it is even worse than that.  By refusing to answer the very basic questions like why there are so few referees, and why directives from Fifa are routinely ignored by some referees in England, and why the marks given to refs are not made public, and why refs with poor marks are not removed more often, it is clear that there is something wrong.  If there were not, then no one would be hiding behind ridiculous excuses like “it balances out in the end” and “referees are getting fed up with all this criticism”.

When public faith in a body set up to examine or to rule is upset, everything gets blown out the water.  And that is what the FA, the league, Sky, Fifa, the BBC, Micky Mouse TV and ITV are all seeking to protect.

Let me finish with a repeat of one basic point.  If the English authorities and Fifa can’t actually agree on whether the English authorities could look again at Rooney’s actions on the field play, what the fuck is going on?  It is a fundamental rule.  A basic point from the rulebook.

Whatever it is that is going on, it certainly isn’t straight.

Photographic evidence that the ref in the Barca match was utterly bent

Further proof of match fixing; our predictions about the ref are proven

Yet more match fixing proof: the Rooney Affair

Arsenal 100 years ago = Making the Arsenal. And you can get updates on what happens in the next story on the Untold Twitter @Untold Arsenal

112 comments to Are Premier League matches fixed? The final proof. Part 2.

  • Richard B

    Sadly. in any walk of life. you can get away with a less than perfect performance if it’s difficult to replace you. The shortage of referees may be the root cause of more than one problem besetting football in this country (and maybe others).
    Technology, perhaps with a limited referal system, seems an obvious route to take. However it could lead to yet another fabric of favours (you don’t claim for offside for my goals and I won’t claim for yours) – and, if Tony is right, it’s the favours that are getting in the way of fairness now.

  • Mike_greece

    I hope you understand that what you write is nonsense. If Arsenal were 3-4 points in front of United in the league and on the quarter finals of the Champions League there would be no such article, I’m sure. Our team has VERY significant flaws if we are to consistently challenge for trophies and the talk for bad referees and match fixes is just pathetic excuses made from incompetent men. I am tired trying to make my point clear so just continue what you are doing; whining till judgement day about the referees…

  • finsbury

    Even Pulis has been at grtting his teeth and helping to man the gates with the mention of his referee’s ‘dossier’. LMAO.
    Pulis and the rest of the clan are not very subtle, bles ’em.

    Well done Untold.
    Keep it up.

    You have the support of football lovers everywhere.

  • finsbury

    *sighs*

    gr*tting > grtting

  • bob

    @Greasy Mike:
    What part of evidence accumulated over months and months (have you ever read any of it and can you refute it, that is, would you actually bother to take the time to read and/or refute) do you not understand. A team can have flaws AND be strong enough to be repeatedly screwed by a bent system. And it needn’t be the only team to be repeatedly screwed by that selfsame bent system. There is a body of work here on Untold Arsenal which you, with your typical “stop whinging” mantra completely fail to address any of the specific points that have been made hear for a long time now.
    @Richard B: Your fatalism – there will always be favors – ought to be examined. You rule out reform, change, fairness with your weariness. Too bad the responses start out with such negativity but surely it’s time to stay the course and insist that flaws, stop whinging, and wary fatalism do nothing to refute evidence. All they do, fellas, is stay stuck in the muck and mire which, of course, may be your preference in daily life. Others aspire to a bit more. Up the Shire! Down with Kastle Fergus! 10 more games, 10 more victories! Go Gunners!

  • dave

    iirc didnt hleb get suspended for slapping a reading player, ref (HE DIDNT SEE IT BUT ACTION WAS TAKEN AGAINST)

    so couldnt that have happened to rooney?

  • Charlie

    I’d love to see a ref persuaded to wear a wire so the exact moment when he is told to fix a game can be caught on tape and shown on a TV expose. If the ref can be persuaded that he can make more money by selling his story than from bribes it might work but who has access to any Premiership refs and, more importantly, who can persuade them to admit that their business is corrupt.

  • Our team has flaws because they are playing to different rules than their opponents.

    We’ve now seen that Arsenal’s opponents are treated leniently and Arsenal’s players are treated harshly for similar offences.

  • Fine Whine

    Actuslly it links to lots of Post Barcelona interviews which I haven’t seen before and well worth a look..

  • Yommex

    It is amusing to see the FA flaunt their disciplinary record showing Arsenal to be worse offenders than a good number of clubs in the EPL when it is obvious that most referees are quick to book Arsenal players while turning blind eyes to similar offences by others (Newcastle away comes to mind). Looking at this season for instance, Manchester United have been particularly “lucky” to escape FOUR red cards – Neville (twice, against Stoke and West Brom), Ferdinand against Arsenal and Rooney against aWigan. if as many as four red cards were not issued which would have resulted in those players banned for certain number of matches and could have affected the outcome of some of those matches.
    It is not unlikely that the managers that are not talking about officiaing are those benefitting from the whole setup.

  • walter

    Mike Greece,
    actually with good referees Arsenal would be 3-4 points ahead by now. Even with a game in hand.
    And we would have won the title in 2007-2008.

    And the fact that we over here started this job at the start of the season should tell you that at that moment in time we didn’t have a clue what was coming towards us. Well some had a clue and expected a few things, which happened in reality during the season.

    And please read my ref reviews and if you can find points where you disagree: tell me, show me the rules and I will correct myself.

    In fact what you say is just what Tony is telling what many say without evidence, not based on facts, just based on feelings. And in a way in a state of acceptance. A bit like: life is bad, so I just sit on the sideway and accept it as bad. Well some people will not just sit bad and accept it. I count myself as one of them.

  • Northbanksy

    Howling mistakes are made by match day officials which affect all PL teams. That this situation is deemed acceptable when it would be very simple to adopt a technological solution only points a finger at corruption.

  • Mandy Dodd

    The closer the revolutionaries get to the summit, the more the old guard will fight back. They had to throw a bent ref in at Barca, and Scholes at OT to try and cripple our players. They must have felt pretty threatened.
    Expect more to come in the form of Howard Webb or Mike Dean if we are still in contention when we play Utd and Spurs.
    On what has gone on this year, we must be closer than some of our fans seem to think

  • GunnerfanUSA

    Just wanted to say excellent job on the article (as usual). I find the ref reviews excellent, I even agreed the ref did a pretty good job in the Arsenal – Man U until Scholes started going crazy. I was wondering, what are your opinions about the current Arsenal board? I find it ridiculous everyone questions Arsene and the players, yet no one questions the board. The reason I mention them is, I was infuriated over the weekend to see Hill-Wood urge Wenger to calm down towards the UEFA through the press! I would think David Dein would have NEVER thrown Arsene under the bus so to say in public and would have actually supported Arsenal FC and Arsene!

  • GunnerfanUSA

    Oh and just to be clear, no way am I condoning questioning Arsene or the players! Arsene is the best manager for this club and we all know this because 1) We play football the right way. 2) We compete at the highest level 3) Players want to come and play for Arsenal (and especially Arsene) 4) the players we have are excellent and young (avg age 23) and are already competing with and beating (if not for ref bias) the best teams!

  • Mike_greece

    Walter,hi there.
    I read your reviews every week and actually they are mostly excellent. You have great understanding of the regulations AND the spirit of the game. The problem is that you stand to the point too much. There shouldn’t even be ref reviews in the first place. Characterizing the decisions of a referee in 90 minutes of football with a percentage is completely paranoid from my point of view. Some things just can’t be expressed with numbers. Referees certainly play their part in the game, but believe me at least in the EPL and the Champions League, they are generally top class. If you think English referees are bad, then please come to Greece or anywhere in Southeastern Europe when you need a good laugh.
    Anyway, I’m not saying that one shouldn’t criticize referees for their mistakes (all of them not only the ones against our team), I’m saying that we shouldn’t blame them for the misfortunes of our team so much. The people mainly responsible for our consecutively poor results on the pitch during the last three years are certainly NOT the officials. Fortunately the number of people who believe that is rapidly decreasing, because they are one of the reasons why our team shows little sign of improvement since the 2008-09 season…

  • desi gooner

    We have an old boys club controlling and restricting entry of lower division refs into premier league. Just last week, we heard anecdote from one of the panellists on sky sport news about how one of these refs had confided to the said panellist on this issue. We need more premier league refs based on merit, impartialty and competence.

  • Laundryender

    This collective work, started many months ago, using a credible system of prediction and analysis is in my humble opinion the most outstanding piece of sports investigative journalism that I have read for many a year.

    It is putting so called professional journalists to shame and exposing them as no more than the hacks they are.

    Anyone recently picking up on it, and looking at the Arsenal predicament over the last two weeks would be justified in calling it the work of paranoid poor losers. Those who have followed it from the outset know that it is so much more than that. Simply the fact that Referee behaviour before games can be predicted, card trends predicted, not following FIFA directives predicted, should concern every one that loves sport. If the EPL, the biggest show in town is in the shade, what else is!!

    Your work is laudable guys, for what it is worth; I admire your dedication and your methodology. Were so-called professional sports journalists so brave, they could make a real name for themselves. The reason they decline can only be that they either lack the desire, the intellect and courage, or are happy riding the gravy train that complicity bestows.

    Singularly Tony this article is a great piece, the best I have read anywhere this year. I doff my cap sir!!

  • jbh

    Tony
    Good article. But. Have you raised these matters and been ignored? If so where have they been raised to and how?
    I notice that the PGMOL Refworld website has an area for asking the ref. Have you tried it? (maybe an interesting way of pressurising refs when evidence is presented to them)
    Which media outlets have ignored the evidence presented to them?
    How was it presented, etc.

    My point is that you need to very persistently raise a coherent set of arguments with associated evidence to many outlets.
    I think the Ref reviews are excellent and show approx. a 9 to 1 rate of mistakes/bad calls running against Arsenal.

    Presentation and persistence will be key to trying to get this anywhere.

  • Donnyfan1

    Good work Tony. The ‘fans’ who rile against your premise live in their own perfect world where these things should not happen. Unfortunately- some of us have been collecting facts to support our theories about this for 3 years. We have spent dozens of hours checking to see if if Arsenal have been shafted by the ref- AGAIN- and I can assure Greasy Mike et al- we have been, many times, by the same refs for 3 seasons. Everything can be statistically analysed and it does come down to numbers in the end. My research tells me there is a plan to try to keep Chelsea and ManU at the top and (apart from Atkinson) it has worked. I believe there is more to come and that we will not win the title. This won’t be because we are not good enough. Without the help to ManU and the travesties we have suffered- the title should be our now. We won’t win it because THEY, several tiers up above the refs, want someone else. It is easy to see how it works- when money talks, integrity walks, but the intriguing question is what is at stake here. Are these troubled refs more concerned about the pressure to do as they is told from above than the crit from below. It would be nice to have the press on our side and helping – but they are too pally by half with TV to risk rocking the boat. Chief Sports Editor this and Chief Football Correspondent that- perhaps we have a clue there as to who is behind it all!!

  • Marcus

    I think Mike comes from a country where corruption is the norm.

    For us, we try to think that not to be the case, although our beliefs are sorely tested these days.

    But while we live in hope, we will continue to press for transparency and even-handedness….

    when we lose hope, pass us the Ouzo

  • GoingGoingGooner

    Without any of Walter’s work having been done, one could still credibly ask oneself: What industry worth several billions of pounds does NOT have shady people working on the fringes to siphon off money? There isn’t such a beast. Therefore, where is the easiest place to do this in our sport? Clearly in the match outcomes. (One could argue that player transfers represent a place to make money but IMO gambling is a far easier route to riches and doesn’t require the same exposure.) And, who are the people who affect the outcomes the most? Given the relative paucity of goals in our sport, it would have to be referees and goalkeepers. It is amazing that there isn’t a standing committee investigating these groups of actors.

  • Jasper

    I am a lifelong gooner, just wanted to get that out there first.

    Why do they not publish referee marks? Maybe the same reason they dont publish school GCSE’s marks for individuals? They dont publish marks for any tests exams that people have taken. At the same time, if you wanted to tell someone your makrs you could do. And the referees know their marks. They could tell you, if they were allowed. But they’re not allowed. Blame the company not the employees who have to follow their rules. The PGMO also has a merit list and is well aware who the top/bottom performing refs are (according to the marks of the assessors and also the delegates – ex players etc). The bottom refs would be made aware that their position is in jepeordy.

    Referees may be promoted from the football league to the select group each year and demoted from the PL to the FL. Look at D’urso a few years ago he was demoted. High performaing FL refs sometimes get PL games too during the season.

    The small number of refs in the select group is exactly that – so they can be select – elite! Not every referee wants to be in the select group. Can you imagine the life of a referee in the select group? Travelling all around the country to referee games for a miniscule amount of money (compared to the players they referee), always away from the family. On top of that training requirements are very demanding as well as the physical training element. They are also obliged to be speakers for other referees etc throughout the year. That is not a job a lot of top FL refs might want. All of the refs in the PL are full time pro’s – but only on a one year contract every year. Not exactly safe is it? They could be injured and have no income!

    THe problems with FIFA and the FA – well they are unrelated to referees and referee performances. You may well have a point on that.

    Finally, consider this. All of the analysis that you and your team do on ref performances highlights lots of mistakes they have made. Fair enough. Have you ever analysed the performances of any players throughout a season? Lets take one of the best players in the world like Rooney. No wait, lets stay closer to home…our very own Fabregas. How about his performances? Yes he has had some great moments (as have the referees in some of their decisions). But how about that back heel in barca? Conspiracy to give his boyhood club a helping hand? Corrupt? How about the lacklustre efforts he has put in over some of his recent matches? How about analysing how many shots he has had that he should have at least hit on target that he mishit?! Not just him, every player in every position. And shall i tell you why they all make mistakes every single year? Because they are human and we are not perfect. How can you therefore, expect perfect decisions from the referees? I would guarentee you that in each and every match the referee probably makes fewer mistakes than any one player!

  • gunzblazzin

    well done guys, hats off to you DONNYFAN1,you really know what your talking about and your right, its all a set up, 1 example, everybody knows wrestling is fake right ????, so why is it so popular if its fake ?????, my friends i will tell you why, because its unpredictable, so much drama goes on that you don’t know whats going to happen next, and that’s what makes it exciting and that’s what makes so many people interested, football is just the same, one minute your winning 4-0, some drama happens and the next thing you know its 4-4, keeps people talking, keeps people excited and most of all you don’t know whats going to happen next, it seems crazy but its the truth, its all about entertaining people and making loads of money in the process, who loses out ????, US, who gains ????, THEM, and the most important thing my friends is they enjoy playing with our EMOTIONS, i know people might think i sound crazy but please take the time to figure it out.

  • Gf60

    I suspect that your line, Tony, “referees are getting fed up with all this criticism” which is something of a throw-away, has far more to do with it than we think.

    Given the locale of the majority of refs, very much Northern biased, old almost subconscious animosities may get raised when, of all people, a Frenchman claims that they do insufficient to protect his players. Which of course he has been doing, more vociferously in the past couple of years than previously.

    And of course, he is a highly intelligent, articulate Frenchman. Which makes it even worse. Southern softies are one thing, barbarian Scots another, but “a bloody frog telling us our business….”??

    Personally, if AW doesn’t make a comment regarding refs in the next 5 years…other than praising them of course, I for one, will be very happy.

  • walter

    Mike,
    G
    iving points to the ref may look out of place but it is the way refs are being assessed in Belgium. Their status depends on this in fact. if their score is too low, they will feel it financially next season.
    So as I know refs and assistants in the highest division, know assessors and have talked with them about the way they assess or being assessed. And what you see now is what you could call the end product of how refs are assessed in Belgium. Well, in fact I know I go even further now than they do in Belgium.

    In fact this all started because we wanted to get away from “having the feeling that something went wrong” and go to “”we know something IS wrong”. I really cannot say anything about refs in Greece as I don’t know the league at all. So it may look that the mistakes that are being made in the EPL are minor, but still the aim should be to have as few mistakes as possible and that should be the main target for all involved.

  • Rhys Jaggar

    ‘Given that Dogface has shown us that it is possible to predict which ref will cause problems for Arsenal’

    I have to say you wouldn’t last long in any Mafia if, when someone flags something up as a clear prediction, you didn’t change somewhat.

    Rotational reffing would be my solution – you know, like rotational fouling. Don’t get any individual ref doing Arsenal too often, so the data doesn’t stack up.

    I wouldn’t try the argument that ‘no-one reads this site’. I know that I can write something here and folks in the Press, often non-Arsenal fans, pick it up. I’m not saying anything I write is special, I’m just saying that either I continuously predict 2 days in advance what the Press is going to say, or the Press pick up on what I write and then write similar things in their own articles. I think most sane folks know which is more likely……

    By the way, what’s the sum total of matches analysed to date: for Arsenal? And for Man Utd? If I were you, I’d do 20 each. That’s half a season and the stats will be OK then.

    I do, however, think it important that you invite fans of smaller clubs to contribute their pieces to, as it’s critical to show that Arsenal aren’t benefitting from refereeing decisions against smaller clubs on a consistent basis. I’ve certainly seen a few decisions over the years at the Emirates which are equally as bad in Arsenal’s favour, at critical points in games, not to believe that Arsenal don’t sometimes either get huge rubs of the green or, alternatively, benefit from a bent referee.

  • walter

    Rhys, so far we have done all the Arsenal games this season. In all competitions.
    I think around 40 games so far. But like you say this is only our side of the story.

    If we could get to a point where we could have 20 refs (one supporting each team) who would do the same for their team we could get very valuable information.

    Just imagine a website… Untold refs…. with from each team in the EPL a ref giving his ref review in the same format as we do now. That should bring a lot of data and a very clear picture on things. And because each game being reviewed by to persons would make it even more accurate…

    Well all we have to do is find the other 19 refs…

  • Gooner80

    I deem Walter to be competent and fair, but being an arsenal supporter there is always going to be an argument for bias and a distortion of perception, and this is what they would argue, from a scientific point of view the observer is not impartial. The also rely on subjective nature of decision making to get them out of trouble, and also beyond reasonable doubt, I think walter would have to do far more ref reviews to build a robust case, I believe UNTOLD is onto something but at this point I dont think it is conclusive enough

  • walter

    Jasper,
    thanks for your comment which contains a lot of truth. I think during the time I have been writing I have put a lot of blame on the organisation that runs the refs. Of course in a game I can only give points to the ref on the field. Who is a product of the organisation. In fact every low score for a ref is a low score for the PGMOL as they are the final responsable for the standard of refereeing.

    All countries have their “select” group of referees but in no country that group is so small as in Engeland. And I cannot believe that there are many refs in the first division who would say no to become a member of the select group. Financially they will benefit because they will be better paid (not enough but this is another discussion) compared to the first division.

    In fact I wonder if the situation is not that the refs in the select group like to protect each other? Because in Belgium where you have 25 select refs for 8 games a weekend this means that they have to do games in lower leagues and this has as a result that they earn less money by doing those games.

    An assistant in the first division once told me that he had built his house from his refereeing. And this was said before the refs in Belgium got a significant raise in money. Well the refs in the highest division got the raise…

  • walter

    Gooner80,
    the advantage of doing each game with 2 refs would be that we would get a more balanced view. Even though I try to be as unbiased in my reviews as possible it can happen that I see it too much with my Arsenal glasses on.
    But when 2 refs do it it would not be possible to have a score from 20/100 from one ref and 80/100 from the other ref. Even if there would be a 10% margin of bias it never should get such different scores. I think we would have scores where one gives a 65% and the other a 75%. So a total of 70% will be the truth.

    And if you get a 20-80 difference you can always get a third ref do the review again and this will even things even more out.

  • Shard

    Tony,
    Excellent points about FIFA and FA, and knowing who exactly is in charge. Clear definition of responsibility is the way to accountability. Until that happens we will always have the FA hiding behind FIFA rules, and FIFA saying that it is not their jurisdiction. Good article.

  • terry

    Blimey I wasn’t aware every decision in football needs to be compared to the Rooney incident. I completely agree with you that RVP should not have been sent off and the outcome of the game could have been completely different. You could also argue that the outcome of the Wigan game could have been different if Rooney had been sent off. The problem is, if you adopt this stance you have to look at every game since time began and say “what if”. As far as the FA not banning Rooney, as has been stated on countless occasions – they can’t FIFA/UEFA rules dont allow them to overturn the decision of the referee if he says he felt he dealt with the incident correctly, exactly the same reason Carragher didn’t get any retrospective punishment. The point being you have to take the rough with the smooth – clubs, Managers, Players and fans will always complain, but there is nothing we can do about it. – the only reason being that people are now complaining about the fact he has recovered ahead of schedule – many people see this as a sign that he feigned injury and Carragher was innocent of any wrong doing. Personally I’m just pleased that he’s back because we are a better with him than without him, but none the less we lost him for a big game against your club due to that injury – we could have lost that game and maybe as a result of having to play a defender instead of Nani – that didn’t happen, but “WHAT IF”? two words spring to mind- CONSPIRACY THEORY

    On a positive note Hernandez looks like the real deal – some have compared him to Ole and i agree but i would like to put forward a case of him being a sort of Ole and Ruud combo! He has the speed and finish to rival Ole; spring the offside trap and place a shot 9/10 in a one on one. He has the positional sense and the making of runs to rival Ruud; He is always in and around the box and will score a LOT of tap ins! Combine this with his already amazing technique in heading and you have a potentially complete attacker. £6 Million. Jeeeeez!

  • Shard

    @jasper

    Fair points about the referees’ concerns about pay and contractual issues as also lifestyle choices. But I still feel that people have a right to know the basis of referee’s evaluation, and indeed where they stand. It doesn’t have to be revealed after every performance. An end of season appraisal should be enough.

    But I have a major problem with equating a referee’s appraisal with judgments on the performance of the players. The only commonality between examining the ref and examining a player is that they both will make mistakes. However, the subjectivity of refereeing decisions not withstanding, the rules are (or should be) the basis of the referee’s actions. The player’s actions are subjective too (say to choose between passing or having a shot) but many of the players actions would be subject to a strategy laid down by the manager (which are not known) and has no effect on anyone except the club. A player is accountable to those who his actions affect, whereas a referee is not (with some good reasons too) But even more importantly, a player’s actions are moulded by the actions of his opponents. The referee is not subjected to that, and if he is, then he has all the laws of the game to back him up anyway.

  • Gooner80

    @Walter

    Totally agree, I think you are very fair, and you must do a lot of hard work, two refs would help balance it out

  • hainalt

    Morning All I did kind of want United to progress to the next round, as they will surely now have to play at least three more games that us (2 in the CL and 1 in the FA cup)… which can only help us in the run in to the title… if we want it that is – I say that because it was amazing to see how much United wanted to win, compared to us at Barcelona when we gave us a long time before the final whistle… but more importantly, it made me think about the strikers we have – with the exception of Van Persie – and the likes of Bendtner, Chamakh and Vela just are not in the same league as the likes of Pandev, Eto’o, Hernandez etc…

    It’s a little frustrating because these players – Eto’o was a £7m signing for Real Madrid all those years ago, and Hernandez was an £8m signing last summer – compare and contrast to Bendtner (£500k), Chamakh (free) and Vela (£2.5m)… there is a saying that you get what you pay for and we’re starting to see that now as it becomes clear that some of our fringe players, well – most of our fringe players are not good enough. Whilst I’m not trying to be negative, or dismissive to the current squad, a few £7m – £8m signings instead of the £1.5m – £2.5m signings wouldn’t break the bank – heck if this article is to be believed, Blackburn are going to give us £15m for Niklas Bendtner….. sell, sell, sell…

    Anyway, we have the whole summer to talk about in’s and out’s – I hope that Arsene makes the right decisions – not just in transfers, but in pecking order – the likes of Denilson and Eboue would have been more suitable to Barcelona away (rather than Diaby and Rosicky) and let’s hope Ramsey and Wilshere do maintain their position ahead of Diaby in any pecking order we have…

  • pires

    @ hainalt: Fans want to see success. Fans want the team to do well. Fans do not buy tickets only for that reason. Supporting a team is more an emotional investment rather than a financial one. Traditional economics do not work because of the overwhelming emotional aspect of it. I’m not criticising you if that is the way you view it. I’m just saying you have an option to not pay. taking your contention a bit further would mean that basically you are paying the club, and by extension the players for winning a trophy. Yet, I’m sure not many fans would say they want players who only play for the money. For the mercenary’s creed if you will.. What does pride in the shirt that we demand indicate? That there are things beyond money (or shiny silverware even) that the club represents. That is what I think we truly support. For the rest, as I said, you have an option of not paying.

    Logic is there of course. But again, the logic of the traditional economics of (material) returns in exchange for investment, does not apply for sports teams and their fans. The logic in supporting the team is a vague concept and again ,as I see it, is about what the club represents. Which can be different for each and every one of it’s fans of course.

    Regarding injuries, the Einstein quote seems to indicate that you think we are doing everything the same way. How do you know changes haven’t been made to the training regimes, to the medical techniques, to any of the other things that may be a factor? Maybe this season the injuries that are happening now are simply down to the number of games we have played.( 2 every week from Dec 27th) Regarding strengthening, while there was definitely scope to do so, again, we are constrained a bit in terms of our ability to do so. Which doesn’t making strengthening in terms of buying players impossible, but certainly doesn’t make it easy. Again, we have no way of knowing whether Wenger didn’t even try to strengthen. It’s just conjecture.

    You can’t blame Wenger for the injuries to 3 goalkeepers to happen at the same time. Fabiansky had his shoulder pulled out during training. Szczesny’s injury was simply a freak. Mannone went out on loan where he was injured. Almunia was our third choice. Tell me any other team has a more experienced or a better third choice. If anything, Wenger played safe in not selling him in January when I’m sure not many of us would have been upset to see him go. If anything, for that Wenger deserves credit.

    As for your analogy of failing an exam every year. How many children give that exam, and how many people are meant to pass it? Not winning a trophy in football is like blaming a child and calling him an utter fool, for not winning the Rhodes scholarship.

  • pires

    And I think 6 Years really isn’t that long in term’s of a club’s history. Think about it. I feel proud of our club’s achievements even in the 30s. I’m not saying we should rely on past glories only. But 6 years is not much to give if the club’s future can be secured. As for how long is long term.. All i can say is that we are close. Not just close to a trophy, which we have been a number of times even during the 6 years, but close to coming out of the transitory phase. Paying of the stadium debts quicker (at the cost of transfers at times) is actually a way to speed up that transition. I think for many players this season is the last chance saloon. They could have, and still can, come good, but if not, then in the off season a) we can afford to spend a bit more, and b) we have some reserves who now seem ready to take over.

    2. If it’s logic you’re after then being a football fan isn’t for you. Seriously, life of a sport’s fan has very few glory years. All the rest is pain. Pain..and hope.. It might be logical to not EXPECT trophies. No team can guarantee triumphs no matter how good they are. But to hope is all a fan has. It is hope and belief in the team that makes it’s victory your own, as also its disappointments. That is how I feel as a fan. If I give up while we still have a chance, then how can I expect better from my team?

    3. I don;t believe I mentioned the financial aspects as a credit to Wenger at all in the last post. I was only thinking of the output on the pitch. Let’s be honest. Our financial strength (or situation if you prefer) isn’t solely, or even primarily to do with Wenger. The board deserves the credit (or blame) for that. What Wenger has done is worked within those constraints to produce results on the pitch. And keeping those constraints in mind, I think he’s done a fantastic job, though not perfect by any stretch. If Wenger cared less about the club he could have demanded funds as an ultimatum like many other managers do. Wenger takes much of the blame only because he stands by the vision of the club. It is not only his vision.
    As far as the ticket holders and the prices etc are concerned. Would winning trophies mean the prices reduce? Do you buy the tickets only to see trophies? In that case I think you should just stop paying. Stop going to matches because as I said, no club guarantees trophies. If the prices seem unfair to you then nobody forces you to go. Rising prices of tickets are a legitimate concern, but it is a totally separate issue from the winning of trophies. Bottom line. If you do not feel you are getting your money’s worth then stop buying.

    4. Luck had pretty much everything to do with the Newcastle draw. Actually I don;t think that was luck. If we hadn’t started like a bat out of hell I think we would have lost that match. It’s not just the big calls in that match which were against us a-plenty. We were forced into submission as a result of the referee’s performance there. When even Andrew, who is at times for me frustratingly neutral in his analysis puts a headline saying ‘What would a fixed match look like’ then you know something was out of place.(not saying fixed necessarily, but the referee’s performance was horribly one sided) I look back on the Newcastle match as a point gained rather than two lost because I think we were meant to lose that game. Please I’m not making excuses for the team or Diaby in this case, but look back at that match again.
    The spurs match was a shame. A total shame. No excuses. We thought the match was over and we let them back in. Unacceptable.
    Something United would never do? Everton 3-3 draw? Fulham 2-2 draw? WBA only getting a win because they didn’t go down to 10 men and concede a penalty straight off, and STILL needing the opposition to miss a penalty at the end? I’m sorry. ManU’s mental strength as opposed to our weakness and fragility is a myth.

    One note on ManU’s fans and something we possibly could learn from them. They are blind bigots when it comes to their team. They refuse to see their players’ faults and claim persecution on the basis of very very little. If they can complain about that Chelsea match regarding referees, it absolutely shocks me that we still blame our team for the Newcastle game. Of course we can do better. When is that ever untrue? But very often we do enough, and more, and are denied by factors outside our control. Once again, I never excuse my team’s failings or try and hide them. I always WANT to blame my team for failures. Except. It is really not always their fault.

  • Terry – I don’t think I have ever written an article that has been so utterly misunderstood by a correspondent. On seeing your comments I had to go back and think, “hell did I say that?”

    The answer is no, I didn’t. Somehow a parallel universe has popped into being and you have read what another Tony Attwood on the planet Zongo has written.

    I can’t actually go through all you have written here to point out where you have wandered away from anything I wrote, but I will take just one point.

    In a conspiracy theory there is no evidence. It is argued (for example) that there are aliens out there, and the military know about it, and they hush it all up. But when it comes to evidence there is none. What my article is about is the fact that we have uncovered a large amount of evidence that suggests something is not right. This is positive evidence not evidence of the “scientists have not yet” approach loved by conspiracy people.

    So my point is – here is the evidence, now won’t someone please come along and explain why this is not being taken seriously. They could do that by saying our evidence is not soundly constructed (they might care to examine the work of Dogface and Walter on this) or they could do it by saying, the evidence is good (for example agreeing that ref performances vary enormously) but there is an equally good reason for hiding the marks that refs get, and for not using the European standard of removing refs who get below a certain score.

    The fact that they don’t do this, is concerning.

    Anyway, I trust life in your alternative reality goes well, and if you have a spare pair of those anti-grav boots that I am told exist in certain dimensions, perhaps you could lob them through pattern in the WMAP CMB known as the Axis of Evil (you’ll know about this, what with you being from another universe) as I rather fancy a pair.

    (That last bit looks very sarcastic, but I was just trying to write something as irrelevant to your commentary as your commentary was to my original article).

  • anthony

    @-Pires – The “Youth” experiment has been in full swing for six years now. Since our last trophy, the likes of Vieira, Henry, Bergkamp, Lauren, Cole, Campbell, Pires, Gilberto and Lehmann, to name a few have moved on or retired. All world class proven winners. They have been replaced by the likes of Bendtner, Diaby, Denilson, Eboue, Rosicky, Almunia and Arshavin to name a few.

    Diaby: No Patrick Vieira
    A few performances apart for Arshavin & Manuel, none of them can hold a candle to the aforementioned.

    Fact: Too many mature world class players were allowed to leave in to short a space of time.

    Fact: No older proven world class performers have come in to replace them.

    Fact: Too many under 21’s were brought into the first team together.

    Result: No trophies for six seasons. FACT.

    “But we can still win the league”, I hear you cry… wake up. This team failed to beat a team with the lowest goals scored total in the top flight that will probably be playing Europa League football alongside championship fixtures next term.

    Mr Wenger, your experiment has failed. Time to start spending the money we are all told exists or do one!

    We are starting to become a punchline for football fans everywhere, a joke. I have no doubt I shall be hung, drawn and quartered for this view. “Look at what Wenger has done for the club off the field”, people keep saying. I am a fan of football, and I want my team to win trophies. I want to see us beat Man Utd, and Chelsea and Tottenham. I want to see us winning cup finals and go on open top bus parades to Islington town hall. I don’t care about financial results for the third quarter or what type of king prawns are used in the half time sushi on Club Level, or whether there are any Arsenal measuring tapes left in the club shop…

    Arsenal was a football club not so long ago, but the board, the manager, and now even many of the fans only see the image. Lovely shiny stadium, with comfy seats, supermarket club shops and al-a-carte menus in the restaurants.

    I want the club to be successful on the pitch. At the moment I can only see a healthy bank balance and empty trophy cabinets in Arsenal’s future.

  • terry

    @tony – apologies it was not in relation to this article but one of the previous ones i had read on here,

  • WalterBroeckx

    Anthony,
    about losing to Birmingham, it just happens you know.

    Let us take a look at Barcelona. They lost this season at home to Hercules with 0-2. Hercules are joint last in the Spanish league and are the team with the second lowest goals scored.
    So they are very likely to go down at the end of the season. But they have beaten the mighty Barcelona in Nou Camp. Incidently Hercules had 24% possession in that game.
    And still Barcelona can win 3 titles this season and probably will winn a few. So picking out one result to show that we will fail for all the others is bit easy I think.

    Shit happens you know. That is why it is football…

  • hemanth

    @walter – but the problem is we have had too many of those odd results this season! A barca loss was one off and we seem to be so inconsistent its crazy

  • Mike_Greece
    To dismiss a couple of articles with the sentence “I hope you understand that what you write is nonsense”, to follow this with a view of what I would be doing under other circumstances, is then not only impossible (since you don’t know) but also a non-sequita (since apparently I am writing nonsense) and then to go on and write about an utterly different subject is…

    Well actually I don’t know what it is – but if you could explain why this article is nonsense, citing some evidence to show why what I have said is nonsense, that would be a start.

  • goonergerry

    The thing about football is the parent body FIFA- demonstrably tolerates corruption-in relation to the world cup. FIFA tolerate, deny and bury corrupt practices-its hardly a culture which is inconsistent with match fixing.
    I do believe Arsenal to be consistent victims of poor refereeing decisions-and I think Walter is right about the lack of transparent refereeing standards.
    Where I think this analysis is wrong is to claim that Arsenal would have won the league in recent years like 2008 if it wasnt for biased refs.Can you seriously claim that Arsenals record against Man U of won 2 lost 15 is down to the ref?
    Every season since 2005/06 our performances have slumped from approximately the end of February until the end of the season- and there are many factors apart from referees such as injuries, unforced errors, exhaustion that have played a part apart from referees.

  • Laundry Ender – sir, I owe you a drink. If you make it to the matches, get in touch and I will honour my promise.

  • hainalt

    Arsenal is run like a business by the board and anger should be fired firmly at them. But, come on we’ve had massive bad luck, Birmingham were ragged and the game was going to extra time and there was only one team gonna win that game. in Barcelona we were unfairly cut to 10 and even then squandered a chance to take us through and against Man U Van Der Sar was man of the match. if we’d have found the net a few times on saturday, or spoon foot bendtner had’ve found the net against Barca or Koscielny hadn’t of fucked it at wembley none of thjis would be coming out. grow up true fans stick through thick and thin. in know way am i an AKB supporter but even i can see in my mere 18 years of supporting Arsenal that we were nowhere near the top 2 in the mid-90’s when we supposedly ‘used to be a football club’ it’s funny how it seems to be as an arsenal with little experience of anything other than the tail end of Graham and Wenger, that the younger fans like myself are able to stay positive whereas the older fans seem hell bent on change despite memories of previous longer trophie droughts under Terry Neil etc. and an 18 year time gap between the 71 title and the 89 title. title or no title this season i will always remain positive because thats what you do as a fan and i’m proud to say we’re up there competing for the title withoput some rich sheik, russian or yank coming in. Yes we’ve had a long wait for trophies but we haven’t been far off remember teh CL Final and Henry’s squandered chancxes to seal it, remember the Carling Cup final against Chelski, remeber the outright lead we had in the title race and Eduardo’s brek and Gallas’ tantrumits not been 6 years of shit but 6 years of progress and transition and challenging. 9keep the faith, keep supporting and lets not have this divide coz after all we are ALL GOONERS

  • hainalt

    Arsenal PLC has overtaken Arsenal FC to the extent that the latter is now considered a minor irritation. Why else are the likes of Silent Stan and Ivan Gazidis involved with the club? It’s all about brand (pre-season to far east anyone?) and balance sheet. As long as those two items are considered healthy, Arsene will be left to carry on at the coal-face as he desires. Hence we can all moan and groan as long as we like about players, tactics and signings (or lack thereof) – all to no avail. Until “the numbers” take a turn for the worse, nobody above the manager cares enough to seriously challenge him. Gooners, prepare yourselves for an Spring of deja-vu and heartache and a summer of rumor, innuendo and certainly little or no spending!

  • Shard

    LOL

    Pires and anthony are only copy/pasting a conversation I was having with someone else on another site.. somewhat flattering, but I think we now have more trolls we can amuse ourselves with.

  • marcus

    I think y’all need to wake up and get a grip.

    The Media created this storm in a teacup.

    Look, challenging for a quadruple is the stuff of heady heady dreams.

    The job of the team is to try and win the Premiership, and anything else is icing on the cake.

    The Champions League is different; but winning the CL without Premiership pedigree is like owning a Lamborghini and not owning a house.

    So where are we; almost exactly where we want to be; in hot pursuit of the Prem. Actually, I think we are 5-10 points hsorn of what we deserve this campaign, and Man u …well…rien a dire.

    So why the Paroxysms of Angst about a club that is frankly, doing very well?

    Primarily because the media want it that way. That is how they have depicted it…depicted us. They are the ones defining this minor setback as a Fukushima meltdown. (Yes, there are actually serious matters going on in the World).

    We came into a spell of 3 matches with two matches were likely to lose. Barca European cup, and Man U at OT….so the media frothed all this up by depicting the first match as an ABSOLUTE NAILED ON win for us.

    AS if we just needed to turn up…

    Once we lost the first match, then they could start cranking out their tired pre-scripted lazy cliches about the Spring collapse.And it seems quite a few so-called Arsenal supporters bought this switch and bait.

    Listen: Birmingham League Cup was NEVER EVER going to be a walk in park.

    We lost, its not the end of the world. Move on…nothing to see.

  • Mike_greece

    @ Mr. Tony
    I wrote a second comment after that where I explain what I think. “Nonsense” maybe not the most suitable word, as my english are not “top class” so apologies for that.
    Shortly, I believe that in the top European leagues (EPL, La Liga, Champions League etc) the referees do NOT “control” or “fix” the games, something that is unfortunately quite common in my part of Europe because like a guy earlier wrote, corruption is the norm over here. Do I have hard evidence for that? No I do not, but no one has hard evidence for the opposite either. It’s also one thing to criticize certain referees as “bad” or “incompetent” and it’s another thing to say that they are “fixed”, that they come to a game with the purpose of “killing” the hopes of the one or the other team. There is a HUGE difference between these two things.
    I also know (and I think everybody does) that every supporter, no matter which EPL team he supports, will always have complaints for the referees during a certain period of time (yes, EVEN the ManU or Chelsea’s supporters). Refereeing mistakes are a part of the game, always were and always will be. The thing is that if you have a good enough team (and by “team” I don’t mean only the players of course, but everyone in the club), more than 90% of the time, you will achieve your goals. If you are NOT good enough, more than 90% percent of the time you will fail (as the case with us is). That happens because football is generally (and unfortunately for some) a very fair sport. In a game, the worst team may win, but in the long run the better teams will be rewarded. If you are not rewarded in the long run, then you simply are not good enough…
    Finally, I fear that talk about referees hinders our team’s much needed improvement. “Fixed” officials serve as a very good excuse for those who do not deliver to keep their place in the team (and their high wages of course). I feel our team needs improvement, I want our team to improve and I think that the “Fixed officials talk” (again I wanted to write “nonsense” here) prevents that because it serves as a perfect alibi…

  • bob

    @terry, walter: Everyday there are conspiracies in the world. Some are proven. Some were alleged and were disproven. Others are hypotheses of a possible conspiracy for which evidence is being gathered. THAT is how science operates. High probability, not absolute proof is how it works. The opposite of conspiracy theory (that is, the working hypothesis that a conspiracy – two or more people conversing and planning in secret) is COINCIDENCE THEORY!! (Terry, notice the caps?), which also needs to be proven, not assumed to be true. Coincidence is as much a working hypothesis, until evidence is amassed, as is conspiracy. And, btw, Terry, you spit out your stuff and then – after wasting a lot of people’s time (and I do mean Tony’s, even if he doesn’t say so) and then say, “‘scuse me, I mean another article, really I did. I think that is horrific behavior at whatever the pay rate.

  • My argument Mike is that we have presented evidence and anyone who doesn’t accept the evidence needs to say why it is not valid. The fact that all supporters feel that refs are not up to much is neither here nor there. The fact that some Arsenal supporters feel that the team needs improving is neither here nor there in terms of this debate and the two articles I wrote.

    I am saying that serious questions have been raised about refereeing in this country, and they need to be answered. Since there are several questions, and no one has put forward any reasons for not answering the questions, then that adds to my sense of unease.

  • Just a little editorial note: in the last week or so we’ve had a return to people just firing off whatever comments they feel like, irrespective of the article written. This is a highly disrespectful approach and I am trying to stamp it out. I’ve only done it erratically because work (as in the money making side of things) means I can’t stay on the site all the time.

    But I am trying to do it. The rule here is, please comment on the subject matter in the article, otherwise your comment might well be removed. Also comments upon comments on issues not related to the article will also be removed.

    I’m not going back through this article to remove irrelevant comments, although I have stopped some. But I will try from now on.

  • bob

    p.s., sorry, add @Tony to my one just above…

  • Mike_greece

    Stating some numbers and some random bad decisions from officials or the FA is not evidence of match fixing Mr Attwood, I’m sorry to say… Evidence is having a tape of a referee saying “Tomorrow I’m going to make that team lose the game”, or a document proving that a referee took money to make certain calls in a game. Now, THAT is evidence… All the other things are just fancy talk. Convincing and logical maybe, but just talk…

  • RedGooner

    Tony, well said finaly we have someone asking all the right questions. I hope these words find a way out into the main stream media and become loud enough so they are no longer ignored.
    The cheating has to stop eventualy.

  • Anne

    It’s funny, before reading this article, I just posted the following comment on the first article in this serious. Apparently Tony and I are thinking along similar lines 🙂

    I think that what this blog is doing is very important. I personally think that match fixing goes on at all levels of football, and much more often than even the readers of this blog would suspect. It’s kind of a fact of life that, whenever such large sums of money are changing hands, corruption will always be creeping in. But the profitability of the match fixing is also contingent, to a large extent, on keeping it secret from fans. There are a couple of reasons for that.

    First, the fans are the primary revenue base for the business of football in general. If fans lose faith in the fairness of the sport, they’ll spend less money on it, watch fewer games, etc, and the profit margins of the match fixers will suffer as a result. It’s important to them that they don’t lose their fan support.

    Similarly, the profitability of match fixing for betting reasons rests on the “honest” bets made by people who aren’t in on the fix. Thus, the persons who are aware that the fix is in are able to clean up against the odds. If the public begins to suspect that the matches are rigged, that would also become less profitable, because there will be fewer “honest” bets. There are more reasons than this, but you get the general idea.

    I personally think that the Newcastle match is viewed as an unmitigated disaster by those who are “in the know” (a match fixing EPIC FAIL, if you will :)). Because the fix was so obvious that it blew the corruption open in front of a huge international audience (to all of the neutral, educated observers at least). If the corruption has gotten so out of hand that it’s THAT obvious, they’re going to be forced to do SOMETHING to reign it in, because it will begin to cut into their profit margins. And blogs like this one that are working to expose it even more are helping that process along. So, good work guys, and keep it up!

  • Andrew

    Boy, where to begin…

    While I enjoy Walter’s articles for what they are please do not confuse them with a balanced opinion on the referee in a game – look at the preamble from one of his recent reports…

    “When someone on this site said it was Busacca as the ref I felt bad. I remembered him from our game in Shakhtar and felt he was a home ref in that game.”

    If, to use one of the strange diversions into the courts this article seems to like to do, that was the equivalent to the opening remarks at a trial by an impartial judge then there’d be a clear case for a mistrial! The bias before the game starts is implicit in the above sentance – he was a home ref when I saw him before let’s see how he does now! – what then follows is inevitably coloured by that initial view.

    You are Arsenal fans so you see things through a tint of Arsenal bias (and in some cases more than a tint), just as we all do when watching our team. We all get bad decisions, some against us and some in our favour and you know what – we all get riled up and emotional about the decisions that we don’t get and promptly forget the ones we do get. If you want proof of this from this site go and read the comments below Walter’s reports on the League Cup final and the Sunderland game for the differing reactions to the Bowyer and Arshavin offsides in those two games. The first one in favour of Arsenal gets no real mentions of note even though he was through on goal when flagged while the Arshavin one prompts all sorts of comments.

    This is part of the way we are wired as humans, there are all sorts of books on this bias in the way our brains work and how we are desperate to see patterns in seemingly random events but that doesn’t make them real. The above is not a criticism but it shows that the underlying driver here is not about alleged deficienies in officialdom but about scapegoating and blaming others for the failings of a team.

    Yes Arsenal have had some poor decisions against them this season, so have Sunderland, so have Bury and so have every team at every level of the game. They have also benefitted from some poor decisions, just as Sunderland, Bury et al have done too. The reason for this is referees are human they make mistakes, just like the players, managers and fans do.

    Perhaps using the same kind of logic that passes for analysis here we can make a case that Bendtner is corrupt/ fixing games given his stubborn refusal to take any of the number of the chances that come his way at key moments in games, (or given AW keeps picking him perhaps we should look there), or should we be checking on the bank accounts and the like of the keeper and defender who handed Birmingham the League Cup?
    After all they were major mistakes on the field that cost the team a game and if equivalent mistakes had been made by those wearing black this place would have been in meltdown. But no the mistakes of players are excused (by manager and fans) and the officals get the blame.

    Most of the top managers do this kind of scapegoating to deflect from a disappointing performance. When has AW one it recently – after a home draw against a team they, apparently, should be beating easily and then after getting his tactics all wrong in Spain. When has SAF done this recently, after his side lost at Chelsea after going one up – is this coincidence or are both managers going down an easy route of deflecting attention from serious questions about how their team performed. I know which one I think it is.

    To all the armchair referees on here if you are so convinced the game is corrupt due to poor officials why not do something about it – train to become a referee and start improving the standards at the lower levels. Even at the kids level it’s £20 a game and you can do a few games a weekend and would be in high demand given your strict impartiality.

    Walter and all of us see challenges several times from different angles and can replay key incidents before we decide whetehr it was “right” or not – rarely do we consider the referee may have had a different viewpoint from where he was on the pitch, or may have interpreted something differently because of his angle, etc.

    We also don’t know what is said in the discussions they have with managers when they have their meetings, etc. – I would guess AW would not want a game in the PL with Arsenal to be stop/ start with every offence called as it does not suit your play so he’d want referees to try and keep the game moving, especially when Arsenal have the ball – if he does that you get Walter writing about how none of the niggly fouls on Arsenal are given.

    If you all believe there is a corruption/ bias problem in the PL then in my responses to the review of the home draw with Sunderland I posted a number of ways to start to gather actual “evidence” to prove the allegations/ suppositions made herein. Without some form of unbiased analysis this will continue to look like the partisan bleatings of one set of fans who believe their team is better than the evidence suggest it is at the moment.

    I know I’m unlikely to convince anyone drinking the Kool Aid here but, for some reason, I have to try!

  • walter

    Andrew, yes I could be biased and I know what to expect from certain referees.
    BUT when that referee does what I thought he would do then it is the ref on the field that is doing it. It is not me that is doing it on the field.

    When I say that Dean (almost) never gives a foul in favour of Arshavin for some 3 years now unless they kick him 7 feet in the air and even then he hesitates before a game what is wrong with that? It is up to Dean then to prove me wrong. But when he does it in each game again and again then it is him who is doing the wrong things and not me.

    And Andrew I even keep records of my “bias” in my ref reviews. I check myself to see if I don’t give more points when we win and less points when we lose. And in fact I do. There is a difference of 6% in the scores. In average I have a result of 6% higher when we win compared to when we lose. You could say that 6% is my bias-difference in a way.
    But it also could be that when we have a ref that respects the rules better we have a bigger chance of winning a game?

    And my highest score was when we won game, closely followed by a ref when we lost a home game this season. And he lost a maximum score by not giving a yellow card against an Arsenal player in that game.

  • walter

    And Andrew just a final note to explain how I do my ref reviews. I start them in an excell file and start counting and analysing the decisions.
    And then when the game is finished I copy this in a word file and then add my thoughts on the game. So the text (even if it is situated before the facts) is only written after the game and after my review and mostly based on the things I found in the review.

  • Andrew

    Walter

    Thanks for this – honestly I have no problem with the “bias” (and appreciate that you are so upfront about it in the preamble to the columns), it is when work with an admitted slant is being used to support a claim of bias elsewhere that my hackles get raised!

  • Shard

    @Andrew

    What’s your drink then? We’re all sipping Kool Aid 🙂 I had to laugh at the for some reason I have to try bit.. That compulsion, to try and discuss this with us is actually a little flattering. I feel the same way about trying to talk some sense into you 🙂

  • Shard

    @Anne

    That is a very well reasoned post. Regarding the Newcastle match and it being a fiasco for all concerned. I’d like to say that I was expecting a lot more gloating from the media. No team has given up a 4 goal lead before, and for Arsenal to have done so would surely make their week, let alone day. But the response while still snide, was fairly muted. I can only imagine that they did not want any more attention drawn to that match. And in a sense it worked. I was convinced that trawling through the web the next day, all Arsenal fans will be up in arms against the referee. But there were, and are still many who blame that on our team and uphold that as one of the prime examples of why Wenger should go. It’s very pleasing to know that there are people like you, who can recognise what was taking place there.. Which reminds me. I have to download that match. In the future, it’ll be a case study for what a fixed match is, and that despite what was intended, Arsenal actually won a point.

  • Andrew

    @Shard – as I have been tee-total for the last 30 plus years a pepsi is great thanks!

    I’m sure you understand the reference re Kool aid but if not Wikipedia will help explain – under the ‘in popular culture’ on the following link (http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kool-Aid).

    Kind regards

  • marcus

    I am interested in what psycho-babble spin you will put on me then Andrew.

    I was a football agnostic for many a long year, and spent the 90’s watching Man U with a cold indifference as they floundered around in Europe and mercilessly beat up on any referee that had the temerity to question their right to make the onfield calls.

    Or put another way:

    I observed a deep bias and injustice in English football without supporting a club or having any partisan tendencies…

    pscho-babble me please..go on darling..

  • marcus

    ..at what point in your warped relativistic world is a goal not a goal and merely the emanation of our sub-conscious desire for it to be a goal?

  • marcus

    Anyway Andrew, while you are whittering to the birds……

    http://www.arsenalarticles.com/2011/03/media-silent-on-fergusons-ban.html

  • Shard

    @Andrew
    While I wasn’t aware of the particular case regarding the Kool Aid, I did gather the import.

    @marcus
    When Frank Lampard ‘scores’ against Germany i guess. Except in that case, a goal is not a goal because of my very conscious desire for it to not be one 🙂

  • bob

    Andrew, starved for intelligent conversation amongst his crew, has re-remerged and got attention from the partisan bleating, kool aid drinking, hopelessly biased UA Gooners for his worn-out, dull platitudes. It’s his same set (as before) of generalities about: the presumed inevitable Bias in human nature that results in decisions on the pitch; the presumed Coincidence in all bad calls (despite predictions that come true based on prior evidence); the presumption that there are two sides to every story – that all controversial calls can be seen in two ways. What drivel. Sorry, credit where it’s do – there is a fresh Contribution from his risk-hedger’s brain: to straighten out the game, it’s our responsibility to train as refs ourselves and presumably work our quiet way over the years into the select, (intentionally?) understaffed inner circle of lives of Riley that manipulates, er, referees the EPL. Otherwise, if you are not doing this act of league-purification, then shut your mouth. Become a ref or finance a vast league-wide research effort. Otherwise, shut your mouths. This is as lame as it is contrived. Walter states his bias, states his ways to correct for it, pursues the evidence at hand in this case study – month after month – and St. Andrew harrumphs that (trumpets): it is too limited a sample, Walter, so be a good little boy and go back to your crib. Andy boy, you know that you consciously keep moving back the goal posts into forever unattainability. This, here, is a case study. This here is accumulated evidence. This, here, is a working hypothesis that continues to gather evidence and, along the way, is able to predict ref behaviors that are observable on the pitch. And the analysis continues. This, here, is honest, transparent and productive. And all you offer is, in effect, a semi-educated (very dangerous) polite sneer, salt in the Arsenal wounds, and the back of your hand to this effort. Andy boy, your bias is evident. All you really do is assert Coincidence in place of Conspiracy. BUT, Andy, can you prove your assertions of Coincidence? Bleating with the rest of your (non-partisan?)flock “Coincidence! Coincidence!” may be the coin of the realm, but it too requires evidence – not repetition, not assertion, not the everyday weight of the bland leading the bland. Andy, I hope I’ve given you the attention you want. So, here, let me burp you, tuck you in, wish you sweet dreams (no Arsenal victories to trouble your slumbers), and to all a good night.

  • bob

    SHHHHHHHHHH. Don’t ever write about Fergie being banned. That will never sell newspapers. No, you will repeat after me: Arsene is French. Arsene is French. Arsene is French. Surely, that’ll sell papers. — from a leaked Memo by Big Brother to his stenographer-writing staff at The News Corporation.

  • Andrew

    @bob

    “This, here, is a case study. This here is accumulated evidence. This, here, is a working hypothesis that continues to gather evidence”

    I have previously acknowledged all of that but have also pointed out that it is, by definition, a skewed case study and skewed evidence involving Arsenal games almost exclusively. As a consequence therefore – a point I have again made on here before – gathered together it remains easy for this “case study” and “evidence” to be dismissed as biased and thus unlikely to sway anyone outside of this board.

    I have tried to outline some ways that could be addressed previously, I’m not saying it would be easy but if there is the genuine issue you and others believe then this kind of evidence has to be gathered on a much wider basis than the games of one team.

    At the end of the day we see these things differently, but that doesn’t mean you’re right anymore than it means I am, it just means we have a different starting point or perspective.

  • jitty

    Tony why do you say that matches are not fixed?

    Look at the real engines of football as a business.

    Gambling, media and marketing.

    Why else do casino interests from Hong Kong want to own a loss making shell from Brum?

    Your theory of Italian style fixing has two flaws.

    1. It does not explain all you are seeing
    2. It ignores the obvious market value of that information

    The elephant in the room of Serie A is that knowledge that games were bent has enormous market value.

    Yet this is never discussed.

  • bob

    No, Andy, the burden of proof is on you: to take, say, any recent pre-match prediction of ref behavior by Dogface, that then unfolded on the pitch — and for you to prove, by counter-evidence, that it was a coincidence. It’s too lazy to put it off as “oh, we have a different starting point.” Bring your evidence of coincidence; or is your purpose here to be evidence-free and spout you’re no more right than I am, therefore you are not right. I’d say that UA is right, and demonstrates with evidence. You say you are right and bring no counter-evidence. That’s not a wash, Andrew, that’s bias.

  • Shard

    @Andrew

    Unfortunately, we all had the same starting point as you. We’ve just progressed further.

    I know you are trying to point out what factors can be used to discount Walter’s work as just a fan’s ravings.. But the solutions you offer, while probably very reasonable logically, aren’t really feasable from a pure logistical point of view. At least not yet.

    I was having a bit of a discussion with Walter (which I’m afraid he might have taken as an argument or criticism) saying that something more needs to be done. But despite my doubts, I guess that stage still hasn’t come, and probably won’t come till more people join in to at least enquire further. Open their minds to not just the imagined hypothetical possibility, but the very real presence of corruption in the game today.

  • bob

    @Andrew, drinking the Kool-Aid, as it refers to Jim Jones collective suicide pact at Jonestown, is really a horrible reference, however colloquial and cute you might intend it. And, when you say “for whatever reason” you persist in weighing in here, well then, I ask what is your “reason”: for sowing evidence-free doubt here, yet again, and again? Really, what is your reason, Andy? Try that much introspection and let me know. Do you realize that bleating (your term) “coincidence! coincidence” is not bringing evidence? You like to toss “bleating” and “Kool Aid” and then act like you’re oh so reasonable and we just have to agree to disagree. I, for one, don’t agree. I ask your “reason” – you bring it up, Dr. Freud – and also ask for your counter-evidence to Dogface’s predictive successes. Refute it, c’mon. You’ve been reading hereabouts, and you go on about how those predictions are sheer bias; well that’s not good enough, Andrew, except in your biased “courtroom” summations. So, specific counter-evidence against our/Dogface’s bias. Bring it on.

  • Andrew

    @bob

    Simply put this board alleges bias and corruption and wants something done about it by the FA or other parties and cites the evidence from Walter and Dogface to back up the claim.

    My point is that the nature of the sample used by Walter and Dogface is such that it is easy for the FA or whoever to dismiss the output of this board as biased as a consequence. Therefore for this to be taken forward and resolved it needs to be wider than UA or it will go nowhere.

  • bob

    @Shard, Andrew is not reasonable logically. His logic is logic in a vacuum. It is evidence-free. Pure platitude. He demands a massive logistical study as proof for him, and then gets us to say, well, uh, I guess that’s reasonable but, well, shucks, a bit out of reach, for now. Please don’t fall for that crap and dignify it by saying he’s reasonable logically. His standard of proof is not reasonable. UA has provided evidence-base probability of bent refereeing. Predictions have been made and are verified. Andrew sits back and says, well, not a big enough sample, sorry, nice try, do a real study. Shard, this IS a real study. And it continues to demonstrate increased probability. Andrew, here, plays on the public’s idea that only certainty will do, and that demands a massive study that no one can logistically muster. It’s a cynical ploy, masquerading as reasonable. Please reconsider that he’s at all reasonable, despite his reasonable tone as an “answer” to my rant. Cheers, by the way.

  • bob

    @Andrew, UA had the BBC echoing recently, as you know. That has this analysis moving well into the “courtroom” of public opinion. That means that this analysis is reaching the attention of the FA in that courtroom, the one that really counts. So don’t go on about the only way we’ll get the FA to listen is by a massive logistical undertaking of a study. No, the FA is part of the problem. It won’t investigate itself and no one can believe them as this is a core issue of their integrity. I offer that you are trying to focus us on pleasing the FA; this when we’re just making headway in the arena of public – even if indirectly giving courage to increasing voices in the press that are beginning to raise the possibility of crap to bent refereeing. That is no small accomplishment. UA has gone beyond UA, even reached you, and you know it.

  • Shard

    @bob

    I know what you’re saying. I’m not sure yet whether that is Andrew’s intention. I’d like to give the benefit of the doubt. Even if that is his intention, as long as he’s not just playing a part, but actually believes that the object of any study is to give proof conclusively, then I will try and convince him otherwise. By logic and reason I mean exactly that. Logic in a vacuum, and hence unattainable since we do not exist in a vacuum. Abstract rather than practical.

    However as far as I can tell, Andrew is basically playing devil’s advocate a bit, and showing us the sort of skepticism we’ll have to contend with before gaining acceptance with a wider audience.

    Cheers right back at ya..

    And yes Andrew, now that bob brings it up, the Kool Aid reference isn’t the most apt, if not inappropriate.

  • Andrew

    Guys

    Apologies if the Kool Aid reference offended you or anyone – it was more a reference to people with a dogmatic position bit as I say apologies for any upset caused.

    As it stands you’re the people arguing against conventional wisdom at the present time and as such the burden of ‘proof’ falls on you I’m afraid – that’s the way it works. I share the misgivings re the FA but do you think the initial response would come from any body but them?

    As Shard notes there is an element of devils advocate in my postings and with wider circulation of your view will come greater scrutiny and a need to be able to argue the case effectively so view some of tuis as rehearsal.

  • bob

    @jitty, shard: I find your “Why else do casino interests from Hong Kong want to own a loss making shell from Brum?” really interesting. If you could offer more of your thinking on this it could help advance the analysis. Cheers for that reminder!

  • bob

    @Andrew, good on you for the apology on Kool Aid. It’s no joking matter, outside public callousness. As for wider circulation, it’s gaining ground and, as per the BBC write-up, it is gaining degrees of adherence. That counts and perhaps UA could let us know if there was or continues to be a spike in visits to the site (and exposure to the analysis) after the BBC’s attention?

  • Shard

    @bob

    I completely agree that this is a real study. It has demonstrably shown that the facts do indeed fit the theory. Both by the inductive and deductive methods. All Andrew is doing is basically finding flaws on the abstract level of those lines of reasoning. Thus the arguments about a false theory (different starting point) and a skewed conclusion (inadequate sample size). Those are logical things to point out, and in my understanding, all scientific studies are subjected to that sort of a test. That as he says doesn’t make him more right than us. But it CAN be enough to have the study and the theory discounted. Indulging him in conversation is probably the only way we’ll figure out how to deal with that.

    Also, I have a worry regarding Dogface’s predictions. The problem with predictions is that by making them, he might alter the very thing he predicts. (Quantum physics?)which affects the validity of his prediction.. just as an example. We all say the FA does not act against Alex ferguson. ManU fans (even the fair ones) deny it, and point to the 5 game ban he’s just been handed out as proof that our theory is wrong. But would Neo have broken the vase if the Oracle hadn’t said anything about it?

  • bob

    @shard, to me, logic for logic’s sake is all sound and fury signifying nothing. I don’t think these points cast anything like serious doubt on this analysis. As for altering the situation, that’s to the good. If the refereeing and FA stops its double standards before UA/we can prove its being a bent enterprise, that is to the good. If shining a flashlight gets the roaches to scurry for cover, well, then it leaves a cleaner/better playing field. Getting them to retreat is no small thing and, if I might indulge in my brand of truism, better is better.

  • Shard

    Andrew

    Seemingly different from bob’s objection to the Kool Aid reference, my problem with it isn’t one of public callousness or disregard for people dying in that episode.. It’s more what you said in you’re clarification. That we’re all on on this site as a representative force for some dogmatic position, rather than as observers debating and seeking validation for a hypothesis, that we have formed independently of each other.

  • Shard

    @bob

    I thought about that bit as regards getting them to retreat. But they don’t really have to do that. All they have to do is change their pattern. Get in new refs so that their numbers take time to accumulate for example. There are too many permutations that they can use, especially if they know what is the result they have to avoid. Propaganda can take care of the rest.

  • bob

    @shard,
    Yes, they can and will change their pattern as need be, and so, it’s eternal vigilance, crap-detection, etc., for their disloyal opposition (us folk). But if, for example, Don Fergus is getting his public thrashing, this can have interesting ramifications: cause some people to think at all, think twice, loosen some tongues to spill the beans, some beans, we’ll have to see. They are powerful, not all-powerful. And while they would never give ground without a massive fight, it does seem they are under increasing pressure. And realizing this can encourage people to pursue the better day (which is better).

  • Shard

    @bob

    Oh absolutely. I wasn’t arguing AGAINST Dogface’s analysis. I was merely pointing out a potential problem that might result from it.

  • marcus

    ANDREW says:
    I have previously acknowledged all of that but have also pointed out that it is, by definition, a skewed case study and skewed evidence involving Arsenal games almost exclusively.

    You conveniently ignored my previous questions Andrew, so I guess the Devil will not be paying his advocate. However, moving on to your next assertion.

    Our assertion is NOT that there is corruption in the Premiership, but that there IS gross ineptitude and bias (signalling possible corruption which needs greater scrutiny) in Arsenal games.

    There is no confusion in the study, and nothing is ‘skewed’ as you put it.

    Let’s stick to the facts here. We see bias in Arsenal games, and we have set out to demonstrate that.

    We suspect that the bias is governed by the motor of corruption, and that corruption spreads throughout football. (E.G. We would if funded do a comparative retrospective study of 20 years of Man United matches, detailing bad calls, etc etc ).

    But that is not our immediate remit.

    Our remit is to show that Arsenal games are very poorly and partially refereed.

    We believe we have set out a good case. A good case study in fact.

    There is nothing skewed in our results. you are the skewer here.

    A skewed result implies that we are conducting a laboratory process with faulty equipment or processes. The only skewing factor you have actually cited is not the terms of the case study, which are transparent, but the inherent prejudice of the obsever, (in your previous post).

    I rebutted that assertion, and you glossed over my rebuttal.

    As Bob has so eloquently said, the onus now is on you to provide a (I forget the laboratory term) supposedly non-partial test.
    E.g. You get a non-Arsenal supporter to run the same analyses as us.

    Then you would need to compare results.

    At the end of that, if the results of our tests and independent 3rd party tests tally, then you would need to drop your assertion that we are biased.

    Sorry, but the onus is all on you to prove your unfounded or at best speculative assertions.

  • marcus

    But perhaps the most comedic thing in everything you have siad is that you have unwittingly attested to bias.

    If our results are prejudiced because Walter is an Arsenal supporter,
    then it begs the question of why the FA does not require referees to
    1) disclose allegiences
    and
    20consequently prohibit referees from officiating at clubs they support

    Clearly, by your terms of reference, a referee who supports say Man U will inevitably be prejudiced in their favour.

    That is your core assertion at least, so were you speaking on behalf of the FA, (were the FA and the Devil to share an advocate that is), then you would have unwittingly admitted that referees are de facto prejudiced…

    which is in principle our core assertion…

    Seems like we are in agreement then

  • marcus

    Can you give us an edit button please Tony

  • jitty

    @Bob

    See the recent estimates as to the liquidity per annum in unregulated sports betting in Asia, The size of the market dwarfs UK football (a few bn per annum).

    So you might wonder whether it would be worth having a loss making shell in the UK market as a source of information which you could then leverage off shore.

    You might have a club like blackburn or a club like brum or a club like portsmouth

    Or you can just believe that these people all just love losing millions of their own money because football is so great

  • Laundryender

    HI Tony thanks for the offer

    yes i do attend matches, I am a season ticket holder, I will search you out in the Auld Triangle one day and call in that beer.

    Kind regards

  • Andrew

    Marcus

    I am pretty sure the FA does require such a disclosure and does prevent referees from taking games involving the teams they supported.

    Your view in what is required to make me prove my case is the exact argument I think is lacking from yours – there is no control group for the theory (so other games taken by these referees that will either show them being biased one way or another in all games or only those involving Arsenal – or you could use unbiased views of your games as you propose but then as any dissenting view on here gets short shrift perhaps these independent views would be called into question if they disagreed also!).
    As Shard notes above this is something that can be used against the work here and will be if and when it gets wider scrutiny.

  • Shard

    @Andrew

    there is an input regarding the same referee’s performance in matches other than Arsenal’s in Dogface’s analysis.

  • bob

    @Andrew,
    Short shrift? Methinks the lady doth protest too much. You have more digital ink here than you deserve. No one censors you like I am by Le Grove, and you obviously want to kick the hornets nest, as is your right. So let’s not resort to playing the victim of such ample opportunity to keep on keeping on. “Short shrift”, you say? Now you’ve got my attention, alas.

  • bob

    @jitty: Many thanks for spelling it out. It seems spot on – no one invests that much to lose. It’s a Trojan Horse with immense potential payoffs. Something that seems well explored in Declan Hill’s The Fix: Soccer and Organized Crime (2008). I’ll get at reading it soon and appreciate your savvy take. Cheers, mate.

  • marcus

    Andrew says:

    I am pretty sure the FA does require such a disclosure and does prevent referees from taking games involving the teams they supported.

    Your view in what is required to make me prove my case is the exact argument I think is lacking from yours – there is no control group for the theory (so other games taken by these referees that will either show them being biased one way or another in all games or only those involving Arsenal – or you could use unbiased views of your games as you propose but then as any dissenting view on here gets short shrift perhaps these independent views would be called into question if they disagreed also!).
    As Shard notes above this is something that can be used against the work here and will be if and when it gets wider scrutiny. Andrew

    This is so flakey now….

    “I am pretty sure the FA does require such a disclosure and does prevent referees from taking games involving the teams they supported.”

    Pretty sure? really? We provide analysis…you provide pretty sureties….go and do some very basic analysis, and show us which referees do not referee particular teams. Easy analysis, easy proof. But you have no proof at all, only a vague notion about something you are ‘pretty sure’ about…lol. There is no such thing. And if the FA requires disclosure from referees as to who they support, 1) we know nothing of it and 2) it seems that such knowledge is double-edged…lol

    You do not understand my argument. or else you wilfully twist it.

    We are not evaluating referees across the board. That is not a ‘control group.’
    That is changing the scope and breadth of the investigation.

    We are investigating referees officiating Arsenal.
    I specified that..you have ignored me and chuntered off a tangent of your own.

    How referees officiate other matches may be a related issue, but it is not the immediate scope of our concern.

    We believe that referees falsify our matches.

    Since YOU believe we are inherently biased, then YOU, or some body that you speak for, could provide a control group…..but that is not our responsibility.

    We have done our analyses, to the best of our ability, and as objectively as possible. If you believe we are not objective, (your belief, not ours), then the onus is on you to suggest a control group to evaluate the veracity and impartiality of our assertions.

    If a control group were implemented, it would have to be, as in all mediation procedures, a group we were happy with. But the control group would not be aimed at this blog – we know what we see and believe, and the control group is not intended to mollify our views, it is intended to take the argument to a higher level of proof and veracity, were this matter to extend to a higher court of opinion.

    Your thinking is cloudy, and your arguments opaque. I have said all I have to say to you Andrew.

    And I will repeat, if everything is filtered through the lens of our allegiances, so that Walter is totally subjective as you assert, then likewise all referees cannot ergo be impartial either….go figure…or change your stance.

  • Shard

    @marcus

    “Pretty sure? really? We provide analysis…you provide pretty sureties…”

    LOL..Like seriously.

  • Shard

    @Andrew

    I think marcus has got you there. One thing I would like to ask you though. In this playing of the Devil’s advocate, are you open to the idea that we might be right, or is it just an exercise? You have admitted to the possibility of corruption being present before. I wonder if you think it is probable..

    Also, I don’t think your stance has been rejected out of hand here Andrew. I like debating this with you, because a) it’s always good to get a perspective from a fan of another club, and b) to try and convince you (as any sceptic) of the reasoning behind our stated stance.

    However, as I said before, we are not mindlessly pursuing some dogma we hold to be the absolute truth. So far you have addressed the factors that might logically (however abstract) may go against our theory. I’ve agreed with that line of questioning even if I do not agree with all of the points you raise.

    At this point I’d like to ask if you can logically analyse the factors in FAVOUR of our theory? Including, but not limited to our being Arsenal fans..

    Compare the two sets of factors dispassionately, and It is my contention that you will find that our theory is more probable.

  • Shard

    I agree with marcus.. We need an edit button

  • Shard

    @Andrew

    Correction: Of course our being Arsenal fans doesn’t count in favour of our contention of a fair analysis. I meant that, don’t let that limit you from seeing the theory in itself, as also the evidence put forth. The importance of the level of bias can be evaluated later, when you compare the two sets of factors.

  • walter

    Shard, you said somewhere in the discussion that you said something that I could have taken as critism. Please criticise me when you feel he need. Because in fact that is what Andrew wants. I can be as biased as the ref and so I also need people who control me! The more control the better. And what better control than the control of the audience who disagree with me. Right or wrong then it is up to me to defend what I said. And we can have a discussion.

    So no need to go easy on me when I do a ref review.

  • walter

    And Andrew in fact when I started this ref reviews I started it with only taking the big decisions on board. And my main goal was to see if the main decisions at the end of the season “would even out” as they say.
    But because the readers demanded more and pointed at certain things I had to go further and further. And now I am taking all the decisions on board. And a next step will be the non decisions (allthough I do take major non decisions in the report already).

    And just from one step came another. The fact that I now can say some things (and combined with the previews of Dogface) could give of some refs a very accurate review even before the game is just a result of analyzing the games over and over. And seeing the same mistakes by the same refs over and over.

    So at first my intention was not to come to the conclusion Tony and I have reached so far. In fact I dislike it very much. I would have loved it if I could have said at the end of the season: IT EVENS OUT! But for the moment with the things I have noted I cannot say it will even out. Well unless the refs start to give us a enormous amount of decisions in the final 10 games. If they would act for 90 minutes like Dowd did against Newcastle it could…

  • walter

    About the future things. Without telling you exactly what I will try to do you can rest assured that I am working on new things. But this wont be easy as I will need the help of other people from outside.

    One thing I do would like is however if we could find 19 other refs who support a team but who also would like the laws of the game to be respected in general to work with me and to analyse each game like I do it and then we could turn this study in to something more. But I really don’t know how to find the persons who would want to join me in this.

    So if anoyone has any ideas to find them please let me know.

  • marcus

    I don’t think you need 19 refs Walter.

    I think you should do this:

    2 adjudicators follow Arsenal
    2 adjudicators follow Man U

    then maybe take 3 random referees, and have them followed by one adjudicator each.

    So you would need 7 adjudicators to start with.

    For your random refs you could follow:

    Anthony Taylor – given that he is our best young ref
    A ‘controversial’ referee – e.g. Dowd
    Martin Atkinson – since SAF disliked him so much

    ————–

    You really need a stand alone site ..’Refwatch.com’ something like that

    if you could get guest posts from proper ex refs that would be cool….

    Once you have a team of refs, then every week you could invite readers to highlight their dodgy game of the week, and then say

    X City V Y United

    was the most controversial game of the week, you get get your team of refs to do some sort of collective analysis of it…

  • marcus

    or to trim that down even more.

    You could have 1 non-partisan adjudicator follow Arsenal, 1 follow Man U, and maybe 2 following a couple of refs.

    You would need 4 personnel to get started.

  • marcus

    The point being that you are not trying to provide an exhaustive analysis of the EPL referees, but enough well-considered judgement to
    take this somewhere…where though I know not!

  • Shard

    @marcus and Walter

    That where are we taking this is actually the point. I do not believe the FA will act on it as a matter of course. Even if the media (like the BBC) picks up on it. They will cite all sorts of laws and by-laws. FIFA will claim it’s not their jurisdiction. I have no idea what UEFA does and where they come in.

    The point is, we do not know the power structures.. the heirarchy that exists is unclear and arbitrary. Who will you approach with any study, no matter how exhaustive, if the FA simply shut their eyes and ears and refuse to acknowledge it?

    And Walter, the above was the only point I was trying to raise and it seemed to me that you misunderstood that as me trying to discredit the work being done on this site.. I am fully behind what this site does and is trying to achieve. And Walter, I think I have only found myself disagreeing with you twice in all your ref reviews. The first penalty against Newcastle (and that I wasn’t that much against); and second was the first foul in the away match vs Barcelona, where you gave it as a foul by Clichy and I felt Xavi had dived. So no major worries there. Rest assured, you are being watched closely 🙂

  • Gord

    It is almost impossible to prove anything with statistics. You can occasionally make strong statements about how likely something is, but that isn’t proof.

    I believe that OpenSource in Sweden has a package, for people to track their politicans. Something like that might be adaptable to tracking referees. If nothing else, that gives you a different kinds of data.