By Walter Broeckx
Regular readers on Untold know that we have been focusing on the refs from the start of the season. Prior to that we did cover refereeing but not as comprehensively as we do now.
The in-depth coverage started when I felt the need to highlight mistakes by the ref and as a number of readers wrote in asking for more, and more is what you have been getting this season.
The utterly remarkable work done by Dogface has been amazing. His column virtually predicts what the ref would do. The ref watch written before the Everton game attracted the attention of even the BBC. I have done my bit with the ref review articles. Articles that will become even more comprehensive in their coverage next season; I can promise you that already.
And Tony watched at it all and wrote some very great articles in which he summarized a bit the things he has seen in the work from Dogface and myself. (Thanks Walter, your cheque is in the post – Tony).
If you have a good memory you will have noticed that we have mentioned a few things on more than one occasion.
We have pointed at the total shortage of refs in the EPL. Only 16 refs this season. This had as a result that some refs can be very influential when exposing their bias or inability on the field. One bad or biased ref can cost you something between 9 up to 15 points in one season.
And we pointed at the coincidence that Webb had three games at Old Trafford and they all have been top games. Which Utd won.
And we have been using the name Calciopoli on a few occasions. The name that was given to the scandal in Italy where some top teams chose which ref would do which game because they hoped he would expose his normal bias and in that way would help their team to a league title. Juventus won 2 titles this was but they were taken away from them later when the scandal was revealed.
And now we have a situation in which Mr Wenger was questioned about the incident where SAF talked about the ref before the game from Utd against Chelsea and praised him before the game in a way that was really a bit over the top. And Wenger came up with a new proposition.
He said that they should draw the refs before just a few days before the game and leave it unknown to the clubs as to who will be coming over for the game. Apart from the fact that it would make Dogface’s job impossible and so for Untold it would be a bad idea, it could work.
Indeed the idea itself isn’t that bad at all. Now I must admit that maths is not something I am very strong in. Calculating what the odds are for a certain ref in a certain game is something I don’t know that much. But I think our readers will sort this out for me. But I just have a bit of a gut feeling that the chances (when games are drawn randomly) of Webb having the games MU-Arsenal, MU-Liverpool and MU- Chelsea in one season will sink to a very low possibility.
The chance of having Dean and Walton in the same game and on the same date and against the same teams in which an Arsenal player was kicked to pieces would be very small, I think.
So if there would be something like Calciopoli in England this would make it impossible – unless the draw was fixed. So no more Webb in the 3 most important home games from United unless the draw came out like that. But the chance is low I think for this to happen.
But let us go back to the why Wenger made this proposition. Could it be possible that some people at Arsenal find these coincidences also a bit suspicious? Maybe they also are thinking that there could be something like Calciopoli in the EPL? Could it be that some teams get the refs they want when they really need and want him?
From our work at Untold I surely think this could be possible. And the fact that Wenger came with this proposition is something that makes me wonder if Arsenal also think it is not only possible but actually happening? Does Wenger read Untold and our work upon refs? Well I wouldn’t go that far (although he has picked up on a couple of our phrases and used them a day or two after us, in press conferences, and always with a smile) but is it a coincidence that almost at the end of the season and after all our hard work Arsenal come up with this idea?
But even this proposition has a weak link. Because if the PGMOL would stick to its policy of having as few refs as possible there still would be a big chance of bad or biased refs having a big influence on the outcome of games. Because of the low number of refs we could still face Dowd 3 or 4 times in a season. We still would face Dean some 3 or 4 times a season.
So to have a lower impact of the refs and a lower impact of some teams when they get their preferred refs for their own games and other preferred refs to the teams who they want to lose we just need more refs. We would need at least 10 refs more and I think that at least 30 refs would be the minimum for the EPL.
Therefore the proposition Mr Wenger made itself is a very good one. But it would mean nothing when we still have the same low number of refs. The only thing it would exterminate would be the possibility of a Calciopoli in the EPL. That itself would be already a big step forward. But while we are at it we just make the two steps at the same time: More refs and refs drawn to do the games and not selected by man behind closed doors and we know nothing about the reasons why they select a ref for a game.
And if by any chance Arsène Wenger or some of his staff have thought about it because of reading our work on refs it sure would feel great that our work not only became recognised by the BBC but also by Arsenal itself.
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