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Should Arsenal join other major teams in fixing matches to ensure survival?

By Tony Attwood

Of course the question in the title is loaded,and I know there are some people who don’t actually believe that match fixing goes on in the Premier League.  They see, and presumably accept, the evidence of match fixing from across Europe, but believe that somehow (in ways that I have never seen them explain) the Premier League is immune.

There is another view of course, that the allegation is interesting but unproven.  Indeed we’ve had people on this site making the statement that we have not proven that match fixing exists in the Premier League, and that the only evidence they would accept would be tape recordings of conversations in which referees were offered inducements to help this or that club over the season.

Two points arise from that.  First is the point that we are talking about matches across a season, rather than a sum of £50 notes for fixing a certain match.  The other is that self-evidently we at Untold do not have such a recording.  Untold is a blog run by a group of Arsenal supporting enthusiasts and so the chances of us having the resources to find such a tape are remarkably slim.

But saying I won’t believe without the tape is a bit like saying, “I won’t believe in gravity without being handed the particle.”   The fact is that gravity is there, and we feel it every second of every day.  We can predict the gravity on various astronomical bodies, with an amount of accuracy.

Of course some people don’t believe in science as such, and so dismiss issues such as global warming, and Darwinian theory, and presumably the sub-atomic particle explanation of gravity.   With such views based on faith one can do little.   But the fact remains that scientifically, having the tape is not the only level of proof.

What we have seen on Untold through the hard work of Walter and his team of investigators is something that is a type of proof – certainly a type of proof good enough to require investigation, unless one takes a profoundly anti-scientific point of view.

First, we have shown through our analysis of Arsenal matches last season, and a wide range of matches this season that there are areas of bias so outrageous that it is not surprising that most of the media is ignoring our findings.  (The media of course having a vested interest in the EPL being safe and pure, since they pay so much money to cover it).     When every dubious decision in a game goes in favour of one team rather than the other, you have to ask questions – and if there is an oddity it is simply why the media does not ask questions.

Second, the long term claim by the match-fixing-deniers is that such errors balance over time.  You get a bad call this week, and a good call next week.   We are finding no such balance at all in the time we have been investigating referees.

Third, there is no doubt that a lot of these errors could be erased by the sort of technology that exists in other sports.  The fact that the Premier League, Uefa and Fifa don’t engage with this technology suggests again that something is seriously wrong.  One asks “why not?” and there is no answer.

Fourth, as Walter has shown in his articles, the level of acceptable error by referees in the Premier League is higher than in other leagues.  No explanation has been given for this, but the fact is, refs can get away with errors in the EPL which they could never get away with in other countries.  This again suggests something odd is going on.

Fifth, the number of referees qualified to work in the EPL is extraordinarily small – again a subject of a whole series of articles on this site.  Again there has never been an explanation as to why.

Sixth, our own attempts at gathering information across countries about referees has been blocked.  When Walter led the research we got one reply from a national body, and then dead silence.  Of course this is not proof that the word went out saying “don’t talk to these guys”, but it is suggestive.

I would argue that none of these points alone is enough, but put together they are getting very close to a very high level of proof that something odd is going wrong.  If you try and form a reason as to why all this might be happening without going into match fixing, the explanation tends to look a bit odd and convoluted.

So let’s turn to the issue of proof itself.

I am going to try and keep this simple, and not get deeply involved in proof from a scientific or social science point of view.

My background and my research degree is in social science and within this I see in broad terms three types of proof.

First, scientific prediction.  One says, if we do this experiment then 19 times out of 20 we will get this result. Of course that is not always possible when dealing with people, so we often look for other approaches.

Second, scientific evidence.   We find the equivalent of the tape with the phone conversations on it.  We’ve seen this sort of approach in the last couple of weeks in science with the faster than light argument.   The evidence was gathered, and then a group of highly eminent scientists examined it, looking for holes.  The theory says FTL travel is not possible, so investigations get under way.

Third, the theory is evolved to explain the observation.  We know what we call gravity is there, but we can’t find the particle that generates it.  But we take it one must exist, otherwise we are back in the world of magic.  So we try and work out where it is and what it looks like.

As I have indicated, we are not operating in part two, but in parts one and three.  We can make the prediction that when a certain referee referees an Arsenal match Arsenal is likely to lose.  Then we can devise a theory to explain the situation taking into the six points I have outlined above.

When we do this one answer seems to be that a small number of teams are using agents to persuade referees to swing matches in favour of certain clubs and against other clubs.  In other words team X might have an agent saying to a number of refs, you can use this villa, this yacht, have these school fees paid anonymously, etc etc, if you ensure that we get the swing of the matches, and that teams Y and Z don’t.  That doesn’t mean every team in every match (although when you have a ref like the one in Portugal last year who saw Vela’s penalty appeal as a dive, one wonders!) but it means over time, give decisions our way.

The ref doesn’t have to do anything, and if he does nothing, nothing happens.  He (the ref) has no evidence – just an anonymous untraceable phone call which might of course have come from a crank.   But if he does just give the occasional odd decision (such as for example that in the Everton Liverpool game this weekend) he might find something nice happening.  He can then report this to the league, or not.  But remember there is no hard evidence of the link between the available villa or yacht, and the single event in a match.

In such a scenario all the situations outlined above (the lack of referees, the willingness to accept a much lower standard of refereeing in this country than others), point to match fixing of the Italian variety.

Of course that is not all – there could be activity going on to disrupt certain teams by enticing away the best players with offers elsewhere, by disrupting their buying and selling (putting in counter offers to every offer we make for example), buying off other clubs to ensure horrific injuries against our players (in the Shawcross style)…   the list is endless.  But these are speculative.

In the weight of the evidence thus far I think there is wholesale match fixing in the Premier League and the only question is whether Arsenal should continue to stay outside it.

I for one think we should stay away from it.  I would sooner see Arsenal struggle in a relegation battle, but know that we have not fixed any games, than have us win the league in the style of Juve.

It’s a personal choice, but that’s just what I would prefer.  I hope Arsenal continue to resist.

Untold Arsenal on Twitter @UntoldArsenal

55 comments to Should Arsenal join other major teams in fixing matches to ensure survival?

  • Mandy Dodd

    We should stay away from it at all costs. Boro Primorac was brave enough to make a stand at considerable cost, so should the club.

  • Maverick

    I really worry for arsenal this season, so many injuries to key players and the new ones not gelling as well as I thought and all these dodgy decisions against us. Even in todays derby match van der vaarts goal shouldnt have stood at all but as usual its against us so sod all goes in our favour. If we dont get 4th spot this season we will not be able to attract the players we need to build our team up becuase they will want to play in the champions league. I think this is the season we could start to slowly crumble and it is mainly to do with never getting the decisions……….i am in dispair with how things are going against us, we just seem punch drunk and unable to get up against the constant battering anymore for all angles especially the press and pundits.

  • the font

    can not agree with you boys today was it handball by makemeill bender fart or did the ref just not see it

  • goonaphil

    A blind ref and a lucky goal (which we always seem to be on the end of)same old yids.
    COME ON YOU GOONAS

  • davi

    A bit off-topic, but sort of relevant: I thought you might be interested in this article on racial bias in baseball umpires:

    https://webspace.utexas.edu/hamermes/www/Baseball4Authors.pdf

  • chris from Cambridge

    The officials refs know the Laws but not the game because they have never played it a decent level. If they had they would know you cannot run fast at right angles to the line of the cross and plop it down in front of you without using your arm.

    Hence he just did not see it. The same as the Linesmen did not see 2 offside goals for Liverpool and one for Blackburn. They also did not see Barton pick Gervinho up by the lapels and shout abuse in his face … while other Newcastle players also moved in … and then claim he had been punched.

    It doesn’t prove that UK officials are bribed but at certain grounds they are intimidated in favour of the home side and like to stay popular. Unfortunately the Emirates is a ground where refs. like to prove they are not homers !

  • bjtgooner

    I am happy to second Mandy Dodd’s comment “stay away from it at all costs”.

    There is certainly a very large suspicion that match fixing takes place – to assist a certain team or teams through the season or on occasion to reward an unlikely bet placed at favourable odds.

    It is strange that the media is very quiet about the possibility of match fixing – possibly too quiet!

    Followers of cricket will have seen the introduction of technology to assist umpires. It has not stopped match fixing by certain players but it has helped umpires make better decisions and also it has taken the controversy out of most desisions. If I was in charge of referees I would want to support my referees by introducing such technology.

    Also, surely anyone in charge of referees would want to minimise criticism of his employees by: –

    1. refs and linesmen to have an eye test as part of their medical

    2. refs appointed to each match by a random independent system

    3. retraining or demotion for those refs who consistently get it wrong

    4. a system of transparency, I am assuming the refs match report is never seen – it should be available to the clubs

    5. The system of appeal against ref decisions seems unsatisfactory. The right of appeal in law is well established, why in football can a club have punishment increased if those hearing an appeal decide that the appeal is frivolous? Also, why can’t clubs appeal against yellows?

    Further, the person in charge of the refs should be appointed for a limited period only – 3 years max? This person should be answerable for the activities of the refs – at present all we have is silence.

  • Jitty

    Our of interest Tony – what makes you believe there is nothing amiss at Arsenal?

  • anish

    I’d rather see arsenal become a mid table club than be branded a cheat..the january transfer window is still there..only question is can the team hold on till then, and will wenger budge and move big..

  • Sammy The Snake

    I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again… EPL is getting as bad as pro wrestling. There are good guys & bad guys, and the winner is decided in advance. EPL can’t simply leave such a bug business to evolve on it’s own, so they tip the direction of the season towards a most exciting outcome.

    Have you seen the refreeing in pro wrestling? The ref is “distracted” while one players does an illegal move… Well, in EPL 2 refs look away for VDV to handle the ball. How easy is that?!

    Having said that, our defense isn’t helping either. Even AW conceded that our defending was poor. Let’s look forward to better days…

  • critic

    But arsenal are already busy in match fixing.
    3-2 spuds win at EMS
    4-4 draw at newcunts
    2-1 cup debacle
    8-2 utd win
    4-3 blackburn win
    etc etc..
    These were all fixed by arsenal hierarchy and players. I refuse to believe arsenal can play that bad.

    Arsenal are already in it.

  • Onsra

    What you must do is show statistics for wins and losses and draws for each referee for each key team for last year and analyse the data – this would be a valid form of proof

  • I’m not certain match-fixing does take place. It’s not ”English.”

    What is very English is expecting everyone concerned to behave in accordance with how one is supposed to act. How one is supposed to act is set in concrete, from birth onwards, according to the spheres of influence one aspires to join and become.

    England does not do revolutions. England is a great country for finding a niche and keeping one’s place. Therefore, you act in accordance with what is expected of you. Therefore, once you have found your niche, once you have found the sphere of the influence which has to be followed, you follow what everyone else says and does. You do not have to be bribed.

    Group pressure, social standing, this is all it takes. The last thing you want for yourself is to be thrown out of the group which accepts you.

    Obviously you will not find a tape-recording of a financial offer that cannot be resisted, instead you will find a tight, small group of people, with massive authority, coming to the same decisions time after time, whatever the quality of evidence in front of them.

  • critic

    At the moment and yes it hurts but 14 teams are better than arsenal. But it’s not the end of the world. We can always revert back to WWE. :D.

    Kidding. This ain’t may.

  • Sammy The Snake

    Entertainment Premier League!

  • Mandy Dodd

    Appearances can deceive critic, Newcastle are third, we have our problems but no way are Newcastle in reality 12 places better than us, as will be proven in May.
    There are things that need sorting with this team, we need players to return, or if they do not , we may need signings rather than throw the inexperienced in at the deep end as we have done before.
    We no longer have the 3 players that define a modern Arsenal team, the one remaining will be out for another 4 months. That would hurt any team but will not prove fatal. Our whole pattern of play was based on these type of players, we are now having to adjust just about everything. No wonder Wenger was initially willing to lose Nasri for nothing for another years service, on this evidence he was correct in his view.
    There are problems that will take time to sort, people can blame Wenger, an inflexible system,the board, a thin squad , injuries or whatever but them is the facts.
    I fear that with the likes of Jack, Cesc and Nasri in their pomp, we could get away without defending as a team, maybe the team were even discouraged from worying about that sort of thing? Old habits will die hard but Wenger will turn this around, if not this season, maybe next but more pain awaits I fear.

  • Laundryender

    The only way the ref could have given the decision today was with the aid of TV replay and an appeal system. Ref would always be behind the handball by VDV, and assistant was on other side. decision today is an argument for TV replays and an appeal system, not an argument for incompetent reffing.

  • Mr Venger

    Ironically apart from the handball I thought Dean had by far his most fair performance for us I can remember.
    Strange how it comes when we are near the bottom of the table and out of the title race.
    I think the powers that be may have bigger fish to fry this season, now that we have finally succumbed to the onslaught.

    What about match fixing via the fixture list & kick off times??
    Thats a can of worms that deserves to be opened

  • Domhuaille

    There is another element in considering whether a specific referee is potentially involved in match-fixing; his past record for being corrupted. Apparently Dean gets a big check-mark beside this one.
    With respect to the original question, the obvious and solely rational answer is NO. If we want to win whatever we play for, we need to do so legitimately otherwise we are no better than the politicians who steal, the schoolkid who cheats or plagiarizes, Septic Bladderfull who is bought since birth, your average Italian Football Club owner, etc. I don’t want to be in the company of these vermin and I don’t want the Arsenal to be either!

  • Jim

    We’re simply not good enough. It’s an undeniable fact and a sad reality. The whole world sees it. Why don’t you?

  • Kentetsu

    No matter how frustrating it is to have the decisions go against you time and time again – wrong calls for goals, penalties and red cards hardly ever favour Arsenal – the Club should not get drawn towards the dark side. Fair play is the only way to play. Eventually dark forces dictating the game will come to the light and the relevant parties will be punished accordingly, while Arsenal will stay out of the firing zone. It may mean more difficult years ahead, but that’s far better than being part of the corruption.

    As long as Untold keeps doing the good work in uncovering the truth and providing circumstantial evidence, eventually people will notice. In two, three years time there will be many years worth of data and analysis substantiating the hypthosesis that the EPL is corrupt. At which point there surely must be somebody with influence (e.g. Arsenal, media, government) to pick it up and do something with it.

  • para

    No, No, No as answer to the question.

  • A significant number of replies to this blog have not been printed as they break the standard rules of the blog, which are quite widely published on the site.

    For the most part these replies were highly abusive. But it is interesting that not one of them actually gave any sort of analysis to explain why my approach was not right – for the most part (not all but for the most part) they just thought that a reasoned response to the article was to call me names.

  • Prasanna Veeraraghavan

    @ Tony Attwood:

    I don’t know if your country has the kind of RTI which we have right now in India which creates kid of ruckus here with politicians and Governance.

    Most referees must be having some kind of accounting, tax returns, property returns, other taxes etc and anything ambiguous could be easily spotted through publicly announcing the same. But if the rot is overall like say it comes from the higher ups then you are in for a long duel. I doubt anyone would come out unscathed. But please note these days everything is widely open. Nothing can remain closed. It just needs some kind of wisdom in search.

    I know its too hard to do for the starters but you can always question the system with more answers. With the kind of gossip the British media indulge in, I really doubt it would be very hard to really know what kind of employment the referees have, their income nad their lifestyle and all.

    If really things are amiss you can always look into these without looking deep. We just make the presence felt to start with.

    But I really doubt we all will go anywhere near the truth because the rot seems to start with the system and end there. Its not like teams are match fixing but the system is fixing and for them Arsenal need not have to win because Arsenal without winning has a fan base, it makes good money and is well backed up.

  • Prasanna Veeraraghavan

    One more reason why I can say some kind of fixing is happening is on these lines.

    a) Take the case of top three clubs right now. Man City, Man Utd and Chelsea. You will see all these are propped up by big money spenders. But you cannot keep propping up big money forever and somewhere there there ought to be returns.

    You get returns only by victory. Except for Man Utd I don’t see the other clubs having any kind of super players who will fetch in revenue. The income can only come through winning and coming up.

    I believe Venkys of India throw some hundred million dollars next season and bring in some wonderful Manager and some big name players and they are ready to toy around with big money Blackburn will also become a title contender. They will surely be able to play CL.

  • BobbyP

    Hi Tony

    A reasoned approach to your article would be to point out that the subjective, biased nature of the ref reviews clearly limits their validity. As someone claiming to approach this from a scientific viewpoint, it does surprise me that this point seems to be constantly ignored by you, and all of the match-fixing advocates.

    Not to say that there isn’t bias, corruption, or match-fixing – but if the only evidence is a subjective analysis (on a site clearly looking to prove bias/fixing), then it’s not surprising that not everyone is convinced.

  • BobbyP

    @Prasanna

    Could it not just be the case that Chelsea and City (and United) have the best players (and pay the highest wages), so are more likely to win? Do you really think a team with Silva, Aguero, Nasri, Hart, Kompany etc can only win football games through match-fixing? Your logic seems completely backward to me.

  • Onsra

    Please could you address the point I raised – I have outlined the only scientific way to prove it above.

    Although this would entail a lot of hard work – not suited to after-match venting and comforting hunches.

  • Stevie E

    Hi Onsra
    Is this the kind of research you are suggesting? http://blog.emiratesstadium.info/referees

  • bob

    Chris from cambridge,
    Is that what they teach at Cambridge when you come too close to the truth: to make up a fairytale to keep the baddies away?

  • bob

    Bobby P,
    Sorry, but you don’t know the difference between subjective and objective in actual scientific practice and analysis. That total dichotomy is a fairytale that you’ve learned and never bothered or learned to actually examine. Repeat a dualism over and over and people like most of us learn to think that everything is either/or, black/white, on/off, objective/subjective. You demand a purity that is impossible, and even the scientists know that the presence of an observer MUST alter the observed situation; so, absent pure objectivity, we factor in the influence of the observer, and that has been done on UA, by UA’s efforts last season and this season, etc. You fall back on that not objective enough mantra and try, no matter your protestations, to undermine the validity of this effort for what is an impossible standard.

  • bob

    Prasanna,
    I think you are quite naive to believe that the gutter and leading English media either won’t or can’t keep a secret, especially one that leads to an indictment of the EPL itself. That secret is where their bread stays buttered.

  • bob

    Kentetsu,
    Yes, honesty is best, and the best policy as well – even if it does not mean winning on the pitch, it can mean winning the hearts and minds of a wider public, and that is the victory that matters.

  • BobbyP

    @bob

    ‘even the scientists know that the presence of an observer MUST alter the observed situation’

    At a quantum level, that may be the case. But are you seriously claiming that someone watching a game on TV affects the decisions a referee makes???

    There is clear difference between subjective and objective when it comes to these reviews, as they are being produced for a site with a clear agenda to prove that there is anti-Arsenal bias, and that match-fixing goes on. Most reasonable people would accept that reduces the credibility and validity of the reviews, including an article published on this site:

    http://blog.emiratesstadium.info/archives/12352

    As stated in that article

    ‘It lacks credibility because it is by Arsenal supporters for Arsenal supporters. The emphasis Untold has put on refereeing bias is fundamentally flawed by that single fact. We have a vested interest in proving a bias for obvious reasons, for we never protested when we were top’

  • bob

    Jim,
    Not being good enough and probable corruption are two different items. Both can be true. Can you deal with that?

  • bob

    Bobby P,
    Alright then; if it’s idiocy you wish to establish, I’m clearly not talking about someone watching a TV screen altering what’s going on on the pitch – unless that person has zillions invested on the match and the referee knows so. No, as you might be able to realize, I’m talking about the ref reviews hereabouts that you were insinuating are without validity, and you know it. Put your straw man that you knock down back in the closet. It’s a poor debating point and not what I’m saying, in truth. I’d like you to show one so-called purely objective study of human behavior with neither a subjective element nor an interpretive bias. You can pretend that facts are pure and speak for themselves apart from any human filter, or that statistics alone are evidence of pure objectivity, but you are either pretending or self-deceiving.

  • bob

    Zedsuncle,
    Here’s two words for ’em: Guy Fawkes

  • BobbyP

    @bob

    Undoubtedly all ref reviews will have some unconscious element of bias – but that is completely different to a clear, known bias directly relating to the review being produced. Most people accept this principle, so that (for example) an English ref won’t referee an England international. The idea being to get as close to neutrality as is humanly possible, which these reviews clearly don’t do.

    A clear example of bias affecting judgment was the Sky half-time analysis of the handball yesterday – ex-Spurs player Glenn Hoddle thought it wasn’t handball, while ex-Arsenal player Alan Smith thought it was.

  • Mahdain

    i really dont understnad why some of you dont what to accept that match fixing exists in EPL..it is happening across europe then why not england? are you THAT naive to believe the epl is pure and made up of saints? just look at dean yesterday spuds scored a handball goal but yep he didnt see it but then vdv ran to the supporters celebrating which is clearly stated as a yellow card which means that vdv should have been sent off as it would have been another booking but tell me one thing why didnt dean book and send him off? didnt he see him running to the crowd? what about the linesmen? oh yeah its because it was a player from his pal arry`s team and didnt want to make arry angry….want more proof? check martin atkinson disgraceful perfomance in the merseyside derby

  • Mahdain

    that should have read understand and want..sorry about the typos

  • BobbyP

    @Mahdain

    ‘I really dont understand why some of you dont what to accept that match fixing exists in EPL.’

    Simply because there is no evidence. Accepting things as fact with zero evidence tends to be limited to religious belief or conspiracy theories…

    Re. the van der Vaart yellow card/handball, read the second half of the article below for a clear explanation as to why there shouldn’t have been a sending off. Do you really think correct application of the rules equals match-fixing?

    http://www.football365.com/ref365/7219570/Not-The-Only-Thing-Atkinson-Got-Wrong

  • @BobbyP – “Re. the van der Vaart yellow card/handball, read the second half of the article below for a clear explanation as to why there shouldn’t have been a sending off. Do you really think correct application of the rules equals match-fixing?” – just to get this clear… that wasn’t a handball then and the rules were applied correctly?

    Also, out of interest – have you ever posted under the name: “Goonerbeall”?

  • Shard

    Bobby P

    “Accepting things as fact with zero evidence tends to be limited to religious belief or conspiracy theories…”

    Well at least you equate religion to a conspiracy theory. Your argument of zero evidence is a lie and you know it. By the way. Doesn’t accepting the purity of the English game on not just zero evidence, but evidence to the contrary equate to religious belief? What assurances do you have from the football authorities that all that can be done to ensure fairness is being done? What makes you accept that things are just fine and dandy? Untold’s reviews have a vested interest as you say. The FA, Premier League etc have a vested interest too. In your view wanting to watch good football and hoping your team wins, is a bigger vested interest than the millions that ride on the game? My my..Now that’s a fun view of the world.

  • ‘I really dont understand why some of you dont what to accept that match fixing exists in EPL.’

    Simply because there is no evidence.

    There really isn’t much further we can go with this. We present analyses of matches which show that certain teams get the dubious calls their way, and others don’t.

    We do predictions of how refs will behave, and they do.

    We look (as Dogface did in his preview of this last game) at the ref’s previous activites, and see that they amount to bias.

    And you call this, without any analysis or in depth review, “no evidence”

    As I tried to say in the article – we don’t have the tape recordings, but we have all the stuff behind it.

    What else can we do?

  • And I would add, no one who is replying to us is producing any counter evidence.

    It is like the earth going round the sun or vice versa argument. Galileo said, look at the way Mars moves in the sky, and then look at Venus. Saying we are the centre of solar system does not explain that. Saying that the Sun is at the centre and we all go around the sun, does explain that movement.

    It is not proof but it is a working explanation of the facts.

    Maybe that is what I should call all this. A WORKING EXPLANATION OF THE OBSERVABLE FACTS

  • bjtgooner

    @ Bobby P

    The ref reviewer puts his view forward openly for comment. If you think that a review is incorrect, then you should comment there and then. I may be wrong, but I don’t think I have noticed you convincing anyone, or even attempting to convince anyone, that any particular UA review is in error. Consequently, you are not in a strong position to suggest a bias in such reviews or to contest their validity.

  • Mahdain

    @Tony exactly..just because there is no video or audio evidence should we all just turn blind eye and act as though nothing is wrong and that epl is the purest of the pure? should we all just consider all these as just coincidences? it happened in italy,turkey and it is happening across europe and just because the media is silent and act as if epl is run by saints doesnt mean it is…and bobby dont you have eyes to see all what is happening? or are u waiting for a biased and agenda ridden media to tell u something is wrong to start believing?

  • walter

    exactly bjtgooner, the reviews are done and then they come out with each and any decision think is right or wrong. We say the minute of the game so anyone can check for themselves and ask for an explanation. If they don’t agree the can say so and then the reviewers will have another look at their decision and tell based on what evidence they came to their conclusion.

  • davi

    I don’t think that the accumulated evidence can be used as proof that match-fixing is occurring, although I do think it could be used to justify an investigation, but one thing that has been shown, very convincingly, is a level of bias amongst the referees, and that some of the referees show a greater degree of bias than others.
    This is why I found the article I posted (https://webspace.utexas.edu/hamermes/www/Baseball4Authors.pdf) to be so relevant. In this case, however, rather than racial bias, it appears to be bias against our club. The reason for this, imo, is the media. For whatever reason, the media loves to take digs at arsenal at every opportunity. They take digs at every club to a degree, but never to the level that they do to arsenal. There is apparently no limit to what they can say about our side, and they react with vitriol whenever one of our players does something wrong – which is completely different for the players of most other clubs. For example, when eduardo dived, there was an outcry to have the rules change to have him retrospectively banned, when the very next week players from other teams dived (notable steven gerrard), and nothing was said.
    The clearest and most important example of the effects of the media I can think of was the 4-4 draw against Newcastle. The refereeing was unbelievable in that game. We somehow conceded a penalty, and important freekick because *rosicky* jumped for two headers (I don’t think that requires further explanation), not to mention the other controversies. The fact that the media focus after that game was ENTIRELY on diaby and our downfall, with zero mention of the terrible decisions by the referee – the things that actually caused our downfall – was so telling.
    The knock-on effects of this type of reporting are numerous. For one, they have broken our own fans into ignoring the ridiculous decisions, and concentrating only on the apparent deficiencies or our side (some of which are real). This has taken a long time to achieve, but the recent “trophy drought” that we are constantly reminded of, has done it for them, and the result is this horrendous atmosphere around arsenal now, which will make it even more difficult to turn our current situation around.
    Perhaps the biggest effect, which is more relevant to this site, is that it has either caused or merely perpetuated the bias that we see in referees. They are under no pressure to give correct calls in favour of arsenal if they are controversial – the number of clear penalties we were denied last season (and already in this), compared to the number that we conceded, is clear evidence of that. Wenger is no longer allowed to complain at all about referees, because he is simply laughed at and called a sore loser (something that does not happen to other managers), and the media, by enlarge, either ignores them or diminishes their importance. If a referee makes a mistake that costs Utd, the Utd team can launch a campaign (as they did following the most minor of incidents in a game against chelsea a couple of years ago), which will be reported by the media but not really questioned, despite the obvious hypocrisy given the incredible number of elbows, flying kicks and other obviously illegal fouls committed (although ignored by the media) by this side. When a referee makes a mistake against arsenal, as I’ve said, only arsenal are criticised for not expecting the ref to make the mistake, or whatever.
    So in short, I don’t believe the referees are really have a conscious agenda (money-driven or otherwise) against us, but they are biased against us, as has been highlighted by the work displayed on this site. This bias is largely caused by the media who will hold refs far more accountable for making mistakes that harm Utd, or even lower teams like stoke, than they will for making mistakes against arsenal.
    I am not so sure about the reasons behind the anti-arsenal agenda in the media. My assumption has always been that it’s because wenger is foreign and brought in a lot of foreign players, and the Murdoch papers (which really are/were the football media) were simply following a patriotic/nationalistic agenda, because it sells – this is a clear tactic that, to my knowledge, is employed by all of the Murdoch-owned media. Perhaps this is too simplistic an explanation, but imo it could have been what started it, and it’s just escalated from there?

  • bob

    davi,
    yours is a great and thoughtful piece. i’d like to get back to it with a bit of time and thought about the “why(s)” of the media abuse of the Arsenal. but until then, thanks for such an earnest and analytic piece of sharing – a real model contribution in my opinion. Cheers. Perhaps you’d pick a media outlet and join in with UM on occasion?

  • Mohamed Zubairu

    The injustices that we have suffered already this season is monumental. I think that there is a grand conspiracy against Arsenal by everyone connected to football. The fact that Arsenal plays the most un-English kind of football in the EPL. The fact that Wenger has refused to use English players as the core of his team but rather uses the best available to him at the right price. The fact that a French man has come to affect football so much in England. All these are detested by the English football oligarchy and they seem bent on obliterating the influence of Arsenal in English football. The conspiracy theory is the only explanation for why the press are so united and consistent in running Arsenal down.
    For me, I do not like hoaxes. I won’t be able to stand these injustices anymore. I may wait for the FFP rule to take effect so that we can see how it goes. If I see evidences of manipulations to maintain the status-quo in football, then I will opt out of watching football.
    Wenger stands a better chance of confirming these things if they are true or not. If he sees that Arsenal is being forced down by the powers that be, then I would advise him to go for the job at PSG where I understand that he is wanted. There, he will have natural immunity against selective discrimination. If he does, then I’ll follow suit not because of changed feelings for Arsenal, but for the football oligarchy.

  • Francis Angrey

    The conspiracy theory against AFC is something I’ve been talking about for years now. It does exist.

  • diba

    wonderful article I thought I was the only one noticing that Arsenal is been forced out the door. A case of if you cant beat them then join them but am so proud of the man in charge Wenger will never bow to no other rule than fair play and integrity and honesty. I can stick my right hand that there is certainly match fixing in the EPL.

  • Domhuaille MacMathghamhna

    Bobby-pee….Let’s apply the scientific method to this question about ref bias and match fixing…I am sure you’re aware of this novel idea?
    Step 1)Ask a Question – Is there currently match fixing in the EPL?
    Step 2)Do Background Research – Referee reviews, videos reviews reports from other teams, review of past fixing events, statistical analysis of likelihood for fixing to occur in the EPL, based on European fixing, etc.
    Step 3)Construct a Hypothesis – Match fixing may be happening in the EPL
    Step 4)Test Your Hypothesis by Doing an Experiment – In UA’s case it is predicting the results of games based on officials assigned, verifying bookies investigations, stats, etc.
    Step 5)Analyze Your Data and Draw a Conclusion – still in the testing and analysis stages but indications are that such fixing exists based on current data analysis and historical data showing referee performances against AFC.
    Step 6)Communicate Your Results – a report will be sent to the FA, the media and the referees.

    Proving a negative is impossible, proving the existence of an event is very difficult but possible based on other observed phenomena. UA,Tony and Walter, in collaboration with his referee reviewers and media analysts are working diligently and honestly to try and statistically display a trend towards dishonesty and bias on the part of officials and perhaps organized crime in the fixing of EPL matches, based on what evidence they have seen over 5 years, European criminal involvement in match fixing and repeated irregularities in betting trends and outcomes across Europe, to name a few criteria.
    Your spurious and feeble criticisms about this effort deserve to be ignored.

  • Ray

    Davi,great article,its exactly what i think.Don’t know why it happens though.There is a real hatred for Arsenal and its been there for sometime .