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By Dave Right
It comes as no surprise that the Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL) company name gives no obvious clue that their business is referees.
The PGMOL (Registered Company No 4195554) was established in 2001 and is responsible for the training, development, and monitoring of an elite group of Referees and supporting Assistant Referees, as well as a National list of Referees and Assistant Referees.
“It is PGMOL’s intention not only to meet the demands of the modern game but also educate managers, players, fans and the media when it comes to the challenge facing referees today.”
Their aim to ‘educate’ has hardly been helped by closing down there own website in the summer of 2011. Why so secretive?
Certainly in January 2009 there were major changes when PGMOL Directors Brian Barwick (Chief Executive of the F.A.) and Richard Scudamore (Chief Executive of the Premier League) resigned their posts.
The PGMOL appointed Mike Riley as its General Manager Designate taking effect from 1st September 2009 with the departing Keith Hackett completing a handover period by January 2010. So ended the illustrious refereeing career of Riley who Gunners fans will know allowed Manchester United to kick Arsenal off the park, award a penalty for a Wayne Rooney dive, and end Arsenals unbeaten run in October 2004.
Let’s look at PGMOL structure and where they get their money. The PGMOL does not have shareholders, their assets are guaranteed by its three members who comprise of:
The Football Association Ltd (Registered Company No 77797)
The Football Association Premier League Ltd (Registered Company No 2719699)
The Football League Limited (Registered Company No 80612)
These three members are the ultimate parent company and controlling party of the PGMOL and are the source of the most of their money.
According to the PGMOL Accounts for year ending 31st July 2011 transactions include:
The Football Association Ltd £1,149,664
The Football Association Premier League Ltd £2,810,290
The Football League Limited £2,427,069
This total of £6.38 million is of course ultimately generated by fans supporting their clubs, buying TV subscriptions etc.
The PGMOL also have their own sponsors who were listed on their no longer available website. Why so secretive?
The PGMOL arranges its sponsorship in three year cycles. Starting in 2007/8 they included Air Asia (Official Sponsor), Lucozade (Official Supplier), Umbro (Official Kit Supplier) and Polar Heart Monitors (Official Suppliers).
The Tune Group (Principal Partner) three year sponsorship deal started in the 2010/11 season and whilst not published is said, by the sponsor, to be a seven figure sum. The Tune Group logos can currently be seen on the sleeves of referees. Smart sponsorship, plenty of TV coverage as they book Gareth Bale for diving again.
Air Asia and Tune Group who together will have provided six years of PGMOL sponsorship are particularly interesting because they are both owned by the same man.
The successful Malaysian businessman Tony Fernandes spotted a comparatively inexpensive way to get his brands in front of the global TV audience that are football fans. Tune Group is the parent company of the PGMOL’s previous sponsor Air Asia. Tony Fernandes also owns the Lotus formula One team which returned to the grid in 2010 and was why he was on hand to buy QPR from Bernie Ecclestone/Flavio Briatore.
Does your head hurt?
Yes, not only does Tony Fernandes sponsor the PGMOL through Tune Group, he also owns the Premier League club Queens Park Rangers. That in my book is a conflict of interest and should not happen.
Perhaps they would prefer it had remained a secret.
When the PGMOL were confronted with this conflict of interest in the summer of 2011 they issued a typically dismissive and arrogant statement …
“There is no direct contact between Tune and PGMO officials, and this will continue, the sponsorship was agreed by the PGMO board, made up of an independent chairman and representatives from the Football Association, Premier League and Football League”.
The officials board said the sponsorship is a “valued partnership”.
Many would disagree, I think this arrangement remains a serious conflict of interest and would be unacceptable in any other sphere of competition.
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