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Untold Media: How PGMOL determines how refs are reported – part 2
Yesterday we started to reveal how the shadowy referees’ association PGMOL seeks to influence what is said about refs in the media, and how they are successfully ensuring that the debate about referees runs down certain channels only – always avoiding the notion that the UK might be following where Italy led.
Those of us at Untold who are concerned about such matters have always been bemused by the mechanism behind this debate management. Now we are starting to understand a little more about what is going on.
Now, to continue…
In what follows, we will learn not only more about this potential “relationship” between Gallagher and Riley, but also some very interesting facts about the PGMOL, the EPL, and the inner workings of the official Premier League media.
Our information on this subject comes from John Dykes, who is employed by the Premier League to host the official Barclays Premier League Matchday Live programming. Dykes published an article on 5 April 2012, titled “Shedding light on the refs’ ‘howlers.‘” Although the article fails to shed any direct light on “refs’ howlers”, what it does shed light on is …. well ….. I’ll just let Dykes tell you himself:
“While your own team allegiances may mean you might not agree with our experts, I can at least be confident that those experts will be making their judgements based on the best available evidence thanks to a dimension we have added to our broadcasts this season.
“We call that dimension ‘Dermot’ — Dermot Gallagher to be precise. The former Premier League referee is someone who occasionally pops up in front of our cameras but who clocks in for work every weekend in a behind-the-scenes role.
“Dermot sits in our production gallery and watches the games with us. He explains the thinking behind referees’ decisions, he gives his own take on what he might have done in certain circumstances and, as I said earlier, he sometimes puts his jacket and tie on to so he can speak directly to our viewers.
“Every Matchday he can be found in our studio going over incidents with Andy Townsend and our pundits, often challenging and sometimes changing their opinions on incidents. By the time we discuss incidents at half- or fulltime, we are at least able to explain why a referee took a certain decision, even if we ultimately conclude that human error has occurred.”
So…. What to say about the above? (I must admit that, after first reading this, it took me quite some time to recover my power of speech.) The absolute least that can be said, in my opinion, is that it would appear that Dermot Gallagher is exercising quite a high degree of control over what is and is not reported about refereeing decisions on official EPL broadcasts…
But the question from there becomes: Why? And how? And most importantly of all, on whose behalf? Specifically, could Gallagher really be doing all of this just on the basis of his “official” credentials as an independent pundit on refereeing issues? To find the answer to that question, we need look no further than one specific comment from Dykes that I already quoted in this article:
“[Gallagher] clocks in for work every weekend in a behind-the-scenes role.”
So, there you have it. Gallagher “clocks in for work.” In other words, Gallagher is employed by someone else to do this particular job. And who is Gallagher’s employer?
Unfortunately, later in the article, Dykes provides us with the worst possible answer to that question:
“Dermot is there for us because of a smart decision taken by the Premier League and Mike Riley, who heads up the Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL), the organisation responsible for referees in this country. Season in, season out, both bodies have found themselves pestered by journalists and broadcasters asking for clarification of refereeing decisions, preferably as soon as games have ended…”
So, unless I’m misreading what Dykes is saying here, it would appear that Gallagher is actually employed by Mike Riley (hence the PGMOL) and/or the EPL, for the purpose of providing journalists with immediate “clarification of refereeing decisions” on behalf of the PGMOL and/or the EPL.
And before we move on to the staggering potential implications of the above, let’s take a quick look at a specific example of how Gallagher influenced one Matchday broadcast. For this, we return to Dykes’s article (discussing here the controversial penalty denied to Fulham against Man U):
Dermot “has brought a new dimension to our studio work and it has also impacted on the way I watch games.” For example, “When Michael Carrick knocked Danny Murphy’s foot onto the ball in the Old Trafford penalty box two Mondays ago…I yelled ‘penalty.’”
However, “thanks to Dermot,” there was no on-air “post-match discussion … asking for … [an explanation] of that decision.’” This was because Gallagher explained off the air that the reason “Michael Oliver didn’t point to the spot [was because] refs are trained to look for the movement of the ball…when assessing challenges.”
Apparently, Gallagher’s behind-the-scenes explanation of Oliver’s motives was not challenged during Matchday’s subsequent broadcast of this incident. Effectively, this would mean that Gallagher, by providing an innocent explanation of the referee’s motives behind the scenes, ensured that the question of referee bias was kept safely away from the viewing public.
Overall, the implications of what Dykes is describing here are absolutely staggering. To provide a basic summary of the key points:
1) Dykes explicitly states that Dermot Gallagher, who represents himself publicly as a mere “pundit,” actually acts as supervisor and consultant on all of Matchday’s reporting on EPL refereeing decisions;
2) Taking it even further, Dykes also explicitly states that, at least in part, the reports on refereeing decisions that Matchday broadcasts to the public are dictated by Dermot Gallagher behind the scenes (or his employer).
Specifically, Gallagher explains the reasoning behind certain refereeing decisions, and Matchday relays those explanations to the public, apparently without informing the public that the views it is expressing are those of Dermot Gallagher (or his employer);
3) And on the subject of Gallagher’s “employer,” we come to the final and most serious issue raised by this article. Specifically, Dykes explicitly states that Dermot Gallagher’s role at Matchday is not independent, but rather occurs at the behest of Mike Riley and the PGMOL, the EPL, or some combination of both. To repeat once again:
“Dermot is there for us because of a smart decision taken by the Premier League and Mike Riley, who heads up the Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL)…[who] have found themselves pestered by journalists and broadcasters asking for clarification of refereeing decisions…”
To make matters even worse (if that’s possible), Dykes’ article isn’t the first time that we’ve seen the phrase ”clarification of refereeing decisions” in relation to Gallagher. Rather, to quote myself from earlier:
“Gallagher appears weekly on Sky Sports and Talk Sport as a pundit, with the official task of ‘clarifying the weekend’s refereeing decisions.’” He also performs the same task occasionally for various print publications.
So, the question then becomes:
If Gallagher’s role in the official EPL media apparatus is to “clarif[y] refereeing decisions” on behalf of the PGMOL and/or the EPL, then under whose direction might Gallagher be acting when he “clarif[ies] refereeing decisions” for the viewers and listeners of Sky Sports and Talk Sport? And other publications?
And more importantly, what does that say about the nature of the relationships that Sky Sports, Talk Sport, and other media outlets, might have with Gallagher’s employer?
To conclude this segment of the article, I’ll leave you with the same remarks that Dykes used to sum up his own article, which, in the present context, just seem sadly ironic:
“Fans (and clubs/players) will always believe officials give decisions against them. That will never change and, to be honest, the debate over bias is probably a part of the game that they would miss if it went away.
That’s a debate for the pub, the living room, the football ground. As far as the debate in the TV studio goes, I would gladly settle for a little more insight and empathy like that brought to us each week by Dermot.”
This set of articles will continue on Untold shortly with a series of examples of Dermot Gallagher’s statements to the media.
How the shadowy PGMOL not only runs the premier leagues refs, but also influences what appears in the media.
PGMOL looks after Premier League refs. But are they serious?
Latest Untold Ref Reviews… (more reviews will appear shortly)