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How refs are fixing football matches

By Walter Broeckx

With a lot of visitors (including supporters of other clubs) visiting our site in the last days it was interesting to see how some of readers don’t get the idea of what we have been developing in the last couple of years.

We also had many new readers who support Arsenal but who didn’t notice us before and now are wondering what we are up to.

Some might have been thinking and told us that we are a bit of a crazy bunch who are looking for things that are not there.  Some seem to believe that England and the PL are immune to any kind of match fixing by any one. England being the only safe area where never ever there will be any match fixing of any kind.

Fair enough who am I to disturb your paradise on earth? For those who say: well England is the same as the rest of the world and people over here can be influenced to do something wrong, then we have the evidence and information. For those who say: No we Englishmen would not do such things I would only ask you : are there by any chance prisons in England?

Because in all countries of the world there are prisons for people who don’t behave according to the laws. I have seen a prison when once walking from Kings Cross to the Emirates so I do suspect that just as in the rest of the world people do wrong things. So why would it suddenly change when football is involved?  [That would either be Pentonville Prison on the Caledonian Road, or Holloway Prison for women and young offenders, where the suffragettes were held – Tony].   In life most people are good but it only takes one bad apple to make the rest of the apples in the basket rot.

I know still  some people find it hard to believe that a ref can tilt a game. As I am a ref myself I know it is very well possible to do such a thing. Now I am a person who believe in doing the right things in life. I try to live according to the laws (even the ones I don’t like at all) and so I do the same when I do my games as a ref or as assistant. Are all refs saints? Oh FFS …NO!!! I have talked with refs who have admitted to me having fixed a game in the past.

A big part of the difficulty is : how can you see if a ref is fixing a game in a certain way? And this is where it gets difficult. You first of all must know where to look. And to find such a thing you must have a bit of experience as a ref. It is not necessary but it surely helps a lot if you have experienced the power you have as a ref. If you have seen what an influence your decisions can have on players or on a team you would be amazed on how you can tilt a game.

Now the next question is: HOW do you do it? Well there are in general two options you have.

The first one is: doing it in plain sight for everyone to see. You let go flagrant fouls. You blow imaginary penalties for one team. And refuse to give the most blatant penalties for the other team. Now every spectator in the ground will see it. I could give as an example of this approach the way Webb did in the Chelsea – Manchester United game. I also could point at the way Dowd did the last hour of the Newcastle – Arsenal game last season. Where for some reason Dowd decided shortly after Arsenal had gone 0-4 in front to just let Newcastle commit the most horrendous tackles on Arsenal players without blowing it, inventing all kinds of free kicks when an Arsenal player came near a Newcastle player, inventing penalties, …

The only thing is when you do it like that you expose yourself. So refs will avoid this situation. If it isn’t completely necessary they will not make themselves look  like fools. Nobody wants to look like a fool and this the same for a ref. But some persons will accept this consequence if it really is needed.

The second way of tilting a game is very difficult to see for the untrained eye. In fact I think only people who have or are refs can see it and people who have been told what to look for can see it if they pay attention.

This way is that you make sure that you stay away from big controversial decisions. You don’t invent a penalty for the team you want to give a favour. No you will make them win the game where on general a game is won: in midfield.

In fact it is a simple thing to do. You apply the rules strict for one team. And you let the rules go out of the window for the other team. Not when a blatant foul is made. When a player clearly trips a player that even a blind man can see you will give that foul. But for the rest you will let all things go you can let go. A shove in the back? Don’t blow. A push with a arm? Didn’t see it. A swing of the hip to trip a player? No, no he could have stayed on his feet. Pulling a player by the shirt? Oh, that must have been on my blind side.

Any excuse you can give is good enough. If you are a master in this you can even do it in such a way that the bad treated  team feels something is wrong but doesn’t realise what is happening.  The result of such an approach is that the team who is on the good side of your decisions will feel that they can almost do what they want without punishment.

The other team will get frustrated after a while. And then try to match what the team that is getting away with it, and start pushing and shoving. And then of course you will call those fouls. The more frustrated this team will get, the more fouls they will make in the game that you can punish. And thus giving time and space to the other team to reorganise themselves in defence when needed.

If you have to blow a foul that you really cannot let go you will make sure that the one team cannot take a quick free kick. You suddenly find the need to put the ball on the exact spot. Of course you don’t do this for the other team. They can take their free kick where they want.

I could go on and on for a while about the little things you can do without people really noticing it. But such an approach can be as effective as going for the big calls. It is as effective and nobody notices it.

Of course there could be times when you need to use both ways if it really doesn’t work. But a ref will not want to expose himself too much so if possible he will prefer the second way of working and only invent a penalty when it is really needed.

Now it could be that you think : this is a load of rubbish. It cannot work that way. Then I really do think that you never ever have been a ref or have watched enough football. In that case I could advise you to become a ref and do the games in the most fair way possible. And then after a few seasons you will know and understand the power a ref can have on a game.

A question you might ask yourself is: does it always work? And then I can tell you that I don’t think it will always work. The team you want to treat badly can be in such a great form that even this approach is useless. But the people for who you are doing it for and know what you are doing will have noticed your attempt in that case. I would like to add that even in the calciopoli-era in Italy the desired results did not always happened.

So this was an attempt to give you a rough impression of how to fix a game as a ref. It is up to you to keep your eyes open. The first way is easy to see. The second way is more difficult to see. But if you try, you will see it when it is happening.

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53 comments to How refs are fixing football matches

  • JonJon

    i can understand your frustrations and the points you make..

    of course england has its faults and nobody is saying bad things dont happen, but the places that have recently been highlighted as having corruption issues are countries run by tyrants, communists and the mafia, those are the people that we try to put in prison over here and not allow to run the whole country as they do in other places, so obviously trying to compare england to these places is a bit much when you have zero evidence apart from a bit of bias

    which i can understand also..your an arsenal fan..

    but i just think its a case of your not enjoying your football..

    look..a decade ago we had a certain David dein on our board of directors as well as the FA’s and we were the club knocking fergie off his perch, achieving double doubles and going invincible with dodgy penalty calls…and everyone was screaming conspiracy apart from us gooners..

    now its us screaming conspiracy..

    although match fixing can never be totally ruled out im one of those who just thinks that ten years ago we were good enough and now we are not, and it might have something to do with us selling off our best players every year to fund a new stadium..

    im not saying your wrong, everyones entitled to their own opinion on this but what happens when the day comes that the arsenal lift the league trophy again? because we will..
    is that the year the corruption coincidently stopped?
    or is it going to be because we had the best team that year?

    just something to think about and i hope you start enjoying your football again..a win tomorrow will go a long way to that..

    come on you gunners..

  • LB

    I have no doubt that the EPL is rigged. The idea that bad decisions even up for everyone over the course of a season is stupid but that is simply not the case. It is clear that Man U have a 15 point advantage over everyone else. Where it becomes particularly apparent is in the second half of the season. Commentators go on about ho Man U step up a gear after December. Well, this conicides with the most horrendous decisions in their favour and bad ones against anyone challenging them. It’s really sickening to watch.

  • LB

    Sorry, “coincides”.

  • Arun

    Another advantage of the second way is that it goes completely unnoticed in the media (though they don’t even discuss the first one) and to the fans. With the refs due no explanation, they can do it freely. The fans don’t notice this way and get on the back of the team for no reason.

  • Legolas

    Great Post , well Remarkable issue . this year by the way i just knew about this website and it is a very respectful one and it shares everything i see or feel with my Club Arsenal.
    This year we break a new record NO PENALTIES ARE GIVEN @ OUR STADIUM not because there weren’t but referees never ever gave the true ones but the Bale Dive , Young Dive and and and easy whistle . anyway out of Subject : I hope we win tomorrow no matter who is the referee i stand by my team and i ask of all of us Arsenal fans to raise our voice and ONLY ONLY support and cheer our Team tomorrow and for goodness sake stop criticizing Ramsey give him love and support he will become a star.

  • It is interesting to remember that we have had serious match fixing scandals in England throughout the ages.

    The one that as Arsenal fans we remember most is the 1914/15 one involving Man U and Liverpool. As a result of the subsequent enquiry Chelsea were excused relegation, and Arsenal were promoted.

    I’ll see if it is possible to do a piece about match fixing in British football on the Arsenal History site (www.blog.woolwicharsenal.co.uk) in the near future.

  • jahgooner

    Great article,fixing is going on and has done for years.this country has a blindfold when it comes to their own corruption.we have seen some crazy calls by refs but no,its never ever fixing!that’s for the other,not as righteous countries to do.one day this will all come out and things like ‘fergie time’ will be looked upon differently.it really is disgusting.

  • magic hat

    I don’t believe there is any doubt that the powers that be want manu as there flagship team. my question is why ? the only reason I can think of is sky, and there too close association (remember the failed takeover attempt) with the mancs. this kind of cheating can only exist with the aid of the media.

  • Doublegooner

    Legolas:

    Don’t worry, the away boys always raise their voices. It’s the fans who claim to be fans, because they go to the games, that sit on their arses & never so much as murmur or clap when others are singing who in the main are a waste of time. What support does that offer the team just because you go ? !

    Will you be there tomorrow ?

  • GP

    What is another aspect is the spread betting options like number of cards etc.., but also when refs who normally give penalties suddenly don’t. ‘Odds and sods’

  • JonJon

    tony
    it is interesting
    but we’ll have to be alot closer than the first world war to find an example that makes england comparible to the likes of the countries who use football as a major source of organised crime..

    id also be interested to know if its a common occurance in england..and if it is – have we been apart of it as well?

    you never know, with people like David Dein and George Graham at the club over the years i wouldnt like to say 100% that we have been squeeky clean and totally innocent as what some like to beleive

    maybe a can of worms best left closed?

    and get back to enjoying the football??..like i said before, when we win something again are you still going to write 7 posts a week about corruption??

  • dd

    England isn’t immune from match fixing. I think Grobelaar and fashanu were in the spotlight before. The problem is that it’s hard to prove.

  • Dan

    Nice one Walter, reminds me of Mike Dean.

  • anon

    I dont think this article is saying that there is corruption against arsenal. Its saying there is corruption in general. To be honest i agree with this. It could also be one of the reasons why video technology isnt being introduced aswell.

    But yeah the newcastle game something dodgy was definately going on. That was genuinely believed at the time aswell. Some absolutely horrendes decisions all in favour of one team. Dowd the wanker was a man on a mission

  • bjtgooner

    Walter, thank you for the explanations. I think we have suffered from refs “fixing” matches against us by both means over the last few seasons. Unfortunately as yet there does not seem to be an end to it despite increased fan awareness and indeed a weakening in the media cover up. We have seen the PGMOL up their publicity efforts in an attempt to recover lost ground.

    Other teams have also suffered from poor decisions, but when someone suffers others gain and only one or two teans seem to have consistently gained from erroneous ref decisions – while there is no doubt we have consistently suffered.

    @Doublegooner

    One again you have emerged from the sewer. Legolas wrote a perfectly fine comment and you choose to attack him – was it because he mentioned Bale the master diver?

  • Charlie

    There is no doubt in my mind that refs have too much power. Just look at the shove on RvP in the last game, as blatant a red card and penalty as you’ll ever see and nothing was given. You should look at what the longest odds are because there will be times when refs are asked to fix a draw and it could look as if their errors are evening out. In fact they will always be favouring the losing team. You know the saying, everyone has their price. If any of you think that a bloke earning 30k a year won’t take a 6-figure bung for fixing a single game you’re sadly naiive and that 6-figure bung is nothing to those running clubs nowadays. In fact I would like to hear from anyone who would not fail to see something on a football pitch for a 6-figure sum. I am sure that nobody can honestly say that they would turn down the money.

  • Mahdain

    if people want to see how the second way is done then look no further than Mike Dean..he is the master of tilting the pitch without getting noticed

  • Marcus

    Wake up JoNJon . Even the bbc noticed that Brinks Matt robber and murderer Kenneth Noye was a Murdoch employee.

  • EPL REFEREE HATERS

    Good one Mr Walter ,what about Mr Tony Atwood ,I love u guys but hate all epl refs.thanks for d article.atleast I now know how a match is been fixed .

  • Andy Kelly

    @JonJon
    Look up Peter Swan on Wikipedia.

    During the 1970s a number of players admitted to having been approached by Leeds United officials to throw matches. They came out publicly and it was reported in the Daily Mirror.

    During the 1990s it was Bruce Grobbelaar’s and Hans Seger’s time.

    Even if you do believe that the English are immune to corruption, how many Premier League clubs are controlled by English men?

  • El Tel

    Football is bent imo and has been for years. If a successfull Managers like GG and Brian Clough took bungs ( I believe Ferguson has too) then whats to stop an average paid Ref from influencing a match.

    The Wigan match at home was an eye opener for me. Their players were falling down feigning injuries which slowed down Arsenals tempo. They were letting them take minutes over each free kick and throw in and they also shifted the ball forward at every throw in and free kick without interference from the Ref. our Players were told to go back and place the ball in the correct spot on a few three kicks and throw ins. It was so blatant I couldn’t believe it. There was no questioning this by the FA or the Media yet Arsen Wenger got slaughtered for pointing these things out.

    There is also the bookings and sending offs issue for me which is an easy way for Refs to assist Man Utd. This year they played Spurs with their most influential player suspended.

    Scott Parker got sent off against Arsenal but He was sent off almost at the end of a match, He should have gone much earlier in the game for persistent fouling but the Ref who in my opinion knew that the Mancs were next decided to let him kick the shit out of us then have him banned when they played them.

    This has been going on for donkeys years and if someone had the time and effort to research this you will find that the Mancs have had this secret advantage for years. I remember when we were challenging them having Viera and other Big game players suspended when playing them but I reckon other teams were playing with weakened teams too.

    Is there any coincidence that Arsen wants sin bins in football? He knows whats happeneing and sees other Clubs getting the benefit of sending offs or yellow cards rather than the teams these fouls were commited against.

    There was a blatant punch in our area last season from Vidic, there was no penalty and no sending off. Vidic went on to score the goal which helped them win the title in the following match. He shouldn”t have even been on the pitch.

    Rooney hasn’t been booked all season and the media are calling him a saint. What bollocks that is. In the clips I have seen of him He is still charging around swearing at Referees and elbowing and kicking his opponents.

    The FA dont want him seen as a bully as the Euro’s are to be played this summer and dear old Engerland can’t have him in the team if he is marked as a bad boy like He was in the last World Cup. That World Cup proved how ineffective Rooney is when the game has been Refereed fairly and He can’t hack it.

    If anyone thinks this is nonsense then cast your mind back to the time when Shearer kneed a player in the head but got away with it because He was so vital to Engerland.

    Is football bent? For me there is little doubt. i hope it gets proven very soon for the good of the game.

  • Andy Kelly

    Virtually all of the Premier League clubs are carrying debt disproportional to their value and income.

    If this is the case, why are there always people willing to take on a club with which they have no emotional ties in the knowledge that they are more than likely to lose money on their investment?

  • walter

    Even though I took examples of Arsenal games in my article this was more about referees in general.

    So if you go to your own team their game then you can have a look at the ref performance and see if you can notice anything like I described in the second way of doing things.

    Mind you all those things like putting the ball on the right spot itself is not a sign of a bend ref. No it is the sign of a strict ref. Then what you just have to see for is if he does it for both teams in the same way. Because that is where a ref could go from strict to trying to tilt the pitch.

    It’s in the details where the difference can be found.

  • ataho

    “man u” is always favoured by refs and thats why England national team wl always perform badly b’se anumber of players are from favoured “united”.

  • Davi

    JonJon – what was really dodgy about the Invincibles run, though? The dive by Pires comes to mind, but not much else(?). The dodgiest thing about it really was the way it ended, with ferdinand taking out Ljungberg when through on goal, Neville trying to murder reyes and Rooney diving for a penalty. You’d have to be mad to really believes arsenal managed that run because of a ref conspiracy. We also survived Van nistelroy getting vieira sent off, and the ref giving Utd a crazy penalty in an earlier game at highbury. I think Vieira said Arsenal had to play 5x better than the others in order to win the league when he was there, and looking back on that run, it’s not hard to see why.

  • Davi

    “Rooney hasn’t been booked all season and the media are calling him a saint” – well he has now. utd actually have a media campaign supporting this. At the end of last season I heard Gil? talking on the radio. They were questioning whether rooney had improved his attitude, and he was making the point that rooney hadn’t had a red card for a very long time. Conveniently the interviewer forgot to point out they guy had survived elbowing someone in the head right in front of the referee. I mean, how much of an achivement is it to have a good disciplinary record, when it seems unclear how far you actually have to go to get booked/sent off.

  • JonJon

    andy kelly

    i have mentioned grobbelaar before on another blog..
    im well aware of the incidents that have happened
    which is why i say it cant be ruled out totally and i understand the frustrations..

    but yet i have little memory of officials./authorities fixing matches..which is what is actually claimed..not players..
    which is why i feel its a bit of a scattergun approach in all this conspiracy theory business..abit like how we played v norwich, too gung ho with no solid base and take as many hits as we give 🙂 its not really the way to do it..

    we can go through all the cases of naughiness of all kinds over the years if thats the case to prove shit happens in england but under a certain manager we ourselves have previous in said naughtiness…

    if, as the comments section suggests, everyone in england is doing it, then what rules arsenal out..?

    isnt that abit naive to think it happens all over the place apart from the red side of NL?

    living in a bubble that really isnt it? but like i said before i can understand that bias coming from arsenal fans who dont enjoy football anymore, look for reasons to spoil it for everyone else, just becuase arsenal have been selling their best players for 7 years and not winning a trophy..

    if english football is fixed and always has been, then not only does that make everyone elses achievements void, but it also makes all our achievements in english football void, doesnt it? i dont know about anyone else but that sort of puts a sour taste in my mouth to think we only went invincible because it was our year to be helped out by the system that everyone knows is corrupt, because all the officials had a syndicate on us to go unbeaten.

    i just like to enjoy the ride baby..footballs all about the ups and downs..if i sit here thinking like you lot think i wouldnt even bother with football anymore..and i certainly wouldnt celebrate if we won a trophy..

    enjoy the game tomorrow..if anyones took a bribe i hope its the WBA players 😉

  • JonJon

    davi
    the conspiracy theorists would probably argue that judging by the way we played and dominated teams, we had bribed everyone and anyone to be allowed to play that way

    i just think it was becuase we had a shit hot squad full of players that were world class and a captain that we held onto for longer than a year and nobody could match us..

    not really the case now is it..we havent had a captain thats lasted more than two years since then and we sell our world class players every year and are always rebuilding the squads key players..

    maybe thats all abit too simplistic..i dunno..
    but thats more realistic than saying everyone in england cheats apart from us…

  • Davi

    JonJon – I suppose. I think it’s telling that in that run we had 2 matches against Utd, both of which had several incidents which suggested a huge bias in their favour. Personally I’m probably sitting on the edge of “there’s a ref conspiracy”, not entirely convinced, but the *bias in Utd’s favour, and their (net/overall) bias against Arsenal is quite clear to me.

  • Chris

    jon jon are u blind,statistics have shown dat without the bad decisions we would have finished better off over the past reason.wake up idiot and face reality.good work walter

  • JonJon

    chris im not into mud slinging and petty insults..credibility is lost instantly
    i suppose you can tell its the weekend..no school and that..

    statistics huh??

    nothing to do with the facts that we didnt have a squad at the start of the season and we allowed the teams abouve us a 15 point start?
    couple that with the no WB’s for the best part of two months in the middle of the season and the league table shows we are where we deserve to be with 47 goals conceeded..
    a better summer in handling playing personel and a year without any leg breaks to the worlds best RWB and i would hazard a guess that we will be in a better position next year with less goals conceeded
    you might as well flush those stats down the tiolet mate, i have 10 pints of milk in my fridge, does that mean i own a cow??
    not all refs are bent, mistakes do happen and with the pace of todays game with all the players being finely tuned machines being able to run 100mteres like an olympic sprinter its not hard to see why a bunch of middle aged pie eating refs cant keep up with the play and are left guessing alot of the incidents..
    footballs evolved, the rules have been changed over the years to make the game fast and free flowing and full of goals..
    the referrees havent evolved..everythings left to interpretation rather than nailed on yes or no like it used to be and it causes lots of issues..
    like bad calls

  • Tram

    There was a cast iron proved case of corruption in top-flight English football in 1999, where a far eastern betting syndicate were bribing with sums of £20K for floodlights to be turned off to force matches to be abandoned. The police intervened during the third such match, and made arrests and secured convictions. Here’s a link to a BBC report on it http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/422742.stm
    It is not referees granted, but it proves beyond any doubt that unscrupulous, rich, motivated criminals are out there, betting on English football. Is there any reason to think that although they are rich, motivated and unscrupulous, they nonetheless wouldn’t make improper approaches to English refs? I don’t think so.

  • marcus

    You are mixing oranges and apples JonJon.

    Without doubt bias for and against teams affects their overall position – naturally.

    But the blog is not arguing: “Arsenal would have won X Y Z on a fair playing field”

    It is simply analysing refereeing performances and trends, and then drawing the inescapable conclusion.

    The conclusion is that Arsenal are heavily handicapped, and that, if you care to see it, the refereeing is so abysmal, the inescapable conclusion is collusion.

    You mention “the conspiracy theorists”.

    Could you tell us more about this group of people, and what they believe?

  • JonJon

    davi
    anyone would have thought football was a physical sport..i have no idea why they wear shin pads and ankle protectors 😉

    seriously though i do agree with you that UTD beat us up in that game and got away with it..

    poor reyes was kicked to pillar to post..it was a bad one for the ref..

  • jake

    not sure this is relevant but going back a few seasons not sure how many. I actually laughed at an arsenal player getting sent off it was so stupid.
    Van bronkhorst (think that’s how you spell his name) slipped fell over in the area got straight up (didn’t appeal) again only to be booked for diving it was his 2nd yellow. i can’t remember who the ref was thou.
    I would think that fits squarely into the first set of “tilting”a game, however as i said the decision was so farcical it was funny

  • JonJon

    1989s alot nearer than ww1 😉
    i’ll give you that
    but turning off lights isnt something done by the refs is it?
    but you mentioned that as well
    so i’ll give you that too..

    marcus, my intention was never to be disrespectful, nor was it to piss all over the blog owners fire..

    i just wanted to raise a few points for people to think about and i think i did that respectfully..

    i zero issue with the blog owner, i have zero issue with the commentors here either..and have no intention to turn this into a war of words, which i can see happening..

    so im off.. 😉

    i’ll come back and remind the owner of match fixing when we win our next trophy..

  • marcus

    You are confusing match fixing and match tilting JonJon.

    The two are different.

    While you live in a hypothetical world, we live in the real one.
    Arsenal not winning things….

  • Stuart

    Jonjon,

    Granted, the transfer dealings could have been handled better. Who knows who is to blame there for that? I doubt we ever will unless Wenger isn’t paid to stop him writing a book when he goes one day. I still lay the majority of the blame with Wengers superiors for this one. What this doesn’t explain to many of us is the poor refereeing, how they manage to constantly push the game in favour of the usual suspects and then the referee reviewing panel doesn’t even pick them up on it.

    I’m a firm believer in instant video replay technology with the manager requesting a replay whilst the game is still in play, then the game can be stopped if the managers call was right or can continue if not.

  • WalterBroeckx

    Another reminder this article is about Ref X influencing a game of football in favour of team A in a game against team B and how he can act if he wants to tilt the game in one way or the other.
    Just keep your eyes open in case you feel something wrong. 😉

  • jake

    ouch i failed to keep my eyes open and stubbed my toe!!

    sorry couldn’t resist

  • shotta

    Walter – Over the past 8 years or so a pattern has developed in the EPL. To overcome the institutional advantages enjoyed by Manchester United which is the gold-standard of English professional club football, you nedd the deep pockets of an oligarch or an oil sheik. First we had Abramovich banrolling two titles for Chelsea and, currently, it is obvious that Sheik Mansour had to fork out 1 Billion pounds to get within sight of the BPL title by a mere goal difference. With Arsenal’s miserly spending, when contrasted with Chelski and Oil City, it is a minor miracle we have remained competitive to this day.
    Due to the brave work of you and Tony, when most of your peers urged that you shut-up, fearing that you were the proverbial conspiracy theorists, the light is being firmly shone on the PAGMOL and those rats who have been hiding in the dark making a mockery of transparent and open refereeing of football games. Sooner or later there will be a crack in the circle of black-clad game officials.

  • WalterBroeckx

    Does anyone has the complete game between MU-Arsenal that stopped our unbeaten run? I will be trying to do a retrospective ref review on this game.
    So I can see how bad Riley really was.

    So if you have it somewhere or have a link to it, please let me know and I will contact you.

  • Stuart

    Walter,

    I have a link for the game but can’t seem to post it on here

  • Stuart

    Will email it to Tony who can pass it on to you.

  • Gord

    @legolas

    I wrote about some statistics of penalties in a couple of threads recently. In simulating 38 million games, the longest run of no penalties I observed was 91. The number of times a run of 20 was observed, was about 23% as often as isolated games with no penalties. That’s for the same average penalty rate (96.6 penalties per year) as observed over the last 5 years, with the home team getting slightly more penalties (1.7 and 2 times more). But that simulation glosses over details.

    The above statement does not say that what has happened at Arsenal is due to fraud or that it is fraud free. All it says is that our current run is likely consistent with the overall penalty rate. If there is a problem, it is somewhat subtle. Which is what Walter was saying, it is more likely to run across subtle fixings, and not obvious ones.

    @Chris (and others)

    It is really hard to prove anything with statistics. It is possible to suggest things with statistics, and what one can hope for are situations where it is possible to drive the possibility of other factors arbitrarily close to zero. I think in large part, we are doing two things. We are gathering data, and we are starting to explore it. Hopefully we will find that smoking gun, and make the chance of any other explanation than fraud arbitrarily small.

    A consequence of this, if any company selling a vaguely medical type product says it is “clinically proven”, go buy a competing product that doesn’t make this claim. The clinical study is there to observe what happens. You don’t “prove” things in a clinical setting.

    @refereeing in general

    The argument people make to “let the game flow” is hogwash. If every foul is called, it is only a flow problem for a couple of minutes. Everybody then “knows” there are no fouls allowed, and then the game flows. If every foul is called, the chances of the better team on the day winning are better than if fouls are allowed to happen. This is especially true if the calling of fouls is asymmetric or inconsistent. People that promote fouling by the team they support, are people that support winning by cheating.

    @JonJon

    I see the smiley. Shin guards are there mostly because of hepatitis C. Other reasons are also given, hep C is the largest concern. Or that was the case when I looked at the medical literature around it a long time ago.

  • Gord

    Hypothetical situation.

    The runs length analysis indicates it is possible to see games with many penalties being given. What should happen if Man City is 1 goal up, and the Man U game has seen lots of goals (probably from penalties)? There is an 8 goal difference to erase. Should home fans and neutrals storm the field at the 70 minute mark (a certain amount of time needs to be played, otherwise a replay is required) to stop a referee from giving the game to Man U? Cause the game to be abandoned with enough time played for the result to hold?

  • Shard

    JonJon

    I’ve come across this trend in the recent past. Whether it is intentional on your part, or just the result of intellectual curiosity, I don’t know. But for years, we’ve heard insults of being ‘conspiracy theorists’, and essentially being sore losers. Arsenal are poor, so you don’t win, so you look for excuses. The new trend is that now because the poor, tilted ref performances are becoming harder to ignore, people bring up Arsenal’s achievements and attempt to taint them as well.

    Let me say. I do not believe Arsenal got any favours during that run. Or at least, nothing that seemed to suggest foul play, or intentional bias for Arsenal. If Arsenal DID however win those titles as a result of ‘fixing’ or calciopoli, I would rather Arsenal were stripped of those titles than hold on to a hollow achievement.

    Titles have never been important to me. It is not the main reason I started supporting the club. I did so thinking we were a mid table to relegation threatened team, and when we won the title, I was overjoyed. My bugbear is not with ManU winning the league. My bugbear is with them doing so when they clearly don’t deserve it. It is ruining the sport. I used to have immense respect for ManU and for Ferguson’s achievements(not his personality-never liked that), but it was in 2008, a year we should have won the title, that I first thought it was a fixed outcome. And no, not because Arsenal lost cos of ref decisions – I put that down to mistakes- but because on the last day, when the title was to be decided between manU and Chelsea (I was supporting ManU), the way they beat Wigan (with Steve Bennet aiding and abetting), it left a sick taste in my mouth.

    Since then, nothing has been able to make the possibility, even probability of match fixing, and calciopoli, less likely. Only more so. I don’t care if Arsenal get relegated, as long as the competition, the sport, is fair. At least 3, possibly 4 of ManU’s last titles, are tainted in my view. Chelsea clearly deserved 2010. And ManU both last year, and this year would struggle to finish in the top 4 without the referees. Even when referees don’t have to help them, their behaviour obviously gives ManU a mental boost, and robs opponents of their belief. It is an offshoot of bent refereeing, and something that is immeasurable. Which is what makes fixing in sports (in one form or another) so easy.

  • Johnny Deigh

    @Jake
    I vaguely remember that match but found info on it here:
    http://www.soccerbase.com/players/player.sd?player_id=12672&season_id=131

    The match where Giovanni Van Bronkhorst was sent off (his only sending off for Arsenal) was away to Liverpool on Dec. 23, 2001. Paul Durkin sent him off in the 36th minute for a 2nd yellow.

    Durkin did award Arsenal a penalty kick at the end of the first half which Thierry Henry converted. Then eight minutes into the 2nd half, Ljunberg made it 2-0 before Litmanen quickly got one back for Liverpool. It finished 2-1 to Arsenal.

  • jake

    @Johny Deigh Thanks

  • bob

    Walter,
    Of course the reason that match is so inaccessible would have nothing to do with the story that it actually tells. 🙂
    Its review would be the crown jewel in the Great Turnaround!

  • Jacobite Gunner

    “The great turnaround”, if not the best, it was certainly the most enjoyable article this season. Lets finish it off today gunners!

  • LRV

    Our Refs in the Premier league are at best INCOMPETENT. How else can we explain why our Refs seem to almost always have howlers in their World Cup performance? Or at worst they are BENT. How else do we explain why some teams in the Premiership seem to always get dodgy referee performances when others seem always less so? Anyone, like our friend JonJon, who seeks to always personalise it to Arsenal is missing the point.

  • Gabe

    100% agree, i have also already noticed the both way of influance by the refs. I´m from Slovakia, and these practices in our 1st division are no secrets for nobody who cares about football. So true! I love this site!