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“Some matches in the Premier League are fixed”. Discuss.

By Tony Attwood

Seeing that headline what do you think?

Here are some possible answers that one might come up with:

1.  Tell me your evidence, I would like to consider it and make my own judgement.

2.  The writer is an idiot, of course it is not fixed

3.  Typical Arsenal supporter coming up with such stuff – Arsenal are crap, you’ve just lost your one and only decent player, you’ll be midtable next season.. (etc etc)

4.  You’ve probably missed out the incident in which … (fill in your details) which shows that the real bias is not as you say but in favour or against someone else.

5.  Unless you review all the matches you can’t reach any conclusions.  How do you not know that the matches you selected were the only ones that were biased?

6.  It all balances out in the end.

But supposing the reader does take a good look at the evidence rather than firing off a reply straight away,, that reader might say…

1.  Your evidence is not strong enough because you don’t have recordings  of people arranging to fix  matches .

2.  What a waste of time you are clearly a sad person gathering together such data.  Go and get a life.

3.  The data is interesting.  There might be points in the methodology that I disagree with, but I see where you are going.

4.  There is a methodological fault and here it is…

Of course there are many other possible replies that can be made to our referee analyses, but those 10 categories above more or less cover about 98% of the  comments we get each and every time we publish another one of our ref reviews, or summary of our findings.

Now obviously I admit that if I saw a review of match fixing by refs which was published on a Tottenham site and which suggested that Arsenal were the beneficiaries of the match fixing that was going on, I might be suspicious.   But I would like to think I would at least take a good look at what was going on, and try and raise any doubts about the methodology that I had.  A serious debate requires a serious answer, I feel.

My point is, that if I pose the point put in the headline: “Some matches in the Premier League are fixed” there are in general four possible responses

a) I don’t believe you

b) I believe you

c) Show me your evidence

d) Your evidence is not good enough to warrant your conclusions because…

Believing or not believing that matches in English football are fixed is a point of view we may start with, based on how we have experienced football.  If you watch several games in which the ref’s decisions are bizarre in the extreme you might incline to believing matches are fixed.  If not, you perhaps don’t.

But I find it hard to understand why people get stuck at this point.  If you said to me “voting in the general election is rigged” or “lots of athletes in the Olympic Games are bribed to lose events” I’d say, “Really?  What is the evidence?”  I’d look at the sample, at the methodology and draw conclusions.   If I had done the research and someone questioned whether I was competent to do the research I’d quote my London University research degree.  I don’t want to boast, but it is a decent starting point.

What’s disappointing among some of the responses we get is that the desire to get at Arsenal supporters in general, or the desire to suggest our research is no good, swamps the desire to have a debate.  It is a bit like the church in 1616 when Galileo was told that he couldn’t state that the earth went round the sun.  Indeed one might call those who state that we can’t do this research or can’t draw conclusions on our level of data to be followers of Simplicio – the character Galileo invented.

The other point that seems to come up over and over again is the notion that the evidence is not strong enough, either because the amount of data collected is not great enough, or because the proof level is inadequate.  Such correspondents then go on to demand a level of proof or evidence collection which is far above that which would be required in any scientific enquiry.  For them Galileo would have needed to visit the moon’s of Jupiter before being able to pronounce on the fact that they went round the planet, and presumably occasionally leap out of 10th story windows on the basis that there is no proof that gravity really exists.

The fact is that what we are saying here is that the figures we get from analysing referees look very odd indeed in some cases, and they are impossible to explain away by chance or by poor data gathering (given the level of data gathering we do).   When we combine this with the odd way in which the refereeing system in the Premier League is operating, we can see that clearly PGMOL ought to have an open investigation – if nothing else but to prove us wrong.

We’ve debated these point here so many times that I’m getting to the stage that further comments made by people who have clearly not bothered to read up on what we are doing, but which are primarily focussed on calling those of us working on this project idiots, should not be published – on the grounds that publishing such comments is pointless and gets in the way of real debate.

I take as my reference point one writer, who seeing our analysis of one game said something to the effect that “I bet you didn’t bother to analyse the match in which…”    I wrote back at once saying “yes we did cover that game, it is still on the site, and yes, we agreed with you.  The goal against your team was indeed very offside.”

He of course did not write back and withdraw his wild accusations and abuse.

So, if you are reading this, and you want to comment on our ref review series, please do, but comments sent in which are abusive, or which simply express disbelief without any logical or coherent argument without clear details as to why, won’t be published, because they get in the way of the debate we are having with people who understand what a serious study of the way refereeing is working in the Premier League, is all about.

————-

Publication on July 20th: Woolwich Arsenal, the club that changed football.

The book that re-writes the Arsenal story.

—————————

81 comments to “Some matches in the Premier League are fixed”. Discuss.

  • Clock Ender

    There’s a good book called “The Fix – Soccer and Organised Crime”, written by Declan Hill about match fixing in football regarding gambling syndicates.

    http://www.howtofixasoccergame.com is Declan Hills website.

    I’ve no doubt that the Premier League is vulnerable to corruption such as that which affected the italian league in the Calciopoli scandal.

  • Trennon

    Definitely! Only a fool would be blind to that fact. The sooner it comes out the better. And yes. Arsenal have been harder done by than any other team in the Prem. The stats on bad calls speaks for themselves and is evidence enough!

  • Rgsmith

    I think this is a really impressive database – although so far what I have seen seems more like incompitence but I have really only watched the arsenal matches in detail so am obviously not well informed.

    It would be great for there to be an indepent look at your findings, maybe from another country or sport so that the bias argument which is obviously a very powerful one (and as you stated one most of us find somewhat instictual)at least can be put aside.

    I would be very surprised but hey if it can happen in Italy It’s not an impossibility in England. (though I think most of the unfairness comes from oil billions!!)

  • Maverick

    I say it is fixed if not all season then at least some matches……..it almost seems that every season they take a team out of the hate out of the top 6 and then they decide they will be champions, but it is more loaded to Manu because of their history and Chelsea and Mancity now also because of all of their money so they have to dominate also. I find it awfully suspicious that each time Arsenal struggle and they manage to be in the top 2 spots of the table (albeit for about 1-2 weeks tops) that all of a sudden bad decisions go against us more than usual our players get kicked around more than usual and all of a sudden we lose our key players due to injury because they have been injured in an innocent challenge (see Sagna leg break for 2nd time because of a so called 50/50 challenge from norwich scum player) it happens EVERY bloody year…so much so that as soon as i see Arsenal getting to no.1 in the table i think here comes the injuries and lost games.

    We of course get called chokers because we cannot handle the pressure of being top of the league and it gets accepted even by our own supporters……but i find it amazing that it is when we are considered a threat the door is slammed in our faces, happens way to often to be coincidence in my book.

  • Woolwich Peripatetic

    Ignoring any pro-Arsenal or anti-Arsenal stance, any theory which cannot be disproved is as valid as any other theory with an equivalent weight of supporting evidence.
    For instance there are two conflicting theories:
    1) PGMOL referees are grossly incompetent in some games (plenty of primary evidence for this)
    2) PGMOL referees are actively manipulating the outcome of some games (plenty of secondary evidence for this, no primary evidence, the tertiary evidence is interesting though)

    You cannot disprove either theory, there is no primary evidence which will do this. You would have to deny, firstly the rules of the game & referees guidelines as set out by the FA and secondly the recordings of the games made by TV cameras.

  • DR

    Not sure using the word ‘fixed’ is going to persuade anyone on the verge of idiocy to pull themselves back and actually take a look at the evidence.

    I don’t think you’re ever going to get rid of these idiotic comments in all honesty, it’s the nature of football fans to feel put upon, probably something tribal. For this reason I was sceptical of anyone saying that the refs were over-biased, even when I said it myself as I’m aware of the role confirmation bias can have on opinions, especially in sport. It reaches the point though, where as an Arsenal fan you can’t ignore it, the sheer volume of wrong decisions can’t be coincidental and you just have to say ‘I KNOW about all the bullshit of being a fan but I also know empirical evidence of bias when it’s slamming us down every week’, bringing it out into the open is the only way and if people are unwilling or unable to help then they should be ignored.

    and just say ‘yes, I KNOW all the arguments against yet the simple, empirical evidence in front of your eyes very week

  • Oguntuase Amos

    It is very possible that matches in EPL are fixed. The way Man city won the league;Man U game ending three minutes earlier and within same three minutes two goals were scored to ensure victory was too great and surprising to be treated as a mere coincidence. So many other questionable officiatings bordering on outright bias and vendetta were not sanctioned by the league body. These issues must be looked into.

  • CB

    Look at PGMOL on Wikipedia.

  • Byron

    I have no doubt there is a huge amount of corruption and fixing going on. I know it is happening and i am not to bothered who it favours only that it should be more closely watched. We all think Italy is bad for having so much fixing but prehaps England is bad for not ever uncovering any.

  • Stone

    I think its possible. Remember when Chelsea were leading the table a couple of seasons ago with a big goal difference and then lo and behold, Manchester Utd conjured up a huge 7-0 win against Sam “Fergie’s friend” Alladyce.
    That was a big shock. Match fixing IS A POSSIBILITY.

  • WalterBroeckx

    Maverick,

    I think you are saying some very wise words.

  • bob

    Woolwich,
    To piggy back on your observation:
    Currently, we have two recent travesties on video tape.
    (A) The performance of the referee at Old Trafford in 2004 who soon became the head of PGMOL, where he serves today. Would that body of work be one of gross incompetence? I think the evidence of things seen and viewable rules out incompetence. Yet there is no smoking gun evidence of corruption. So, it falls, for the moment, into an area – gray, but nonetheless REAL – that awaits further evidence. In science – by definition, never settled – items have another status, other than merely True or False. This 2004 item is a body of behavior that is not incompetent; one that is possibly down to a form of mental illness, though unlikely; one that is biased toward one side over the other, demonstrably; and, possibly, one that is also prompted or rewarded by entities who were on the pitch in concert with entities who were not on the pitch — which has no primary evidence, as yet. (Walter, when will you review that match??)
    (B) The performance of the referee at Camp Nous in 2011 who soon is shortly after named the head of FIFA’s referee department where he serves today. Ditto the above discussion.

    Science, like the search for Higgs Boson, advances by keeping possible truths in play. Neither ruled in nor out for eternity. Science knows that absolutely certainty is not achievable. Science knows that conclusions must be tentative, in the sense of agreed upon the basis of what evidence is at hand versus what are its reasonable conclusions? Right now we are somewhere between evidence that does point BEYOND (1) incompetence; and which is NOT YET conclusive on (2) outright corrupted decision-making.

    This said, and to clarify, I think it is important to pause on a judgment that implies that theory/hypothesis B) would be equally valid to the hypothesis that C) a large portion of referee calls and non-calls are purely random and neither incompetent nor bent. I think you’d agree so far. rather than at least incompetent

  • Stevie E

    There is no doubt match fixing goes on in the prem. At the moment, FIFA are investigating match fixing/betting scam claims by Southamptons Claus Lundekvam.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/football/teams/southampton/9393750/Fifa-launches-investigation-into-Claus-Lundekvams-claim-of-maniuplating-Premier-League-games-in-betting-scams.html

    Funny how this isn’t big news but the Sun making up a story about Theo to Liverpool is everywhere.

    “Some matches in the Premier League are fixed”… They are. Players admit it. Ref reviews prove it.

  • colario

    There is a book I think by former Sunderland player Len Shackleton whivh hit the headlines because one chapter. It was entitled ‘What the average football club director knows about football’. Below the title was a blank page. I somettimes think he could equlally have written a chapter on the subject ‘What the average football club fan knows about football.’ and left the page blank.
    In the short period when Pat Rice was manager (and Viara already signed) I heard on TV an Arsenal fan outside Highbury. ‘This club is going no where it has got a youth team coach for a manager’ About a year after ‘Arsene’s first double a life long Arsenal supporter said to me ‘that was Pat Rice’s double’. I inculde myself as ‘average supporter’ for I have little idea as to what is actually happening at the club.
    I try hard to think through the situation we are in, eg. last summer’s conundrum as to the players to buy because he didn’t know which cup we would play in until almost the last minute of the transfer window. Arsene’s solution was amazing and showed once again what brilliant manage he is. Yet the howls of protests and sack the manager that ensued.

    When Arsene was at Monaco his last season he got of to a bad start he was promptly sacked. Of Arsene we know, but Monaco never again had success and now play in ligue 2.

    We all gloried in the G. Graham days little knowing that our youth set up was being neglected.

    We can’t stop people making their uninformed inain remarks however if they would care to read the info you supply then perhaps they would think before they comment.

    Thank you for your time and the work you put into these articles.

  • WalterBroeckx

    Bob, if anyone has that game somewhere completely available on the internet I will review it

    I once received a link but it was removed from that place. Otherwise it would have been done

  • bob

    p.s. to continue: scratch the last half sentence.
    I’m trying to see that the bent-theory of ref corruption stands is as a hypothesis – a potentiality – a possibility in play – perhaps a probability in play – but not yet conclusive. None of this makes it unreal. It is a real possibility, and that is far from nothing – far from it. Imo, it has surpassed incompetence into something yet to be determined. The Higgs Boson of football, in the UA Accelerator.

  • bob

    Walter,
    Isn’t it amazing, that so historical/hysterical an event would have disappeared from Internet visibility. Of course that’s only a coincidence. Almost everything and anything else has a video record. What is the statistical likelihood of a video of that match, an event of that magnitude gone missing?! Perhaps it exists at the newly opened National Football Museum archives in, trumpets, Manchester. LOL (and weep).

  • Charlie Gooner

    I don’t think matches are fixed, however I do think that a recent court case involving a certain high profile footballer was decided at a high and very rich level away from the court room!!!

  • Jordan

    Refs being human its a possibility bias may have a slight influence in is some decisions, but fixed? Whats more probable A conspiracy against Arsenal? or Wenger’s just not the genius you seem to think?

  • The Famous One

    Totally agree, there is definitely a good chance that some kind of “fixing” is going on in PL football, or any sport with that level of money.

  • CB

    Take a look at PGMOL on Wikipedia.

  • InvincibleXI

    I don’t know about the complete game (don’t think you can find complete videos of games online anyway), but this is a compilation of that game (quite hard to find, the original link I had was removed too). Suffice to say, this clip alone shows enough terrible decisions to turn any game (and on a side note, also the anti-football played by United).

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mM747L9Wf8M&feature=youtu.be

  • MK

    Could you also run the numbers without the Arsenal games included? Surely that would head off quite a bit of the Pro-Arsenal bias claims that get bandied about.

    The contrast between the two also may show some interesting patterns for other teams since we seem to get almost universally mistreated by refs and that might warp the figures towards teams that haven’t had all that many games reviewed for them, like QPR.

    Sorry, I seem to be always asking for more to be done 🙂

  • Pad Gooner

    Tony, I went through all those comments in QPR RefReview page. I think you have summarized it really well. One important keyword that stood out is “Sample Size” which of course was repeated often. “How can you conclude by reviewing only 8 games?”.

    One thing is clear from that comments section. There were many contenders and some outright winners for all the categories of “Oik”. May be we should give them when we complete analysis of all the teams.

  • Woolwich Peripatetic

    Bob,
    The onus is very much on those who have not done the hard work to disprove the theories because at the moment, no matter how flawed our data might be, their data is non-existent, there is absolutely no evidence to disprove our assertions. The number of posts from people who have read some of the Wikipedia article on statistics and then try to use that partial knowledge to support their arguments is astounding.

    As an interesting aside, maybe QPR fans are onto something. Maybe the “flaw” in our methodology is the most interesting part. For Debatable Decisions to come to a similar conclusion over 38 games, based on an edited highlight reel of 38 games and our reviewers based on the few live televised QPR games, when those who have seen all 38 in full vehemently disagree, suggests that when the cameras are rolling, it’s all peachy in West London (and edited accordingly) when behind the scenes the reality is quite different.

  • bob

    Woolwich,
    By custom, habit and design, the onus is put on analyses like ours to the point where just echoing a well-worn and practiced cliche makes the assertion normal. Makes the assertion self-justifying. Makes the assertion immune to disproof. Whereas anything that would challenge their unholy trinity – it’s just coincidence/it all evens out/there’s no smoking gun – becomes abnormal, laughable, not absolutely certain (or, can’t stand up in a court of law) becomes thought-shite. Yes, they are an evidence-free zone because by custom, habit and design, they do not have to provide evidence. It’s just a monologue of circled wagons, their point of view. The swallow their own tails and pronounce it a meal. Etc. Etc. Etc. That’s what it means to be in charge. Of course, the palliative of goal line technology – paid for by ticket prices no doubt – will soon be trumpeted as a sign: we are dedicated to fair play and the truth and have spent (your) money to (our) computer engineers to ensure the best possible product. All part and parcel of the same ensemble of denial that greet the Ref Reviews with howls and snorts of normalcy, but no evidence. And so it goes…

  • Until referees are made to be more accountable for their wrong decisionsthen there will always be suspicion.
    An easy way to overcome the the problem of inconsistency is to make the referee wear a microphone and to announce his decision,like they do in rugby, cricket, tennis and various other sports after all he has to explain to the players most occasions why he has come to the decision he has, so why not let us all in on it.
    It would be a brilliant method to identify when referees make the wrong call and how they interpret the game. Referees are too protected and need to be more accountable, it seems absolutely ludicrous in this day and age that you actually have a error factor built into the game. sponsership from SKY and BT is now worth 1 Billion pounds per season, with a known defect factor.

  • bob

    Walter, Invincible XI (great name!),
    Your link brings nearly 10 amazing minutes that overflow with eye-popping calls, miscalls and non-calls. Even if that’s all there is, an unholy relic, a review of just that much is far from meaningless. It matters. It has historical value. As a piece of the Rosetta Stone, it has present day value: part of the hologram in which the truth of the whole resides.

    Please do consider a review of that much – perhaps several on the UA ref team would do so as well; so it can’t be written off as Arsenal’s unrequited spite. The commentary on the site would be valuable, these 8 years later.

  • Dog Stevens

    Follow the money as the Americans say, but I think the word you’re looking for here is engineered, and it’s done through the so called elite referees system who control all the top games as you know , but there can be no doubt who this engineering benefits and that’s news corp, simply through their selling rights, it’s supply and demand and sadly the old “good and bad guys” routine works every time, hence the arsenal pillorying in news corp titles who still lead the press and media pack in the UK and Wenger being french is a god send, a bit like foxnews with obama if you like.

    If Newscorp corrupted the police and political class in the UK, i don’t think the PGMO would stand up to much
    My money is on manu winning the title next year, if not demand will start to drop, and so will the prices and so forth as i said, follow the money
    Thanks for your excellent blog

  • bob

    CB,
    C’mon, mate. What do you actually mean?

    Jordan,
    Please look at Invincible XI’s link and tell us that what you see there comes down to “Refs being human.” What do you actually see at work there?

  • SouthernGunner

    One thing I know for certain, and that has hardly ever been mentioned in both the media and on the interent, is how Alex Ferguson “advises” other managers (mainly ex-United players such as Steve Bruce) how to set their team up and what approach he thinks they should take when they against other top 4 rivals in the past (mainly Liverpool and Arsenal).

    Steve Bruce even mentioned on Match of the Day interview how he was on the phone to Fergie before his team (think it was Birmingham as it was when Beitez was still at Liverpool) played their fixture against against the Mersyside team.

    He’s also recommended to the likes of Sam Alerdyce and Steve Bruce as to who they should sign.

    Although you could argue that there’s nothing wrong in doing such a thing, I don’t know of any other manager who is quite so involved in how other clubs play. It could almost be seen as indirectly managing/seeking to influence mid-lower table clubs so as to affect the results of your rivals.

    I also seem to remember when Mark Hughes was managing Blackburn mention something similar.

  • bob

    Southern Gunner,
    Really good one. Do you know when Steve Bruce let on to this? Was it this season past?

  • Web

    Ive been saying for years that there is something not right with the way games are officiated ine the Premier league.
    Some of the decision that have gone against Arsenal in recent season look blatantly corrupt!
    The point I want to make doesn’t involve Arsenal,but the two Manchester clubs and who won the league.
    After watching the Euros and finding out that “LIVE GAMES” can have “PRE RECORDED” footage edited in by tv broadcaster. Namely the Germany V Italy game where a German fan was shown crying after Germany went two goals down with about an hour of the game remaining.
    When she was contacted about why she was crying with so much of the game remaining she responded with…..” I was crying during the playing of the national anthem,not during the game”.
    This little bit of knowledge suggest to me that broadcaster can promote any agenda the choose in favour or against any particular team.
    Even refereeing decisions in my eyes could be doctored to suit an agenda,
    I know i’ve gone on a tangent ,but it still points to dishonesty!

  • SouthernGunner

    @ bob

    Yes mate, think it was either the season Eduardo was injured or around the time Benitez was making his “Facts” statement to the press, either 3 or 4 seasons ago. Think he was still Briminghams manager at the time, because they were getting a lot of 1-0, 1-1 results that season, and took a few scalps of teams above them in the table.

    I seem to remember at the time a lot of other managers publicly deriding Benitez, whilst Wenger was one of the few who spoke positively about him.

    But I definately remember the Bruce comment on MOTD, and then Hughes saying something similarly at another date.

  • Web

    Ps the point I was trying to make with may initial post was……..when was the Citeh goal actually scored???

  • Jordan

    Incompetence at its finest and maybe some subconscious bias but to say its fixed I think your clutching.

  • SouthernGunner

    Just looked up online the timeline and may have made a mistake. Bruce was probably Wigan manager at the time he said this, not Birmingham manager. He had some pretty good players for his team that season, Valencia and Palacios among them.

  • SouthernGunner

    @ bob

    Check out this interview with Sam Allardyce when his team played against a team managed by Ferguson’s son Darren.

    He’s quoted as saying:

    “There can be some lonely times when you sit behind a desk but to be able to pick up the phone to an ­experienced manager has always been crucial for me.”

    http://www.mirrorfootball.co.uk/news/West-Ham-boss-Sam-Allardyce-aims-to-show-pal-Alex-Ferguson-s-son-Darren-and-Peterborough-who-s-the-daddy-article803370.html

  • SouthernGunner

    Then another article showing how much solidarity there is between Ferguson & Allardyce when criticising Benitez:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/2009/apr/17/sam-allardyce-rafael-benitez-ferguson

  • SouthernGunner

    Sorry for the multiple posts today.

    But my question would be, why does Ferguson feel the need to be so vocal or even remotely involved in how other Premiership teams play against his rivals? Surely if the likes of Hughes, Allardyce and Bruce are capable managers and are good enough, then they could beat the likes of Liverpool and Arsenal without Fergies contribution.

    Also, does he offer advise to them when they have to play United? I doubt it.

  • bob

    SouthernGunner,
    No apologies, mate! Keep ’em coming. Your last question is disarmingly great: “Also, does he offer advise to them when they have to play United?” As for your answer, well, in your word “I doubt it.” Of course that would be the kind of smoking gun evidence that those like Jordan here demand as proof positive of probable bent practices.

  • bob

    “Incompetence at its finest and maybe some subconscious bias but to say its fixed I think your clutching.”
    Jordan,
    So, am I right then to say that said referee’s promotion to the top of PGMOL was “Coincidence at its finest”? And the choice of the other – that previously little-regarded referee to be in charge of the Arse vs. Farca at Camp Nous during the CL – to then head of the Referee Department at FIFA. Is that also “Coincidence at its finest”? You tell me who’s clutching; but more important, tell readers WHY you are so sure that declaring these outcomes BENT is clutching. Will you do that? I have no investment in anything but whatever facts you can present to back your arguments. So how about it, some facts for a proper discussion.

  • SouthernGunner

    Thanks mate.

    Google search “Alex Ferguson Sam Allardyce” (or another manager with United ties) and there are loads of interviews/reports showing how pally they are. Not saying it’s necessarily wrong but you cant say it’ss totally right either. What if a manager is unpopular, like Benitez was or Wenger is at times? Surely theres some sort of conflict of interest when there are results at stake, whether you’re fighting to win the league or whether you’re fighting to survive relegation.

  • Jordan

    If you noticed I said I think as I like you cannot possibly be sure either way. Your the one trying to prove something why do I need the evidence? What happened against Barca?

  • bob

    SouthernGunner,
    Your article on Fergie/Fat Sam shows how Don Fergus takes it on to police the proper behaviour by Managers. The post-match drink, is an etiquette that he tries to enforce on Benitez, who didn’t show up for it; when really it’s about Don Fergus demonstration of who’s in charge here, who is protecting his lessers, and who’s the first among equals – why he is meant to be Lord Football – among the LMO (League Managers Organization). Fat Sam has long been thought to be one of Don Fergus’s minions, and this just shows it. It also shows Don Fergus’ need to undermine a rival, in this case Liverpool’s prospects that season.

  • bob

    p.s. and of course it’s the Manchester Guardian’s football department that runs what Don Fergus and Fat Sam have to say, at great length, in slagging Benitez – the outsider, who’s surely not one of US!!!! The Don defines who is acceptable and who is Johnny Foreigner, putting Benitez beyond the Pale.

  • bob

    Jordan,
    Your silence defends the indefensible. Keep your silence. It speaks volumes. As for what happened against Barca, do you really have to ask? Are you an Arsenal fan?

  • SouthernGunner

    Good point.

    And lets also remember that it was Liverpools strongest run in the Premier League for a long time. They finised 2nd with 86 points and were tipped as title contenders, before losing out to (you guessed it), United. It all coincided quite nicely for the Mancs that year.

  • Jordan

    You ask me to provide facts but nothing you have posted can be considered factual. Obviously an Arsenal fan otherwise I wouldn’t be on this ridiculous website, I had an inkling that you was talking about RVP but I thought not even the most delusional fan could claim that to be fixed.

  • Sammy The Snake

    Match fixing in epl is very probable.

  • bob

    Now it’s delusional: so you do know. RvP’s send off for that shot after that whistle? So we’re down to 10 men, after we are turning the tide by any account in that game. The repeated and chronic choking by Barca that ALL went unpunished. So take your terms “clutching” and “delusional” and look in the mirror. What sort of Arsenal fans label doubts about that match, about that obscure referee’s appointment and subsequent high-profile reward and writes it off as delusional? No, it’s all down to exquisite coincidence in your normalcy. Do you know that normalcy is itself a delusion: except it’s an agreed upon delusion, and you’ve joined the so-called normals. Party on, like it’s 2004, where you see no evil at the crime scene thereafter known as Old Toilet. Just listen to the commentators themselves on that soundtrack. They couldn’t believe their eyes. Yours appear to be wide shut. But, I’ve got to hand it to you, that qualifies you as normal. Delusionally yours, bob

  • Andrew Crawshaw

    My feeling from looking at all of your ref reviews over the past year is that many show clear incompetence/bias against Arsenal when the same referees demonstrate competence in games not involving any of the ‘top four’ teams. again I am reluctant to ask for further analysis of your yearly results but when you have finished the team by team analysis could you look at doing a ref by ref summary?

    I still consider the best way to reduce the errors in the biggest calls, goals, penalties, red cards would be to allow the team captains and managers each to have a small number of challenges which would compel the use of video review, in a similar manner to tennis. The video evidence to be displayed on the ground screens for all to see. If the challenge is over-ruled and the original decision proved correct that challenge cannot be re-used, if the challenge is upheld it is retained. I would start with four challenger per team – two each for manager and captain – reset at half time. I don’t think that this would result in any significant delays to play (certainly not compared with the organised time wasting used by Wigan last year).

    Blatant bias/incompetence cannot exist when it is obvious to everyone in the crowd and easily and unambiguously reported in the media..It seems to thrive in areas where decisions are taken and kept in secret.

  • Domhuaille MacMathghamhna

    There is,without a doubt, sufficient evidence pointing to some form of unlawful or underhanded manipulation of games by possibly; players, certainly officials, some managers, and/or quite probably the PGMOL-EPL.
    There are certain basic steps that have to be followed to bring this theory from the realm of speculation into the world of statistically proven certainty:

    1)Based on UA’s excellent season-long game referee reviews, a trained research statistician would need to verify if the occurrence of events, perceived as being biased or fixed, were statistically significant and repeatable, just like a research project for a laboratory experiment.

    2)Following on the results, if they indicate an aberrant or statistically significant occurrence of bias or cheating, the specific perpetrators of these aberrations would be individually reviewed for ALL their assigned games.

    3)With this data in hand, provided it proved that such behaviour reoccurred regularly and predictably, the authors of this research could go to the legal authorities and register an official complaint against both the perpetrator(s) and the PGMOL/EPL under whose tutelage this match fixing occurs.This fixing is a criminal act and should, if it is proven, be treated as such.

    In this culture of denial, cover-ups, cover your ass and media generated hypocrisy it would be very difficult to obtain any support for such legal action BUT if the Italians could do it, why not the British?

  • Jordan

    So me saying its highly incompetent and possibly subconscious bias from the a personal viewpoint of the ref is me watching with the eyes wide shut. RVP shot at least 2 seconds after the whistle, if his argument of not being able to hear had any basis surely the other 21 players would of been playing on at other instances when the ref had already blown?

    Do you know that normalcy is itself a delusion: except it’s an agreed upon delusion, and you’ve joined the so-called normals.

    The normals? Care to expand?

  • SouthernGunner

    @bob

    Last post on this, promise.

    Benitz’ infamous “Facts” press conference took place on 9.1.09. Up til this point, Liverpool were doing very well and had already beaten United at Anfield.

    Here’s a full transcript: http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/2009/jan/09/rafael-benitez-alex-ferguson-outburst

    The weeks following this press conference, Benitez was derided by a numer of managers and journalists, saying he’s “cracked up”, and were continually undermining him publicly.

    Three weeks later, Liverpool dropped points against Wigan, managed by Steve Bruce at the time, on 28.1.09 drawing 1-1. This is the game where Bruce admitted to “being on the phone to Sir Alex this week about the upcoming fixture” on MOTD.

    Here’s the Guardian report: http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/2009/jan/28/wigan-athletic-liverpool-mido-benayoun-benitez

    Lastly, here are Liverpools results in the Premier League for that season.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2008%E2%80%9309_Liverpool_F.C._season#Premier_League

    Thanks for your patience.

  • Jordan – when I did my research degree arguments such as yours about normalicy were commonplace. But the answer was always the same – to have some sort of logical scientific debate a set of rules have to be in place. Of course if you don’t want to abide by those rules that’s fine, and you can argue your point, and indeed start your own non-scientific journal or blog.

    The scientific approach of measuring and comparison of results is something that we have had in the west since Galileo – actually before then – and it has always had its enemies. No problem with that. It is just that in setting up this web site four years ago I decided that we would follow the scientific route when looking at evidence. So that’s what we do.

    If you start a blog in which matches and referees are reviewed from some other basis that is fine. I will probably read with much interest and enjoyment. Just as I have been following the development of a search engine which doesn’t give links to the sites you search for, but instead gives links to metaphors. All the world’s a stage – wonderful.

    Each to his own, I’ve no quarrel – merely I assert my background, my research work in the past at the University of London, and my view that the scientific method is a suitable way forward.

  • bob

    Oh, evidence at last. So you timed the whistle and RvP’s shot at a two second interval? Or did you read it in the Guardian or the Sun? And you watched everyone else on the pitch’s reaction? And the position of the referee? And the decibel level on the pitch in that moment? Well, so you did watch. And what about the chronic – repeat chronic – choking by Barca players – unflagged, worthy of sendings-off, but not by that ref who saw fit to put us one player down. All coincidence. You are doing the clutching on this. And have you no reply to the rewards to those referees after such massively incompetent performances, to use your standard. Would you take that ref at Old Toilet’s performance – what you call “Incompetence as its finest” – and promote him, indeed select him to the top of the PGMOL after that performance? Then again, that’s just coincidence and my clutching as well. Those attitudes are what I mean by normal.

  • bob

    p.s. the above to Jordan.

  • Jordan

    Yeah you got it in one, I read the papers take everything as truth and recycle the information as my own.

  • bob

    SouthernGunner, Tony, Anne,
    I think that what you (Southern Gunner) have brilliantly unearthed or at least opened the door here to a possible or attempted COLLUSION by Don Fergus and The Guardian, and possibly refs (to be determined) in the 2009 season: to undermine Liverpool and finally tilt the League to ManUre.

    Doing more analysis of this would go far. It appears at first blush, to be a kind of template or model of the piling on treatment that was dished out to Arsene/Arsenal last summer. The summer of the start of the season that was meant to anoint Don Fergus as Lord Football, in the ultimately just-failed bid to clinch The Rednose XX. SouthernGunner, you have the good eye and the better heart. Keep ’em coming, mate. Cheers 🙂

  • bob

    Jordan,
    Alright, then. So you don’t parrot the papers. I’m glad and apologize on that point. Anything else?

  • Jordan

    No not really other than I never said I can prove or even believe 100% that it wasn’t fixed I just think you need proof if your gonna state as though its a fact. Although the Mike Riley getting promoted after that game could be viewed as suspicious if true.

  • iniez

    SouthernGunner, didn’t steve bruce also manage sunderland, and wasn’t sunderland a bit of a man u B team with the loans and transfers (maybe I’m remembering wrong but I recall a lot of activity between those two clubs). Maybe another ferguson benefit?

  • GoonerM

    Fixed like our last match at West Brom. The worst fixed match I’ve witnessed. How much did we pay their keeper?

  • Gooner S

    My honest answer is that I would rather not think that games are fixed!

    But of the options you give I would select:

    d) Your evidence is not good enough to warrant your conclusions because…

    As I have said before I understand and admire the hard work and effort that goes into this work. I just remain unconvinced…..for now at least.

    It’s nothing personal towards you or the other contributors.

  • bob

    Jordan,
    In fairness, Micky R’s promotion wasn’t right after that game, too blatant; but IN SPITE OF that game and other controversies. Indeed it was 4 seasons and multiple controversies later (see the PGMOL Wikipedia entry for the chapter and verse of Micky’s deeds) – but he was promoted in 2009 – the season that Fergie and media took down Benitez and Liverpool for the championship – to the top of the heap.

  • Joe

    AFC is very well-runned, the envy of other clubs, a financial entity, youth buyer, a feeder club and anti-ambitious. Managed by money loving mavericks hell-bend on doing things their way. RVP is coming to the end of his career old age lower wages and away from the lime light awaits. RVP has yet to win a major trophy with the world at his mercy why stay with a club that is not ambitious and with a manger who insists he will never change the way he operates even if his star players keep on leaving whilst management revel in opulence. Usmanov wants dividends his dividends earned from the pitch. When the talisman says what everyone knows then something is wrong. AFC is not after football success or to attract good players but the senseless reply by Hill sums up the vision of the Club. Wenger is employed to bring success to the Board and himself. The board uses limited and constrained resources to justify their bad choices and retain wenger their cash cow who encourages the exodus of the good. Kolo left, Ade left, Cesc left for success, Clichy left for success and Nasri’s words are back to haunt AFC. Management state the club is progress orientated so why don’t they sack Wenger along with his cronies why waste 8yrs and why bring players that are not suitable for Sunday league tournament. The truth can only be supressed for so long before it comes out. The truth is the season will be awash, a painful period, a repeat of last season. If RVP wrote a letter stating how poor and visionless the club then this is the tip of the ice berg. If RVP states AFC is poor then AFC is poor but to what extent?

  • SourhernGunner , can u bring yo CV to my desk and join hands to look for dickheads who have been terrorizing football for ages. OH my, just bring us more.

  • SouthernGunner

    @ bob

    Thanks mate. Not saying there’s definately something amiss about this, but it can make things extremely difficult if you happen to not fall into the pro-United category. Think Mancini even came under fire a little bit last season when not towing the Fergie line, and almost missed out on the title because of it.

    @iniez

    I believe so, yes, though his tenure at Sunderland wasn’t deemed as successful as his times at Wigan and Birmingham. It’s a strange one, because I actually quite like Steve Bruce, got no axe to grind against the guy, and he’s not in the same catagory as Allardyce or Hughes, who always seem to have grudge somewhere or other.

    Justed took a look as the Sunderland squad, and some of them are ex-united. John O’shea, Wes Brown, Phil Bardsley, Kieran Richardson, and Frazer Campbell. Plus Danny Welbeck had a loan spell there recently, and Jonny Evens had a spell there a few years back.

    Not sure all those players would have ended up at the club were it not for the manager there at the time and his connections to Manchester United. Most of these players mentioned above arrived at Tyne-side whilst Bruce was there. Also, Lee Cattermole followed Bruce from Wigan to Sunderland, and I think he actually came recommended by SAF, but I may be mistaken about this particular one. But for a brief period he was hailed as a “new Roy Keane” and there was talk of him perhaps going to Man U.

    This kind of thing does happen. Even Wenger has recommended a player to Bruce before, Wilson Palacios signing for Wigan being just one example on public record. But it seems to go a bit beyond that when United connections are concerned, perhaps leaving room for managerial influence over other football clubs that favours United.

    Even this summer has seen an ex-United player, Mark Hughes, sign two players, Park Ji Sung for £2m and Fabio on loan, to QPR.

    But hey, we’re just speculating.

  • Domhuaille MacMathghamhna

    Joe……..time to use spell and grammar check mate!

    ORIGINAL VERSION CORRECTED VERSION

    1)well-runned? well-run
    2)lime light? limelight
    3)a manger? (is Jesus our next transfer?)a manager
    4)wenger Wenger(proper names are capitalized)
    5)orientated? oriented
    6)awash awash is a verb and needs an object(awash with what….deadwood, plastic AAA fans like you, shite posts like yours,…?
    7)ice berg iceberg

    How old are you? This is a grade 3 student’s writing style and aside from your poor syntax and spelling, abysmal punctuation and atrocious grammar,your arguments are circular, irrational and totally spurious as to facts, proofs or accuracy.
    Other than that, its just a rehash of the same AAA, anti-Wenger shite you come here to spout ceaselessly.
    Tony, this lad needs a dose of x-lax, a high colostomy, a frontal lobotomy (I suspect he’s already had one but it failed) and should return to kindergarten with his intellectual superiors to learn the English language all over again.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Reading the ref reviews on this site, other blogs and my own observations, I would estimate there are about three very good unbiased refs, three more who do not even know what day it is, several more who know who they need to please to enhance their career, a couple of homers, several more with clear and obvious affiliations to certain clubs, and bias against others, a bit of a north south thing at work, the QPR conundrum, and then, if these issues are not bad enough, two or three that really worry me. Would,naming them risk libel on this site? I do not really have to . Would be interested to see how Chelsea’s favourite ref does next season, utd have one or two as well. And, lets see where arry ends up, and if a certain ref follows him.

  • Menace

    Jordan – you obviously dont know about the PG Monkeys making a mess at a tea party. In the eyes of the FA the PGMOL with their cheat appointed as boss turn deaf ears to the foul language from most of their local players but seem very quick to pick on foreign players. The cheating that went on with the Arsenal v Barcelona game is there for all to see but football referees are Gods and their decisions corrupt or not are generally final.

    UA have been a breath of fresh air bringing a statistical approach to evidence the bias that I have seen.

    There is also a level of covert racism that exists in football that needs to be addressed. Again it is there in the recorded matches to be seen. But like anything, one needs to know what to look for and how the bias is applied.

  • Menace

    In the eyes of the FA the PGMOL with their cheat appointed as boss are angels. while they turn deaf ears to the foul language from most of their local players but seem very quick to pick on foreign players.

  • mark

    I think many of us who watch the EPL have felt that officiating was poor. Thanks to UTA more evidence has been collected that confirms the officiating is poor. I think the ref reviews have proven that much. I don’t think reviewing more games is needed to substantiate that conclusion.

    The ref reviews have provided evidence of bias. I think other studies have demonstrated home and away bias in most sports. But the reviews have also pointed out that sometimes the normal bias of home/away is altered in some way. So with a review of 8 games we see Stoke have very strange bias patterns. It would be great to have more of the Stoke games reviewed. I would predict that more games might moderate those extremes some. How much is unclear? Most likely not enough to make the pattern the same as all the other teams. From what we have seen from the ref reviews of regions already suggests that some regional bias exists.

    So the refs are bad and biased. Are they bought? While the ref reviews will not be able to prove this, they can suggest that there are patterns that seem highly unusual. If the EPL and PGMOL are both committed to providing the best officiating that is dedicated to getting the decisions right they would take seriously what the UTA ref reviews are doing and seek to improve. They would take steps to put the officiating appointments, process and review into the open so they would be above reproach. That they do not do this further suggests that something is going on behind the scenes to manipulate the outcomes.

    I appreciate what you are doing at UTA.

  • marcus

    Jordan’s comments make me realize that we have the perfect metaphor for the EPL under our noses.

    Surgically enhanced breasts.

    On the surface they have a veneer of normality, but underneath they are pumped up. To the casual glance, it is generally fairly obvious when breasts are siliconized, however it is of course impossible to prove. Unless you have a Doctor’s certificate, (and of course Doctors swear a code of client confidentiality). Of course some women admit to breast enhancement, but many do not. For us, these are the breasts that deny being artificial.

    For me the EPL, the FA, and the PGMOL all can be neatly encapsulated in Jordan’s (or any other woman’s) breasts, metaphorically speaking. We all know that they are false, but we cannot easily prove it.

  • @ Tony

    I absolutely love these reviews, I’ve never seen this kind of research in blogs before. I may have missed an article or two (is there a ref series archive?), so sorry if my point has already been covered elsewhere.

    At the beginning of the referee series, it was pointed out that it had been conducted primarily for an Arsenal blog, and this is the reason why all 38 Arsenal games have been covered.

    That is fair enough, and the research has to be respected, but is it possible to have non-Arsenal supporting refs re-review the 38 Arsenal games from last year, and see if they agree with the Arsenal match ref statistics that the Untold panel came up with?

    I mentioned the review to a non-gooner, and his response immediately was regarding all results having no credibility due to the Arsenal bias spotted (obviously) by Arsenal bloggers. If referees can be biased, even subconsciously, then so could the reviewers (playing Devil’s Advocate).

    Maybe guest referees from other teams’ blogs could help? They may be quite interested, especially if their team also received negative bias. Have you had non-Arsenal supporting refs respond to your ref appeal?

    I see comment/requests for you to do more thorough coverage of the your stats, and it seems a little unappreciative of the immense effort already put in, but there is a reason I suggest this.

    I agree with you that the stats show some shocking anomalies, and should prompt PGMOL investigations (the most a blog review would likely be able to hope for I guess).

    Surely it is easier and quicker for you to verify Arsenal’s 38 archived matches from 2011/12 with external 3rd parties (non-Arsenal refs), than to do the hundreds of games in 2012/13, in order for this to be taken seriously?

    It would add a lot of power to last and next year’s statistics, to go with the increase in data.

    I think your review was good enough to warrant investigation, and most gooners would probably agree. But non-gooners may find it hard to accept without this verification. With it the whole system becomes ‘verified’ – also adding much more weight to next season’s stats too. I’m a gooner, and no ref, so I can’t help much to my disappointment…

    What do you think? It’s ‘only’ a 38-game project….

    ArseCheek (arsecheek.co.uk)

  • @ Tony,

    … I only mention this as I run a business in an industry where 3rd party verification of the products I work with is the difference between global recognition and worthless pieces of paper.

    I don’t verify the products (so again I couldn’t help!) but I understand the impact! External verification removes bias in figures, and makes them globally acceptable. As your background is in research analysis, the removal of bias along with the size of the ‘market’ you covered, and the fact every reviewer is professionally ‘qualified’, would mean last season’s data is credible as an industry report that could even have weight in front of governing bodies.

    ArseCheek (arsecheek.co.uk)

  • Stuart

    Arsecheek

    There is a long list of ref articles to be found here http://blog.emiratesstadium.info/referees

    Takes a bit of scrambling through (Or use CTRL+F to find anything specific) but I believe it is all there.

  • Thanks Stuart! Thats a lot of reading!! Good stuff…

  • Ryan F

    Just came across this article on newsnow. The amount of time and effort that’s gone into this analysis is flabbergasting! I have a couple of questions:

    1) In order to fully appreciate trends, you really need to get some long-term analysis done, like over a number of years. Complete data too, not just random games. I’m not sure how you can attempt to deduce anything using incomplete data, and even then over such a short time-frame (a single season). Maybe these things really do even themselves out, but over a number of seasons, or maybe in the games that aren’t analysed?

    2) It’s so easy to second-guess officials, especially if you have access to super slow-mo replays and alternative angles. But these guys get to see an incident once, in real time. Not so easy then, is it? It’s too easy to accuse a ref of bias or incompetence from the comfort of our armchairs, when they are the guys out there, ensuring these games go well, and to the best of their ability.

    Watching footage of, like, ten Bolton games won’t tell you anything – just like rolling a dice ten times won’t confirm that the odds of getting a six are one-in-six.

    If you guys can spot trends over whole seasons, and over a period of, say five or ten years, then maybe you might be onto something. But until then you might want to hold fast before accusing referees of fixing games or being unduly influcenced or whatever, because that way lies legal action. And trust me, your analysis would never hold up should that come to pass.

    Like any Arsenal fan, I got frustrated when RvP was sent off againt Barcelona, or when van der Vaart controlled the ball with his arm before scoring in the game at WHL this year. But what about the stuff that goes in our favour – how many times have Alex Song or Laurent Koscielny been let off with a warning when already on a yellow card?

    Oh, any maybe to assuage my fears, could someone please provide a verifiable source that Walter Broeckx has indeed been a referee, because every google search takes me to one of his ‘articles’, and never to any evidence that he’s even been a ref at all. And if he really is a referee, how do we know that he’s never deminstrated bias (however subconsciously) in the games that he’s officiated in?

  • damian

    I think games are well fixed, by the fa!! of course think how much money they can make?? funny why they won’t bring video playback technology or goal line technology?? reason being is how could they fix games then? I’ll say this, most sports with money involved are corrupt, see dodgy diction’s made all the time by refs!! and its unfair got to the point where refs and lines-men are winning the games!! that to me is so fixed, or could well easy fix a game. chelsea utd game, dodgy call. liverpool everton dodgy calls. and its like in every game!