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The ref review: the final chapter (or is it?)

By Walter Broeckx

Most of the times writing articles for Untold is fun.

I also have found much joy in the referee revciews we have done. I can say it is something that I once started all those years ago and that has grown in to what you can see over here on this site and on the site www.refereedecisions.co.uk You could say it is one of my sons. I have made it and seen it grown to what it is now. Of course just like with most other living creatures (as far as I know) you have to be with two to create something. Dogface was the other person who was there over the last couple of seasons when we turned out the reviews.

But now writing this article I feel a great sadness.  It is writing an article I thought and hoped that I never would write. But I have to. Many of our regular visitors have been asking the same question for weeks: Where are the reviews?  It really pains me inside. But I must come out with it now and give you the sad message:

The Untold Referee Review system as you know it, has stopped.

As many of you have been so supportive to me over the years I owe you an explanation of course. You have encouraged me, helped me, corrected me, you were all part of this in a way. Even those who shrugged their shoulders and told me I was an idiot or worse. Every reaction was looked upon and was regarded as a possible help.

The reason why I have to stop with the referee reviews is for a personal matter. Sometimes you don’t know what life is throwing at you in your personal environment. And one of the persons closest to me and dearest to me is struggling with a serious health issue. It has been this way for a few years now but things are going from bad to worse recently. I am not going to bore you with details but after running to dozens of doctors, hospitals, university hospitals, specialists they still can not even name the disease she is suffering. And that after some 5 years now.

And as she was and is  the person behind me and supporting me, I now should be the person to stand behind her.

No real prognoses can be given as they don’t know what it is. We only know it started with a bite from a tick (the small parasites).  So if you ever get bitten by a tick go to a doctor immediately and ask for antibiotics. Don’t wait till it is too late.

As a result however I must reorganise my live and my time. My family needs me more than the PGMOL. Or the referees. Or even the Arsenal. This cross we have to carry at home is more important than anything else. Some things are more important than football. I’m in a phase of my life that I am facing such a more important thing.

As I am optimistic of nature I hope that one day she will recover and I will be able to take it up again. Or it might even be no longer needed as the PGMOL would get their act together. You see I really am an optimistic person.

So now it is time to thank all those people who have been really very helpful to me in doing the reviews.

First of all Tony Attwood of course for being so generous to give space on his servers and make it possible for all of you to have access to the different websites.

Secondly we have Dogface. The man behind the scenes who can come up with all the numbers as if it is nothing. He set up a whole system that we used and that was an amazing job to do. He cannot be praised enough for doing what he did in also not easy conditions for him.  And in the light of what he just suffered I really cannot complain about anything that is happening to me and my wife.

I also want to thank John and John. So one called himself Gianni to make it easier. They were the first refs to help me out on the reviews. I owe them a lot. Thank you guys.

And of course the referee-reviewers who helped me out over the last season. I salute you all and I thank you for your time, your commitment and your help. I think you all did a great job and I hope you feel proud of what we have achieved.

And of course I have to thank all the readers and those who commented on the reviews. Without you I would have stopped after 3 weeks probably. So you can pat yourself on the back.

But what saddens me most is that behind the scenes we have received a lot of recognition. This summer we had people from Talksport asking us questions and wanting to help us out and even talk about us and refer to our work and numbers. And from what I have heard from some of you they do use our work.

We had other people who wanted to help us spreading the word with links on other websites.

We had mail from a ref association that offered help in recruiting refs.

We had mail from people who once stood on the field on the highest level as referees who expressed their support to us and gave us tips and information. And who offered help to get a higher exposure.

We had contacts with people from the BBC and other media at times.

I received mails from supporters from other clubs who asked questions, supported us.

I know that many PL refs were aware of our work. I know a number of them read our work. I will not reveal their names to not get them in to trouble. As that was one thing in common with all the people that contacted us directly or indirectly: nobody wanted that their name was mentioned. You wonder why…

I think we were really close to taking the next step. Finally reaching the media. The big media out there. Maybe one more season doing even more reviews could have made the difference.

And then I have to stop. One little creature almost not even big enough to see it with the eye has thrown the life of my beloved ones on its head and now forces me to stop putting my more and more valuable time in to the reviews.

So you can understand that I feel gutted. But that is the way life goes. It has taken me weeks and months to finally come to this conclusion. I have thought about other options and possibilities but couldn’t find a solution. So I have to face the hard truth. And call an end to our reviews.

Of course I will continue writing for Untold and I will focus on any wrongdoings by refs now and in the future. And we will of course use the numbers we have gathered over the years to see if there are any other angles we can find.  I am still looking at such angles but time… time…

I am also still looking at a possibility to keep it going in some form but I still have to think about it but if we can do anything about referees we will do it.  But it will no longer be the systematic reviews we have known. So we say goodbye to the reviews but I will not leave Untold. Unless Tony kicks me out of course.

Thank you all for your help and comments and do please be careful about ticks: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tick  Don’t let them get under your skin.

——–

A footnote from Tony

The heading of this article includes the phrase “or is it?” because what Walter has started is, week by week, having ever greater effects on the way the Premier League is being refereed.

And that was always the point – to make a difference.  The data was the means to that end; making use of the data that Walter and all his colleagues collected and analysed is what is now happening and that is phase two of the project.

The previews of the referees for each Arsenal match, based on our existing data, are continuing as I hope you will have noticed.   In recent weeks we have had Arsene Wenger mention the “company” that analyses referees’ mistakes.  We have been noticed.  The press picked this up.  Walter’s work is having an impact.

Behind the scenes I also see other developments coming through.  It would be premature to mention them now, but believe me they are there.

So I believe that change is now happening.  It is slow, and the media remains resistant to accepting our message that there is something wrong with refereeing, but it is happening, and it is happening totally because of the incredible hard work of Walter and his team in producing the data.

I am sure every reader of Untold will want to send Walter and his family their very best wishes for the future and deepest thanks for all he has done.   The result of his incredible work will be seen, I believe, in years to come.

And as Walter said, he is not leaving us but will continue with his articles (something for which I am incredibly grateful – I can’t imagine how Untold could exist without him).

Walter, on behalf of everyone who has ever read anything you have written, may I say a million thank you’s.

 

57 comments to The ref review: the final chapter (or is it?)

  • Wishing you and yours all the very best of luck with your fight – and thank you for all the great articles. God bless.

  • Gerry Lennon

    Walter, I fully understand when decisions have to be made.

    In no way comparable, but I have one of my dogs with terminal cancer, and her time is short ..

    But yes the work you started will in some form carry on, even if only in peoples minds that then ask the questions?

    Even today I read on this technology that can be used as a coaching aid – panoramic view – which can also be used to track referees positioning, which might also improve things?

    Life, as you say does move on. Just one thought. If this problem is an auto-immune related issue? Try a little bit of liver and mashed potato daily. The vitamin B vitamins helped my dog get over megaesophagus 8 years ago, and she is still going strong. Just a thought.

    best wishes, Walter, and thanks again for shining the light in the dark corners of the game we love.
    Gerry

  • blacksheep63

    Walter, your commitment to uncovering the scandal that is modern refereeing is only surpassed by your commitment to your family. I am not a religious man but my thoughts and prayers are with with you and yours.

    This ball has started rolling and it has its own momentum, I really think that more and more people are looking at the performance of match officials now as a result of yours and Dogface’s work, and that can’t be stopped now. It’s time for others to pick up the baton.
    best wishes, Drew

  • Terry Garratt

    Thank you Walter for all you have done. I sincerely hope that your companion recovers completely and that you continue to enjoy and value each other. My very best wishes to you both.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Thank you .Walter for all the effort you have put in this.Take a break and do what is necessary and important to you . Wish that it all works out and a cure is found .Stay strong .

  • bjtgooner

    Walter this is very sad news and you are doing the right thing putting your family first. You and your family will be in our thoughts and prayers.

    You have made a very significant contribution to exposing referee corruption in the EPL and have laid the foundations for eventual fair play – your courage and enterprise are examples for all to follow.

  • Mick

    Walter, many thanks for your fantastic work on here and Referee Decisions, that you continued with serious family issues hanging over you is simply amazing. My sincerest sympathy for you and your family in such difficult circumstances, let us pray that a diagnosis is quickly found and a full recovery made.

  • Mandy Dodd

    You are clearly making the right decision. The very best wishes to your family and thanks for all you have done. You have refs and the media contacting you, a huge number of hits on this site, things are being exposed and have taken their own momentum, that’s what I call making a difference. Who knows who else may look up this site? I think we all have a good idea Looking at recent headlines, discussions, books, Poll vs Halsey, PGMOL apologies, arrests, the cat is out of the bag, either change things for the better or like your master, plan your exits Riley, Barratt, Gallagher et Al……before it’s too late….

  • Pat

    Walter, you can be sure all the work you and your team have done has not been wasted. The series of articles based on the last two seasons’ analyses has been very illuminating. As Tony says, there is far more analysis of refs’ decisions in the media than there used to be. It’s also good that ref previews still appear on the site based on previous figures.

    I’m glad you will still have time to write for Untold, because you would be very much missed.

    Thanks for telling us what is happening. Hope very much for an improvement in your partner’s health and very best wishes to her and your family. People do recover from all kinds of conditions – I know that from my own experience. We’re all thinking of you, Walter.

  • Walter, I wish you and your family well and of course family always comes first. Be as strong and positive as you can and look after yourself. Clearly I do not know you or yours personally, but I hope all the messages of support are a comfort and a small crutch to help you through this difficult time.

  • rantetta

    Walter

    I am sorry to hear of health problems for someone so close to you. Naturally, I hope solutions to those problems are found, quickly.

    Thank you for your ref work. It has been fantastic, amazing and accurate. I think I would have gone mad if you hadn’t started this project. Even now I know people who think the PL refs have never done anything wrong apart from the odd mistake. I can take their conclusions only because of seeing the work from you, Dogface and the other reviewers.

    Both you and Dogface have dedicated much time to this project. I am sorry you have both had to deal with personal health issues of loved ones, and if it’s possible I am even more in awe of what you’ve both produced – given the circumstances.

    Yes Walter, a million thank you’s

    Recovery and Peace.

  • Andrew Crawshaw

    Walter,
    Thank you for your help and support in firstly teaching me a vast amount about refereeing decisions and more recently in reviewing the referee previews I have been writing this year. To have done as much as you have is quite remarkable. Thank you.

  • Walter,

    Family comes before football all day and everyday. I know your decision is not really a choice but what you must. I wish your beloved a quick recovery from what ails her.

    While I am not a contributor (comment-wise) to your ref reviews, I appreciate the effort that you put in and I’m glad that its finally bearing fruits. Well done, my friend and all the best.

  • MikeSA

    Hi Walter
    Sorry to hear about this and wishing you and her all the best.
    This might be totally irrelevant, but I’ll mention it just in case. When I was younger and still in the army I came back from a stint out of my own country and fell quite ill. The symptoms were similar to malaria or traditional tick-byte fever, but blood tests showed it was not either. I was very ill and couldn’t eat or drink anything other than water for quite a while. Nothing seemed to help. Eventually I found a doctor who diagnosed q-fever virus (from a tick byte – not too sure if that’s exactly how it is spelt or pronounced), and once they treated me for that it was sorted out.
    Once again, all the best going forward.

  • Mandy Dodd

    I know this thread is about Walter, his family and the amazing work he has done, but there is an Arsenal great who also needs our best wishes

    http://www.arsenal.com/news/news-archive/arsenal-send-best-wishes-to-pat-rice

  • MikeSA

    Sorry, bits and bytes on the brain, that’ll be tick “BITE”

  • nelson wong

    Thank you for all the good articles. Hope the great lady behind you recover soon.

  • Kentetsu

    [in Dutch]

    Walter,

    Heel veel sterkte voor u en uw familie. Uiteindelijk is familie het belangrijkste goed. Ik hoop dat er toch nog duidelijkheid komt over de aandoening, want die onzekerheid wat er aan de hand is is verschrikkelijk.

    Ik zal de reviews missen en heb alle voorgaande reviews en analyses met interesse gelezen. Mijn enorme respect voor de tijd en energie die erin is gestoken, alsmede de passie die u heeft voor voetbal en het vak van scheidsrechter. Het zal nog een lang proces zijn voor er daadwerkelijk verandering komt in de PGMOL, maar wanneer die komt kunt u met trots terugkijken dat u de grondlegger bent geweest voor die verandering.

    Het doet mij deugd dat u nog steeds zult blijven schrijven voor Untold. Ik lees uw artikelen met veel plezier. Hiermee schep ik en andere lezers met mij wel weer verwachtingen, maar let erop dat uw familie de nodige aandacht krijgt. Veel sterkte!

  • WalterBroeckx

    I must say that I have mixed feelings about this. I still feel gutted about the decision that was forced upon me of course.
    A decision that itself will not cure my wife of course but one that will help us.

    On the other hand the wishes and kind words of Tony touched me a lot. And gave me a warm feeling.

    And while Tony was publishing this article that was written a while ago but waiting for the season review reaching the end to be published I was reviewing the numbers again and I think I found another angle on how to look at the numbers we got from last season.

    So don’t run out just yet 😉

    Thank you guys, I always feel that the regular Untold readers are like family to me. And with your kind words it really is like family.

  • WalterBroeckx

    En Bedankt Kentetsu!

    Een eerste maal, een commentaar in het Nederlands op Untold.

    Thanks Kentetsu,

    A first I think, a comment in Dutch on Untold 😉 And such perfect Dutch…are you Dutch or Flemish?

  • Pat

    Walter, this is exciting! A new angle!

  • AL

    Walter, thank you so much for the amazing work and your tireless efforts in exposing & educating us of the reffing malpractices in the epl.

    Before I discovered Untold I only knew a couple of refs, had no idea how the system worked, how they were distributed geographically in the UK or why we got such terrible results when particular refs were around. All I knew was something was not right, and was getting disillusioned to the point of thinking I was better off following Rugby. But thanks to you Walter, now very rarely does anyone bring up a debate about the standard of refereeing in the epl & try to act knowledgeable when I’m around in my circle of friends. My friends have even called me for my opinion a few times when they got into an argument over a controversial reffing incident or something like that. The majority of them can only name a few officials, and I’m not saying whatever I say to them is always correct or final, but it’s obvious they value my opinion. And I learned it all from here. I can assure you, not that you needed to be, that your work has not been in vain. Thank you again, and hope your other half gets better soon.

  • nicky

    Walter,
    Glad to hear your referee reviews have been halted.
    Why?
    Because you are wise enough to get your priorities right.
    Good luck to the lady in her battle. She will have prayers, good will and best wishes from many to aid her.

  • Gord

    Best of luck Walter to you and your wife.

    The only tick born problem I’ve ever run across is Lyme disease. A soccer player on a team I was affiliated with had picked it up. I gather he must have picked it up while on a trip, as Lyme isn’t common where I lived at the time. He lost a lot of muscle in fighting it, but he did recover.

  • Ian Jenkinson

    Hi Walter,

    I am very sorry to hear that a loved one is unwell. Look after your family first and the rest will fall in to place. Like all the others above, thank you for all your hard work on the reviews but also on your massive contribution to Untold in general. We will all be thinking about you and maybe the Untold community can pass over enough optimism and support that it may help in some small way.

    Keep your chin up Walter.

    Ian.

  • Stuart

    Walter,
    Sorry to hear your bad news. It is a shame you have to give up your work but understandably you must prioritise. I wish you all the best.

  • Norm

    Best wishes to you both. For sure I will miss your amazing output of data and analysis, but stay positive, keep fighting and focussed. I speak as one who is currently fighting too.

  • Minesy

    Wishing you and your family all the very best … take care of them,
    Regards
    Chris

  • Kentetsu

    Walter, I’m Dutch. Although I have lived in Hoboken – right around the corner for you – for about half a year earlier this year.

  • Va Cong

    Thank you Walter for making me feel I’m not insane all these years, hope she gets better soon. I know how it feels as I lost my partner to cancer. Be strong!

  • SouthernGunner

    Very sorry to hear this difficult news Walter. Wishing you & your loved ones all the absolute best and more at this time.

    Thank you for all the work you’ve put into this site. A lot of what you’ve uncovered has been an absolute revelation. Look forward to seeing your future contributions.

    Always a Gooner, always an Untolder.

    God bless.

  • Gf60

    Sorry to hear the bad news Walter. Best wishes for your wife’s speedy recovery.

  • finsbury

    There are a number of arsenal fans who have written (elsewhere) that the body of work Walter and those supporting him have put together to show that in the 21st centuary referees need more help and support on behalf of all football fans is a conspiracy theory because, and I quote, “it could never happen here”, “England is not Italy”, etc. etc. etc. you know the rest. We must protect our “precious bodily fluids”*, something like that?

    Well, perhaps there was no better day for Walter to post this article?
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-25132538

    Best wishes going forward Walter, many thanks to all involved.
    Best wishes to Pat Rice too.

    * A slightly oblique reference to Dr.Strangeglove.

  • naija gunner

    All the best, Walter.

  • Gf60

    Worth while looking at this… http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/football/10480640/Football-match-fixing-referees-embroiled-in-scandal.html

    When you think that top PL refs get paid about 125 000 quid a year, there’s not much point in trying to bribe players is there?

  • Damilare

    Walter,
    Obviously the untold community won’t be able to thank you enough for your contributions to the game we love in general and our club in particular.
    I HOPE THIS HELPS
    Im sorry to hear about your family health battles. Im not religious but believe in JESUS. If you dont mind, say a little prayer with your partner to HIM- I just did for you, your lady, dogface, Pat Rice and everyone sick. On that ground I’m totally opimistic. Matt 4:24, Luke 4:40, Acts 28:8-9. God bless you.

  • TJ

    Walter.

    I only came across this site recently and one of my main reasons for returning again and again is your is your obvious great character, lightheartedness and your interaction, genuinely addressing all respectfully.

    My feeling is your beloved is lucky to have you beside her. Good luck to ye, my heart goes out to you.

  • BILL FROM MANHATTAN

    Walter, Best wishes and a speedy recovery for you and your wife. As someone who has been a big fan of Untold since it’s inception, I have truly enjoyed the body of work that you guys are doing. I can only imagine the time and effort it takes to produce all those articles. As a famous judge once said “Sunlight is the best disinfectant” Your reviews brought light on the skullduggery in the Premiership. You are a real stand up mensch. Heartfelt Best Wishes

  • colario

    Take heart from the fact that what you have started will be told world wide and will not go unfinished until the corruption in the ‘beautiful game’ is finished.

    Now its time to give not only all your heart but all your time to your first love who is more beautiful than Arsenal.

    We are saddened that we wont see you so much here but glad you will have more time to be at her side.

    We send you our love. Charles.

  • OlegYch

    Walter, best wishes to you and your family. I hope your dearest person will have a speedy recovery.
    The work you’ve done has had a great impact on football in England, but i feel like if nobody picks that up we would miss a great opportunity of making the game truly fair. If there is any way to help you (or someone else) continue that work, please let us know.

  • Kenneth Widmerpool

    All thoughts to you and your family Walter and to Pat Rice…
    xx

  • Northern Gooner

    Your legacy will last long after after you wrote the last review Walter. Your articles have lead to much discussion and rightly so. They will be missed, who am I to quote now, I certainly will not be as well informed!! My thoughts and prayers are with you & your family for reasons more than I care to mention here. God bless and good luck. Stay strong.

  • Yassin

    Its a shame that those reviews are gonna be stopped, but you made the right choice Walter.
    I Pray to God that your wife will be healed as soon as possible, with no pain, and that you both get back to enjoying every minutes of your lives together happily.

  • Tom

    Walter
    Best of wishes to your wife and your entire family. I hope she gets well soon.

    As you probably remember I was skeptical to some aspects of referee reviews whether they would be done by you or somebody else but I always understood the tremendous amount of time and effort it must’ve taken to get them done and for that you have always had my respect.

    Again, best wishes and good luck.

  • Florian

    Walter,

    I can only add to all those before me how much sadness this news brings here too. My mother died a bit more than one year ago, after a long suffering, and reading your post brought back memories of those days. I hope your dedication will help your loved ones in overcoming the obstacles that are being thrown in their way, and get back healthy and sound.

    It is Thanksgiving in America, and my words can only offer a pale description of how grateful I feel to be part of the Untold world. Your unequaled work opened new ways for football development, and I’m sure what we’re seeing is only the beginning. No accomplishment of this size remains without consequence. And, may the referee reviews return even better next time.

  • soglorious

    Walter,
    1. Thank You! for the Referee’s reviews.
    2. Thank You! for your articles on Untold
    3. Thank You! for letting us know what is going on. Its because you see us as a family!
    4. Thank You! for making her a priority. I’m eternally grateful for your decision.
    I am confident that she’ll be raised up from the sick bed VERY VERY soon. My thoughts and prayers with her at this time. Keep fighting pal and you’re going to win! Never for once doubt the love Untolders have for you.
    I am not going to say goodbye to the referee’s review cos I know its coming back and better. Till then, be safe in Hos arms.

  • Matt Clarke

    Walter,

    Thank you for all of your efforts over the years towards a fairer game and better football journalism.

    I am saddened by your news and offer my best wishes to you and your family.

  • JB

    Walter, best wishes for you and your family and all of your dedication.
    Tony, time for the other Ref reviewers to take a step forward and keep them going? At least for the Arsenal matches?

  • Mandy Dodd

    On ref reviews, here are Polls most recent comments, according to him, no bribery with our top refs, but the big teams get the decisions, as we all know on here….well, at least two of the four do….
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-2515168/GRAHAM-POLLS-WEEKEND-REF-WATCH-Not-hint-bribery-Premier-League-referees.html

    Does not explain what reviews have found on the bias towards teams like Stoke and QPR….guess he may say this is part of evening things out?

  • Double canister

    Walter,
    On sky news ,they are reporting that a former premier league player has been arrested and charged with match fixing.

  • Double canister

    Walter.
    I hope (sadly that’s it’s probably true) that this evidence of corruption in England is the tip of the ice berg.
    You have done an amazing job exposing incompetence (I never believed that was only the problem) with the untold gang for years. You owe us nothing. We owe you plenty.
    Honest football should owe you the most.

    Stay in touch here as a fan. My friends over on PA will miss you if you don’t say hello once in a while.

    Your loved one needs you more than we do, my prayers are with you both.
    VCC. Always.

  • Eric

    Barely comment, never miss a new post though, but the amount of work and dedication you’ve spent on this is truly remarkable, hats off to you mr. Broeckx (dogface as well ofc and the other refs!). Didn’t always totally agree with the reports, but it was waaaaaaaaaaaayyyy more accurate than seeing what the refs were making out of games, that’s for sure.

  • GoingGoingGooner

    I wish you all the best. You’ve got your priorities right!

  • Gunz

    My thoughts go out to you and yours. Thanks for all the hard work you, and everybody concerned at Untold towers, do.☺

  • Mandy Dodd

    You don’t have to believe him but some strong stuff in here
    http://footballisfixed.blogspot.co.uk/2013/11/surfing-zeitgeist-of-corruption.html?m=1

  • ClockEndRider

    Walter,
    The work you have done here has made a massive contribution to the way our team is now treated by referees. Your single minded and tenacious approach to getting to the facts has provided light in the darkness.
    I wish you all the best as you focus those same qualities on caring for your wife.

  • Gianni Dioro

    Walter,

    So sorry to hear that your wife’s health has worsened. You are very right in that things like football are meaningless when loved ones are in danger. God bless!