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Suddenly the debate about referees is on, big time

Premier League referees have to stop bottling decisions or someone is going to get seriously hurt

Wow.  Take a look at that headline.   Apart from the fact that the style is not very Untold, it could have been written on this site.

But it wasn’t.

Which is quite remarkable.  Because it shows that whereas a year ago the topic of referee decisions was at still at the “it all balances out in the end” level, and the opposition fans would answer any of our articles with,  “We should have had a penalty – Arsenal get away with wrong decisions as much as anyone” type of comment, now suddenly the debate is opening up.

We’ve had comments about how the way the FA strangles debate on referees in the press and how that has gone too far, and while no one that I have read has come out and applauded our ten point plan for a proper open way to referee the Premier League, there is most certainly a debate brewing.

If you are a regular reader you’ll know that the multiple problems within refereeing is one of the key issues Untold has been highlighting for years – and there has been no movement at all apart from PGMOL changing its name to PGMO, closing down its web site and removing anything that suggests it has ever been criticised from its Wiki page.

But now, slowly, it looks like the message is getting through.

Today, it is the turn of the Telegraph, who recently suprised us all by running a PGMO press release (PGMO being the organisation that runs refereeing in the Premier League) about how they were looking into video refs, but then quickly followed that up by a piece that started to criticise PGMO.  It seemed a strange about face, and we’ve wondered where they are going.

The gist of the new piece is that there have only been six red cards for bad tackles and violent conduct this season in the PL.  It makes it quite clear this is because the referees are increasingly becoming more lenient.  They speak of “lax officiating”.

To see what a change in dynamic this is, I don’t think there was a single article in 2013 or earlier attacking referees in the Premier League for anything.

Certainly the Telegraph is onto a good point, for if the dearth of red cards, in what is becoming a more violent Premier League, continues, this will be an all time low for reds.    There were 31 in 2010/11 – and on current form it will be about 15 this year.

According to the Telegraph, last weekend Marrriner should have sent of Fernando and Eliaquim Mangala of Man City, and Eto of Everton.  Charlie Austin of QPR should have gone off much earlier, Sadio Mane of Southampton should have been red carded by Friend, while Leicester City’s Jamie Vardy should have gone.

Now the Telegraph don’t actually talk about overt bias against Arsenal, but in another ground breaking moment they do mention that the bias is clearly always in favour of the home team – something all our stats have shown.

That is a serious allegation of bias, but sadly the Telegraph then don’t follow this through with critical analysis.  Instead they speak simply of referees “simply appearing to let more go and are refusing to take responsibility.”

Well yes, that too, but the home bias bit should never have been so readily glossed over.  Home teams might win more because they don’t have to travel, but they should never win more because of refs.

They do however say that refereeing “is being scrutinised more than ever,” which is good news for our long running campaign.

“Shirt pulling, diving, dissent, players raising their hands to each other – each offence has been the subject of debate, division and media campaigning in recent seasons; in recent weeks, even. But the biggest threat to football is the biggest threat that it has always carried – the offence that breaks a player’s leg or tears the ligaments in his knee or ankle.”

So here we have it, at last, the debate is opening up.  And my goodness they even acknowledge the “reckless lunge by United’s Paddy McNair at Arsenal’s Jack Wilshere.”  Amazing.

So what is the solution?   OK it is not our ten point plan for making PGMO an open organisation, as we called for, but for the Telegraph, “it is time to add the very best foreign referees to the Premier League roster.”

Now if for a moment you were to accept that there is perhaps a bending of referees going on in England along the lines of what has happened in Italy in the past, that won’t help too much.   So it is a fairly weak idea.  Worse, if it were to come in, a lot of people including PGMO would say that this shows nothing is wrong.  But fortunately the Telegraph discredits its own idea by pointing out that the move to laxness probably comes in part from the World Cup and its dreadful refereeing.

So that could be a step back, but we should not be downhearted.

But the Telegraph goes on to call the referees secret organisation, “ridiculously political” and that is a step forwards.

In fact I would say the whole thing is a step forwards, and at the risk of seeming unduly pompous I think Untold can take a little credit for this, and Walter Broeckx can take major credit.

Walter has ploughed a lone furrow for years on this issue, and has highlighted so many faults in refereeing in the Premier League that ultimately the Grand Silence had to be broken.

And now it has. Hats off to Walter – getting an issue that has been silent into the debating chamber is the hardest thing of all, and he’s done it.

Amazing.  I really had begun to wonder if it would ever happen.

The books

38 comments to Suddenly the debate about referees is on, big time

  • Mandy Dodd

    Keep up the good work! As regards sports coverage, the Telegraph is one of the more prestigious mainstream press outlets. People will listen to them. Not the most hard hitting of articles, but it is a start, as is the reporting of Mr Hackett saying Riley should go.
    I am sure there are good refs, but it is clear most get no leadership from Riley, we never hear a word from him. Just what does he do for the game as a whole…rather than just his vested interests?
    For all the incompetent, and dangerous refereeing, as far as I know, only one EPL ref has been stood down this season, that was for refereeing a game whereby Utd let a big lead slip and lost to Leicester……no sorry, didnt mean to write that, this ref was actually stood down for going straight to a concert after a game.
    It seems the powers that be have allowed refs to encourage the return of a traditional British game and all the faults that go with it. It may take atraditional british player at Utd, City or Chelsea being taken out of the game for good to have this madness stopped. Unfortunately, Jack does not count, he plays for England, yes, but in reality is just an Arsenal player…Riley does not have much time for such players.

  • the mickster

    I fully expect a clampdown, it will start on Saturday, with Alexis being dismissed for a ‘tackle’ and receiving a 3 match ban !

  • Pete

    Very thin on the ground on Saturday.

    Defence is short of Chambers, Kos, Hayden and Monreal.
    Midfield is short of (deep breath) Arteta, Wilshere, Diaby, Ramsey, Ozil and possibly Rosicky.
    Up front only Gnabry and possibly Walcott are out.

    As we are missing 4 of our 5 possible centre backs – which must be beyond even our expectations – I would suggest Debuchy at centre back with Bellerin on the outside?

    Midfield could be Flamini, Ox and Cazorla – although Alexis could conceivably play at No.10?

    This is another bl**dy consequence of Taylor’s idiotic red card for Chambers. Incredible decision. (To bring it back to referees!).

  • bjtgooner

    Well done Untold! The campaign for fair refereeing is very far from over, but to have a section of the press acknowledge that there is a problem is an encouraging step forward.

    But lets keep ploughing and not stop until we get what should be a “given” – fair, competent and unbiased refereeing and an administration demonstratively free from corruption.

    Pete – you are correct – thanks to the incompetent Taylor Chambers is unavailable – but no doubt the thugs Crouch, Adams etc are available for Stoke!

  • Mandy Dodd

    Thatinjury list really is quite unbelievable Pete, and not just first teamers either.
    poor refs and opponents cause some of the injuries, but there has to be something else at work here

  • para

    I agree, and keep up the good work.

  • khitb77

    None of us know what (if any) effect Untold Arsenal’s articles about the standard of refereeing have had in terms of the Telegraph’s article.

    It’s quite possible that the journo has read some of the articles on this site and gone from there with his own take on the matter BUT every single football fan knows that there is home bias in terms of decisions.

    It doesn’t take this or any other site to point this out.

    I do agree with one point in this article, I think it’s incredibly “pompous” to try and suggest that this site can take any kind of credit when it’s a universally known fact.

    “Walter has ploughed a lone furrow for years on this issue, and has highlighted so many faults in refereeing in the Premier League that ultimately the Grand Silence had to be broken.”

    Again, it’s incredibly arrogant to suggest that Walter writing articles that are so heavily based on his own pro-Arsenal biased view of a game would in some way lead to “the Grand Silence” being broken in the press.

    How far up your own backsides are you on this website??

  • Jammy J

    How lacking is your life that you feel the need to go on blogs and try to stir shit up? Serious question. Dont say that just because you have a different point of view, doesnt mean you are trying to stir shit up either, because its clear by the way your speaking that you are. Is your life really that bad that this is how you have to seek enjoyment?

  • Mick

    @khitb77
    So where is your evidence to counteract Walters evidence? All you ever do is spout the normal unsubstantiated popular myths that Walter’s painstaking research has proven incorrect. You claim Walter’s evidence is biased. Come on then loud mouth, provide some facts to prove his bias.

  • finsbury

    Sorry for the slight tangent with the above links but I was thinking (which is hard work for me, let me tell you…):

    Does Mark Clattenburg have the wrong haircut? Is that why he was demoted, for going to a concert?

    Did Martin Atkinson use a different rule book during the Barca-PSG Qatari derby game?

  • Rich

    It would be good if that telegraph article were directly a result of Untold’s work, but it seems more likely to me that the spark was Graham Poll’s column in the Mail a few days ago. The gist of it, even the headline maybe, was exactly the same as the headline at the top of the page (which came from telegraph?). I’d hope that if The Telegraph have a real interest in these issues at the moment they’ll have a good old look at the site, if they haven’t already.

    Quite interesting that Poll happens to be someone who was snubbed by pgmo upon his retirement, ostensibly for infringing rule number 1- Thou Shalt let in no light upon us- by taking part in an unauthorized documentary which followed him in his last few weeks.

    Also interesting that protocol was broken for Euro 2004 when Poll ,who had the highest rankings at home and with Uefa(out of our refs), lost his chance to go after the British uefa ref delegate made a special point of arguing against him and in favour of a different, lower-ranked choice, one Mike Riley, who went instead.

    Really recommend Poll’s book to Walter ,if he hasn’t read it, or anyone else who is literally prepared to go into the depths to try get an understanding.

    A favorite bit of mine was Poll discussing Arsenal being extremely unhappy after one game, with the players not understanding his decision-making and, after he had offered to come to the ground and speak to them, being told ‘no, you do your job, we’ll do ours’

    A tantalizing glimpse of perhaps a major contributory factor to it all- perceived standoffishness/arrogance. No way any manager of a Machiavellian bent will pass up any opportunity to go to work on officials in a personal setting.

    Surprised me a great deal that Poll actually came across as an honest man, and that may well be why Pgmo have shut him out since he left.

  • blaisehayest

    I was wondering the same thing about the Qatari derby. The difference in officiating was there for all to see. Makes it quite obvious to me that refs aren’t bad they’re under orders from the EPL/FA/PGMO.

  • Rantetta

    Atkers used the same rule book he uses for Chelsea, especially against Arsenal. Mind you, he sent Newcy’s Taylor off, and booked someone else, meaning 2 of their players won’t play at the Ems.

    I read the Telegraph piece last night, and whilst I’m glad to see the article, I wasn’t pleased that his piece failed to mention the Stoke/Ars game, and all of its shenanigans. Sure, it was a great there was a mention of JW10 from the previous week but I remain skeptical about the intentions of this article. Somebody has already written about how this article may affect Ars players, and given what we’ve seen for many years now, I tend to agree – it may only result in even more Ars players being sent off.

    Having said that, it seems amazing that anybody has said anything. The only thing not amazing is the weird guy above who is undoubtedly, at the very least, Otherly. I’m amused k77 thinks he could influence anything on this forum. Most peeps actually read the articles. (i.e. Comprehend).
    You can’t!
    Is it worth re-posting the Riley vid?

    Good article.
    Thanks for your work, Tony and Walter. Actual Supporters.

  • Menace

    Mandy – you are right about good refs. Unfortunately none of them are in PGMO. This whole bunch are hopeless cheats. They are robbing the game of sportsmanship. They should all be disqualified en masse.

    There are a lot of good referees in UK and in Europe that could form the basis of a supply group for English football. Chosen at random with open selection and clear lines of responsibility. Radios at games should be broadcast to fans that want to listen in to the officials. With that foul language can be stamped out.

  • Pete

    While searching for the Poll article I found this:

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-2871321/Olivier-Giroud-Arsenal-like-pack-people-attack-Arsene-Wenger-come-fighting-defend-boss.html

    How clear does it have to be for the malcontents to realise that they are hurting the team by their failure to support? If you’re not happy then just stop coming to games and do something else until the situation is more to your liking. Does anyone who was in the away end at Stoke honestly believe that none of the players and staff cared about the Stoke result?

    Poll article is another step in the right direction – but no mention of Taylor’s pathetic yellow cards for Chambers.

  • Kenneth Widmerpool

    I dont think they will get it Pete, simple as that.The agenda is set and all roads lead to that each and everyday. LG=DM.The media loves negativity as does the human, although how the future is going to pan out with that I dont know as its only spelling big, big trouble.Its an addiction we have to get out of quick, like the dumb arsed Modernised idea that “expansion” can go on forever (soz going of topic but its directly related)
    Any in anycase our perspective is seen as brainwashed or a cult. While theirs is easily identifiable as narcissistic, fascist and(like all fascists) fearful(that’s the view of a high-powered psychologist friend of mine).Fearful of what? I think some old windbag called Kenneth covered in a rambling poop of an article this summer.

  • Mike

    @ Mandy Dodd 09:57

    I take great exception to your assertion, “it is clear most get[referees] no leadership from Riley”.

    It seems quite clear to me they get considerable leadership from Riley. behind closed doors and not in a awy that you or would like………..but undoubtedly they get their orders…………as UA has clearly demonstrated 🙂

  • Samuel Akinsola Adebosin

    Do we think the Refs will change from their alleged biasness to fairness in refereeing in the Premier and other games? Before this deliema can be sorted out, the FA must be honestly prepared to tackle the poor Refereeing deliema. The FA should first institute a Committee of Enquiry into referees decision making to establish or Dis-establish the allegations of poor refereeing by the referees. And if the allegations of malicious or incompetence refereeing are substantiated by the Committee of Enquiry. The FA will then decide on what action they will take to arrest the ugly trend of poor refereeing which we have been witnessing in the Premier and other games. And are powerless to take any action to stop it. From all indications, it appears only the midfielders Rosicky, Flamini, Oxchambo and Cazola will be available to select a 2 CDM from them to face Newcastle tomorrow. My own fantasy starts: GK-Szczesny. D/Lines-Debuchy, Ajayi-Mertesacker and Gibbs. CDMs-Famini-Cazola. CAMc-Alexis, Oxchambo and Podolski. ST-Giroud. I think Welbeck should be further rested for Liverpool assault. I will be surprised if the boss does agree with me.

  • Pete

    Kenneth – As Walter and/or Tony alluded to, the pressure on Wenger’s eventual successor will be extreme. There is an enormous danger that we will go down the Tottenham route whereby the expectations on the manager are realistically extremely difficult to achieve whereby the manager keeps getting changed and then the attritional cost of change (in terms of compensation, squad changes and style of play) means that we end up significantly worse off than we were.

    Of course, by then, it will be too late.

    The thing is that with Wenger you KNOW that we will be Top 4 or thereabouts (even if we slip outside for a season occasionally) – but that there will not be a catastrophic implosion. Man C/Chels/Man U have the resources to come back from that but we would struggle. Liverpool are a very interesting example of a similar sized club where they do not. If they finish this season outside the Top 4 then I think they could be in significant trouble.

    You see, everyone takes for granted the fact that Arsenal will be in the CL – and, indeed, qualify from the group – that becomes the new base expectation. But it really IS an immense achievement and really can not be taken for granted at all. Given that there are 3 significantly wealthier teams than Arsenal in the League, then finishing Top 4 is fantastic. It means we have beaten everyone else – and keep doing it season, after season. OK, Liverpool finished above us last season (at MU’s expense) but that is the exception.

  • Pete

    On a related topic, is anyone else nervous about the new rule whereby the Europa League winner qualifies for the CL the following season? I think this would be at the expense of (in England) the 4th place team. While the odds are probably against Liverpool, Everton or the Totts winning the Europa League it is possible – and I can’t see any of them finishing in the Top 4.

  • Pete

    Flying today…

    Apparently Coquelin has been summoned back from his loan spell with Charlton. A good decision, I think! Frees Flamini up to play further forward, or even at centre back.

    I’m not sure if Coquelin would go straight into the 11 tomorrow (it is possible) but I expect would certainly be on the bench.

    It also may imply that Ramsey’s injury is a little more serious than initially suspected (seen 4 weeks in the Mail – but can take with a pinch of salt!).

    Anyroadup, need as many fit bodies as possible for the Xmas programme.

  • Quincy

    Well done Untold, and keep up the good work. Maybe this is finally the start of some recognition of the problems English refereeing has.

    Pete links a very good interview with Giroud, highly recommended.

    @khitb77, what rubbish. You know very well that the popular opinion is that ‘it all evens out in the end’, which it certainly does not. Untold has been covering referees for years, and when you see some of the similarities between the writing, well, draw your own conclusions.

  • Quincy

    Here’s the Graham Poll article mentioned above:
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-2866844/Sadio-Mane-Eliaquim-Mangala-Fernando-Charlie-Austin-Jamie-Vardy-seen-red-horror-tackles-refs-letting-bad-challenges-game.html

    It’s actually not as thorough as the Telegraph article, the DM one just points out some bad decisions, but makes very little sugestion that there is some deeper problem.

    And of course, Poll makes a point of not mentioning the Stoke-Arsenal game.

  • Andy Mack

    Expect the refs to issue more reds this weekend to balance the books. Well end up with 9 arsenal players on the pitch

  • Gord

    Pete, I am seeing that Ramsey injury in a bunch of places now. I did not see it at Arsenal.com.

  • Pete

    Gord – Wenger said this morning that Ramsey’s scan has not been fully assessed – he didn’t give a time frame, but appeared to be talking down the severity of the injury. Would be nice to have him back for Liverpool but will certainly need him for the Xmas programme (but unrealistic to expect him to play more than one match in two). Really need Arteta back by then as well.

    I would also love to know what is going on with Hayden. He is listed as a 1st team squad member. So sad for the guy to be injured just when he would have had several opportunities. I rate him and would be great to get another fully home-grown player breaking all the way through. Although several have developed with us from mid/late teens (Ox, Walcott, Szcz, Bellerin, Martinez, Ramsey, Gnabry) I think only Wilshere and Gibbs have come all the way (and even Gibbs joined us at a later age – although can’t remember exactly how old he was).

  • Gord

    Quincy, yes it is obvious that Poll didn’t mention Arsenal. But, he did say the primary responsibility of the referee, is the safety of the players. And I believe that is the path to getting changes. The referees may have Mike Riley 😈 as their boss, but as “managers” in a workplace, referees are responsible to society for the safety of their workers.

  • Gord

    Sorry Pete, I missed that comment at Arsenal.com. I did see that the FA Cup game against Hull has been moved to Jan 4, as it is to be televised by BBC.

  • omgarsenal

    Khitb77…..and whose ass are you so far up that you throw stones while living in a glass house?
    UA regulars….this guy’s or gal’s psychological mindset is one of a stone tosser who pitches a piece of shit into a pond to see what ripples it causes (UA reactions) and rejoices at his 15 seconds of ¨fame¨. He/she is a voyeur and a passive aggressive with a severe inferiority complex and a major need to be masochistic. The burning he gets from the UA faithful assuages this need for self-flagellation and other forms of self-abuse and the content of his posts is meaningless, it is the process he/she enjoys…..a true definition of a troll!

  • jayramfootball

    I just wonder where all this is going… the club most likely to suffer from less lenient referees is, you guessed it, Arsenal. You can be sure that the player to be made an example of in the ‘crack down’ will wear an Arsenal shirt and no one in the press will ask why an Arsenal player got sent off for something the same or less violent than, for example, Charlie Adams’ assault of Alexis Sanchez.

  • Steve

    We pay to see 11 v 11 so why not allow the red-carded player to be substituted?

  • Mandy Dodd

    Mick at 2.34, you raise a very valid point!
    Guess Mason will have his orders this weekend….take out our only fit central defender?

  • Pat

    I was still very heartened to see the Telegraph article, especially as it concentrated on the danger of injury resulting from lax refereeing and how it hinders skilful players, something Untold has often said.

    I too think hearty congratulations to Walter are due for his expertise and persistence.

    Of course we can still expect all the usual rubbish from the press as soon as Arsenal suffers any downturn (the permanent tribunal as Arsene Wenger called it) but I still think the publication of this article and the one by Poll are a step in the right direction.

    And the article also directly linked Jack Wilshere’s injury to that dangerous tackle. No beating about the bush.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    There a crack in the dyke ? Who’s finger is keeping the flood out ?