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How the passing of time has affected the way Arsenal is refereed.

By Walter Broeckx and Tony Attwood

Over the years we have been talking a lot about referees.

Now one of our most favoured persons over those years was Mike Dean. And I have given many possible reasons for why referees might be biased against Arsenal.

We suspect one of the reasons was and is still the presence of Mike Riley. The referee of the infamous match 50 of the unbeaten run of Arsenal. He single-handedly whistled us in to a first defeat. At the home of his most favourite club – at least that’s how we saw it.

As a reward he later got promoted to become head of the referees. In fact, in our view, if the referee world in the PL had been properly organised he would have been kicked out of football and refereeing forever after that match. But, it seems, if you stroke the powerful people at the right time at the right spot you will get rewarded.  That is a message that has been spread by making Mike Riley head of the referees.  A terrible message if you want to have integrity in the referee world. A message that can be picked up by smart referees.

Now of course we could be proven wrong on all this.  If PGMO opened up and showed us their tracking of referees, showing us which errors they see referees making etc, we could compare their findings with ours and have an open debate.  But as you know, PGMO won’t do this, and so we are left in the dark, and thus must draw our own conclusions.  Why they won’t open up we don’t know – but because they won’t all we have is our own analysis.

So working on our own figures and our own analysis, another major influence we see was the former manager of Manchester United. Retired refs have spoken out about his influence on them. The fear of making mistakes against United drove refs in to making mistakes in favour of Manchester United. The fact that if you made mistakes against United and they lost because of that you would be certain of demotion (at least temporarily) made sure that no mistakes were made as long as Mr. Ferguson was the manager over there. And Mike Riley punishing those refs with demotion spreading that message and being complicit in making sure that the refs would think twice before giving a decision against United – that is certainly how it seemed (again “seemed” because of the lack of any meaningful data or evidence about right and wrong decisions from PGMO).

Of course people asked and said: prove this.  In reply we have given years of our numerical evidence. But then they said: prove to me where it was said and done and if you can’t show me the brown envelop or give us a tape of the conversations we don’t believe you. As we are not a police force we can’t show such things. As it would be illegal for us to do such things. But the numbers we found pointed in that direction, and there are no contrary details from PGMO – just a few bald numbers with no backup evidence.

From our own experience and if you have read the articles from Don about refereeing (especially the one this morning) you should know by now that the referee world is just like most things in life. Big fish eat small fish, corruption, personal gain, it all is part of it behind the scenes. Stroke the right people at the right time and you will get rewarded. Don’t do it and you will miss out on things.

So I have said on numerous occasions that the best thing to have referees on your side is by giving them the Fifa badge. We have seen that referees like Anthony Taylor and Lee Probert get a Fifa badge. They are some of the worst referees in the PL by our numbers. But they got a very high bias against Arsenal and they got the badge. This is another message that has been made clear to referees in the PL. Make decisions against Arsenal and you will get rewarded.

I know some people didn’t believe us when we have written this over the years. But now we come to a very interesting stat about one ref in particular. A ref of whom I (Walter) wrote that I don’t think he has a particular bias against Arsenal. But a ref who was very smart to know what to do and who to please. Yes, it is actually Mike Dean I am talking about.

And we will divide his career so far in the PL when he did Arsenal matches in 3 periods.

Dean Played Won Draw Lost
2000-2009 20 13 6 1
% 65,00% 30,00% 5,00%
From 2009 15 1 5 9
% 6,67% 33,33% 60,00%
Since 2013 6 3 2 1
% 50,00% 33,33% 16,67%

So in his first 9 seasons when we had Arsenal was almost unbeatable. And this is why I always have said that Dean is not a ref who has hated Arsenal all through his career. No I always said he was neutral as a ref should be. A win percentage of 65% and only one defeat in 20 matches. An amazingly good record for Arsenal. But then came 2009. Why 2009? That was the moment that Mike Riley took over.

And look at our record since then! From going unbeatable we now went to unwinnable. We have suggested before Dean is smart and knew that in order to please his boss and keep his Fifa badge he had to produce the desired results for Riley. And thus show an outrageous bias against Arsenal.

But if we now look at his record since 2013 we suddenly (and we must confess we even missed it at first) see another Dean. Since 2013 we had him in 6 PL matches and we won half of them, had two draws and only 1 defeat (in which he played a major part but we all can make mistakes). We even could win cup matches under his guidance now.

So what happened since 2013? Mike Riley is still in charge some will say. Yes he is. But the situation for Dean has changed. Because Dean reaching the age of 45 years he no longer could hold on to his Fifa badge – not since 2013. And that means that if the theory is correct Dean no longer has to please Mr. Riley as he had to do before.  In other words Riley lost control over what Dean had to do on the field. And look by some strange and bizarre coincidence suddenly Dean turned into a more normal ref for Arsenal. Certainly result wise.

And that is as I have been saying before, the result of Dean being more independent of Riley. The only way Riley could hurt Dean now is to send him to the first division but that would be a big step to take with one of the leading refs in the PL. Even a step that Riley couldn’t sell to the newspapers without eyebrows being raised.

Of course it is again not a written declaration, the brown envelop with finger prints on, the recorded phone call. But it sure is strange to see that fluctuation in results and most of all because we can link it to other events in the referee world. Events that I have said before that have played a big influence on the results of Arsenal in the PL.

But don’t worry folks. If our analysis is right Riley still has got other referees who will do the dirty job in order to get or keep their Fifa badge. Showing bias against Arsenal certainly still looks the fastest way to get the holy grail in the referee world: the Fifa badge.

Unless of course we are completely wrong, in which case it will all even up in the end.

Untold Arsenal.

33 comments to How the passing of time has affected the way Arsenal is refereed.

  • DavidHillier'ssuitcase

    Brilliant analysis.It is what you guys do best.We are undoubtedly wronged,time after time and you guys know how to show it in a fair analytical way.

  • Usama

    The more PGMO and Mike Riley are looked into, the more fishy (now ocean full of fishes) it gets.

    “Offtopic”

    Walter and Tony, sorry to post it here again. I mentioned in the last article’s comments that I can contribute by uploading videos of all the wrong decisions for Arsenal and against Arsenal in the Premier League by following the analysis done by Walter.

    All I will do is just post the link of the video in the comment section of the respective Referee Review Article, if that is acceptable by Untold Arsenal.

  • Yassin

    Damn,
    you nailed it, how did that spring to your mind?
    this is one of the most important articles I have ever read. Now this is awesome journalism.

  • Nonny

    Just for the heck of it, how long will Mike Riley tenor as PGMO head last. Is there a particular time when we would expect him to step down as the Head of PGMO? I tried goggle but got no response.

    Can you help us find out how many more years we will live with this bias as it seems nothing is been done?

  • para

    If this is true, then we will see Dean getting so called “big/important” games much less over the next period.

    Maybe it’s just going to be Arsenal’s year, even though it does not look that good, but it’s also not bad either.

  • gouresh

    Nonny, load the gun.

  • Gord

    To my way of thinking, I would like to see the UK’s Serious Fraud Office search The FA, Premier League and PGMO offices, and remove/copy any and all files related to the assignment and assessment of officials going back to the beginning of the Premier League based on that little table.

    That table doesn’t prove a serious fraud has been committed. But if nothing else, it would serve notice to groups such as gambling syndicates, that there is probably incriminating evidence at one or more of those 3 offices that could be used to take control of this twisted system Mike Riley:twisted: has groomed since 2009.

    We need referees, and a day or two ago I posted a comment about an officer in the Royal Air Force quitting being a rugby referee because of too much racist abuse.

    Well, in the last 7 weeks, a Vancouver Island (Ice) Hockey Association has lost 20 referees due to abuse from parents. This last weekend, they blacklisted 8 parents, who cannot watch games any more.

    http://www.ctvnews.ca/sports/it-hurts-refs-quitting-as-b-c-hockey-league-penalizes-abusive-parents-1.2243314

    The Time of Malta has an extended interview with a retired Linesman who did World Cup and UEFA finals.

    http://www.timesofmalta.com/articles/view/20150212/football/-I-was-so-fully-focused-that-I-hardly-remember-anything-.555762

  • Tim Nash

    Another excellent and thought-provoking post, for which thank you.

    So, who do we think will be appointed to referee our FA Cup match at Old Trafford ?

    My money is on Phil Dowd – this based on his 5-star performance at Preston: first Man U goal, offside; second Man U goal, a foul; third Man U goal, a penalty following an obvious dive.

    Clearly, neither Taylor (who had a good game in Arsenal v Aston Villa) nor Dean (who wasn’t at all bad in Arsenal v Middlesborough) can now be trusted to provide the required result …

  • Al

    Fascinating! Really interesting stuff. I believe you guys have uncovered an interesting link right there. Dean certainly seems to have mellowed in his handling of our matches. At the same time the younger referees seem to have all their venom reserved for us, and seem to be getting worse each season. It’s that Fifa badge. Riley is a saddis, he must get off from watching Arsenal suffer.

  • Arvind

    Usama: It might be worth sending Tony an Email instead of a comment here which might get overlooked. That’s just my suggestion of course.

  • bjtgooner

    @Usama

    Good suggestion about uploading the PGMO wrong decisions against Arsenal. We had discussed doing something similar some time ago, but it was beyond our technical expertise!

    As Walter/Tony has not yet responded to your offer, I would agree with Arvind – send Tony an email.

    Good article Walter & Tony.

    Certainly Riley’s performance at the den of iniquity that the Old Toilet became should have had him investigated and disciplined, not promoted into a position where he could abuse his authority to an even greater extent. I think this was one of the initial signs that something was very rotten in the administration of the English game.

    Do we know if Riley was promoted by an individual or selection panel & were there any other candidates?

  • Pat

    Very interesting. Excuse my ignorance – and you may have said this somewhere and I’ve forgotten – but how are Fifa refs appointed? Surely the head of the national ref organization doesn’t have the only say?

  • Gord

    @bjt

    Quite a while ago, I was looking at stuff before the EPL started. One of the managers I looked at in this search for data, was SAF. His pre-EPL days just look ordinary to me, and his EPL days are completely different. Just like this Webb data of Walter and Tony. To me, the entire timeframe of EPL has had something screwy about it. I would expect whattever lead to SAF getting so much power just as EPL started, was the same party that hired Mike Riley 😈 to run PGMO in 2009.

    @Pat

    I will suggest that head of National FA’s sends to FIFA a list of acceptable candidates (determined by whatever the National FA feels is appropriate), and that FIFA can accept or reject names from that list as it so chooses. FIFA cannot appoint a referee not suggested by its National FA.

  • Gord

    @bjt

    Sorry, not Webb data, Dean data.

  • bjtgooner

    @Gord

    Thanks for that info – you could be onto something.

  • rantetta

    I’m fascinated by this well researched and written article.

    At the same time I’m not convinced Mikey has changed. After all, the period ending 2009 included that Birmingham game! You know, the dastardly Eduardo limb smash up and dodgy free kick and a penalty to ensure that game was drawn. (2008).

    Would OMG or Walter remain reffing after this?:
    http://www.theguardian.com/football/2005/feb/27/newsstory.sport4

    Wasn’t it iron Mikey that oversaw Jack’s injury? Did Mikey not allow some crap during the cup match, and might it not be the case that if ManC had kicked more – he would’ve ignored it?

    Probert, Taylor, Atkinson and Jones won’t change their ways, will they?
    And then there’s the fact that more money will be coming to the prem. Even before it arrives the stakes appear to remain the same, if not, a tad worse.

    If Arsenal are 5 points clear you know what happens, cos it has happened more than once. And then what happens is that the following season, they’ll Fk us up from day one of the season. Mind you, they done that last season (Aston Taylor, remember?)

    And I still shiver at the efforts made to try and make Arsenal lose the cup final. I mean – FOUR not given penalties. Come on!

    Anyway, despite the obviousness of what’s coming up at old toilet, I’m optimistic we’ll get a result (and injuries, probably) the stage was set more than a decade ago.

    I do hope I’m over-pessimistic and have nowt to worry about. Deano back to his pre-dancing, honest, best.

    Snigger.

  • ARSENAL 13

    Game 50. Pathetic refereeing display one can never forget.

    BUT more painful, Diaby, Eduardo, Sagna, Ramsey, Debuchy and Wilshere. This wound will never heal.

    Ramsey scoring the winner was sweet, but not enough to heal the wounds of his injury.

    Therz all this talk about Wilshere not being good enough, when hez not kicked the ball. For months now. Thanks to that Utd thug. McNair. I told this to a ManUtd supporting friend. McNair should be banned for the length of time that Wilsheres out. He replied like all the ManUtd fans do (Wilshere deserves it. Seriouslly!!!…) If I could paste the screen shot of that conversation.

    I hope Wilshere is up and running in full steam for that FA cup game at OT (not realistic, but possible for the PL game). I hope he destroys them, at their home. And proves everybody wrong, including those ‘so called’ ARSENAL supporters.

  • john

    I agree. McNair is a thug as bad as Shawcross. Watching the incident, my immediate reaction was that it was a deliberate assault, intended to put Jack out of the game. Yet the standard media report at the time was along the lines that Jack “injured” himself in a tackle with McNair.

    It was a clear case demanding retrospective FA action, since Dean affected not to have seen it. However, it was not a surprise that nothing happened.

  • finsbury

    Perhaps Master Dean is putting his name forward as the next Grandmaster? How long can Riley survive now that even the likes of Hackett have called him out for his transparent bungling? Between the sniveling Gollum and the Webbalty there’s not much room for encouragement! One or the other, what odds will I get down the bookies?

    With pitchsliders (gamblers) being arrested in NZ during the current cricket WC the oft repeated mantra by many who should know better that such things only occur in lands where they don’t speak the queen’s English to be just a little bit strange.

  • WalterBroeckx

    Usama I sure like the idea a lot!!!!

    The problem is that I don’t know if we can publish such things on Untold because of some restrictions about rights (legal restrictions) and also because of soft and hardware restrictions (Tony and his IT department have to sort that out)

    But I sure like the idea and watched the clip from the Besiktas match. Great job!

  • finsbury

    Dean was in the best position of anyone inside the stadium to see the foul on Wilshere. I was inline with play, the least helpful angle or perspective imaginable yet even an ignorant buffoon like me could spot the simple foul.

    He didn’t call it because he pretended there was an advantage. We can unfortunately assume that is his pathetic excuse. Or he has trouble with his vision. Selective optical filters?

    The contrast with apprentice Taylor during the villa home game last season is extreme. This clear and present cheating is indefensible: only a sado-masochist would try to excuse such transparent chicanery.

  • Usama

    Thank You Walter, I can understand about some restrictions related to videos that you can face. I am just trying to spread the truth 🙂

    But for safety reasons I will only proceed, if Untold Arsenal accepts it and allows it. Even if its not allowed, I am still very pleased to be part of Untold Arsenal even for short period.

  • Menace

    I wrote to the FA:

    I would appreciate some action rather than the sloping shoulder excuses of how much time a referee has to make a decision.

    The FA have to protect the game and its integrity. There is no game without a Referee. There is a game but sadly the Referee is not compliant with the Laws of the Game & the spirit of sportsmanship. Currently there are players getting hacked without the protection of the officials & the selective blindness of the FA.

    The appointment of chosen officials for matches is a corrupt practice (bias & prejudice) & needs to be replaced by public transparent draws from a pool of officials, so that each official has a similar number of matches to officiate & rarely gets to officiate the same team more than 3 times a season. It is obvious that the standard of officiating is poor. Officials that need to explain to a highly paid professional what was wrong in a challenge or deed on the field of play must think they are officiating under 12s. At the EPL level there is no room for explanation to players. If the players (most earn obscene amounts of money) are not aware of their responsibilities, & the Laws of the Game, they should suffer the consequences. The players do not have the benefit of a whistle to stop play & think before making a pass or a tackle. The officials have more than a split second to make decisions. There is no excuse for todays officials to make incorrect decisions. They have four sets of eyes & radio communication to assist with decisions. The Referee can stop a game, consult with his assistants and make a call without having to discuss the incident with the players. The players generally show dissent on a regular basis & get away with the officials bias. The corrupt issuance of cards for cosmetic celebratory shirt removal, kicking the ball away etc where as injurious kicks to players knees, heels & calves are ignored. Kicks to the chest of a player with stud cuts to the skin & torn shirt must have a red card (but not from PGMO officials). Knees deliberately dug into thigh muscles to injure an opponent – ignored by PGMO officials. Choke hold on a players neck – ignored by PGMO officials. What is worse the FA have not done anything subsequently!! There is probably an excuse that the referee saw it & consequently the FA do not take action. I am not willing to accept that argument without sight of the referees report.

    Mike Riley & PGMO are complicit in the corrupt practice of unfair officiating under the auspices of the FA. The FA cannot abdicate responsibility of officiating to a third party. Referees must be seen to be multi racial just as teams that play football in England. This is not the case and the FA have to answer.

    First steps to Transparency.

    Appointment of officials by public draw from the current pool (until the pool is open & not from one Limited company).

    Within 7 days of each match, the reports from the match officials & from the clubs need to be published for the supporters to be able to assess the value of the FA’s officials. The radio communication between officials must be available to the spectator as in Rugby.

    Their response:
    We are sorry to hear of your views concerning the officials. As mentioned, your concerns would need to be addressed by the PGMOL for fixtures within the Premier League. Please direct these to them for further comment.

    So I am left to discuss what was the beautiful game with a Limited company comprising individuals that have no responsibilty or accountability to the FA & subsequently the fans. What a shambles. There is no quality in the FA.

    The English game is crumbling & cricket reflects the people that run it. They are not democratically elected nor do they represent the supporters of the sport.

  • Rich

    Tony/Walter- brilliant piece of work.

    I got a big surprise when the Fifa badge was the answer for what had changed in 2013. My expectation was of seeing a different inference. I’ll drop a hint : it’s a person, and he featured prominently at the beginning of the article?

    Yep, ol Ferguson left in 2013. Also stands out that in the 1st period we were doing well with Dean he was reefing us roughly twice a year; in the dark times it looks like over 4 times a year, and in this latest period the figure has dropped again to just over twice a year. Odd.

    I mentioned it before but can’t be sure either of you looked at it, so I’ll do so again, have either/both of you read Graham Poll’s book? Yep, these issues sufficiently bother me that I sunk that low. I’ll confess, he seemed a decent guy (plonkerish traits, but decent) and, what’s more, plausible.

    There are many interesting titbits in it. But my favourite was the following : for Euro 2004 Poll was in line to be the English representative at the tournament (he had the highest ranking, had done the last one, and it was basically a formality). The only way he could lose out is if the English Uefa refs representative made a determined effort to stop him doing so, which he duly did. The man who went instead, who, according to the protocol should not have gone and could only do so because of the special intervention, was Mike Riley. Oh, Mike, you know the right people,eh.

  • Rich

    @Finsbury.

    Just to be a swine and make you feel a little more angry about it- compare and contrast the total silence about Wilshere’s injury and the tackle that caused it (well, there wasn’t silence, there was a concerted effort to blame and ridicule him for having a weak body) with the obscene exaggeration of the dangers faced by Rooney when the keeper slid out the other night and Rooney, already past him and any possible danger, launched his theatrics.

    I forget his exact words but Phil Neville basically described it as a case of Rooney being in grave danger from an 18 stone (!!!) possibly insane maniac of a goalkeeper, launching himself at him with great recklessness.

    That is where we are- an extremely reckless,at best, challenge hits the target, from behind, with the ball gone, causing serious injury, and nothing is said; a relatively safe challenge , involving no contact and so of course no injury, inspires a pundit to strain his feeble mind as he attempts to describe the immense danger involved. That he just happened to be the same pundit who advocated two-footing one of our players if they dared showcase a certain skill is just the cherry on the cake.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Yes, Riley has a lot to answer for. A one man crusade against a club who upset his lord and master, and like one or two refs, earning a few bob for his foul deeds? There certainly seems a correlation between the poor quality of refereeing we get and Riley’s arrival. The problem is. Riley is not in place because he is a brilliant ref, or for his media,skills or leadership qualities, he has no such things, he is there because he signalled he could be bought by the powers that be, and they bought him. BUT, there are clouds on his horizon. Many are jealous of the new found money heading the way of this league, many would like to divert that money or take a share. There are powerful forces out there who do not like the English game , I guarantee within ten years, one of these forces will expose what is going on, someone will be made an offer they cannot refuse, perhaps a ref or an ex ref, after all they seem the easiest to get at. When that happens, those really pulling the strings will scatter, leaving the foot soldiers to take the flak. The life of Riley in that event will be a few years at her majesty’s pleasure, the once compliant media will turn on him. Fantasy, maybe, could it happen? Yes it can. An American cyclist once ruled the sport, everyone knew what he was, yet he was considered untouchable. Something changed. If someone has a grudge against the premier league, nothing like exposing a match fixing scandal to ease a grudge. I sometimes have a to at the club for not doing enough, but I may be wrong, this is a club that acts from behind the scenes

  • Mandy Dodd

    All very depressing stuff Rich, Fergies influence should have been investigated, maybe one day it will be. It is easy to be very cynical, but a lot of establishment cover ups are now being exposed in this country. Some are still untouchable of course, but they do seem to be getting at least the lower echelons of a variety of travesties and miscarriages of justice. If I was Riley, I would be a worried man, he has his protectors, for now, but this league has very powerful enemies. Lots of money means lots of greed and lots of jealousy

  • Rich

    Mandy Dodd,

    Yes, I think there’s a chance at least some of the dodginess will be exposed one day. The phone-hacking stuff was a supreme lesson in how the big beasts can protect themselves- deny first,attack, lone wolf, few lone wolves, in extremis let someone thought untouchable fall, but never the top people- and that’s the way I now expect any scandals to play out, but at least it showed that people who truly think they can get away with anything, and for a long while are able to, can sometimes get a nasty shock.

    For some reason your post prompted me to think for the first time that if they’re half as disreputable or flat out corrupt as some of us think, they’ll (a) be very keen on monitoring anything that’s said about them, and so be well aware of this site, and (b) are presumably enraged by it.

    Which creates the possibility this site, and any others like it, could well be another source feeding into whatever the hell it is which produces the wrongness the site attempts to catalogue and discuss. Are we in for worse stuff yet? It seems possible to me. It only needs the right situation, i.e us managing to produce a couple of quick fiendishly hard to stop goals in a game we really aren’t meant to win, to see something more outrageous than the OT game. Like many I have a feeling the will to see Utd in champions league again is incredible, and could lead to crazy things should it come down to a game or two

    I liked the mention of the American cyclist. Extreme and extraordinary measures were once taken at a high political level to protect him. Then something changed. So you just never know.

  • Pat

    Oh Mandy – your scenario of the future made me glow with joy! If only!

  • Mandy Dodd

    Rich, sadly think your points a and b may be correct, may get worse before it gets better, especially if some,are feeling threatened as they should be. As for Armstrong, he mistreated a lot of people close to him, they came in for the kill when they had the chance, I would imagine Riley and co have upset a few as well.
    Pat, guess we just have to wait and see, I an convinced it will happen, and that someone,in the know will for whatever reason spill the beans. Money changes everything, this league has a lot more than many others who will know what is going on. A few hundred grand paid to an insider, at any given time could blow the whole thing apart. That would effect all the TV money, can think of quite a few who would love that to happen.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Rich, think you are right on Utd, there is a massive will to get them back into the CL, brand reasons,and all tha,,and maybe other reasons. Fergie hasn’t yet gone away. One of Riley’s puppeteers, scudamanc openly said the league benefits from a strong Utd. Starting to think we might even get a half fair refereeing performance in the cup game against them , for show of course, but will get absolutely crucified in the league game up there. But should we survive Utd and end up in a cup final or semi against Liverpool, Atkinson will surely await, just as he will when we play Chelsea, or any other game they need us to lose.