By Walter Broeckx
I must say that I was rather surprised to hear that Jonathon Moss had been handed the FA cup final. First of all my surprise is because of the fact that the decisions has been made already. We still have some six matches to play in the PL and in those matches anything can happen. Not only to players but also to referees.
Referees also have good and bad periods in their season. Any ref who has been around for a few years will know that just as the players also referees have good and bad moments. So just imagine what the FA could face if Moss between now and the end of the season goes from controversy to controversy?
By making the announcement so early the FA and the PGMO have put extra pressure on Moss. He now might face some extra scrutiny on his decisions. After all he is now known as the referee who will do the cup final. And so when he makes a mess he might face a bigger media storm than if it wouldn’t have been made public. This might result in Moss not only losing form but also losing confidence in the end.
And the last thing you want is a ref for such a vital game being in bad form or/and having no confidence in his own ability. Even if they had decided to give this match to Moss now, the FA and the PGMO should have kept their collective mouths shut till the end of the season.
Because another thing is that giving the Cup final match to a ref is mostly seen as a reward for his season. And we have many refs who might have hoped for being given the FA cup final and who now are disappointed. And from their disappointment they might start to lose their concentration level. Why bother…I didn’t get the FA cup final anyway so my season is over and I have nothing to hope or look forward too.
So all in all a bad decision not just for Moss but also for other referees who might have hoped for a big final at the end. Bad in game management from the FA and the PGMO.
And as if that wasn’t bad enough we already have seen a shit storm hitting the fan. Mike Halsey, the former ref in war with the PGMO, has given the first shot at the PGMO-FA combination by saying that Moss is not the best ref to do the final. He made it clearly that the match should have been given to Clattenburg.
Or, as one might say, “The serious strange case that is Clattenburg.” From our reviews taken across many years he was one of the better referees in the PGMO. A referee who has one of the lowest biases against Arsenal in general. Mind you he still made us lose matches but in general you had a feeling that his errors were errors and nothing more sinister.
But Clattenburg has clearly not been the best of friends with Mike Riley over the last year or two. Clattenburg being punished for not following the internal instructions of the PGMO and driving straight to a concert in London after a match was enough to get him in trouble.
Now I know that there are rather strict rules for this in the PGMO. But being human is clearly not one of those rules. Who gives a f*ck if a ref wants to go to a concert in his own private time? But Clattenburg seemingly is not allowed a private life after a match from the PGMO. And had to hang for it. Refs who make terrible mistakes on the pitch are let off the hook. But Clattenburg for having a private life was quartered by the PGMO.
Now I do know a few things about Clattenburg and I do know that he takes his refereeing very seriously. And that he is always very much involved in analysing his own matched in order to improve himself. I also know that Clattenburg has been one of the PL referees who has followed our referee reviews across the years. He might have disagreed with us on more than one occasion but he was one that took these reviews as a way of analysing and improving his refereeing.
Maybe that is why the PGMO is not that happy about him anymore. Having been voted best ref in one season by Untold Arsenal (as based on an analysis of the referee reviews) might have been something that the PGMO didn’t like. After all this being called best referee was very much based not only on general competence but also very much based on being the least biased ref of them all. And can’t have that at the PGMO of course. Imagine… a ref not being completely biased against Arsenal…. Unheard of. Not allowed.
Clattenburg has a rather good reputation not just in England but also in Europe. He gives the impression that when he makes mistakes he will make them random. And he does makes mistakes, let us not ignore that. All refs make mistakes. There is not that much of a problem with this as long as their mistakes are evenly spread over both teams in a match. Of course there is a minimum requirement for not making too many obvious mistakes on big decisions. Something many PGMO refs suffer from in fact.
Now would Clattenburg be a better choice for the final than Moss? Let me say that Clattenburg has a bigger experience on the bigger stage and in bigger matches. Moss is not a FIFA ref because he already was one of the older refs when joining the PL. But Moss could always surprise us with giving us a fair game. I know that Moss can be very fair and his position in the referee of the season tables show this. He has had a rather low anti-Arsenal bias in some of his matches. The big question will be if he can handle the pressure of the match.
But for now I don’t really worry about that for the moment. We will see how he has been doing from now till the end of the season. Now we have other things to look at. Like a few important matches in the PL.
From the anniversary files
24 April 1900: Arsenal 2 Tottenham 1. Southern District Combination. Match abandoned due to abusive behaviour by the crowd. Arsenal were ordered to post notices instructing the crowd to behave properly, and the referee was also criticised for his handling of the game. The game was not replayed.
24 April 1999: Middlesbrough 1 Arsenal 6. Arsenal went top of the league for the first time in the season, with their 17th unbeaten game. Arsenal had been 0-6 up and with much of the home crowd drifting out, cheered the Boro goal on their behalf.