By Tony Attwood
One of the things that I’ve always tried to ensure is that Untold lives up to its name and covers issues that are not covered in most other places. Of course over time some other media catch up, which is gratifying, but just re-iterating what other people say has never been the modus operandi for this site.
And yet sometimes I wonder why we are on our own over certain issues.
Take the report on yesterday’s game in the Guardian. There is not one single mention of the referee. Same in the Independent. The Daily Mail gives his name and gives him a rating of 7.5 but without any explanation of how they managed to get a figure that was not a negative number.
The Sun says, “Ref Martin Atkinson then waved away a clear penalty when Giroud was sent sprawling by Yedlin,” but nothing else about the ref. (Mind you they also have the headline “World’s sexiest referee causes quite a stir” so are perhaps not to be taken too seriously).
Of course over time there have been occasional mentions of Atkinson – the BBC web site in February last year ran the headline, “Martin Atkinson needs a rest after his “incompetent” officiating display in Chelsea’s 1-1 draw with Burnley, says former referees’ chief Keith Hackett.”
For the same match Talk Sport ran the headline, “Martin Atkinson’s performance at Chelsea one of worst of all-time, former refs’ chief tells talkSPORT”
Indeed the criticism of Atkinson has been going on for some time – in December 2013 the Metro ran the headline “Poor refereeing from Martin Atkinson cost improving Stoke against Newcastle.”
The response to that event was for Atkinson to be given the role as the fourth official the following weekend, doing Manchester United’s home match against Sunderland instead.
N0w we all know that PGMO is a highly secretive and dubious organisation that works by its own rules and which has a mathematical system for analysing ref performances, which is not the same as the maths taught in schools and universities across the world.
But,that doesn’t excuse the press from ignoring what was, for many of the people in the ground, one of the main issues. Indeed the guys sitting to my left and right in the East Stand, who are not Untold readers, were fully aware of Atkinson and what he does, and were as outraged as most of us by his bizarre and eccentric performance.
So why, given that the crowd thought the man was either incompetent or biased, and given that this has been a matter of discussion for several years, would newspapers utterly ignore the actions of the referee (which most of us thought thoroughly influenced the game) in their reports?
If just one paper had done it, one might think that during the various moments when Atkinson showed his utter bias or total incompetence, or indeed utter ignorance of the rules, the writer had slipped out for a quick refill. But when so many of them fail to mention the refs, one begins to think there is something else going on.
Now I know that media outlets keep a very close eye on what each other is doing, and don’t like to go against the trend, unless doing so is a firm editorial decision, so may it is that. No one wants to step out of line. Maybe they believe that the fans want to read about the game not the ref. Or maybe PGMO, that highly secretive organisation with its bizarre actions and its undoubted bias, has issued an edict, and the press go along with it.
Either way, not mentioning the ref in a game which is so outrageously refereed, is to treat the readership with utter contempt, and it most certainly does show all of us what the newspapers think of its readership.
But moving on before I explode…
Meanwhile, elsewhere, the news has broken that AFC Bournemouth have signed ex Arsenal man Benik Afobe for a club record fee of £10m. Apparently there have been a number of offers for Afobe, but Wolverhampton (a club which is up for sale) need the money and so accepted this deal.
Benik joined Arsenal on 1 May 2001 and scored 40 goals for the U-16s in 2007–08 and later was voted Arsenal’s U-18 player of the season before signing professionally in February 2010. There was then talk of Barcelona trying to “nick him” from the ranks, to get one back on Arsenal for their alleged illegal dealings (no evidence of this ever being submitted anywhere) – the same situation as now befalls Chris Willock.
The Guardian has called him “powerful and pacy” and suggested without any sources or references that he “is already being furtively whispered up as the next, next big thing.”
His run of loans was extensive and covered 2010 to 2015 before the signing last year to Wolverhampton from Arsenal for an undisclosed fee.
|2014–2015||Milton Keynes Dons||22||10|
|2015–||Wolverhampton (permanent deal)||46||22|
Of course I don’t know what’s in a transfer contract, but it is normal for Arsenal to include a clause in which Arsenal gets a percentage of the transfer fee paid on at least the first sell on. Certainly his goal scoring looks very impressive these days – 22 in 46 is nothing to be sneezed at.
And just because I have them in front of me, here are the comparative records: Afobe has scored 10 in 24 this season in the Championship. Giroud, just in case you wanted to know is currently on 16 in 29 games this season, while Alexis is on 9 in 18.
10 January 2004: Arsenal beat Middlesbrough 4-1 to go top of the league alphabetically with points, goals and GD the same. Arsène Wenger called it the performance of the season. The 21st league match of the unbeaten season
10 January 2012: Francis Coquelin signed long term extension – but then spent 2013/14 on loan. However by Christmas 2014 he was back with the first team, although normally as a sub. His recognition as one of the finest DMs in Europe came in 2015.
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