Jilted John, the lightbulb moment, & the football risk assessment (Part1)
By Proud Kev
I recently replaced a lightbulb in my office. The one I fitted was round old fashioned bayonet fitting type which gave off a lovely, bright 100 watt glow. I found it in an unopened box in my garage at home. It was much better than the funny shaped one that had stopped working in our office. Fitting it meant we could all finally see our way to our desks, without banging into things. Amazing how innovative going back in time can be.
Unfortunately, I broke a rule. I was reprimanded by a man with a scruffy beard carrying a clip board. I noticed he was wearing safety goggles, a bright orange vest, a pair of PU Velcro shoes and cycle clips. This guy had it all covered. He said his name was Gordon, which instantly made me think of that song by a man called Jilted John.
According to Gordon, changing a lightbulb is a hazardous task. He informed me that I had flouted the latest Health & Safety regulations and that I must now complete form 1AM/AN-1D10T. I apologised but that didn’t appease Gordon. It turns out that I had also committed a violent act against the planet. Gordon claimed that my 100 watt bulb, now shining in all its glory, was about to kill all the Polar Bears, as well as creating supersized pink sharks off the English coast and ultimately lead to a worldwide peanut butter shortage.
At this stage I was pretty close to finding another use for my bayonet fitting bulb but I thought better of it. Gordon may have thought the sun shined out of his backside but I wasn’t about to help him prove it. Instead, I did as I was told and obtained the compliant bulb from the store room. It was one of those funny shaped things that resemble a Mr Whippy ice cream, designed to cleverly pop out above the shades originally designed to hide it.
Now Gordon, with his fantastic piece of engineering, a lightbulb that emits as much light as a staple extractor, had me thinking. As the chorus to the Jilted John song continued to repeat itself inside my head, I couldn’t help but think about Mike Riley and his organisation PGMO.
And there was my lightbulb moment. Risk Assessments.
Do PGMO consider risk?
Mike Riley is a man so afraid of his own shadow, that he would need to fit one of Gordon’s planet saving light bulbs. Anyone requiring proof should spend ten minutes watching highlights of our 50th game at Old Trafford. He had clearly assessed the risk of going against Sir Alex and his henchmen and decided to bottle it. Bottle it he did.
With the amount of money in the game it is important to implement a rigid risk strategy that eliminates the opportunity to manipulate match results. However, PGMO seem asleep on the job. It really wouldn’t be that difficult to introduce a basic risk strategy for our game, would it?
RISK ASSESSMENT (Part 1)
Premier League results must be protected from external influences to maintain the integrity of the Game and ensure fair play.
Now let’s look at some of the issues that make this topic so relevant and important:
- A Manager paying a referee inducements
In his controversial book, Mark Halsey claimed Jose Mourinho paid for him and his wife to take a five star holiday in the Algarve. He claims this was a kind gesture based on health issues.
So here we have one of the countries top former referees admitting he accepted money from a Manager for a holiday. This is clearly a red line that has been crossed and the fact it only came to light when Halsey’s book was published is frightening. How many of our referees have received ‘gifts’ from Managers?
- A Referee sending personal texts to a Manager
In the same book, Mark Halsey said he counted Alex Ferguson as a friend. He admitted to exchanging texts with SAF, asking for his support for Mark Clattenburg, during the ‘racism’ allegations made by Chelsea. SAF duly complied. No doubt Mark Clattenburg appreciated the gesture.
We have no way of knowing whether this affected Mark Clattenburg or Mark Halsey’s ability to act with complete impartiality but there is a clear risk.
To say PGMO have been asleep on the job would be an understatement. How did they not know this had been going on?
- A Referee employing a sports agent
In the last couple of weeks it was disclosed that Mark Clattenburg had employed a sports agent company called Catalyst4soccer. This is an agency that works for professional football players and therefore caused a massive conflict of interest.
Clattenburg clearly wasn’t happy with his lot and wanted to increase his profile and his fee earning potential. Worried? We should be. Any referee advertising the fact that he is looking for additional income, should be sacked because of the risk that poses. PGMO suspended him but he’s parted company with the agency so all will be well. But should it be?
- Referees appointed to their home town teams
In season 2005/6 Mike Dean was appointed to referee the 2005/6 FA Cup final. However, the Football Association replaced him with Alan Wiley due to concerns about Mike Dean’s ability to be impartial towards Liverpool, who are based near his home town in Wirral.
So straight away we have precedence set by the FA. They decided there was a ‘risk’ and replaced Mike Dean due to his local connections to Liverpool. Clear precedence.
So why have the FA allowed PGMO to consistently appoint referees to home town clubs, when they themselves have deemed it a risk?
- PGMO’s blatant ignorance of a clear risk
For a number of years, PGMO have ignored the Football Associations stance and have been appointing home town referees, on a regular basis. This season, Manchester’s Anthony Taylor has refereed several Manchester United games, including the Arsenal game at the Emirates.
Keith Hackett, the former head of PGMO, told me he finds it ‘incredible’ that PGMO does this. Keith’s concern is the well-being of the referee, something a basic risk assessment would identify.
Personally, I worry more about the risk of local influences affecting the decision making process, like the receipt of biased local reporting, local media news, the influence of family and friends, his neighbours and of course his kids in school.
The FA think it’s a risk, Keith Hackett thinks it’s a risk but PGMO don’t seem to agree. Why?
Let’s expand this issue.
A ‘home town’ referee may not be in the middle for a game involving their home town team BUT officiating in a game that affects the home town team. In this scenario, the decisions they make may affect their home town clubs position in the league. This could be relegation or perhaps a champion’s league place. Identifying risk is easy.
- Did a home town referee influence a game involving one of their biggest rivals?
In April 2010 Mike Dean from the Wirral, refereed the game at Old Trafford involving Liverpool’s arch enemy Manchester United. They were playing Chelsea, in what was dubbed a potential Premier League “title decider”.
Prior to the game, Sir Alex Ferguson questioned the appointment of Mike Dean.
Chelsea won the match 2-1. There was a lot of controversy after the game because Mike Dean had turned down four penalty appeals, THREE of which were for Manchester United. Chelsea’s second goal giving them a 2-0 lead was shown to be offside, scored by Didier Drogba.
Whether SAF was right or not we will never know. However, the fact of the matter is there was an identifiable ‘risk’ before that game about the appointment of Mike Dean that was ignored.
It is clear to me that the FA, PGMOL and the Premier League have failed to consider risk.
- We know that a referee in the select group accepted a financial inducement, in the form of a holiday, from a Premier League Manager.
- We know that a referee has enjoyed a friendly text relationship with a Premier League Manager.
- We know that a referee was grateful for the support he received from a Premier League Manager, after another referee text the Manager asking for his help.
- We know that a referee has joined a sports agency to promote their interests and improve their income.
- We know that the FA were concerned about appointing home town referees and replaced a referee due to officiate at the FA Cup Final on this basis.
- We know that PGMO ignored the FA’s concerns and continue to appoint home town referees.
- We know that there is not one single southern based referee in the select group.=
- We know that 30% of our referees are from the North West.
- We also know that the head of PGMO was involved in a Premier League Match in which he suspiciously decided to ignore the rules of the game and apply his own interpretation..
When you combine all these FACTS, nobody can have any confidence that our organisations; the FA, PGMO and the Premier League are managing risk. There is no accountability whatsoever. This lot are out of control, not just the organisations but the referees they train and employ. It appears to be a case of jobs for the boys and flagrant disregard to the possibility of match results being affected by outside influences.
It is imperative that the integrity and honesty of the game is maintained. How can it be acceptable that we can predict the likely events that may occur in games refereed by certain referees?
And why is it that the media are so disinterested in this subject?
If you are waiting for a lightbulb moment at the FA or PGMO, don’t hold your breath. The only thing that burns brightly in the Football Association and PGMO is their complete incompetence
In fact, there is more chance of you and your family being eaten by a 500 foot pink shark, while eating a peanut butter sandwich, then there is of PGMO or the Football Association running our game as it deserves to be run.
The lyrics to Jilted John’s song sums up the people running this game of ours perfectly:
Gordon is a moron, Gordon is a moron (repeat ad infinitum)
Anniversaries (it’s a tough call on 29 Feb, but we found some)
- 29 February 1924: James Ramsay joined Arsenal from Kilmarnock with whom he had won the Scottish Cup. His fee was certainly over £1000 – another example of how Knighton’s memoirs misled the public as to the restrictions placed on him by Henry Norris. Ramsa played 75 times and scored 11 goals.
- 29 February 1936: Arsenal 4 Barnsley 1 – FA Cup round 6, in front of 60,420 as Arsenal progressed to the final. Beasley (2), Bowden and Bastin (pen) supplied the goals.
The Untold Books
The latest Untold book is Arsenal: The Long Sleep 1953-1970 with a Foreword by Bob Wilson, available both as a paperback and as a Kindle book from Amazon. Details of this and our previous and forthcoming titles can be found at Arsenal Books on this site.