Normally no newspaper gets very involved in refereeing issues. A while back when Walter published a series on video refereeing and commented that the FA and PL remain silent on the issue while other countries are pushing forwards, the Telegraph immediately responded by running a press release by Professional Game Match Officials (the body that runs refereeing with the PL) saying that actually they were doing a lot.
It was nonsense of course, but the Telegraph obliged.
Now I am sure it is a coincidence once again but now just a short while after I noted how the papers did occasionally criticise both referees and the TV portrayal of football) the Guardian has looked very closely at PGMO, I think for the first time. In the article “Why are referees silenced?” they note that only two prominent ex-refs have waived the £50,000 bribe that PGMO gives referees on retirement for never talking to the media.
The article speaks of Graham Poll’s run in with Mike Riley (head of PGMO or PGMF – Professional Game Match Fixers, as I have been calling them of late) and the difficulty he had of getting his autobiography published. He self-published in the end.
The article contains some interesting lines such as “In no other league in the world does the league govern the referees’ representative body,” saying this leads to “a cesspit of political paranoia.”
Now the book has been available for a while but it is interesting that the Guardian covers it now.
The article doesn’t go into the sort of detail that has concerned Untold Arsenal, such as the tiny number of refs that leads to the same ref covering the same team time and time again, the lack of regional balance, and the sort of analyses that we are running which actually shows some PGMF referees getting under 50% accuracy marks – less than one one get if decisions were handed out at random.
Instead as the book says, “The Premier League has a controlling influence over the PGMOL, which discourages anybody from saying anything.”
His remedy is bringing in referees from Europe where there is “less resistance to the notion of referees communicating with the media,” and notices that Scottish referees are considering a more open approach.
Unfortunately this is more or less where the insightfulness of the article stops, going on instead to deal with non-contraversial matters, talking about famous referees and how much they are paid.
That is a shame, but it is a tiny, tiny breakthrough. A recognition of the utter disconnect between the way the media portrays football and the way the people who pay for football see football.
A tiny step – but an important one.
- 6 March 2004: Portsmouth 1 Arsenal 5 (FA Cup round 6). Henry and Ljunberg got two each and Toure the other all within the first hour. Sherringham scored for Portsmouth in the final minute.
- 6 March 2012. Arsenal 3 Milan 0. Arsenal had lost the away leg 4-0, but with the crowd at its noisiest Arsenal rallied and almost forced extra time Park chu Young made a rare appearance as a sub.
- The Tiny Totts v Arsenal. As it happened, and indeed as it didn’t. And stuff like that.
- Tottenham v Arsenal under the new rules
- Arsenal and Tottenham supporters share a rare moment of unity
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.