By Walter Broeckx
With taking away the match between Stoke and Tottenham from referee Friend next Monday the PGMO has opened a can of worms it seems.
Because for the first time the PGMO has openly admitted that not all refs are completely and always impartial. And well… it is rubbish to believe they are. They are human beings and have their preferences. And yes I can imagine that most of them will do their utmost best to not let their personal bias interfere with their decision making. But still as they are human it will influence them.
But there is and will be some kind of bias amongst referees. Denying that is like denying that the sun is there to give us light every day.
In the press conference Wenger was asked about it. And Wenger had said he had discussed this with Mike Riley and if they were to take that in account (the team they support and doing the rivals of the team they support) would make it almost impossible to appoint referees to games.
Now with the PGMO openly admitting they cannot be 100% sure their refs are completely impartial and unbiased we have taken an amazing step.
In fact the PGMO has openly admitted that what those of us writing for Untold Arsenal have been saying is in fact… A FACT. Lots of facts in that sentence but that is the way it is. We have seen strange patterns over the years emerging from our reviews and now the PGMO openly admits that it can happen.
It is stupid to think that refs only support local teams and not the big teams. They all grew up as young kids and watched football, supported maybe their local pub team, their local town team and then as we mostly do they also felt a big sympathy for one of the big teams in the top division. That is how most football followers act. Why would referees be different to this?
Now indeed in a way the PGMO and Mike Riley is right. If they take into account not only the team they follow but also the matches in which rivals of those teams are playing and then refrain from giving them no matches relating to those teams … they could not send referees to most matches.
So what is the solution from the PGMO and Mike Riley? Sadly they don’t look at it. They stick their heads in the sand. Okay, one possible solution but certainly not the best.
But how is it possible that they have to stick their heads in the sand? What could be done to make sure that each match would get the fair and unbiased referee that they should deliver?
Well why wouldn’t Mike Riley start with … getting more referees???? We now have this season 14 full time referees in the PL. An all-time low. Who is to blame for this? The PGMO and the FA whose job it is to deliver the referees who can handle the job.
If the PGMO and the FA had listened to what Untold Arsenal have been writing for ages (well 5-6 years ago when we started suggesting this) then we now would have at least 20 refs in the PL and if possible even 25 refs. That is for me the absolute minimum a 20 team league should have available. Not just for the bias but also for the handling of fatigue amongst refs (the more a ref is tired the more mistakes he will make).
If they had listened to Untold they would have had no problem to not give Friend a match that involved rival teams of his local teams. But hey ho, what does Untold knows about this? They (PGMO and FA) know it much better.
Another possible solution would be that all leagues who have professional referees would come together and form a European referee agency in which all referees are put in one pot and the games are randomly distributed amongst the referees from all over Europe.
That would have a lot of benefits. You still might get a biased ref for your match. If I would be appointed to do an Arsenal match or a Tottenham match… that could be not ideal. But if you have around 100 refs you can make sure that you will not do each team more than once. In fact they could organize themselves in such a way that I could only get a certain team once every 2 or 3 seasons. So the chance of one biased referee having a big influence on the outcome of a league would be very low.
Compare this to the situation in the PL where the PGMO has to admit there might be some influence and considering that some referees do some teams (and not even talking about their rivals) up to 6 times in a season! That is a possible 18 points per season! And yes we have had seasons where Dean did 6 of our matches….just try to win a league with one such referee…. And there could be others like Probert who did matches in those days in a very biased way.
Another advantage might be that all those professional referees from Europe will follow the same guidelines and instructions in the same way. So the training and education of the refs will become more unified and as a result the consistency should become higher. And isn’t that something we all want from referees?
Where I don’t follow Wenger is that he expects referees to be 100% professional. Sorry Arsène but as a ref I know this is dreamland. But it shows the way you are of course. Wenger will always be 100% professional and so he thinks all people will act like that.
Another last step to do is to give those referees all the help they need. Using technology to assist them about the big calls would probably be the ultimate step to improve refereeing. Not just in the PL but in the whole world.
Maybe the PGMO, FA and PL might read our proposals and think about them. And who knows one day they will come up with this. Probably 10 years after we first mentioned them but well.. Rome wasn’t built in a day….
- Forget the training and the preparation. Get these two things right and you will win the league.
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Untold Arsenal has published five books on Arsenal – all are available as paperback and three are now available on Kindle. The books are
- The Arsenal Yankee by Danny Karbassiyoon with a foreword by Arsene Wenger.
- Arsenal: the long sleep 1953 – 1970; a view from the terrace. By John Sowman with an introduction by Bob Wilson.
- Woolwich Arsenal: The club that changed football. By Tony Attwood, Andy Kelly and Mark Andrews.
- Making the Arsenal: a novel by Tony Attwood.
- The Crowd at Woolwich Arsenal by Mark Andrews.
You can find details of all five on our new Arsenal Books page