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October 2016
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The agenda is changing as the Guardian and Telegraph pick up the issue of referee accuracy.

By Tony Attwood

It was last month that the Guardian ran its article “Why are Premier League referees silenced – even into their retirement?” – an article which picked up on a lot of the work by Untold and by Referee Decisions, although they didn’t credit either site.

What would the rest of the media do? we wondered.  The normal response would be to ignore the issue, and that is indeed what most did.  And indeed we might have expected the Telegraph either to do that, or to run another press release from PGMO as they have done before (if PGMO still issue press releases – they seem to have gone very quiet since the fiasco over their last piece).

In fact this time around the Telegraph went into split personality mode.  Four days ago the Telegraph ran the article “We say we do not like talking about referees but revel in using them as punch bags” by the eccentric Jonathan Liew which began, “Yes, I know. And I am sorry. As we keep hearing, nobody likes talking about referees. Fewer still like reading about them. It feels dirty, self-demeaning, a waste of good eyesight. You probably even groaned when you saw a picture of a referee on the page.”

Then the next day the same paper ran a piece by the much more coherent and readable Charlie Eccleshare with the headline “What are the worst refereeing decisions of the season and have they evened themselves out?”

A moment for the double take perhaps.   But still worthy of examination nonetheless.  Let’s start with the weird:  Jonathan Liew.  He began…

“Football fans are notorious for being argumentative, but on this subject they speak as one – referees are overpaid, error-prone, attention-seeking and unfailingly biased in favour of the opposition, whoever they are. This bloodletting has even spread to former referees, the most famous of whom now assail their colleagues in the media. After Mark Clattenburg awarded Tottenham a dubious penalty against Manchester City in February, for example, Graham Poll was scathing.”

Liew of course would never sully himself by reading Untold, but if he did he would know that there are lots of people who claim to be Arsenal fans who absolutely don’t blame the ref – they blame Mr Wenger.  And there are people who like Andrew, Walter and I, and many other readers, do think that there is something very strange going on with refereeing in this country which goes way beyond Liew’s childish little rants.

We note the lack of refs which means we keep getting the same (often rather elderly) ref doing games.  We note the incredible level of bias against Arsenal.  We note that similar weird stats arose when we spent a year with other refs analysing football across the Premier League on Referee Decisions.

But of course that is just us.   In the Telegraph, the Liew character wrote, “And so we come to poor Jonathan Moss, whose performance in the Leicester versus West Ham on Sunday was both assertive and weak, attention-seeking and responsibility shirking, depending on whom you ask. For days Moss’s decisions were dissected in gastroenterological detail by a media that retains an unnatural fixation with “incidents” over actual football.”

His solution vis a vis refs is, “Promote them vigorously, mic them up, turn the best referees into millionaire household names… Imagine kids fighting each other for the chance to referee playground games. Imagine Craig Pawson on Celebrity Masterchef. It would be a bolder, better world.

“Yet there is something in the English football psyche that kicks against this. We want referees to be infallible and yet implacable, robotic with a human touch, technically flawless and ideally working for nothing. It is why people react with such ridicule when Clattenburg gets an agent or goes to an Ed Sheeran concert. The idea that referees are humans with emotions is too dangerous and complex for football to comprehend.

“At any rate, it is probably time for us to dispose of the myth that we hate talking about referees. We love it. And perhaps there is nothing surprising about this. We watch football not for its empathy or its nuance, but for its simple, brutal fictions. As long as the stupid referees carry on waving their stupid arms, there will always be someone to blame for our team’s latest defeat. There will always be someone less fortunate, less capable than us. This is our little reverie, and these are our useful idiots in black.”

It was a very typical Telegraphic piece.  Ignore PGMO with its fanatical secrecy, its woeful lack of referees, its decision to set up a system of refereeing not only utterly different in structure from every other major football league in Europe, but which ensures that articles like this encourage the view that anyone who questions refereeing is silly.  The notion that we might actually be analysing every move they make it utterly beyond Liew.  He just doesn’t get the notion of scientific analysis.  Nor the seriousness of the matter.

Thus I thought that was that.  Not worth a mention on Untold.  Usual stuff in fact.   Until one day later the Telegraph ran…

“After Sergio Aguero scored from a clearly offside position against Newcastle last night, we take a look at the worst refereeing decisions of the season and which teams have been most affected, for better or worse.”

Wow.  Was this it?  The breakthrough????

For a microsecond I thought it might be until the next line: “this piece is almost entirely subjective and will likely make you really angry and want to abuse the author.”

Thus here we are again.  You can’t use science.  English people (particularly those who read the Telegraph) don’t understand science.  Scientists are boffins.  Odd blokes in white coats who can’t get girlfriends and have funny glasses, stand in front of bunsen burners and mumble.  You can prove anything with statistics.  You can’t do anything unless you analyse everything.  Etc etc.   (Science teachers in England have a lot to answer for.  Goodness knows how I ever got through).

Anyway, having said it was all nonsense they gave us the list – I’ve kept the opening of their quotes for the two Arsenal games they have chosen – for the rest just the headlines.  You can look the piece up – it is on the internet.

  • Benteke goal incorrectly given against Bournemouth

Referee gets Costa and Gabriel the wrong way round

This match also produced one of the most laughable statistics of the season: Costa for all his histrionics and late tackles, was not penalised for a single foul.

  • Three offside goals during Tottenham v Man City
  • Coloccini incorrectly sent off against Sunderland
  • Sterling is not given penalty against Everton
  • Sterling pays harsh penalty again

Dier stays on against Arsenal

Already on a booking, Dier pulled down Giroud in full view of referee Mark Oliver for what looked like a certain second booking during the north London derby in March.

  • Dann takes Huth’s shirt off…but no penalty is given
  • Kouyate gets his marching orders against Palace
  • Aguero gets away with one at Newcastle

And then the Telegraph dramatically asks the question we started posing eight years ago (always on the ball the Telegraph)

Do bad decisions even themselves out?

Which teams have been best and worst affected by these incorrect decisions?

Of course they have only highlighted a handful of decisions of this type – generally there are more decisions like this in half a game than in their entire list – but still they have chosen their tiny example base and they give us their results…

  • Chelsea + 3 points
  • Sunderland +2 points
  • Liverpool +2 points
  • Tottenham + 2 points
  • Everton + 1 point
  • Palace + 1 point
  • Bournemouth – 1 point
  • West Ham – 2 points
  • Manchester City – 2 points
  • Newcastle – 3 points
  • Arsenal – 3 points.

So what is going on in this snapshot, and in the fact that it has that “this piece is almost entirely subjective and will likely make you really angry and want to abuse the author” comment at the beginning?   A filler piece on a slow news day?

I might have said “yes”, but the fact that it came 24 hours after the Liew rambling piece makes me wonder.  The Telegraph like all the papers can’t bear the thought of football being bent, because they have so much invested in football being news.  And any suggestion of corruption and they will also lose their licence to print fixtures which would harm their coverage.  (Untold has no such licence, and so doesn’t print fixtures).

A little bird whispered to me that the issue of refereeing is one that the more serious papers feel they can’t ignore any more – and I think we can take a bit of credit for that.  So they are trying to laugh the issue off a bit, while realising that now, some fans are beginning to wonder.   I think that’s rather sweet.

Of course there are many people who wander onto this site and claim that we just use refs as an excuse for Wenger’s mishandling of the club.  They’ve blamed him for Arsenal having more injuries than others (Arsenal doesn’t), and for 100 other things.  But it is interesting that even now so very few attempt to answer the basic questions:

1: If Mr Wenger left, but there is bias against Arsenal because of Type III match fixing, what will  the new manager do?

2: If there is no Type III match fixing, why is the PGMO organised in a way that is so utterly different from the rest of Europe, and arranges things such that it makes the issue of Type III match fixing one that becomes discussed?  After all, if they arranged matters as in the rest of Europe, it would be harder for us to question what is going on and life would be easier for them all round.

3: How come that when we got refs of other teams to analyse PL games from a ref’s point of view, they reach similar conclusions to ourselves – that the accuracy level in the PL of refereeing decisions was alarmingly low?

The questions remain – for all the efforts of the Telegraph to deflect our attention.

Please note: we have a guidance document on comment making.  If you don’t follow it, your comment may not appear.

Recent Posts

From the anniversary files (the full list is on the home page)

  • 23 April 1927: Arsenal’s first FA Cup Final – lost to Cardiff 0-1 at Wembley.  The crowd of 91,206 was the largest thus far to see an Arsenal game.  This was also the first cup final broadcast on radio.
  • 23 April 1966: The decline of interest in Arsenal was emphasised by the fact that on the same day as Arsenal were playing Sunderland Northampton managed by ex-Arsenal man Dave Bowen got a crowd of 24,523 into their 3 sided ground, despite heading for relegation.

54 comments to The agenda is changing as the Guardian and Telegraph pick up the issue of referee accuracy.

  • scully

    Seriously, are you suggesting that Arsenal’s lack of success is the fault of Referring decisions? The level of paranoia from you guys on this site is astounding.

  • Arthur

    I just read a book about corruption in american basketball and the parallels with football in the UK are uncanny. Organized crime controls betting syndicates which control referees. The referees are poorly paid and are easily bribed. In fact one of the main fixes is the point spread I.e. The difference in points expected versus actual.

    The final comment in the book reminded me about Arsine Wenger. The author said that to believe in goodness in sport is a terrible burden.

  • Luscious Lisa

    As someone who believes the Twin Towers was an inside job, I’m not one to dismiss theories because they imply a conspiracy. And a stack of evidence about bad refereeing decisions that don’t even themselves out is hard to figure. But who benefits from a conspiracy to cheat Arsenal out of points? Betting fixes work because outcomes go against the expected. What rational motive is there to cheat Arsenal, rather than any other team? If Arsenal had won the league this season that is an outcome that would have gone against the odds, so anyone ‘in’ on that fix would benefit. True, bookmakers will make a bigger killing on Leicester winning the league, but despite the generous award of 11 penalties, and (probably) a few not given against them that should have been, hard to not see that Leicester are where they are based on a mix of merit and the good fortune which often favours the brave.
    If this conspiracy to cheat Arsenal has been going on for years, where is the corroborating evidence other than referring decisions that don’t even themselves out? As an occasional visitor to this site you may have it and I may have missed it, but even so evidence is not proof, it is simply data. Surely, by now, we would have seen someone ‘in’ on the conspiracy break ranks, or a whistleblower pop up to show us the smoking gun?
    Arsenal have come up short this season because they haven’t been quite good enough over the course of the season, and particularly the last third of it. It’s disappointing, but that’s football. Arsenal’s best chance of winning the league next season is in fixing the things that need fixing that are within the club’s control, and refereeing decisions isn’t one of them.

  • Serge

    Luscious Lisa
    Absolutely bang on. I’ve been saying the same for ages (albeit more briefly)
    Keep it up, but it’s doubtful you’ll have any impact on this blog. Conspiracy is far too ingrained.

  • Rodelero

    @Luscious Lisa:

    “If this conspiracy to cheat Arsenal has been going on for years, where is the corroborating evidence other than referring decisions that don’t even themselves out? As an occasional visitor to this site you may have it and I may have missed it, but even so evidence is not proof, it is simply data. Surely, by now, we would have seen someone ‘in’ on the conspiracy break ranks, or a whistleblower pop up to show us the smoking gun?”

    This really doesn’t sound like the thinking of a 9/11 conspiracy theorist.

    As for this snippet: “but even so evidence is not proof, it is simply data.”

    It is data which, if valid, or even if just half valid, points to something absolutely appalling. It would take an excessively irrational mind to believe that the data collected over the years by various referees on this site (and others) comes about due to pure chance. It is far, far more likely that it comes about due to biases and, possibly, corruption.

    If anyone, and I do mean anyone, went through every major refereeing decision this year, experienced by Arsenal and Leicester, and tried to figure out the points swing due to those decisions, they would find that Leicester’s lead is more than explained by it. Note the Hypothetical Premier League (, a site which does a partial version* of this, which state that Arsenal should be top of the league on 65 points, one ahead of Tottenham, Leicester, and West Ham United.

    *partial because they don’t take into account all major decisions, just decisions that directly lead to goals

    According to the HPL, we’ve dropped two points due to refereeing. Tottenham have gained four, but Leicester, who apparently are top of the league due to merit and good fortune, have gained nine. West Ham have dropped eight, which is absolutely extraordinary. So there is an eleven point swing towards Leicester away from their biggest rival, according to the HPL, albeit this is dwarfed by the seventeen point swing towards Leicester away from West Ham.

    For what it’s worth, the HPL is generally lenient towards referees. If there is some kind of systematic conspiracy going on, the actual swings would be significantly underestimated by the HPL’s system, and even so, the swings are big enough to completely alter the narrative of this season.

    Now obviously, it is possible that these swings are entirely due to chance, and that Leicester just happen to keep getting lucky when referees make mistakes and Arsenal keep getting unlucky when referees make mistakes, but the longer these things go on the harder it is to believe, as a rational, skeptical person, that it’s coincidental. The Hypothetical Premier League clearly gives a conservative estimate, and it shows a swing that completely undermines fair competition in the Premier League. It’s a sad reality, an almost incredible one, but it is reality.

    What is so outrageous is that the media absolutely refuses to talk about it properly. They mention it every now and again, but a major news publication has never put the investment and time in to investigate this issue properly. I suspect that if they did, they’d cause a cataclysm.

  • Menace

    scully – you are obviously super intelligent & need to read the Laws of the Game. When you have done that come back & read the analysis that has been done. You will then be in a position to judge this site.

    Till then go play in the traffic.

  • Polo

    Great FA Cup semi final, both team going at it.

    According to the WOBs and some media journalist, the FA Cup is not a worthy trophy, can somebody tell why there are so many ManU fans watching at the ground on the edge of their seats, and willing their team to win?

  • Serge

    Too few referees….certainly
    Conspiracy…………..tell it to the ad man

  • Serge

    Yes, great semi final, but what a prat Danny Murphy is. Why doesn’t BBC do away with the co-commentator and let the main guy get on with ….err…..comentating

  • Menace

    There are some strange PGMOL rules. Friend cant officiate at Spuds but Taylor living local to the Old Toilet is OK to officiate versus Everton. The van Gall statement is ‘we didn’t have any foul in our benefit’. ‘The referees are deciding the game. Not the players anymore’. That was after the FA cup semi final on BBC. Lineker responds with ‘you’ve won Louis so what are you complaing about’.

  • Menace

    There we have it one little cheat expecting no complains from a winning manager. Why cheat? ask his ex wife.

  • Linda

    With all the reports that have been done by Walter and other refs on this site and what we can see with our own eyes when watching a football match speaks for itself and very clearly. Now when other referees anilize these same games and come to very nearly the same conclusion as Untold then clearly something is very very wrong with the PMGO.
    Not just against Arsenal but other clubs as well then I really don’t see how much cleaner you can get.
    A refereeing body that pay’s a bonus of £50.000 if the referee retiring does not speak of his time as a ref smacks of dishonesty. Why if they have nothing to fear or hide would they even put this clause in.
    Anyone with two brain cell’s to rub together would question this and rightly so.
    Every team in the EPL should play on an even playing field without having to worry who the ref is going to be for their match.
    If not only Arsene Wenger but other managers have not come out and said it you can bet their is a reason and the time is coming when we will know.
    I firmly believe that there are large betting syndicate’s involved and billions are changing hands because football is universal and big big business.
    FIFA, UFEA are corrupt and I would bet my home they are not the only ones.
    Why do people come on here and rubbish the hard work that has gone into the reports but do not back their comments up with their own reports and show us them to prove any point they are trying to make? Do the work that these people on this site put in to their reports before making your comments. It’s just sheer pettiness and if you do not like what you read here then don’t come on a Pro Arsenal Pro Wenger site. These people put time and energy never mind the effort to be fair in what they review, not just decisions that go against Arsenal but decisions that also go for Arsenal.
    I for one thank them for their work as I’m sure everyone here does and they do a brilliant job.

  • Mandy Dodd

    If you can believe 911 was an inside job, surely it is not a stretch to believe a head of refs who has shown a bit of a dislike for arsenal in the past might just go along with bent bookies, EPL brand protectors, bent agents, media figures with agendas, and earn a fast buck while doing so?
    Why do they pick on arsenal, now there’s a question, my guess, the club and manager have nothing whatsoever to do with cosy cliques, or systems that operate in this country, they are outsiders, and potentially dangerous outsiders…..Wenger might just write that book one day.
    Btw, 911 was no inside job, but like many things, including the PGMOL, there is a bit of a vacuumed of information, in this case,some of it was partially covered up by the U.S. so as not to piss off an ally of sorts, one who the U.S. at the time …and still does have a degree of dependence on due to oil, but a country who had a large involvement in this attack, and continues to fund the spread extreme Islamist ideology worldwide. This will all come out, it is all reportedly in this document that has not been released. A coverup I find as staggering as any inside job.
    As for the PGMOL, and corruption in this league, as posted, it is impossible to keep a lid on it forever, and I will wager when it does come out, people like Riley will take the brunt of it, not those directing him.

  • Rodelero


    “Too few referees….certainly
    Conspiracy…………..tell it to the ad man”

    I don’t really see why you draw the line here.

    I generally believe that extraordinary claims deserve extraordinary evidence. To claim that there is a conspiracy (say, of a significant number of Premier League referees) is certainly an extraordinary claim, and to feel certain of it I would need to see a great deal of evidence. I am not certain that there is a conspiracy – but I have seen more than enough evidence that I am willing to consider the possibility.

    Your attitude effectively indicates that you don’t feel it’s actually possible that such a conspiracy could exist. I’d like to ask: Why?

    There is clearly plenty of reasons why controlling such a conspiracy would be advantageous. There is a great deal of money in football and a great deal of it is dirty as all hell. The fix could be driven for the benefit of gamblers, or teams, or both. It’s not like there aren’t plenty of frankly despicable individuals involved in the sport.

    It’s also pretty clear that English football is poorly safeguarded against this kind of thing. The PGMO is run in almost total secrecy, to the point where the vast majority of football fans don’t even know the organisation exists. It continually publishes statistics which have absolutely no basis in reality. It pays its staff to keep quiet when they leave. The media, is quite clearly, asleep. Pundits and journalists alike are completely close minded to the possibility that referees are biased (despite quite literally overwhelming evidence in the case of Mike Dean – tomorrow’s referee), let alone corrupt. They are unbelievably negligent when it comes to investigating bad refereeing, coming out with occasional one off articles which never even attempt to go deep enough to say anything useful (the BBC article quoted in the above article is particularly guilty of this). It is always left up to independent journalists and fans to do that work and because of that their work is ignored and quickly dismissed – can you imagine what would happen if the BBC decided to put the time/investment in to do something like RefereeDecisions one year? Can you IMAGINE what would it would look like if they’d done that THIS YEAR? Can you imagine how much it would rain on Leicester’s parade, on the fairy tale story, if it was people were told that Leicester had, say, nine points more than they deserved, as suggests?

    It is obviously outrageous for anyone to state with certainy that a conspiracy exists without evidence that goes beyond data, but it is also outrageous to dismiss the idea that a conspiracy could exist. A conspiracy would be one explanation for the data – a better one than sheer incompetence, I might add – and there is means, motive, and possibility for that conspiracy to exist.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Our media are crap at investigating sporting corruption, Andrew Jennings , the man who took on Blatter, was at pains to point out, with the exception of the Sunday times and panorama, the UK media gave FIFA a very very easy ride, apparently the BBC nearly pulled the panorama program after Blatter threatened to take away their licence to screen the World Cup. This is the BBC, the voice of the free world!
    If out media wouldn’t take on FIFA, they will not be taking on any bias or corruption in this league, tho of course they will go for it when it does come out. I think it will be a foreign journalist/news outlet that exposes things, there are a lot of countries very jealous of the wealth in the EPL.

  • Andy Mack

    There are simpletons that believe ‘TOWIE’ and the Chelsea and Geordie equivalents are reality. They aren’t, it’s scripted BS. It’s taking real people (obnoxious but real) and creating a scenario around them which the mentally challenged become enthralled by.
    Unfortunately the PL/PGMO have a similar idea but can’t arrange the PL to the same degree, however they can encourage certain things to happen in the league. They want Heros and Villains, Plucky underdogs, sneaky foreigners, young lads making good and other young lads going off the rails (possibly learning and coming good the next season or so). All this can be partially arranged but not completely organised, so the script changes week by week which is how the freak event that the PL champions will probably be a complete no hope team or a team supported by the media with a very distant history. It wasn’t planned at the beginning of the season but it’s certainly been helped by the PL ringmasters (The PMGO). If the PL had any plan on day one then Dis-Utd would be champions again as they’re the biggest team which would make the PL the biggest income, but they started so poorly that they just couldn’t get close to winning the PL despite some PMGO assistance.
    The side issue is that the PL and PMGO can get some real good betting income this season but their main win is to give the plucky underdogs their day in the sun, so they can bang on about the PL being the most competitive league (which it is, but we know that already).
    Across the years it’s happened in the other ‘made for TV’ sport of F1 where the FIA was desperate for Ferrari to win as they’re the biggest name so they helped them, but finally they saw the followers getting bored with them winning, so they helped other teams like Red Bull.
    It’s all about income to ‘the sport’ as far as the FIA/F1 and FIFA/UEFA/FA/PL are concerned.

  • serge


    For my money it’s too far fetched to imagine the PGMO has the amount of control that would cause corruption on the scale often referred to here. eg. Riley knows certain officials are biased towards or against certain teams so he arranges officials for matches to order certain results. I don’t believe this or anything like it happens.
    This is not to say that there are not individually corrupt officials, that’s certainly possible, but I do not for one minute accept that it’s organised by Riley & Co.
    I’ve got no agenda here, it makes no difference to me one way or the other, my life will continue in the same comfortable & regular manner whatever happens to Arsenal or any other Premier League team irrespective of corruption or not.

  • Gord

    I would like to congratulate the medja. You went and spent 5 beeeeellion, hoping to pay for it through increased sales of products to us (the sheeple). Because you will not treat the product (football) properly, I seldom watch games any more, nor do I follow websites packed with advertising on a daily basis (except Untold and or follow football in the news. Your poor performance has just about cut my exposure to football to zero.

    I hope you all choke.

  • WalterBroeckx

    Not Arsenal supporting site coming to the same “picture” more or less.
    Our work is going deeper in Arsenal matches than theirs.

    But it is good to see that our findings are more and more backed up by “evidence” from not Arsenal supporting websites. Just as it was a few seasons ago with the website debatable decisions.

    But hey keep on ignoring our work if you really want of course….

  • Menace

    Mandy – well said. The oil cover up of ruin to all including ownership of Football clubs. They support the nastiness in humanity & feed the evil greedy with oxygen.

    Gord – choke is about the right term. They have taken all the honesty & covered it in oil. Somewhere it will self combust & we shall see the smoke & warm our hands.

  • WalterBroeckx

    Tom Quinn, do you really think by calling people from Untold fools will get your comments published? Now that is rather foolish of you to think so.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Lots of oil covering up going on Menace in the world in general. Funny how the western powers blame certain nations but leave this one alone despite its charge sheet.
    I was going to rant about a certain country in the thick of 911 other things, but will spare untold that, way too heavy for a football site. Just amazed that nation has not bought into the premier league, the PGMOL would love them. But I am sure Tony Blair could broker such an arrangement.

  • Rodelero


    “For my money it’s too far fetched to imagine the PGMO has the amount of control that would cause corruption on the scale often referred to here. eg. Riley knows certain officials are biased towards or against certain teams so he arranges officials for matches to order certain results. I don’t believe this or anything like it happens.”

    That’s strange – all the evidence we have suggests that the PGMO has exactly the amount of control necessary to conduct such a scheme. After all, they are in charge of appointing officials, the way they do this is shrouded in complete secrecy, and the rules by which they do it are, from an outsider’s point of view, indeterminable and, perhaps most importantly, counter to how you would do it if you (1) Believed in your referees’ impartiality and ability and (2) Wanted to reduce the damage that could be caused by a biased or corrupt referee. The story that came out in the last couple of weeks regarding Friend being assigned, and then un-assigned to the Tottenham game versus Stoke was extremely unusual – it is the only time I can really remember the PGMO discussing an assignment in the media.

    There is far, far too much of a human element involved with match appointments, and though that doesn’t necessarily imply corruption it undeniably opens the door to it. There are also some fairly odd consequences of the way they go about appointing referees, none of which seem warranted:

    1) Favoured referees are chosen for bigger games – which brings into question the faith the PGMO has in the less favoured referees and, also, the quality of refereeing typically experienced by lesser teams. It is very clear that Mike Dean has, historically, been picked for a very large number of our big games, to devastating effect*

    *some use this to excuse our record with Mike Dean, stating that we do badly because they tend to be hard games, but just in case anyone is under this allusion: we do worse in big games with Mike Dean than in big games without him, and, arguably, Mike Dean is actually part of the reason that we are considered to do badly against the big teams.

    2) When referees have bad games, they often don’t appear for the team they disadvantaged for some time afterwards. It’s notable that we haven’t had Mike Dean refereeing a Premier League match for Arsenal since his diabolical fuck up in our match against Chelsea. I find this quite discomforting. If the referee had a bad day, he had a bad day, and it shouldn’t affect future appointments. Of course, if a referee continually has bad days that continually affect certain teams, then it is likely he is biased in which case he shouldn’t be refereeing any team. I also feel that this tends to mean that the media, and fans, can alter refereeing appointments, which is also extremely discomforting.

    3) As we recently found out, in very specific circumstances, a referee isn’t allowed to officiate a match involving his team’s rival. This is an extremely slippery slope. If Kevin Friend isn’t fit to referee matches with Tottenham, then he shouldn’t really be able to referee matches with any team that may end up competing with Leicester. Given that Leicester have gone from being the worst team in the league to the best in under a year (apparently), that’s… everyone.

    Ultimately, the process the PGMO seems to use (given everything they state about it, and given the appointments they make) seems to be so far away from the way appointments should be made. The most obvious thing is this: human beings should not be involved in the appointment process. There should be a system, with several constraints, that appoints referees without interference. The ideal would look like:

    1) There are enough referees such that each team gets a given referee no more than twice, once home, and once away. This would likely require somewhat over twenty referees, but probably no more than twenty-five.

    2) No referee should be allowed to officiate a match involving the team they support. Even better, but obviously trickier, would be to ensure that no referee should be able to officiate a Premier League match while the team they support plays in the Premier League.

    Given these two constraints, match appointments should simply be randomised. You’d end up with a system where corruption at the appointment level would be pracically impossible, and a system which massively reduced the possibility of a referee being able to massively damage/benefit a team due to his bias (or corruption).

    There are other constraints that could be added (like, referees not officiating teams that are based near where they live), but I don’t think they should be necessary. Obviously, this system requires far more full-time referees than we currently have, but, you could easily bump up the maximum-games-per-season to three/four if good referees are really in short supply. This system would immediately improve a number of things. It would reduce the potential effect of a biased or corrupt referee because you wouldn’t get the five, six, seven games per-season situation that far too often occurs. It would eradicate the potential effect of a biased or corrupt individual involved in appointments.

    Yet, instead, what we get is an ex referee looking at a far too short list of referees, all of whom he will know well, and a list of teams, all of whom he will have refereed, and making the appointments. This system is open to bias, to corruption, and to outside influence. It should be ceased immediately, and it ABSOLUTELY means that the person in charge of appointments COULD influence the results of matches.

    It’s this kind of thing that worries me so very much, and it’s the kind of thing which makes me very wary of the possibility of corruption. It is a system that is absolutely ripe for corruption, whether or not it is actually corrupted. My fears of corruption coming from the PGMO would be hugely reduced if the appointments were done by computer.

  • Luscious Lisa

    A quick check on the stats shows that over the last eight years in the PL, the number of penalties awarded per team per season has varied from 0 to 11. Leicester and Chelsea share the joint record of 11 in a season (last season Leicester were ‘mid-table’ with 4 penalties awarded.) In 2006-7 Arsenal top the table with 10 penalties awarded (and only two conceded).
    IMO Leicester have benefited this season because of the skill or skulduggery of Vardy (take your pick), in drawing penalties. But his sending off suggests that refs have understandably concluded that 11 penalties for a team that hardly plays in the opposition box probably means they’ve been getting some decisions badly wrong. I put that down to incompetence not bias.
    If there’s a pattern in the penalty stats to suggest consistent bias against Arsenal, I can’t see it, so if there’s a hidden hand at work, they’re mighty cunning.

  • Polo

    As much as I love reading Tony, Walter, and other’s articles on this site however without proper evidence I think the word ‘corruption’ is a bit to strong, at the moment I’m more on the ‘incompetency’ fence. However, it’s disappointing to see posters come on this site posting comments that suggest UA authors are somehow nutcases or paranoid, these authors have their views/belief and they actually provides time and effort to collate data to back up their view/belief, you might not like it but at least respect it. If we look back in history we can see when certain individuals come out suggesting corruptions against large organizations (IOC, FIFA, FINA, UCI etc) the immediate response was to mock and vilified that individual(s) and when evidence build up and the media finally take note, we see massive outcry and disbelief. I’m pointing out that to suggest the UA authors are somehow nutcases or paranoid is just plain silly and close minded.

    Since we are on conspiracy theory, I have one of my own as to why Leicester is receiving favourable treatment from PGMO. We all know certain Leicester players during the off season went to Thailand and did some acts that were insulting to the Thai nation as a whole. Is it possible to ‘save face’ and to repair relations with Thailand that the FA advise PGMO to be more favourable to Leicester whose owner is a Thai billionaire and no doubt have large influence with the Thai Government?

  • ob1977

    A great article and some very well put responses, notably Rodelero’s last and Andy Mack’s. I believe that the system (PGMOL/FA/PL) is dirty from top to bottom, and I believe anyone looking at it openly knows this, this is why I believe that in part the lack of talk in the media or acknowledgement or dismissal of any wrong doing by the PGMOL/FA/PL, is the simplicity of if it aint broke don’t fix it, how can it be broken if it is never looked at, but if you ever dare start peeling or picking at it then the fear of where it will end is far too great to risk, the PL is far too great a cash cow for anyone to risk anything…

  • ob1977

    I would like to add though that I could quite easily fall under the label “conspiracy nut”, in that to me the phrase “conspiracy theorist” he been derided and ridiculed that much solely to put doubt and discredit anyone that would dare to think for themselves and not swallow the party line BS…

    I feel I am about to join in with the 911 discussion earlier (and then some), so had better leave it there… 🙂

    P.S Sorry for the smiley

  • para

    Arsenal must be willing and determined to win this game, focused and sharp, take Sunderland lightly and be punished.

    We have been warned.

    “The author said that to believe in goodness in sport is a terrible burden.”
    Hey man, trust me, this goes for the whole area of life. 🙂

    Luscious Lisa
    Being who you said you are, you should know that the reasons for the various goings on that we call conspiracies usually defies to be really understood by loving caring people.

    In football or sport, it is usually “high end secret betting in the millions” that causes fixes, but many other agendas can also be found. In fact when one goes against the (global)agenda propagated by these people, one soon starts geting “speicial attention” no matter who you are.

    I went to Israel and then Egypt within 2 years. Man oh man, you would not believe what i had to put up with, even now.

    As i also try to research as much as i can because when i was about 20-21 my mind kept telling me something was wrong, and for true, something is really wrong, and it is wrong in ALL aspects of our life especially where BIG money is generated.

    I wonder if people are really aware of what has gone on in the world for ages, probably not, but even the propagated history has plenty examples to highlight corruption in all the “high places”. Corruption is real man, and it permeates all avenues of our life. Why? The ones who have no empathy or what we call “soul” tend to always make it to the top of the pile, and even others who may have had a soul at one time, especially when they have to pay back for the riches and favours granted them in their youthfull endeavours.

    I only need to mention a certain OS(Operating system) producer and a certain Company(Eugenics) that pretends to be all about “family planning”.

  • Dwain Kaye

    I’d like to clarify.

    The reason Arsenal games highlight bias, is because the team play a style of football that goes beyond total football of the 70’s and 80’s as those great teams have been killed by the money.

    Which also lends itself to officiates being able to exact a greater influence on the games outcome, by negatively impacting our style of play. Of all teams worldwide, we (attempt to) play possession based, attacking, counter-attacking football.

    Which Tactically is not only simple genius, but incredibly difficult; relying on transition. From intentionally maintaining possession to control a game, contain or stretch the opposition whilst probing for weakness or creating a direct opportunity.

    This is based on effective movement and controlled passing. However counter attacking requires you to relinquish possession, wrestle it back and exploit the oppositions expansive tactical changes as they attempt to recover their defensive shape after assuming an attacking form.

    Where as attacking play is contrived of incisive distribution, combined with an often dramatic shift in the tempo, attacking origin or focus of the attacking sequence.

    The reason Referees can effectively manipulate the Arsenal games over others, is that the dominant side (odds on favourite) relies on attacking sequences and find themselves particularly susceptible to passages of play that begin without possession from restarts (set pieces).

    The average height of the team, weight, tenacity, aggression and morality become integral factors. I will not bother to argue the popular conception of the Arsenal fan, the Manager or the players, I believe it needless to say that ARSENAL is regarded as the gentleman’s club and always has been an ethos embodied by a Catholic Manager and a light hearted, generally upstanding group. Tactically this is a deficit, however that would not count so heavily against the Gunners were it not for some incredibly bad officiating.

    If a passage of Arsenal attacking play is stopped by a referee it results directly in an opportunity for the other team to exploit a main weakness. If the reverse happens, the defending team is able to reset their defensive shape and the attacking sequence must restart.

    If a team exploits a referees loose interpretation of the rules, the referee may officiate with a bias, but remain within the confines of the rules. A direct result of this is Diego Costa (yellow) Gabriel (red) 2-0 Chelsea.

    However investigatory processes often places suspects in pivotal positions for obvious reasons, one very honest K. Friend is removed is exchanged for the calamitous Moss.

    Moss is then selected for Arsenal vs West Brom and I counted 3 penalties not given in Wenger’s favour, and one questionable against chalked off, in a period when the referees accuracy is well below 50% and goal difference is telling in the tale. Jon Moss of North-East London who studied football near the Midlands and never even back when dinosaurs roamed had a favoured team. The team with the best Goal difference is from? And the top team supported by all of middle England (as the big clubs are all Metropolitan based) wouldn’t happen to be?

    Supplementary is the fact that bookies will win far more if the clear favourite with short odds, with the largest support groups (more bets placed including rival and neutrals betting with) lose .

    The consideration of betting demographics is considered, but most people betting long will likely bet smaller, or be from a smaller support group (less bets).

    The most impact from illegal manipulation, will rely on officiating, results in which large bets are placed against favourites and the favourites go on to lose. Also cards and score-cast produce high yield, so the most effective form of corruption will entirely rely of the official.

    Stemming the menace of the hatchet tackler, will decrease injury and the social amplitude of the game (sportsmanship). Likewise heavier punishment for gamesmanship, misconduct, goading, handling, diving, stamps and making use of the fact that the game can be assessed post match and via taking greater action in terms of yellow and red cards retrospectively will reduce the effectiveness of this type of corruption.

    So in terms of book making Leicester winning the season is likely to be a positive as payouts will be exceeded by failed bets placed on the huge number of preferred teams for wagers.

    Secondary to the manipulation of officials is the impact of the viewing rights being sold at intervals throughout the season, essentially allowing broadcasters, one in particular to re-arrange fixtures which has a massive impact on a game outcome as recovery time is around 4 days for an average game of an average intensity (injury contribution).

    All of these factors lend themselves towards mass corruption, even before the consideration of persona, Mark C the pop star who wants to travel home alone, or Dean the gambling cheat, who is a premier league referee, or the North Midlands bunch who regularly find time to help out the armies of Winter fell in honour of the Guardians of the North.

    effective remedies

    increase referee pay

    introduce retrospective bans, fines and cautionary cards

    introduce touchline technology along all pitch borders

    introduce time outs and video challenges (capped per game\\\0 it would be quicker, the fans can see an the players but the referees don’???

    minimise referee notice period before games

    introduce referee chaperones

    increase referee pooling group

    introduce mid seasons and off season % based referee decision accuracy screening

  • Rosicky@Arsenal

    Luscious Lisa
    I am surprised that you cant see the ref biased against Arsenal even some independent sites also confirming that Arsenal are the most badly hit by ref decisions and Leicester getting the most favourable wrong drcisions.Is it a coincidence?Not in my thinking as i believe what i see.
    Vardy getting dubious penalties through out the year and Huth getting the nod of the ref for brutal challenges on attackers unnoticed.
    As far as Arsenal are concerned we have been robbed off points from the start of the season.
    1. Ramsey goal called offside against pool.
    2. Gabriel sending off against Chelsea.The whole media is now accepting that Costa should have been sent off.
    3.Eric Dier was not shown a 2nd yellow for pulling Giroud.
    4.Carrol should have been sent off before he cored at West ham.
    5.Bone breaking challenges at Alexis at Norwich Ramsey at Emirates by Drinkwater.
    6. Fouls not called at Emirates on Ozil against Swansea and Leicester which led to goals.

    Only above incidents cost us

    Liverpool 3
    Chelsea 1
    Spurs 0 or maybe 2 as we were on the ascency.
    West ham 2
    Norwich 0
    Westham 2
    Swansea 1
    Leicester 0

    That is easily 9 to 11 points robbed by the PGMo enough for Arsenal to win the league on its own even if you dont count how many point Leicester got due to biased decisions.

    Pls open your eyes.
    Other readers might add some other incidents which i forgot to chalk above which costs us points.

  • Rosicky@Arsenal

    ** correction
    Westham have been mentioned twice.
    So 7 to 9 points from above incidents.

  • serge


    Yes, I agree the mechanics are in place for major corruption, but I still can’t see it even with all the secrecy surrounding PGMO.
    No whispers from ex refs ( the £50000 is a pittance compared to what they could get from an expose ) and the national news agencies. Hackett criticises Riley, but never mentions corruption.
    Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to see it exposed, PGMO discredited, wound up and people jailed, but I’m just not convinced.
    I need to see some hard irrefutable evidence that would stand up in court.

  • ARSENAL 13

    off topic: Remember Abou Diaby? He played a full game. After a long long time.

    Hope he stays fit and has a decent career (whatever is left of it).

  • Rosicky@Arsenal


    I think Gabriel sending off at Chelsea is a hard core evidence aganist the PGMo.
    He sent him off even he didnt see costas antics with Gabriel and still show him red.Only upon the surrounded protest of Chelsea players.
    How is is possible that the ref sent a player off without watching the incidents himself?its mind boggling incompetence and mysterious of the highest order.

  • serge


    Yes, but all circumstantial.
    It would never legally stand up.
    “I’d just love it” if some really, really irrefutable hard on inducing evidence were to surface.

  • Rosicky@Arsenal

    How can v find a legal evidece as ref has all the legal backing by FA Fifa n Epl.
    We have to believe what we see we cannot take them to court by any means whatsoever.
    We can only expose them through social media.Maybe someday some media out let or the player or some ref comes out and expose there agenda.

  • serge

    Lets hope that someone does come out and that they take it to the BBC or Guardian.

  • Pat

    Dwain Kaye, interesting point you make about viewing rights being sold at intervals throughout the season. There must be quite a few implications there. There is also the effect on fan attendance at matches which has been highlighted by someone else on another stream.

  • Pat

    Serge, why would the BBC or Guardian print it? The mass media in this country is more interested in keeping up the image of a clean, corruption free sports scene in Britain. Lots of money is to be made by not rocking the boat. And powerful and rich people can make it very hard for you if you do.

  • serge

    Because the BBC & Guardian are the only media with the integrity to expose this sort of corruption. And of course they have a history in doing so.

  • Rich

    Luscious Lisa

    That’s a mighty kind interpretation of the penalty figures, in pgmol’s favour.

    As I’m pretty sure most of us here who believe there’s something wrong also believe things have got significantly worse under Riley’s stewardship, 2006-7 is a bit early.

    More relevant to us is what happened in his first five years (from 2009-10 to 13/14)
    Chelsea 38/16 (+22)
    Man utd 36/15 (+21)
    Man city 35/17 (+18)
    Liverpool 34/24 (+10)
    Everton 21/16 (+5)
    Fulham 20/16 (+4)
    Sunderland 26/23 (+3)
    Spurs 21/24 (-3)
    Stoke 21/30 (-9)
    Aston Villa 21/31 (-10)
    Arsenal 19/31 (-12)

    That’s pretty incredible.

  • ARSENAL 13

    one look at the English economy and you’ll know why the media is hell bent on keeping an ultra clean image of England intact.

    keywords: financial services, 80%, GDP

  • Mandy Dodd

    Interesting stats Rich.
    Those years coincide with Riley, but they also coincide with David Dein not being around. I do not buy into all the myths surrounding David Dein but feel certain he would have something to say about our treatment from refs were he still with the club, as opposed to the apparent passivity shown by the current board, if not the manager.
    Ivan was pretty vocal a couple of years ago, but we never hear from him now. Of course he cannot come out and public ally slag off the PGMOL, but surely he could use his position to help get a level playing field. There is no evidence he is doing any such thing. As I have mentioned, continued passivity could mean missing out on a lucrative EcL spot.
    can only agree with the earlier post…..we try to play a version of total football, the most beautiful, brave and ambitious variant of the game, but unfortunately, the easiest to disrupt by thug opponents or bent/biased refs.
    Unfortunately, this league is about 95% Jose , 5% Johan, and many powerful voices want to keep it that way, Wenger is trying to play in a way that most of the English teams, players and coaches are technically and tactically unable.

  • Alex

    Did someone leave the cage open at Le Grove?

  • Rich

    Mandy, seems pretty clear that a conscious decision was made sometime back within the club to try to react calmly to whatever is thrown at us by referees.

    Who knows the thinking and calculations behind that, if it’s the case, but, logically, it can only be because they believe that is the best course.

    However, I find it a very frequent occurrence to hear Wenger has nailed the truth of a match- concisely though perhaps in a restrained way- including how refereeing decisions shaped it, in the days that follow.

    The interesting part is that I only tend to hear of it days afterwards, even though the comments must typically have been made on the day of the game.

    Each time it is a powerful and depressing reminder of media power. These explanations of Wenger’s tend to be so well-worded and true that anyone looking to do a detailed job of dismissing them would struggle not to look foolish. So they just ignore what he says.

  • Genorm

    Dwain Kaye, really good piece. I totally agree. Rosicky@ too and Mandy always. Good stuff, all.

  • Menace

    Corruption is when normality is disrupted on purpose. If the Chelsea v Arsenal game was not corrupt, what was it? Human error? Incompetence? Cheating?

    The incidents that occured were never clearly discussed on TV but were dismissed by idiots who have no idea of sporting behaviour. Their idea that Costa is good for football is like saying Serial killers are good for moral balance.

    The game had an official from the PGMOL appointed despite his prior disregard for proper sporting behaviour. He is a cheat. He is not fit for purpose. He has been appointed again despite over a hundred thousand people asking for him not to be allowed to officiate an Arsenal game. That is a indictment of corrupt practice by the PGMOL & FA. They are all guilty of unsporting conduct & abuse of power.

    They have reduced the EPL to a shambles of cheating & greed.

  • Menace

    Dwain Kaye
    April 24, 2016 at 7:11 am

    Excellent comment. Technically well explained & clearly defined areas of concern.

  • Pat


    Th BBC and the Guardian are totally selective in what they choose to expose and what they choose to ignore. A typical BBC example is a programme like Saints and Scroungers.

    All the examples are taken from relatively petty arenas of life. The so-called scroungers are never the true top scroungers in Britain, recipients of inherited wealth, or owners of massive companies paying their employees a pittance.

    Thus limits are placed on how deep people’s analysis goes of fairness and unfairness in Britain. It’s kept on the level of moaning about your neighbour who may be claiming a few quid more in welfare benefits than they are technically entitled too.

    Corruption on a much grander scale is at the same time allowed to go unchallenged. Or, like the current publicity about companies not paying their tax, people will be allowed to blow off steam for a while, and then it will all go quiet and nothing will have changed.

  • austinpaul

    So Liecester has Thailand connections tru its owners nd a misconduct issue last summer inThailand requiring a fence mending nd image clean up by owners wit Thai govt? Now its getting clearer ,d ascedancy of Liecester in d EPL dis season!

  • Andy Mack

    austinpaul, Personally I don’t think the Thai ‘misconduct’ issue holds much water. I think it’s more a case that Leicester had a really good first 5-7 games and the marketing guys at the PL (and their dancing monkeys, the PGMO) decided to help them where possible to keep the ‘underdog’ interest in the league for the neutrals (especially overseas) who would normally have an affection for Dis-Utd, but wouldn’t follow them as much because they were playing so poorly.
    They didn’t expect the underdogs to do so well for so long as the marketing guys didn’t appreciate the effect ‘confidence’ would have on such a lower/middle ranking team or the benefits of having their best 3 players ‘on-form’. But it got to the stage where they hadn’t fallen apart in late January, so they get even more support to give the PL the Cinderella story where a team hasn’t spent billions on their squad, which makes it even more marketable.
    The Leicester team isn’t all about money but the PL is, and they’ll market the living daylights out of Leicester or the Spuddies (Pease NO!) winning the PL.

  • Zedsaunt

    Sitting in a bar in Denmark watching the odds change on screen in the game yesterday, Dwain Kaye nails it. A good piece of writing. The world over, people bet through a game, and the ability to do this makes the influence of the referee even stronger.

    As for this – “”but even so evidence is not proof, it is simply data” – proof is evidence which has been examined and tested, the doubt then measured. The problem – there is no examination.

    I would love to see Riley, Dean, the gang, one by one in a witness box, each under oath, having to answer questions under a judge, in front of a jury, each person on the jury examining their faces as they answer.

    In the absence of that, I would love to see a public inquiry headed by a QC into the activities of the PGMOL.

    In the absence of that, I would love to see an in-depth investigation into the PGMOL conducted by an investigative TV documentary.

    In the absence of that, I would love to see an investigation conducted by a journalist, perhaps starting with how PGMOL referees get chosen to become members of the PGMOL.

    In the absence of any of these, the “but even so evidence is not proof, it is simply data” doesnt carry any meaning beyond its meaning as a description of a mindset.

  • Jammy J

    “Because the BBC & Guardian are the only media with the integrity to expose this sort of corruption.” That’s hilarious.

  • Richard Down

    Hope I’m aloud to chime in as a mere Palace fan. It would be greatly surprising to many of us Eagles that we seem to be in credit to the tune of a point. I know we can be as paranoid as the best but it doesn’t feel like we should be in credit by any stretch. I also think it tendentious to suggest the Kouyote challenge didn’t deserve a red. He came from a distance with studs up and only Gayles ability in the high jump reduced the impact. My opinion of course.

    I think only duff calls directly affecting results, eg dismissals offside goals given a, fouls given or not given leading to goals allowed or not are included in the survey. There are intangibles as well. Might one ask why Kevin Friend failed to give a booking for either of two appalling fouls in the first 20 minutes of our home game with Chelsea perpetrated by Obi Mikell. He ploughed through the back of Zaha with full force early on then slid straight through Cabaye from the side. When he got up from that one he stood on Cabayes foot holding the pose for the cameras so it wasnt like the game was too quick. Then there was the Bournemouth defender who spent the whole game it seemed holding Zaha back by his shirt. Poor lad couldn’t have dived even if he wanted to. Weak refereeing that I think could have impacted the outcome.

    Oh and as for Clattenburg, I dont care what he does with his evening provided he spots any stray elbows into our keepers face. Lets hope he isn’t too matey with Man U at Wembley and remembers the day isn’t all about him