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October 2016
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Mark Halsey claims he was told to say he’d not seen incidents, by PGMO

Former Premier League referee Mark Halsey claims he was told to say he’d not seen incidents by refereeing body

That is the headline from the Daily Mirror and it is popping up in quite a few newspaper web sites now, originally mostly finishing with a pompous statement about how the newspaper has contacted (ie sent an email to) either PGMO or Mr Halsey to ask for clarification, later printing a bland statement from PGMO saying “it weren’t us” or words to that effect.

The Mirror’s view is that

“The PGMOL will face serious questions after Halsey’s accusations, with Gary Neville asking if it constitutes corruption.”

So it looks like we have the first breach in the universal agreement among news sources not to question, indeed not even to mention (unless running one of their press releases) the PGMO – the highly secretive organisation that controls Premier League refereeing.

Untold of course has been exposing PGMO activities for years, both in terms of the bias of referees and their organisational structure.  This summer we showed how alone among European federations, the PGMO still used a structure based on the discredited Italian model that allowed the Calciopoli scandal to happen:

Using a refereeing system based on Calciopoli – implications and press reaction.

Mark Halsey retired at the end of the 2012-13 season, and refused to sign the PGMO gagging order which most ex-refs sign, even in the face of a £50,000 offer to sign.  He made his comments in the debate over Sergio Aguero’s appeal against a three-match ban for violent conduct in elbowing Winston Reid in Sunday’s game between Man City and West Ham.

Manchester City have challenged the ban by the FA on the grounds that TV images showed that referee Andre Marriner was close, looking at Aguero at the time of the incident, and therefore did see it.  If he saw the event then the rules say that there can be no retrospective action be taken against a player.

Marriner however clearly said he had not seen the incident therefore permitting a subsequent video review, which is interesting because if the appeal were to be allowed it would say that the refereeing was lying.  That would be a first in relation to a match event.   Halsey however wrote,

“I have been in that situation when I have seen an incident and been told to say I haven’t seen it,” adding, “To be fair to the FA… it’s not them. It comes from within the PGMO.”

Gary Neville then asked, “Mark, I’d like to know who told you to say that!”

Untold’s campaign against PGMO has been based on a range of issues including the peculiar behaviour of referees as revealed on the website “Referee Decisions” in which referees reviewed the work of other referees across two seasons of Premier League games.   But we have also expressed deep concern about the highly secretive nature of the PGMO organisation, and its decision significantly to limit the number of referees and follow a model utterly different from that used in every other major European league.

This we see as an extraordinarily dangerous approach to refereeing since it means that if there were to be a corrupt referee among the employees of PGMO, that referee is likely to be able to influence the results of a particular club multiple times in a season, and thus have a chance to influence the outcome of the league table.  We have proposed that no referee should control a game of any single club more than twice a season.  All it needs is more referees.

Newspapers and TV stations, on the rare occasions they have mused on the possibility of potential referee corruption, have focussed on a referee promoting a particular team in a match.  Thus if, for example (and this is just an example, not a suggestion of an actual case), a referee had been bought by Manchester United, the simplistic approach is to suggest that he would referee a Man U game in favour of Man U and against whoever they were playing.

But the Italian Calciopoli scandal revealed something far more sinister, in which bent referees were also induced to help a team indirectly by influencing the results of their rivals’ matches.

For example, let us imagine that Manchester City and Chelsea were neck and neck at the top of the league, and Manchester City (again, just an example not an accusation) were in the business of influencing referees, they might they might find themselves with a relatively easy match at home that they were sure of winning.   But they also suspected Chelsea could win their game.   So they might invite their favourite referee to edge matters as far as possible (without being spotted) against Chelsea.

This form of refereeing bias is much harder to see, because it appears to favour different clubs each week and thus gives rise to the “it all evens out in the end” view of referee errors.   As a result when an analysis (such as we have undertaken) starts to show that quite often there is a cumulative bias against one club (Arsenal in our case) by referees, then it is easy to laugh the accusations away, without considering the evidence.  To suggest that referees are against Arsenal seems to ludicrous – and thus the issue is never debated.

The way around this is to ensure that no referee can referee any side more than twice in a season, to have video refereeing, to have referees drawn equally from across the whole country and to have the whole operation run by a very open (rather than hyper-secretive organisation).

PGMO does not even have a website that fans can see (it used to, it closed it) and the top reference to it on Google for most enquirers, is a very warped article on Wikipedia.  Any attempt to reflect any controversy on that page, no matter how accurately reflective of reports, is quickly removed.

PGMO fails on all four important counts by which it should be measured, as we have repeatedly shown.   The number of referees is kept very low, so that they do get to ref the same clubs repeatedly.  PGMO is highly secretive and has no public face.  There is a profound regional bias in the selection of referees and there is of course no video refereeing.

Also interesting is the way that until this moment the media has been resolutely against any questioning of the organisation of referees in the Premier League, largely because any suspicion that things are not right would greatly affect the public’s interest in the league worldwide.   And of course broadcasters, and to a lesser degree the press, pay money for Premier League rights – we suspect that there is a secondary contract in each case about what can and what can’t be said.  Thus Untold, and for two years Referees Decisions, have remained pretty much at the forefront of the issue, rather out on our own.

It will be as interesting to see whether PGMO attempts successfully to stifle debate, as to see the outcome of the appeal.  So far they have said, ““Match officials submit their reports, including critical incidents, directly to the FA. Match officials ensure that their reports are a full and accurate description of the incident. There is no pressure from the PGMOL to include or omit anything.”   That is around 40 words.  40 words more than they have ever said on anything else other than how they are at the forefront of video refereeing (!).  The Guardian says, “The body in charge of Premier League refereeing has denied claims made by the former match official Mark Halsey that he was put under pressure to say he had not seen controversial incidents take place in matches.”

So don’t expect too much by way of exposition.  But at least its a mention.

Up next

A review of last weekend’s refereeing decisions – with video evidence.

Recent Posts




80 comments to Mark Halsey claims he was told to say he’d not seen incidents, by PGMO

  • OnDGooner

    You must first tell us what PGMOL stands for before continuing with your article. That I thought would have been good journalism!

  • Rosicky@Arsenal

    Maybe UA is highlighting Ref bias for 2 years but i have been saying that quite long ago that PGMo are corrupt.
    Infact i have said so many times that Fergie has been a very big beneficiary of ref bias and most of Manu victories have been openly gifted.

    People who cant see

    Gabriiel sending off in Costa incident by Dean

    Huth hand ball aginst Southampton

    Last minute penalty to Leicester agianst WHU.

    Eric Diers challenge on Giroud being ignored

    The famous phrases Fergie time and Howard webb the 12th man of United are known to everybody but nobody dares to speak.

    Pathetic behaviours bt the FA pgmol and tge media.

  • Mahdain

    The sad thing about this is some people will still cry conspiracy theory even in the light of this damning evidence. Ofcourse i dont expect anything would come out of this. Any other country and an aspiring journalist would have sat down with Halsey and convice him to open the can of worms. Alas this is England and the investigation journalism art is dead and burried

  • OnDGooner – the problem is that if everything is explained in every article it gets a bit tedious. PGMO is Professional Game Match Officials. The “L” appeared in their name originally and stands for Ltd but they seemed to drop that when they started feeding press releases to the Daily Telegraph. The name actually doesn’t tell you much – what is more to the point is that they are a highly secretive organisation that employs all the refs who work in the Premier League. Refereeing is organised in a very different way in all other major European leagues.

    Oh, and I’m not a journalist. How dare you!

  • Leon

    Good on Halsey. Hope he doesn’t bottle it and back down now that the genie’s out of the bottle (so to speak). Also Neville must use his influential position on Sky to keep the pressure up on PGMO.
    This could be the start of the collapse of their house of cards.
    Enough cliches for one morning I think. It’s coffee time already.

  • BNG

    I fully expect the Press to take full credit when the PGMOL are exposed despite being the three wise monkeys, Sky are in a strange position on the one hand having to report on a corrupt organisation and on the other still having to peddle the turd sandwich of the Premier League. The Media stood back and did nothing for years with Blatter and his cronies and are still doing nothing re- a boycott of the corrupt World Cups in Russia and Qatar. Keep up the good work Tony

  • finsbury

    “Neville must use his influential position on Sky to keep the pressure up on PGMO”

    Truly a strange comment. Everybody as in every Arsenal fan who has watched the 50th game knows exactly, with specific references, how cosy Neville has been with Riley in the past. Turkeys do not ask for Christmas.

    Which is why it will be interesting to see how the 24/7 football broadcasters who pay billions for their rights will be covering this story over the next few days

    *holds breath*

  • Jambug

    “……Neville asking if it constitutes corruption.”

    What I would like to know is why Neville failed to ask the same question when it was revealed that his former manager had a list of all the referees phone numbers in his top pocket and what’s more freely admitted to having regular private communications with said officials ?

    This to me is just as bad if not worse. Can you imagine for one second what the reaction would of been if it had been Wenger caught with that list of Referees numbers ?

    Funny how the suddenly righteous Neville found nothing to get on his high horse about then.

    As much as it’s good to see this story making the back pages I have no doubt it will be forgotten by this time next week.

    It is the Media themselves that set the agenda for officiating, regarding which teams are favoured and which are not. The Media control the PGMO. The PGMO control the refs. Simple.

    This current system is perfect for this kind of manipulation, why on earth would they want it to change ?

    Yes, we’ll get some token ‘huffing and puffing’ then it will be dropped like a stone and the status quo will remain.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Interesting. He is either a bitter mischief maker, a self publicist, or Halsey is onto something.
    If he was told to keep quiet, why would that be. Could be to ensure a genuinely guilty player is punished over something that the ref saw, but didn’t see enough of to act on,or was in some way unsure, but if he is told to say he didn’t see it, said player can be duly punished retrospectively.
    The above may be a satisfactory outcome, but if they are doing that, it may not stop in the name of securing justice. Other influences will quickly pick up that refs can be manipulated in such a way and react accordingly, for aims that are far away from securing retrospective justice.
    this won’t be a fatal blow to the pgmol, but if the PGMOl really are clean, they don’t do themselves any favours by the way they run themselves. It works in the image of its head, secretive, poor PR, and at best, willing to bow to the powerful.
    Still, it’s out there now, Halsey is a dangerous figure to them, he can say, within legal bounds pretty much what he wants. If he is not a mischief maker or self publicist, then he is a very brave man.

  • Goonermikey

    As stated by others, Gary Neville’s former club surely has the most to lose from this if the whole truth comes out. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to see them stripped of all those titles they were gifted by the PIGMOB…….

  • Mandy Dodd

    If what Halsey says is true, makes Utd+ one of the biggest cheats in the game a pretty terrifying scenario, but perhaps one that will take it just that bit too far in this day and age

  • Leon

    I can’t believe what I’m reading here. Well actually I can. People showing their true colours.
    Already coming out against Halsey & Neville.
    Typical of Untold Arsenal

  • Jambug


    “Wouldn’t it be wonderful to see them stripped of all those titles they were gifted by the PIGMOB…….”

    Indeed it would, but it will never happen. The vested interests in Manchester United’s on going success, and the gravy train it invokes, would simply make there fall from grace an impossibility.

    Any corruption that may be uncovered would, given everything we have witnessed over the years, surely implicate Manchester United, and that simply will not be allowed to happen.

    Even if it didn’t involve open corruption, such as bribery, threats and gifts for favours (which I honestly believe would be the case) it would surely show systematic ‘favouring’ of Manchester United, amongst others, by Referees.

    But my contention is that referees where/are simply following an open agenda of bias, as laid down by there masters in the media.

    So, given that the media are squarely behind these issues with referees, why would they be interested in exposing there own duplicity ?

  • Chrystom

    Immediately I read the article, I remembered untold and Tony. I can’t comprehend why a highly organised country like yours still allow organisation like that to operate knowing fully well that the bubble will surely burst. We don’t watch local league in Nigeria because everyone know that the league is at the mercy of the refrees. I still waiting for the can of worms that gave the title to leicester city to burst.

  • Jambug


    “People showing there true colours”

    What colours would they be ?

    That we don’t trust referees ?

    (although I cant really seeing anyone railing against Halsey but even if they where, given our treatment from Referees over the years, surely mistrust would be understandable)

    That we might seek to question why Neville is being selective as to what does upset him and what doesn’t ?

    Lest you forget this is the man that openly admits that kicking Arsenal off the park was a perfectly legitimate tactic.

    Lest we forget this is the man that failed to question why his former boss had a list of Referees telephone numbers on his phone.

    Could you explain exactly what you mean by ‘Typical of Untold’ ?

  • Pat

    I’m certainly not coming out against Halsey. Good on him! I was on his side from the moment he refused the £50,000.

    As to Gary Neville, as someone says, his performance in the fiftieth match and his many negative comments on Arsenal in his role as a pundit make him a bit of an unreliable witness.

    It seems to me pretty obvious why a referee might be told by the PGMOL to say he didn’t see something when he actually did. If he saw an incidence of violent conduct and ignored it, that would indicate either incompetence or bias.

    The PGMOL is desperately trying to avoid its employees being accused of either.

    So when a television camera reveals such an incident, the referee can only claim he didn’t see it, however obvious it must be that he must have.

  • Leon

    I’m no fan of Neville, but he has an opportunity to pressure for an investigation into this claim and I see typical sneering Untold Arsenal reactions from the likes of you & Finsbury.

  • Pat

    I hope Gary Neville does press for an investigation. Maybe it would show he has a conscience. When he started as a pundit, he said a lot of nice things about Arsenal and Arsene Wenger and I thought all might go well. But he quickly fell into the pundit swamp.

  • Jambug


    Thanks for the link.

    From the FA:

    “The FA are understood to be satisfied with PGMOL’s response and are not planning to launch an investigation at the moment.”

    Gary Neville has called for an investigation into Halsey’s comments, questioning why a denial has been issued before anything has been looked into.

    Well lets hope Neville has some sway in this but personally, as I said earlier, there are just too many vested interests and I just cant see it going anywhere.

    A barometer as to whether this has legs might be how SKY Sports deal with it this morning.

    I point blank refuse to watch the talking heads but I know SKY has a bunch of narcissistic hacks sat round a table slagging Arsenal off every Sunday morning. Given there was no PL this weekend, and surely therefore Arsenal are at least off the agenda for one day, they had plenty of time to discuss this particular issue, and even explore in more depth many of the points raised by Tony and Co regarding the many underlying issues with the PGMO.

    Maybe someone will tell me they really got there teeth into it and asked all the pertinent questions. Or perhaps not.

  • Apo Armani

    I haven’t posted in ages…although I have been reading all the articles all the while. This one was just one that triggers me…especially when to do with the MOB – PIGMOB!!

    As usual I am with Jamburh & Finsbury on this 🙂

    Had the ref seen the incident (a blind man would have) he would have to sent Aguero OFF…the fact he didnt suggests other underhanded behaviour too!!

    Hansley will do right to continue…as would that prick Neville – I doubt they will…

  • Apo Armani

    finsbury…excuse my typo above mate 🙂 🙂

  • ob1977

    I read about this in the daily mail earlier, I pointed out that referee are employed to manage matches, not referee them, and that this is just an obvious extension of the control the PGMO have over their employees.

    I also pointed out that the only way we have any hope of acting against this is for the media to fairly and highlight all instances of violent conduct and report them evenly without bias, thus making the PGMO’s job of hiding behind their cloak and dagger that much harder, or at least highlighting their obvious bias and corruption that much more.
    Alas my comment must still be in moderation…

  • Menace

    Jambug – the Mr Gary Neville & his lovely sister Phil got away with ‘assisting by foot’ Reyes out of English football & he has the gall to question what is corrupt!

    I’ve just watched the canonization of Saint Theresa of Calcutta & hope to avoid picking on the darkness but glorifying the light.

  • bushido

    at September 4, 2016 at 10:55 am – yeah, it’s nothing wrong when people show their true color as u say it, when they stood up against corruption and fraud people. then we had other people who is so full of himself and think he knows fuck all and is custom to telling tales who become so blinded when it’s obvious referee system in the EPL is completely based on corrupt structure. that’s what happen to certain people when their country legal system is corrupt. the rich and powerful will manipulate it to their will until the people become accustomed to it and see nothing wrong with it, and some even swallowed the corruption and fraudulently as their daily lifestyle. people not coming out against ex referee or Gary but rather people is questioning it.

  • Jambug


    We are talking about referees and Gary Neville here. I would be disappointed if there wasn’t a degree of ‘sneering’ when it comes to talking about those 2, but hey, you jump to there defence if you want to, that’s your prerogative.

    So given that, even if I where I feel given his history I have every right to sneer at Gary Neville don’t you?

    Same regarding referees, but I fail to see how you interpreted what I said about Halsey as ‘sneering’

    I think he’s being brave (in the footballing context) and hope there’s more to come.

  • Apo Armani

    Hansley’s refusal to take the 50k (gagging rights) from the MOB is in itself a refusal to take a bribe from the MOB!! PIGMOB should have to answer to such things to start with.

  • Pat

    The case cited by Halsey shows another possibility. If a referee genuinely sees an incident and doesn’t think it’s a red card, and then is forced to say he didn’t see it afterwards, the player can be retrospectively banned. This could be to the advantage of the teams his team plays next.

    Isn’t Aguero’s team just about to play Manchester United?

  • ob1977

    Andy Dunn has spent his last article criticising Arsenal for despicably loaning Jack to Bournemouth, as moaning players is now wrong apparently, so there are clearly plenty of big issues and talking points out there…

  • ob1977

    Good point Pat, we’ve just finished with the year of the underdog (ably aided by the PGMOL), now is the year of the “special one” and the highest paid transfer in history…

  • Leon


    Ok. I withdraw the “sneering” remark as applied to you. Sorry ’bout that.
    It’s me getting carried away as usual.
    But although I’m of the same opinion as you (and most people here) about Neville’s past actions, there is no way I can see him being disloyal to the man who gave him his career, and think he deserves a little support for this latest issue.
    Let’s see what (if anything) he does next.

  • M18CTID


    “Yes, we’ll get some token ‘huffing and puffing’ then it will be dropped like a stone and the status quo will remain.”

    In a nutshell. Interesting that the FA are rumoured to be happy with the denial issued by PGMOL – it sounds like they’re trying to stop this snowballing. What’s equally interesting is that while most prominent media outlets were running this story yesterday it was nowhere to be found on the BBC’s website.

    I see that some United fans are brushing this under the carpet and saying that even if the refs are told to lie, as long as they arrive at the right decision in punishing the player then that’s all well and good. It’s as though they think this is still just about Aguero and his 3 match ban when in fact it’s now far more than that. I wonder if they’d be saying the same if Pogba cops a retrospective ban as a result of an incident in this coming Saturday’s derby because the ref claimed he didn’t see it?

  • Jambug


    That’s exactly what I’m saying.

    A 3 way battle for the title between Manchester United, Manchester City, and Chelsea, with the possibility of Liverpool and Spurs thrown in to contest the 4th spot, is a Media wet dream, as well as a Financial jamboree for the PL and all it’s vested interests.

    A final table such as:

    Manchester United

    Manchester City




    would be beyond there wildest dreams.

    I know it. You know it. Is there anyone reading this who honestly doesn’t think that that is SKY, Talksports, BT’s, the BBC’s, and all the papers dream outcome ?

    So if we know it, the PGMO know it, and the Referees know it.

    The Referees know that as long as they referee matches ( or rather ‘manage’ them as ob1977 so accurately put it ) in a way that follows this narrative, they will be, by and large, free of criticism, irrespective of actually how poorly they applied the laws of the game.

    So given this ‘agenda’ it was no surprise to me to see the usually fairly competent mariner turn a blind eye to Aguaro’s indiscretion.

    That’s the win in the bag. But next up it’s United. Now that’s a different kettle of fish altogether. It was nailed on that Aguaro was going to get a retrospective ban.

    Do think we would of had the same outcome had Arsenal been up next for City ?

    Hard to prove, and certainly one for the ones who claim we are paranoid to jump on, but I truly believe this is how it works.

    No brown envelopes. No back handers. No gifts. No threats.

    Just an obvious agenda, set by a gravy train riding media, meekly followed by a complicit body of weak, self serving officials cavorting under the guise of the PGMO and there pathetic employees.

  • Jambug


    No worries.

    Yep, lets hope he’s really got the bit between his teeth on this one. If he pursues this with the same ferocity he pursued Rayes then we really might see the shit hit the fan.

  • Jambug



    Nice to see you are still around. You must be very excited about this season. You’re looking good and have had a great start, similar to last year.

    Will you falter like last year though ?

    I doubt it personally, and this coming weekend really could be the day you lay down a marker for the rest of the season.

    Even without Aguaro, who was nailed on to get a ban given who was on the horizon (although you cant argue it was warranted) I think you’ll stuff them. I hope so anyway.

    As for us, I’m hopeful it will be Arsenal that pushes you all the way.

  • Leon

    BBC online did feature this story, but not very prominently. If you put Mark Halsey in their search box the story comes up, but they add nothing to it.

  • finsbury

    Untold has been the messenger. And incontrovertible empirical data collector in this instance. Thanks to all for their time and efforts.

  • finsbury


    The only way Neville/Peter Lim’s business partner could get close to Reyes was with Riley’s blessing!


  • finsbury


    G.Neville has been happy to keep schtum whilst the club of his life has been transformed into a stable for Mendezian Mules (only a passing or trotting resemblance to Godolphin, or are there further similarities?).

  • Menace

    M18CTID – The 2 united players with high kicks suited to ballet & fouls according to the Laws are not cited by ‘anyone’ to ensure manure full complement v City. Ibrahimovic & Pogba both kicked opponents above the shoulder & should have been red carded.

  • Menace

    Selective vision is by decree rather than just natural bias. There is a church in football that believes in paradise in life & no hell below us & all our friends in Sky.

  • Jambug


    “Ibrahimovic & Pogba both kicked opponents above the shoulder & should have been red carded.”

    Exactly again.

    It doesn’t require ‘bribes’ or anything as crude or obvious as that. Just follow the path of least resistance.

    The Referee/s involved with those decisions knew perfectly well that failing to react to those incidents would of been universally ignored by the media.

    Conversely had it been against United you can almost guarantee if the offending players had not received the deserved Red we, and consequently the referee, would never have heard the end of it.

    If I’m not mistaken, Referees that have been deemed by the media to of given a bad decision against United have not been given a United game again for months?

  • Pat


    Agree with you on everything except …. How do we know money doesn’t change hands?

  • Jambug


    I certainly don’t know. It may well do, and given the sadly corrupt World we live in it certainly wouldn’t be a surprise, but basically I just don’t think there is any need for it to happen.

    As you will of gathered, my take on all this is that the Referee/PGMO are managed by the Media, which circumnavigates the requirement to physically ‘bribe’ the referees.

    The first thing is, as with most things in life, money is of course behind it. The happy coincidence though is, and the reason I don’t think that ‘bribery’ per say is required, is that the mega rich Clubs requirement for success is equally desirable by both the mega rich clubs themselves, as well as the media and all there cronies with there snouts firmly in the trough.

    And as I have said on many occasions, the referees are just basically looking after there own careers by meekly doing what is required of them, because if they don’t, as we know, they are likely to lose there job, or at least find themselves demoted or side-lined.

    If for some strange reason the media ceased with there agenda, stopped pressurising referees to officiate in a certain way and allowed them to officiate fairly, I have no doubt that direct bribery such as we witnessed in Italy would soon be taken up by the mega rich clubs.

    At the moment there is just no need to do it.

  • Jambug


    One thing I will say is that with more and more money being spent by the mega rich Clubs the more and more pressure there will be to get a return on there investment.

    For example, how long would RA keep pumping his personal fortune into Chelsea without them delivering PL and CL trophies?

    If say Chelsea went 3, 4 or even 5 years without delivering either what would he do ?

    Pull out ? Maybe.

    Sit tight and just swallow it ? Highly unlikely.

    Or would he be tempted to go down the ‘Italian’ route ?

    One glance at his historical Modus Operandi suggests temptation may well get the better of him.

    So complicit Refereeing or not, if the circumstances warrant it, I have absolutely no doubt it would happen, after all, the Mega rich do dislike wasting there often as not, ill gotten gains.

  • Mike T

    I rearely post on here these days but have to admit when I read Mark Halseys comments I couldn’t resist-popping onto UA to read what you guys were saying
    I find all this far too covienent from Halseys perspective for if you recall he was the referee that missed a terrible tackle in 2012/13 it led to rule changes and that came on top of the game he now refers to and which he was roundly critiqued at the time for missing the incident he now is saying he was told to say he hadn’t seen.
    You need to bear in mind that he never officiated a game with the current rules in place indeed when the game he refers to was played it was only possible to take retrospective action if all 3 game officials said that at the time they hadn’t seen the incident and by that even the smallest part of the incident.Halsey now claims he was happy at the time with his design but having spoken to another former PL referee who like Halsey attended these referee get togethers there is a huge likelihood that he would have been challenged as to how on earth he didn’t take action if he truly had seen the incident . In other words you clearly couldn’t have seen what happened .
    This article like far too many other s written about retrospective action and indeed pundits putting forward their opinion make the claim that such action can not be taken if an incident has been seen and whilst some point to the fact that Marriner must have seen the incident as he was looking at Agureo they need to look at the rules for they aren’t anywhere near as clear cut as some seem to think.
    If Marriner truly had seen the whole of the incident then surely he would have sent Augero off if he really had a bias toward Man City he would have claimed in his match report that yes he had seen the whole incident and the FA would not have been able to refer the matter to the 3 ex referees.
    So it’s highly likely he would have said that having seem the whole incident on video he hadn’t seen what everyone else who had the advantage of X number to replays, X number of TV cameras had seen. It’s why I have always questioned the validly of the conclusions from your review of a refs descion making during a game. The refs have one look and the angles they view things , the movement of the players in terms sight lines aren’t always as clear cut as we see on our TV screens
    The rules I talk about earlier are quite clear and state that if the official sees only part of an incident then it is regarded as not having been seen by the match offical and that’s where the rule now differs dramatically from the pre 2013/14 rules. I have now doubt that Marriner saw some / part of the incident but am far from sure he saw what was caught on the various video recordings was th same as he thought he saw at the time
    Where I do have a problem is why and how the FA decide to take retrospective action for there are many incidents such as the Agureo one in game after game where no action is taken so on that basis I question should there ever be any such process.

  • Gord

    From what I’ve read of Halsey, he is a referee who feels that the laws of the game do not allow for enough gratuitous violence. But you have to acknowledge he is doing something useful in this “revelation”.

    But, the revelation is actually minor. If true, it sort of calls for the FA to contact 😈 Mike Riley and the PGMO, to say that it would be nice if they were allowed the opportunity to discipline player XYZ. But just the act of a referee saying that they didn’t see an incident, when they really did, does not actually further any aims of PGMO. It just present the opportunity to FA Discipline to do something. And it may be that FA Discipline wants to review the incident, only to say that nothing happened.

    As a general class (or set of classes) of conduct, I can see this sort of action (PGMO instructing a referee that they didn’t see something) in incidences of discrimination: racism, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identification, etc. I.e.: it is entirely possible that an unwritten policy is that all incidences of discrimination shall be unseen by the officials, so that they can be “handled” by the FA.

    The incident we need, is the referee reporting that they seen an incident that never happened.

  • Jambug

    Mike T

    “It’s why I have always questioned the validly of the conclusions from your review of a refs descion making during a game. The refs have one look and the angles they view things, the movement of the players in terms sight lines aren’t always as clear cut as we see on our TV screens”

    I concede that issues with ‘one look’ ‘dodgy angles’ ‘line of sight’ etc. could cause a referee to make mistakes, but could you explain how it causes them to be biased ?

    Yes, the referee reviews do highlight the fact referees make mistakes, but given the nature of the game we all know that will happen. I don’t think anyone expects perfection.

    But the reviews where not started to highlight mistakes, they where started to highlight, what was at the time just a perceived bias against Arsenal. What they have shown is that there is in fact a massive bias against Arsenal.

    I fail to see how the the difficulties a referee faces should cause him to be biased. Make mistakes yes, but to be biased ? No way.

    Sorry, but you just seem to be trying to discredit the reviews with a completely flawed argument..

  • Mike T

    I am not going to go over that old debate for I can barely keep myself awake watching our new England play.
    You have your views and I have mine .I tend to watch quite a lot of football as no doubt do the majority on here and whilst I do agree with the take on some of the reviewers regarding certain indeed probably the majority of decisions to try and arrive at a statistical outcome or indeed a definitive conclusion proving bias is quite simply flawed. For instance Arsenal enjoy significantly more % of possession in most games as opposed to the opposition meaning they are more likely to be challenged for the ball and therefore possibly fouled so just looking at the number of fouls given or indeed to determine bias is flawed in my opinion

  • Jambug

    Mike T

    You do this every time. You come on here, dismiss the reviews out of hand without a single shred of evidence.

    You have been challenged to do a review of your own to counter the conclusions drawn by the untold reviewer and constantly fail to do so.

    Then to make maters worse, when you are challenged you throw your hands in the air in exasperation claiming you basically cant be bothered.

    Can I suggest if you cant be bothered supporting your own preposition with some facts you stop wasting everyone’s time.

  • Mike T


    Strange that for didn’t I do a rewiew of your game against Leicester City the season before last and didn’t that review feature in an article in here?
    If you think back wasn’t the article called something along the lines of Jambugs Challenge ?
    I await your apologies.

    i have said why I don’t agree with the conclusions of the review you don’t agree with how I arrive at my opinion it’s a bit like those who are struggling to accept the Brexit vote for they can’t understand why anyone could possibly not agree with them . As for wasting time if you don’t like what I say ignore me there is no obligation on behalf to respond.

  • M18CTID

    Jambug/Mike T

    Ok, not going to get involved in the crossfire but just to pick up on a couple of things you both said earlier. Jambug, I agree that Aguero should’ve got a red card. However, one thing that seems to have been completely overlooked in the ensuing furore is Reid’s fist seemingly connecting with Aguero a split second before the elbow was thrown. But the TV people made the debate all about Aguero for whatever reason. Personally, I’d have sent them both off.

    Mike T, you’re bang on with that. There are loads of incidents every weekend that go unpunished, mainly because Sky or whoever haven’t scrutinised them. It seems that those matches screened live by Sky/BT are more likely to have an incident that results in retrospective action than those that aren’t. I’d love to know how many of these incidents result in retrospective action for non-live 3pm Saturday kick-offs because I bet it isn’t many. That said, the Spurs v Liverpooll fixture last weekend was screened live and nothing was done about Lamela’s eye-gouge on Lovren. I guess my point is that retrospective action shouldn’t come down to selected fixtures – to ensure fairness, every match in every round of fixtures should be scrutinised. But that sounds too much like hard work and the FA would sooner the TV companies did their job for them it seems.

  • Mike T


    Good to hear from you. It would indeed be interesting to know the validity to the Point you make and it’s something I might have a look at if I get a chance. If your thoughts are correct I can only put it down to the way in which the TV companies and the majority of pundits feel the hour or so of air time they have to fill after a game finishes will keep viewers entertained if they can set an agenda and bang the press social media etc stirs up a storm. My guess is that they pray for a controversial incident or a spectacular goal so they can show footage from every angle, every cameras at every speed to prove just how bad officals nowadays are and how great they are because as we all know it’s a piece of cake to take charge of a football match whereas I personally don’t doubt they need to improve but suspect the reality is more along the line of same old same old!
    As for the Lamela incident who knows but all it takes is one of the officals to say they had a clear view on the day, one of the three ex refs to say they would have not issued a red card, the man at the FA to have a day off and then no charge can be laid.
    The irony is everyone was calling for a rule change following Ben Thatchers tackle and as with most rule changes the eventual outcome isn’t what people expected. I personally would abandon retrospective action it’s unfair and totally inconsistent

  • Goonermikey

    Many interesting comments. Firstly I’d like to thank UA for the immense amount of work put into the ref reviews. I personally believe there us a bias against Arsenal and UA is therefore heart warming. I don’t, however, agree with every point in the ref reviews. That’s fine, we all interpret things slightly differently. The thing I can’t get away from is that someone like Mike T comes on and purports to have reviewed one game to disprove the findings of hundreds of UA reviews. Sorry mate. You just have to watch football every week to see that refs make bad decisions regularly. The PIGMOB and FA could help (e.g. Video replays, posting their own reviews, having an open an honest dialogue). They do none of these things. There’s a lot wrong with refereeing in this country and the people who could do something about it choose not to. Pretty straightforward really.

  • Mike T


    Nowhere have I ever said that referees don’t make bad descions. Where I have the problem is that it is impossible from watching a game to know what is being said as the game proceeds, it’s impossible to know just what the ref has or hasn’t seen and because of issues such as that it’s impossible to claim corruption to claim bias etc. which is a constant theme amongst many on here.
    The vast majority of descions in football are based on the referees opinion, in many of the reviews the point is made that say player has committed 3 or so fouls so he should be booked and the wording from the laws is copied but no where in any directive or indeed any of the laws does it say how many fouls that is. Similarly it talks in the rules about booking if a player say shirt pulls in a promising position what does that mean? Is it if he running towards the opponents goal or could it be in the oppositions half
    I personally can’t see how you can put decisions into any sort of meaningful statistical format unless you include every descion and that’s Near enough impossible for the vast majority of descions are so obvious they don’t even get a mention for instance every time offside isn’t given for it was clearly on side or the throw in given the correct way or a corner or goal kick being given correctly they very rarely get counted in the stats but get them wrong and they just about always are shown as a negative. You yourself acknowledge how we all see things differently and I repeat my point it’s in the referees opinion
    I have posted in the past that I too believe that referees should be accountable and a step toward that would be as you suggest

  • GoingGoingGooner

    For what it is worth I mostly disagree with Mike T and M18CTID which is not surprising considering they cheer for a blue team but they have both been lucid and polite posters refraining from the name calling that some prefer to do.

  • Goonermikey

    So Mike T, are you suggesting that the debate would be better served by not having ref reviews a la UA? I would suggest any decent researcher will trawl many examples, be they mathematical or otherwise, in order to determine trends. That is what UA has done by carrying hundreds of ref reviews. Carrying out one is hardly going to determine a trend even were it to be flawless.

  • Menace

    I think retrospective punishment must be only limited to financial punishment (2 weeks pay minimum). This will ensure that subsequent matches will still have a full complement of protagonists. In fact every foul or card should result in financial penalty rather than a ban, because the bans impact the subsequent matches & taint the whole league. Every team must be involved in their associated complaint & it must not just be media driven. The complaint must be published in the following match day programme so that fans have evidence.

    Reality is that if 4 officials cannot see most (90%) of incidents then there should be more officials or TV officials. The corruption of the game continues unabated in the mean time & nothing will be done.

  • omgarsenal

    Most of the posts seem to be missing the point of the entire affair. Here is my take on the deeper consequences of such interventions:

    1)The moment the PGMOL intervene and direct a match official to do anything irregular or questionable in reporting/not reporting disciplinary or other incidents in a match they officiated, we have opened a door that cannot easily be shut. However, the doorman PGMOL can effectively strangle any opportunity to dig deeper by simply playing dumb, as they have done so well in the past.

    2)There is a triumvirate of media, the sweet FA and the PGMOL who have established a modus operandi for such incidents and events, thereby making it very easy to plausibly deny that such events occurred. should that plan A fail, then the 50K paid to retiring officials should ensure that plan B takes effect. Should that fail (as is the case with Halsey) then plan C is to deny everything and ignore it until it goes away.

    3)It is both embarrassing and demeaning for a competent referee to be forced to claim that he did or didn’t see an incident, especially when the net and TV can clearly show it happened right in front of his nose. As a retired professional referee, there were occasions I missed a serious infringement BUT they were never right in front of me….those I always saw and punished, to the best of my ability.

    4)What would be the point of the PGMOB telling a match official to lie about an incident that was so easily revealed by the TV or the internet? It seems to me that the motives behind such machinations is subtle and clearly directed at manipulating the impact of serious incidents, not just on the immediate players BUT also on the outcome of future events and games. Who would benefit from doing this? How would they communicate their wishes to the PGMOB puppet-master(s)? What a can of worms this could open up!

  • Arsene Wenger also spoken against currupt referess. Cost Arsenal many titles. It’s a conspiracy by PGMOL. Especially Mike Riley.

  • markyb

    Would anyone be surprised if our dear Friend Alex still had a set of phone numbers on his phone? ‘Mike’ being one of the most frequently used ones?

  • Mike T

    Gooner Mikey
    Not suggesting reviews don’t help the debate but as I keep saying it’s the just that a debate rather than research that can be validated. The irony is that the only research to my knowledge that is carried out that has been verified is that carried out by the PGMOL but we neither have access to it or indeed other than the staggeringly high odd statistical snippet we don’t have any knowledge of the outcomes so it’s inevitable people fill that vacuum
    The single review I did came to the conclusion that just how difficult it was to review a game and going it with just one take without being able to get into the mindset of the referee it’s impossible to fully assess the descion
    I am not naieve enough to things can’t be manipulated but for me what Halsey says in relation to this incident just doesn’t quite ring true for as you say the serious incident was right In front of him yet he continues to maintain he saw the incident
    Your point 4 intrigues me. What I do know is that there have been less than 70 retrospective charges since 2003. It’s very difficult to get bang up to date information but in 2014 The top of clubs so charged when the number was 60 was made up of Newcastle,Man City Chelsea, Man Utd and then Arsenal.

  • Pat


    Influence on future events and games. Good point.

  • Jambug

    Mike T

    My apologies I did not see it. If you can guide me to it I will read it and then I can comment.

    Plus. I respond to your comments because you repeat the same thing time and time and time again. The only reason I suggested you don’t post is because you seem to get bored when asked to explain yourself and provide evidence. OK, you’ve done ONE review that you seem to be contesting proves all the other 100 plus are biased. To be honest I cant wait to see your equally in depth review of this Leicester game of which you speak to see how you reach your conclusions.

    There is a review above, that like all the others, goes into explicit detail about every decision. The referee is, in 50-50’s, given the benefit of the doubt. Yet, you still dismiss them out of hand as biased.

    It has been pointed out to you many times that the reviews, when carried out by NON Arsenal ex referees the bias was even worse. Yet you still dismiss them.

    All that aside, it doesn’t change the fact your argument about bad angles and line of sight is totally flawed and somewhat desperate.

    Again, explain how the fact refereeing can be difficult causes them to be biased ?


    “There are loads of incidents every weekend that go unpunished, mainly because Sky or whoever haven’t scrutinised them.”

    That is exactly what I am saying. In case you missed it, I am convinced it is the media that run our game, at least to the extent of how matches are officiated and players and Clubs are reprimanded. The media, SKY and BT in particular hold great sway in what is and what isn’t investigated.

    I am convinced that if Manchester City was playing Arsenal this weekend SKY/BT would no way of made the same fuss. I’m not saying they wouldn’t of mentioned it, you could hardly not, but their levels of indignation, and the level of ‘noise’ they make, is directly proportional to who/which club the incident relates to and which Clubs it will affect.

    If it was a United player in Aguaro’s place the fuss would of been greatly tempered, and I’m sure the Reid incident you mention in the run up would of been highlighted and used as a ‘mitigating’ circumstance.

    As mentioned elsewhere 2 very high challenges (by Felini and Pogba I think) where completely ignored by the media. Both where very possibly red card offences.

    I’ve said it a thousand times, the media determine how the game is officiated.

    They try, and succeed more often the not, to control how different teams are refereed. They influence which teams and players are put under the spotlight and which ones can do as they wish.

  • Rich

    Oh boy. Too damn much for me to talk about in all this, so I’ll have to ignore most of the issues.

    First, it is puzzling to me that Halsey chose an incident which benefited his bfff to detonate a stink. I don’t care though, i’ll take anything which casts unwelcome light on Riley and co.

    Neville. My old pal Neville. Right back into the heart of my question of whether he knew or, despite being clever and astute, has a giant blindspot when it comes to his years at Utd.

    For instance, he claims in his book that the refereeing for game 50 was all fair but we all (should) know that in a game which didn’t matter to him .reviewing similar incidents, he would undoubtedly reach totally different conclusions. So is he a cunning fibber, consciously misleading, or does his devotion to his club badly distort his judgement?

    Always worth considering is the fact that if he were ever to believe Utd received favourable decisions from referees, he would have to consider why, and his success would be tainted. The motivation is therefore incredibly strong to disbelieve it.

    My best guess is that he drifts towards knowledge of the real lay of the land- he has to; in his playing days it was that knowledge which allowed him to exploit what he could get away with, and be aware he couldn’t do the same things elsewhere (esp Europe and with the national team)- but then sharply moves away from anything troubling to him. And his judgement does function perfectly well in games where he can be neutral.

    So, unless it’s all a giant bluff from him (improbable), he is genuine in having a desire to follow up Halsey’s comments.

    There’s dark comedy in that for me, and it makes me think I am probably on the right track with regards to a genuine blindness to his playing days, i.e he can’t see how suspiciously bad Riley was in game 50 and how much his team benefited from referees in general

  • M18CTID


    Yeah, I agree – it seems like trial by media more than anything. Even as a City fan, I don’t want to suggest that it’s always done to benefit United (in any case, there are lots of bans handed out to players of clubs that aren’t a threat to United) but I certainly think they have a degree of influence on occasions – both on the media (they’re the biggest supported club in the country so the media will often pander to their audience), and on officials/the authorities. Also, in addition to Ferguson having refs phone numbers in his pocket, the amount of times he used to manipulate them prior to, and after, matches was astonishing. Things like “we need a strong ref for this game”, and if it didn’t go their way because the ref had the balls to stand up to them then they’d get castigated by him in public for it and often that would be the last United game they’d officiate in for a while.

    As fans, we all think refs are biased against our team at times. Where City are concerned, our biggest issues have been with Clattenburg and Peter Walton. The latter often reffed our games against Liverpool and Everton. The Everton games in particular appeared to show an open bias in favour of them. Strangely, he suddenly retired from Premier League refereeing mid-season a few years back and hot-footed it to a new position over in the States.

    City aside, I have to say that the 2 most blatantly bent refereeing performances came in games not involving us. One was the Merseyside derby at Goodison in 2007 where Clattenburg put in such a shocking performance that Everton complained vigorously enough to have him not officiate any of their games for the next 6 years. The other was of course the “50th game” between United and Arsenal at Old Trafford. I’ve just watched the key incidents again this morning and I find it absolutely staggering what United got away with that day. That match should’ve been abandoned by virtue of them having too many players sent off and the systematic kicking of Reyes reminds me of the rotational fouling they employed against SWP at a Manchester derby at our place a few years later (to be fair, on that day the ref did book 4 of their players for attempting to kick Wright-Phillips out of the game). How Riley let some of those challenges go unpunished is utterly beyond me, plus there was the professional foul by Ferdinand and Rooney’s blatant dive for the penalty.

  • Mike T

    Jambug please read what I have said. My issue is the conclusion based not nessecarily on a descion by descion basis for most incidents are judged subjectively and as we all know opinion is not an exact science
    I will give you an example. In the review of your game against Watford the reviewer says on a couple of occasions that players should have been booked for persistent fouling and in the bit copied from the laws he clearly acknowledges that there is no defination of what persistent means in terms of how many infringements. It’s all about opinion so to then say the ref was wrong is an opinion not fact.
    Turning to the review of your game I think it was published in early September 2104.

  • omgarsenal

    Mike T…….That is the point……IF an official saw the incident right in front of him and called the infraction, as he should, then there is definitely no reason to askhim to report nothaving seen it. Conversely if he did not actually see it, then retrospective punishment can be applied.

    My point 4 is that the long term consequences can be very serious if any of this is true!

  • Laundryender

    Delighted to see you are still highlighting the corruption (obvious to those who choose to see)

    Keep up the fight

    I remember reviewing Halsey in a game at Fulham for the site, he was awful, worst performance i ever saw from a ref!

    yes it was against Man Utd! who else


  • Laundryender


    Spelling OOOPs 🙁

  • Jambug


    “That match should’ve been abandoned by virtue of them having too many players sent off and the systematic kicking of Reyes reminds me of the rotational fouling they employed against SWP at a Manchester derby at our place a few years later”

    You don’t know how nice it is to hear a fan of another team drawing such a conclusion. The truth of the matter is when you watch it back is it simply mind boggling what went on, and what makes it worse is the commentary. You can tell by there initial comments on incidents what there ‘instinctive’ reaction is, but when the ref fails to act they just fall silent and accept it.

    If I remember rightly the post match studio analysis was just as bad. Indeed if I recall the player that got the most stick was Campbell for ‘dangling’ his leg out giving Rooney the opportunity to ‘win’ (dive) a penalty.

    All round disgraceful performance from Riley, and it’s no coincidence that it’s since his placement at the head of the PGMO that our problems with refereeing standards began.

    Mike T

    Yes, indeed many decisions are subjective. It’s just odd that referees ‘subjectively’ find it difficult to referee Arsenal fairly.

    Again it’s funny how all those non Arsenal affiliated reviews found the same bias.

    Explain that ?

  • finsbury

    Interesting how some press release printers have printed some comments by Lord Riley but have failed to explain where said comments came from and in what context they were made.

    How many stories so far this week in the 24/7 sports media have covered the story that a former pgMOB official has stated repetitively that the pgMOB is not fit for purpose? Or are they all just gibbering on about AFC ‘panic buys’?

  • dan

    Rat boy is asking what constitutes as corruption, well rat, do you recall your crippling challenges on a teenager by the name of Reyes, which were totally ignored by that cheat Riley and the Shit media!

  • dan

    So the pigmob have backed Mourinho.

  • finsbury

    Dan, a slight edit if I may

    The pgMOB back the specialist in signing players signed up to Special Agents 😉

  • M18CTID


    No worries. To be fair though, as you say it’s every easy to draw that conclusion when you watch the footage – it’s astonishing just how clearly bent that refereeing performance was. When watching it the other day, I almost berated myself for not previously being aware just quite how bad it was. While I don’t make a habit of watching any games involving United I did find myself checking back as to where I was that day and it turns out that I was up at Newcastle watching us lose 4-3 in a humdinger of a match. I was also pre-occupied with a house move around that time and had no wish to watch the highlights of a United win on MOTD2 that night so I only caught the headlines of your game which basically were that United had ended Arsenal’s long unbeaten record and that it kicked off afterwards in the tunnel with pizza being lobbed about. I’d have to say that if I was an Arsenal player I’d have been throwing a lot more than pizza at Ferguson, the United players, and Riley of course!

  • finsbury


    And that was just Riley’s audition.

    for a decade he has been selecting all the other refs whittled down from a supposed squad of 18 odd down to approx. ten regular officials in the PL.

    I don’t think the small squad of officials and the bias in their selections (where they come from) has ever been covered by our 24/7 football media. Can’t imagine why not.

  • Rich

    Halsey stuff seems to have stopped abruptly a couple of days ago. Not sure if a single journalist showed any real interest in it.

    Anyway, I bought the man’s book, as apparently he made the same claim in it 3 years ago. Not got to that bit yet but it’s a decent and interesting read.

    Main thing of note so far is that pgmol and the premier league tried to stop him doing it. Publisher backed out under heavy pressure and so Halsey and the author had to publish it themselves.

    Key point is that they were invoking confidentiality clauses, and this was while he was an active referee. So it’s not just when they sign the golden goodbye that they are legally bound not to talk. Also important is that the Premier league were, predictably, active in trying to shut him down.

  • Rich


    In the mini-league of big clubs playing each other it’s probably more like 5 than 10.

    That’s another of the little nuggets from Halsey’s book so far, acknowledgement that only the established bigger referees get the big games and someone in their first few years in the league doesn’t get those games.

    That makes it a very small pool indeed and means that the chance of ,say, Atkinson, for Chelsea or spurs games is about 1 in 4 every year, if that.

  • finsbury

    From the Manchester Grunts article on Broian Clough today:

    …”if you like the idea there was a time when the best managers in the business refused to dance to the tune of agents…”

    Well there it is. The plundits appear to be dithering and inhabiting some kind of alternative fanstasy universe where in 2016 all clubs and all managers and of course the officials bend over backwards for the Special Agents out there.

    Add in the mantra that AFC are “difficult for agents” or “Venga is a scrooge” which upsets the BBC, and it’s fair to conclude that they like the agents over the clubs too based upon such strong and repeptive evidence. Dithering is the word i think.

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