The refereeing crisis is here: but not as the media portray it




What we now have with refereeing is a crisis: but not exactly the crisis being described by the media.

For many years allegations have been made about the fact that referees and their assistants are not as fair and equal as they might be.  However such revelations have by and large been dismissed by the media as the biased talk of supporters.   But as Untold has shown of late, the results that some referees oversee can be very strange and are seemingly influenced by the crowd.

Indeed when Untold did an in-depth analysis of the first 160 games in a football season we found multiple errors of refereeing, for which we had video evidence.

That situation still exists and certainly, it would seem that a number of clubs have benefitted and are benefitting from this sort of strange decision-making. 

Now up until a few years ago, players playing against Arsenal knew that they could rely on the referees to show yellow and red cards to Arsenal at a far greater rate than for other clubs.  To take one example from the year before Arteta started to reform the club, there were 86 yellow against Arsenal in 2019/20 compared with 38 for Liverpool that season.

So there could well have been an expectation among Liverpool players that Xhaka would be sent off in the first half, which would give them an advantage – but this time it didn’t happen.   And this may well have made Liverpool players realise that normal service was not being delivered.

But there is another factor here.  Liverpool are just about the least fouled team in the Premier League.  Crystal Palace for example are fouled almost half as much again as Liverpool.

So why don’t other teams foul Liverpool?  Of course, I can’t prove anything but the most likely explanation must be that fouling Liverpool players means harsher punishments for the opposition – yellows come out more readily.  In short, fouling a Liverpool player results in more punishment than is dished out in fouling the player of any other club.

At the same time Liverpool are one of the bottom four when it comes to fouls given against their players. 

So expectations arise: Liverpool will get lots of free kicks because other teams foul them, and will give away very few free kicks because Liverpool don’t foul.    And as I see it this is what made the Liverpool player approach the assistant referee and berate him.  Simply because he was expecting the game to be as it always is.   Liverpool not seen by officials to be committing fouls, the opposition seen by officials to be committing fouls.  Game after game.

There is another question here.  Players are not allowed to touch an official.  Assistant referees are not expected to talk to players – you just don’t see them do it – it is the referee’s job.

So when a player goes over and touches the assistant referee, what is the official supposed to do?   Is he supposed to shake the player off, or just stand there are allow himself to be manhandled or wave his flag to attract the referee’s attention?

Assistant referees are not there for players to hurl abuse at – they are there to assist the referee.   But referees are not there to give Liverpool home wins all the time, any more than assistants are there to be manhandled by the player.

In the end it must be the case that the guilty parties are on the one hand the Liverpool player, and on the other the PGMO who have allowed Liverpool free reign in home games for the past 20 years by allowing themselves to be influenced by the home crowd.  Indeed as the home crowd has seen itself become more and more influential over results so it has become more and more demanding that Liverpool should and must always win at home.  

PGMO should look at the figures of referees and of clubs, and review the research into how the crowd influences refereeing decisions.  And then they should be giving training to their staff members in how to avoid being influenced by the home crowd.

The player should get the ten match ban for manhandling the referee and the linesman should be sent for re-training to remind him how to respond to assaults.

6 Replies to “The refereeing crisis is here: but not as the media portray it”

  1. Moon howling conspiracy theorist, its actually embarrassing that this has been written! Get outside for a walk!

  2. It is interesting that many of the people who have views different from those who write for this site, on the problem of refereeing, find it difficult, or perhaps impossible, to write any sort of logical argument or at least evidence-based argument when they seek to counter the views expressed by regular writers.
    And of course they often hide behind not only an invented name, but also a fake email address, which shows a lack of faith in their views.
    This site has explored the issue of refereeing in the Premier League in around 13,000 articles over 15 years, giving details and evidence to back up the views expressed. And of course we have the 160 games reviewed series which established the basis of our concerns about refereeing.
    But what I find particularly interesting, is that sometimes when people want to disagree with out findings what they do is use a slogan and claim that the site or article was embarassing.
    I don’t feel embarrassed about publishing the reply received, as I think its brevity, lack of coherent argument and attempts (unsuccessful as it turns out since we have the originators actual details of course) to hide, say somewhat more about the writer than it says about the article.

  3. I think the time has come for the FA to actually do their job in ensuring that players that touch or go for linesmen are actually sanctioned. Arsenal were fined as in 1 game apparently their players were all over a ref but when you see the reactions of the Pool players on Sunday, it makes a mockery of the system when a club is fined money whilst players from another club (Pool in this instance) do not even get spoken to, let alone sanctioned. It also let me think about the penalty and how Jota planted his feet with no intention to play the ball. In my view he was obstructing players from getting to the ball, that is not deemed sportsmanlike. Makes you wonder what they are taught by their coach to do to con the ref and VAR officials….

  4. Tony, you reach the conclusion that the, “PGMO should look at the figures of referees and of clubs, and review the research into how the crowd influences refereeing decisions. And then they should be giving training to their staff members in how to avoid being influenced by the home crowd.”

    Such a conclusion is, of course, only of any value if the PGMO actually wants manage games in a neutral and unbiased manner. I have yet to see clear evidence to prove that to be the case.

  5. Mikey

    “Such a conclusion is, of course, only of any value if the PGMO actually wants manage games in a neutral and unbiased manner”.

    100% Correct

    As I have said on here many many times, games are refereed in a manner as to meet the wishes of the ‘media’ in general, and the media in general still want the Northern ‘Powerhouse’ to dominate football.

    Giving favour to Man Utd or Liverpool in particular is never going to incur the wrath, criticism and subsequent bad ‘press’, that similar leniency towards Arsenal would incur. Again, as I have said many times, it is the media that are ultimately a referees judge jury and executioner.

    Their decisions are only as good as the ‘commentators’ say they are.

    A simple example:

    In Liverpools match against Chelsea they got away with murder. They should of had at least 3 yellows before they finally received one in the second half. If the referee had applied the laws of the game correctly from the start they would of had at least one player dismissed.

    Even the commentators noticed this but as usual they not only excused Liverpool for their ‘Full blooded’ approach and the referees inability to apply the laws of the game, because ‘We like to see them letting the game flow’, they were actually praising them.

    Finally in the 2nd half the referee started calling the fouls and showing the cards, Liverpool, despite the referees leniency still ended up with 17 fouls for 4 yellows, BUT no reds, as should of happened, resulting in no suspensions for their match against us, as should of been the case.

    Measure that against White, who was booked for his first ‘foul’ on 23 minutes. Debatable it was even a foul.

    But as far as the media are concerned, this radically different application of the law as of the game, depending on the team being refereed, is a perfectly acceptable way for the referee to operate. Well as long as it benefits who they want it to benefit.

  6. In all the media fuss in favour of Man City beating Arsenal to the title, the fact that we have been cheated of at least 4 (and arguably 8) points by wrong referee decisions has been conveniently overlooked by commentators. But for that we might well already be champions.

    Re Man City; I thought that Bayern were better team last night – a goal down at half time against the run of play – until their total defensive collapse in the last quarter of the game. So 3-0 a rather flattering result. I noted, however, that the match commentators were so blatantly partisan that they were quite ecstatic over everything a City player did. It was quite sickening by the end.

    It may now be most unlikely, but I would “love it” (as per Kevin Keegan) if Bayern overturn the second leg.

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