The evidence against PGMO and the referees is mounting: here it is…




By Tony Attwood

Citing a video blogger we repeated the question that he asked, namely, “In an era when two of the Premier League’s most pre-eminent clubs are owned by the vice president of the UAE and the sovereign wealth fund of Saudi Arabia, why on earth would the PGMOL allow its leading match officials to take lucrative assignments and contracts in the UAE and Saudi Pro League?”  (Click on the link above to see the whole video which led to this question.  If you have 10 minutes to spare it is worth doing – although I’d also like you to read this article too).

So between us we came up with two answers: 

a) There is real bias in the PGMO which allowed and encouraged this situation to happen.  

b) There is gross incompetence in the PGMO which allowed this situation to happen, as nobody thought that it might ever be an issue because, well, nobody ever thought.

From this two questions arise. 

First, if a) is true and there is real bias in PGMO toward certain clubs and against others, why is this and how come the clubs have allowed this to happen?   

Second, if b) is true and there is such gross incompetence with PGMO , how could this possibly be allowed to happen and continue by the clubs?

Of course we are not inside PGMO, and we are not club directors, so we can’t give a definitive answer, but we can look at what else there is in PGMO that makes us uneasy and has led to us being so critical of what it is doing.  And in reviewing what we have been writing about for a while, we can maybe decide which of the two options is likely to be right.

There are in fact five major issues that we have been looking at over a long period of time – to which we can now add the question of why the PGMO would allow its leading match officials to take lucrative assignments and contracts in the UAE and Saudi Pro League when two of the clubs in the Premier League are financed totally by the UAE and the Saudis.

So let’s go through our five key areas of concern:

1:  Limit on the number of referees and arrangement of who oversees which club.

The limit on the number of referees and the lack of any limit on how many times a referee can oversee a particular club’s games means that if there were to be any wrong with refereeing in the Premier League, there are no immediate checks and balances to stop that problem having a huge impact.

The notion that we have been putting forward for years that each referee should only oversee each team once at home and once away would be easy to implement. 

To ensure that each referee can oversee a match of each PL club only once at home and once away, one would need 38 referees instead of 23.  Given the wealth of the PL that expansion of 65% would not be impossible to pay for in terms of salaries or training.

2.  Referee variation

This has been our area of outrage for some time.   Here are a couple of examples, just drawn from referees who oversaw 20 or more PL games last season.  One referee (Attwell) saw 72% home wins, another (Taylor) 33% home wins.   One referee saw 43% away wins (Taylor), another 12% away wins (Attwell).   


Referee Apps HomeWin% AwayWin% Draw%
1.Michael Oliver 30 60.0% 23.3% 16.7%
3.Anthony Taylor 30 33.3% 43.3% 23.3%
5.Robert Jones 26 65.4% 26.9% 7.7%
6.Stuart Attwell 25 72.0% 12.0% 16.0%
7.Andy Madley 24 45.8% 29.2% 25.0%


Could this be happening by chance?   Quite simply the chances of such variation cropping up is vanishingly small. 

3.  Number of yellow cards / number of fouls

The range in the number of fouls per game between the referees who oversaw 20+ PL games last season was 23.9 for Craig Pawson to 20.12 for Stuart Attwell.  A difference of 19%.   

The range in the number of yellow cards per game between the referees who oversaw 20+ PL games last season was 4.33 for Peter Bankes and 2.90 for Michael Oliver .  A difference of 49%.  In short Bankes gave out fractionally half as many yellow cards again as Oliver.   And yet Bankes only saw 8% more fouls than Oliver.

I’ll write that again.  Bankes gave only 8% more fouls than Oliver but 49% more yellow cards.  That suggests the two men have utterly different views on what consists a yellow card offence.  How can that be in the most popular league in the world?

4.  Refusal of PGMO to engage publically with football supporters

PGMO is a secret society.  It has no website, its referees do no interviews, the way referees are selected for games is kept secret.  While in some countries referees appear on TV after matches, referees are driven away from games in specific cars, and fined if they leave in the wrong car.

Why, if there is nothing to hide?

5.  Refusal of the media to consider that there is something wrong with PGMO

For whatever reason, the great British media refuse to engage in the notion that there is something wrong with refereeing or with PGMO.  Why is that?

One possible reason is that our media is run by people who like an easy life and don’t want to investigate anything.   Just like they won’t investigate the sudden loss of medical records of young players who get injured.  Another is that PGMO has said if they do publish they’ll lose their journalist accreditation, and hence their free seats in the press box.  A third is that the PGMO won’t answer any inquiries.

None of this is acceptable, and the media has to be as guilty as PGMO or covering all this up.

The only thing you can be sure of is that Untold is not going to leave this alone.  We’ve been writing about this for around 15 years and we ain’t stopping now.

10 Replies to “The evidence against PGMO and the referees is mounting: here it is…”

  1. My view is that referee bias against Arsenal has been evident since the days of Ellery and Poll – I remember being at Old Trafford decades ago when a referee called George Tyson allowed Whiteside to kick hell out of David Rocastle and then sent David off for the first hint of a retaliatory foul.

    I remember Dowd in the 4-4 draw at Newcastle allowing Barton and Nolan to kick hell out of our players, giving Newcastle 2 dubious penalties, denying Arsenal a fifth goal by an imaginary offside against Van Persie and sending off an Arsenal player for not being happy about being fouled. 4-0 lead at half-time became a 4-4 draw at the end. Ref had obviously has instructions at half-time.

    Media have always avoided the issue of ref bias, perhaps until it started to affect Liverpool?

  2. @John L.,

    I vividly remember that game, and the fact that the Arsenal players in the second half, after a dangerous foul not punished by any kind of card, I believe early in the 2nd half, could be seen as fearing for their health and this was that.

    Today they resort to 2 yellows in succession for time wasting other clubs can afford….. thing is that they are more scrutinised. At the time Manure wanted Van Persie, so no way Arsenal could win the PL….

    Now that Pool! has been affected by incompetence, suddenly everyone starts talking about it. Which is fine with me. I’m enjoying seeing the shit hit the fan.

  3. If you think that the issue is is one of incompetence, I would urge you to consider Michael Oliver’s refereeing back in the days when he first arrived in the Premier League. At that time, his competence was not called into question.

    You should be asking “What happened to change that?”

  4. seismic and Mikey

    “If you think that the issue is is one of incompetence, I would urge you to consider Michael Oliver’s refereeing back in the days when he first arrived in the Premier League. At that time, his competence was not called into question”.

    I made the exact same observation in an article at the beggining of last week.

    “Oliver was once a very good referee, putting in one of the best refereeing performances I have ever seen in one of our cup ties at OT. What’s happened to THAT referee? He hasn’t suddenly forgotten how to referee, oh no, he’s just learnt how to keep the media happy. Alas for him, Sundays decisions were so bad even the media couldn’t bail him out of that one, although to his credit Murphy gave it his best shot!!!!!”

  5. Here is a link to another great offer from The Football Terrace following on from the one I referred to a couple of days ago.

    It appears that other blogs are increasingly picking up the baton and running in the same direction as Tony and Untold. This can only be a good thing, the more pressure directed at the PIGMOL and their media cronies the better. We are sick and tired of the pathetic excuses and double standards fed to us by the existing mob in charge and the refusal of the mainstream media in general to ask the appropriate questions.

  6. mick shelly

    The Football terrace:

    “We want transparency. We want to hear what’s going on”

    Mark Irwin, The Sun:

    “What exactly is refs’ chief Webb hoping to achieve with match officials Mic’dup, because we really don’t want to hear him and Michael Oliver telling us how VAR has f***** up”

    How utterly out of touch, or more accurately, ‘complicit’ are these apologists’ in the media?

    Lets hope this momentum carries on because heaven knows we’ve been screaming loud on long here on Untold for years. Lets hope the Dam is about to burst.

    Alas I fear not as there are far too many vested interests in the media to allow it to happen.

    All Untold can do is keep chipping away.

  7. seismic

    Thanks for that.

    Out of all this I think my theory that I’ve been shouting from the rooftops for years, that the media run, dictate, whatever you want to call it, how our referees ‘referee’ matches, is now completely undeniable.

    It’s actually worse than I thought. I actually thought the medias wishes were relayed to the referees via the columns of the red tops, or within the post match praise or criticism. I never really believed the agenda was laid down and/or reinforced on a one to one basis. Okay it wasn’t very subtle, but at least there was a pretence of no coercion. That pretence has now completely gone. It seems it is far far worse and more orchestrated than even I ever thought.

    What these last few weeks have shown us is that you can not even see the join between the media and the referees. Hand in glove doesn’t even begin to describe the symbiotic relationship that has developed between the two.

    As I pointed out above and elsewhere, we even have Mark Irwin of The Sun with his faux outrage saying to the referees, yes your decisions have been terrible, but don’t worry, we have your back and we will still encourage people NOT to look too closely.

    Honestly, it is sickening. Will anything change despite the traction the situation has been given by these high profile ‘bloggers’?

    I cant see it myself.

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