By Tony Attwood
It is a fundamental view of this site (as you might have realised if you are a regular reader) that there is something seriously wrong with football in England, and that the wrongness that we perceive is exacerbated by the abject refusal of the media at large even to engage in a discussion as to whether any such problems exist or not.
One key problem that we have investigated for years, as you will know if you do pop over to this site from time to time, relates to refereeing. Not primarily because we perceive injustices done to Arsenal because of the incompetence and the resultant injustices done to many clubs.
I would particularly point to 160 games analysed – in which three researchers analysed the first 160 games of one PL season from the point of view of referee errors, and presented the evidence in videos. It is a project that has, as far as we know, never been attempted or replicated anywhere else. However, it was picked up by the BBC and their report is included in this page on Corruption.
Subsequently, we saw the sudden change in the pattern of results which arose when matches were played without crowds in the stadium. If there were no referee bias because of the effect of the crowd, there should have been no change during this period. In fact what we saw was a massive rise in the number of away wins, showing just how much referees were affected by the crowds. You don’t have to take our word for it – there is an excellent review of this from an independent source here.
There have been so many series on such matters on Untold, that one can’t really make a complete index but at the foot of this piece I’ll put links to one series that we created, “What the media won’t tell you about football”. There is a link to the series at the end of this piece.
But these days things are different, because five years ago Der Spiegel published allegations to the effect that Manchester City were breaking a lot of financial rules.
The case of Manchester City rumbles on of course, although it now coexists with the League suggesting that Everton get a 12-point deduction for breaching profit and sustainability rules.
That leaves 18 clubs including Arsenal, not being charged, and those clubs are, it seems, as much in the dark as to what is going on as the likes of you and I. As we some Manchester City fans suggest that this is all a conspiracy against their club (we know that because their fans occasionally write to us, but rarely present much evidence to back up their claims, aside from suggestion our source is not valid.
But what happens if either Everton or Manchester City or both are found guilty? That would mean that in the past a lot of other clubs have suffered, either by being relegated in a season when Everton cheated, or by not getting into the Champions League (and hence getting quite a bit of extra money) in a season when Manchester City has cheated.
The League’s commission have enormous powers to impose sanctions, and indeed there has been much talk already to the effect that if the sanctions are, in the case of any club that has enormous wealth from its owners, not ones that materially punish the club, then what’s the point?
I mean, a wealthy person might not worry too much about getting a £100 fine for doing 40 miles an hour in a 30 mph limited zone, but might well be more worried about losing his/her licence if caught doing it several times in a 3 year period, and thus losing one’s licence to drive. Although even then he/she can buy a chauffeur. In short a punishment to the owners of Manchester City would be pointless if other members of the ruling elite of their country could just step in and do it all again.
The commission however doesn’t have to fine a club. It can remove past titles – although that again might not have much effect since the club has already had the glory, could well continue to claim the titles, and has had the financial and publicity benefit of the subsequent Champions League engagements.
So what could the commission do if fines and removal of titles has no consequence? It could relegate a club, but then if it just went down a division, it would undoubtedly easily win the Championship the next season, and in effect stop a club that had done nothing wrong from gaining promotion, by taking one of the three promotion spots.
A refusal to allow the club to buy players could have an impact but Manchester City would then start borrowing players from other clubs in its group. So what’s left by way of punishment? Probably the only thing would be expulsion from the entire Premier and Football League pyramid.
That might send Manchester City into an attempt to set up a new league across Europe, alongside Paris St Germain and a few others. Or it could lead to the current ownership simply walking away and finding another toy to play with – or clubs in other countries to buy. After all it is not as if they have any long-term or historic connection with Manchester City – it was simply a club that was there when they wanted to buy one.
And that might be the best solution – let them go and interfere with life in France and take on PSG. Then at least it wouldn’t be our problem, and we could focus once more on solving the problem of PGMO – a problem of course which still remains.
- Why, with football, it is important to ask what is not being reported
- The real live facts that the media won’t ever touch (part 2)
- What the media won’t tell you about football, part 3 – referee home bias
- What the media won’t tell you about football, part 4 – referee variations
- What the media won’t tell you about football 5: Fifa lends money to Switzerland
- Arsenal v Wolverhampton Wanderers: where will each team finish?
- Arsenal v Lens: what we found, what we felt, what they did
- Arsenal v Lens: the team, the home/away form and the strange coincidences
- Arsenal v Lens: they had a poor start but are now flying
- Where there is power, money and greed there is corruption