- The universal description of Arteta’s speech as a “rant” raises serious questions
- Newcastle v Arsenal. 1-0 to the referee.
By Tony Attwood
Arsenal have finally taken a public stand against PGMO in no uncertain terms with a statement saying that “Arsenal Football Club wholeheartedly supports Mikel Arteta’s post-match comments after yet more unacceptable refereeing and VAR errors on Saturday evening.”
Additionally it is being claimed that the officials handling VAR were Andy Madley and Stuart Burt who it is being said, have jobs with the Saudi League which is owned by the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund, an organisation which coincidentally also owns Newcastle United. These allegations have appeared on X, but we don’t have any way of confirming this yet.
However, the force of the reaction against Arsenal’s statement today condemning the way the Newcastle game was officiated from certain media outlets that consistently refuse to criticise middle east investment in clubs, suggests that these comments are getting close to the mark.
Indeed the speed with which the forces of reaction came trundling out after Arteta’s claim that something was seriously wrong, and after Arsenal FC took the unprescendted step of backing him up, was something to behold.
If you’re a regular reader you will know this issue has been a central campaign of ours since we started Untold: that there is a lot fundamentally wrong with refereeing in the Premier League, and the PGMO needs investigating. There are many articles on this theme on this site, and you might like to look at How referee bias works: the details and the statistics as one starting point. But if you want to go back a long way how about this from 13 years ago Quantifying the bias of Arsenal’s referees vs the rest of the league
And of course there is our classic analysis of referee decisions in160 games complete with video clips: 160 games analysed.
Although all of our efforts (until now) to show that something is seriously wrong were ignored, we have since turned to a statistical analysis, using the official data on such matters on home and away bias but all the while waiting for one club to break the silence and back us.
And now it has happened – and would you believe it, it was Arsenal that did it.
This is not to say that Arsenal have been following our campaign; indeed I’ve no idea if they have any knowledge of what we have been writing about for 15 years. But the fact is that with that statement Arsenal is the club who have been brave enough to bring the matter out into the open, and I’m very proud it is Arsenal that have had the guts to do it.
The reactionary media have of course been caught on the wrong foot. Having backed PGMO all these years they have no option now but to carry on defending the indefensible. The Mirror for example has ceaselessly supported PGMO and its referees, so of course now has to attack Arsenal, as it has done with “Gary Neville slams Arsenal for ‘undermining’ statement”
Football London, published by the same company as the Mirror, however quickly started to establish a get-out-of-jail route for the newspaper group by publishing a statement to the effect that Arteta “did not hint at there being a specific bias from officials against Arsenal – something Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp and former Everton manager Frank Lampard have done in the past. Back in May, Klopp was suspended from the touchline for two matches and fined £75,000 following his comments to the media after the match against Tottenham Hotspur on April 30.”
Of course, others have not been silent. 7am kick off ran the headline “Major decisions that the referees have gotten wrong … in February this year in which they found “four major incidents where Arsenal have been very clearly harmed by poor or biased referee decisions….”
The Daily Mail however is on the side of PGMO giving much more publicity to a repost from Michael Owen suggesting he called “Mikel Arteta ’embarrassing’ and ‘disgraceful’ for criticising refereeing standards after his side’s 1-0 defeat by Newcastle – and slams ‘classless’ Arsenal for releasing a statement in support of their manager.” (The Mail calling Arsenal “classless” – that’s something worth reading!)
The Daily Star also comes out on PGMO’s side with the headline “Mikel Arteta told he’s ‘biggest hypocrite in Prem’.”
Of course, PGMO could now come out and suspend Arteta and fine him and ban him, and tell the club that if there are any more instances like this the club will lose points. I have no idea if PGMO can remove points from a club, but they normally claim they have absolutely unlimited powers so it is something they could try.
But whatever else we think, it looks like after well over a decade of campaigning against the PGMO and pointing out what a biased and bent organisation it is, suddenly some of the media have decided that this might be the time to change sides.
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