By Tony Attwood
- A good night’s football and now the report: PGMO dictate what the media say
- Arsenal and fouls. What comes after the “doubling down on a position?”
A report in the Liverpool Echo suggests that “Premier League clubs are reportedly set to vote on a potential ban on loan moves between associated clubs in the January transfer window.”
The Athletic has added that the vote will need at least 14 clubs to vote in favour to pass it. After that, if it does go through the League will agree to the change.
But although that step sounds encouraging, it goes nowhere near far enough to stop state or near-state-sponsored clubs such as Newcastle United and Manchester City from swapping players around any more than they are stopped at the moment.
Although depending on the wording it could affect the ability of the City Football Group, which owns Manchester City, to move a player on loan from one club owned by the City Group, to Manchester City itself. Likewise Newcastle United would not be able to buy in players from Saudi Arabia.
It is however reported that Dan Ashworth, the Newcastle United director of football, has suggested that they might use their link with Saudi Arabia to help them get the players they need. Thus a player might leave a Premier League club, transfer to a Saudi club (which could be very beneficial financially for the player) and then be loaned to Newcastle.
That set of arrangements could then be used to avoid any suggestion that Newcastle had spent more than it was entitled to spend under Financial Fair Play rules. For example, Newcastle might not pay the Saudi club anything for the loan, except the player’s salary – and even then might only pay part of the salary; such arrangements are perfectly permissible under the loan arrangements. Thus Newcastle could bring in a number of players on such loans with no impact on their FFP financial arrangements.
What is also interesting is the comment from the Liverpool Echo which states that “former Manchester United defender and pundit Gary Neville has expressed his disapproval of the actions taken by Liverpool and Arsenal regarding their criticism of VAR…. Both clubs released statements voicing their dissatisfaction with refereeing decisions, which Neville considers to be “quite dangerous” and undermining the integrity of the Premier League.
In fact the situation is quite the reverse. Imagine a situation, as pertained some years ago, in which clubs would be totally frightened of making any comment anywhere about anything to do with refereeing.
It was that situation which allowed the development of the 100% secrecy of PGMO, and its approach to football which means that now it can do anything it likes without being questioned. This in particular has meant that it has done nothing to stop its own employees from scooting off to Saudi Arabia to oversee a game there, and then flying back to oversee a match in which a Saudi-backed club like Newcastle United is involved.
Such banning orders in terms of comments is the absolute opposite in terms of values of what football is supposed to be about: all teams competing on the basis of the same set of rules in front of a neutral referee.
Indeed so bad has the situation become that I have been told of matches involving school children in which referees are hounded by parents who feel that the referee has acted against the interest of their team. Thus the notion that clubs can buy anything – including referees – has spread.
As the CNN headline said, “VAR is proving to be box office entertainment in the Premier League – but at what cost to the action?
As they note VAR was meant to supplement the ideal that referees should be largely inconspicuous “only intervening in the play when absolutely necessary and making sure to avoid becoming the center of attention with a game-changing decision.”
Instead, “the technology has now seemingly become the main talking point rather than the football itself.”
What was curious however was that the automated offside technology used in the last World Cup and in Serie A and La Liga has been spurned by the inward-looking PGMO, leading to an extra 21 minutes in the Chelsa / Tottenham game.
Indeed the former boss of PGMO, Keith Hackett, recently described current refereeing as “woeful both in the middle and VAR room at Stockley Park.” I think many of us would agree with that.
- 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
- Why do Tottenham players get fouled more than those of any other club?
- The media, the League and PGMO. An insidious agreement rears its ugly head