Accepting rather than questioning, is English football’s greatest problem



By Tony Attwood

The dominant notion within English football is that it is the best in the world, as I have oft noted.  Alongside this runs a second equally dominant and equally dangerous notion that football is doing ok, can run itself, and doesn’t need any outside interference thank you very much.

Within both of these concepts, there is an overwhelming arrogance that I think is utterly misplaced.  Maybe that is because I wouldn’t trust PGMO, the FA or Uefa as far as I could throw them – although that is a wholly personal view based on a) my ability to throw things and b) the evidence that Untold gathers; although such evidence is, I admit, often not vigorous enough to be presented as evidence of criminal wrong-doing or anything like that.

But to back up such thoughts I’d merely point to PGMO’s utter secrecy (no website, no interviews, we do it our own way and we don’t have to justify that), and the continuing failure to address the issue of venue bias and referee bias.  For the FA I’d point to the unmitigated chaos of the Euro 2020 final.  For Uefa, consider this statement from Reuters: “Feb 13- A review into the chaos before the 2022 Champions League final between Liverpool and Real Madrid has said organisers UEFA were responsible for the events which unfolded including a “large number of near misses that nearly led to disaster”.

So there’s the viewpoint: three organisations with a hand in running English football, (PGMO, FA, Uefa) and all of them hopeless beyond measure, in my opinion.

Which means it is not surprising that there is so much mess in football.  There has, for example, been no move at all to help with the protection of children from exploitation by clubs, despite repeated attempts to get this in place.  Indeed recent events have suggested it is seemingly impossible to resolve the ability of clubs to exonerate themselves from the mistreatment of children by saying that the “medical records have been lost”.

Worse, whatever reforms come into place with the advent of a new overlord to oversee all football, there is not the slightest sign that the promised Football Regulator will have any interest in reforming that area, or the incompetence of the FA and Uefa or the secrecy of PGMO or the “lost records” get-out clause.

Nor indeed will there be any attempt to help educate players and overcome the avarice of their agents – as with the situation of transfers to Saudi Arabia, wherein we now have reports of some players such as Jordan Henderson, trying hard to get out and come back.  Indeed according to reports “Karim Benzema, Roberto Firmino, and maybe even Neymar trying to undo their decisions…”

Of course there is always the notion that the players have made their own beds.  They knew what the temperatures would be like, they knew about the repressive nature of the Saudi religious and political system, and they might have guessed that most people elsewhere in the world would not be drawn into wondering what the latest score is from the Arabian desert.  (Seemingly only PGMO referees are still excited by the plan).

Indeed to use the amusing phrase of The Athletic, “very few give a flying fornication” about a league where the attendance averages about 8,000 per game.   Indeed they add that “players’ wives aren’t exactly loving it there.”   Did they really not know???

The Saudi move has been ludicrous from the start, although probably no more ludicrous than the continuation of PGMO with its utter secrecy rules and venue-biased referees, or the media’s refusal to reveal to us exactly why Everton got a ten-point deduction.  As ESPN says, “there’s no suggestion that Everton were wilfully dishonest or deceitful,” which leads multiple Everton fans to complain that the whole case was a conspiracy against Everton.

Which then leads to the question, “why?”  Indeed everything in this article leads to questions about why.  Why is PGMO so secret and no one wants to stop that?  Why were players so stupid as to think that life would be anything other than it is, in Saudi?  Why has no one moved to get replace the FA and Uefa in the light of their catastrophic performances?  Why is no one suggesting proper safeguarding for children for football clubs?

Or even to bring it down to its most simple level: why is there no mechanism to stop clubs from getting around any enquiries into the way they treat children by simply saying, “The medical records are lost.”

It really does look like there are things very, very wrong with football at every single level – and yet not one newspaper or other media outlet ever stops to say, “Hang on, this game is corrupt from top to bottom.”

Why is that?

2 Replies to “Accepting rather than questioning, is English football’s greatest problem”

  1. Brown envelopes and back handers. Why was it quick to punish Everton whereby it is taking forever to punish Chelsea and Man city. Brown Envelopes and back handers or perhaps they are just Liverpool fans, who knows. The fact that Saka can be fouled anytime during the first 45 minutes without punishment from the ref, or allowing the Arsenal goal keepers to be surrounded and bullied with grabbing and shirt pulling etc..just highlights that certain refs are bias in their non consistent approach to certain teams or there is money involved.

  2. It’s all been institutionalized, Tony. Many football fans can’t remember the First Division and refereeing before the PGMOL. How can anything be wrong? It’s England’s game! Ergo, the best. That seems to be the thinking of many fans.
    Most of the refs are English, haling from the Midlands and North and grew up supporting those teams. I’d like to see how the Manchester and Liverpool teams would be treated if the referees were, almost to a man, from the South. And the reaction from their supporters.

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