Who is getting cards for dissent, and why is it being kept secret?



Today in the Daily Mail there is a report which includes this statement from Graham Poll.   “The laws of the game are simple: if a player abuses or insults a referee or his assistants, he must be dismissed.”

So amidst all the dispute about player abuse of referees, it seems that at the core of the matter is the fact that the referees are not obeying the rules that are laid down.  Will anyone blame the referees for this?  I suspect not – although it does seem reasonable to say that is their job and they are not doing it.

Indeed as any school teacher knows, if a rule is laid down in the school, and the teacher doesn’t implement it, then the pupils and students will take advantage of that situation.  The same is happening in football.

But unfortunately, because PGMO is a secret society which makes few public statements and has no website or other outlet to allow supporters to know what on earth is going on, and because journalists will never interrogate PGMO, this issue is not being debated.

Meanwhile, all sorts of figures are appearing in the media about the number of players who have been reprimanded by referees for dissent, yet there are no official figures at all that I can find that allow these media tales to be verified.

The nearest thing there is to an authoritative statement is the figures produced by WhoScored on their website.   But they don’t have a section in the refereeing analysis for dissent, so none of us is any the wiser.  Which means none of the players and managers in the Premier League is any the wiser.   The figures in the Mail might be correct, but considering the number of things they get hopelessly wrong, I am not betting on it.

So it might be true that “for the past 10 seasons, not one Premier League player has been sent off for this offence,” but we have no way of validating it.  And since media reports are packed with errors, the chances are it is wrong.

But as WhoScored is all we have that’s where I have started to try and work out exactly how cards for “hassling the referee” would look in an expanded chart of offences.

Meanwhile, the key point here is that the media are all writing as if these figures are widely and readily available.   Maybe they are, but if so it means they are available through PGMO secretly passing data on to the media which is not publically available to everyone, which is hardly desirable.

Here is the full table of yellow cards by reason as provided by Who Scored.


R Team Fouls Unprofessional Other
1 Sheffield United 53 3 20
2 Aston Villa 41 6 20
3 Chelsea 40 7 33
4 West Ham United 40 2 14
5 Everton 37 4 12
6 Newcastle 36 5 16
7 Tottenham Hotspur 36 5 22
8 Nottingham Forest 36 7 12
9 Burnley 36 2 13
10 Wolves 34 6 27
11 Brentford 34 5 12
12 Manchester United 32 3 23
13 Fulham 32 2 21
14 Brighton & Hove Albion 31 4 26
15 Liverpool 29 3 20
16 Crystal Palace 29 3 13
17 Luton Town 29 0 12
18 Arsenal 27 0 13
19 Bournemouth 24 4 18
20 Manchester City 22 8 11


Now there is an interesting issue here.  The range of fouls per game recorded by WhoScored,  is between 8.3 per game for Manchester City and 12.7 per game for Bournemouth.   That is 191 fouls for Manchester City and 292 for Bournemouth.   Thus Bournemouth get 53% more yellow cards than Manchester City.

But when it comes to yellow cards for fouls Bournemouth get only 1% more than Manchester City.

Of course you can argue that this means that many of Bournemouth’s fouls are of a delicate nature which should never be punished by a yellow card, but that seems unlikely and the difference does seem extraordinary.   

I think more likely is that this is why PGMO don’t allow these figures out.   Bournemouth commit 53% more yellow fouls than Manchester City but almost the same number of yellow cards for fouls.  Is that really likely?

I suspect that yellow cards for arguing with the referee or “protesting too much” as I have heard it called by one source who clearly knew his Hamlet, are actually in the “unprofessional” column, but the fact that we can’t be sure shows what a bunch of ne’re-do-wells the secret society that is PGMO actually employ.  The question as always is “Why hide this data if you have nothing to hide?”

Anyway, I can’t verify how The Athletic got these figures, and they are not saying, but I’ve taken them and produced a table of selected clubs which includes a “Cards for Dissent” columnl, which it would seem, appear in the “Other” column from WhoScored.


R Team Fouls Unprofessional Dissent Other
1 Sheffield United 53 3 8 12
3 Chelsea 40 7 15 18
4 West Ham United 40 2 9 6
6 Newcastle 36 5 9 7
7 Tottenham Hotspur 36 5 10 12
12 Manchester United 32 3 13 10
14 Brighton & Hove Albion 31 4 9 17
15 Liverpool 29 3 9 11
18 Arsenal 27 0 5 8
20 Manchester City 22 8 3 8
There is an indext to recent Untold Arsenal articles by topic on the home page


3 Replies to “Who is getting cards for dissent, and why is it being kept secret?”

  1. If Poll thinks “The laws of the game are simple: if a player abuses or insults a referee or his assistants, he must be dismissed.” then he should have set a precedent and sent off Wayne Rooney when he swore at him numerous times in one game. Then again Poll can’t count to two so he really should just shut up and slide into obscurity where he deserves to be.

  2. Great set of facts as usualy expected from “Untold Arsenal” being known as one of the top websites for true facts, others being sofa– and Transf–. I would however have liked to have seen how the yellow cards match up to unpunished fouls. For example why Saka gets fouled every game almost and hardly any cards are shown, especially during the first half of games. He is the most fouled player in league without the opposition getting punished. I want just to see if it was an individual player not getting protection or whether it was Arsenal as a team getting fouled without the opposition getting punished. Is it because the Manager of the underdog team has approached the Referee and stated that the only chance his team has against Arsenal is to ruff them up do to their superior possession passing playing style. Or is it because most refs are Liverpool and Tottenham fans. Either way, you are correct, they are a secret society and not forthcoming with any detailed facts. An organisation that is “SIMPLY Not transparent”.

  3. I recall being at Manchester United against Chelsea and close enough to the pitch to hear clearly a 4-letter torrent of abuse of the refereed from Rooney, simply over the disputed award of a throw-in.

    The referee on the receiving end, standing close enough to have heard every word (as Rooney intended), simply ignored the incident and walked away.

    Who was the referee in question? None other than Howard Webb.

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