How one team has attempted to manipulate the spending rules this season


The Great Refereeing Scandal

From today in Arsenal’s History: The League meeting proving Arsenal’s election to the 1st division was not fixed

By Tony Attwood

If you are a regular reader of Untold you may recall that we played a major part in unraveling Leicester City’s tactics which over time introduced two unusual strategies that worked astonishingly well for a while, but then after our publiity were countered, by referees. 

The first of these was the multiple tackle approach in which Leicester could tackle at amazing high levels almost with impunity (for reasons that we suspected but could never prove).  Here are the figures from 2019/20, comparing Leicester and Arsenal.


Club Tackles Fouls  Yellows
Arsenal 2019/20 584 421 86
Leicester 2019/20 742 418 41
Difference – 112 +3 +45


In short Leicester put in 112 more tackles than Arsenal but got fewer fouls given against them and under half the number of yellow cards Arsenal got in that season.

After that was exposed the statistics suddenly changed.  But Leicester then went a different approach, getting far more penalties than everyone else, and looking to be in line for a record number of penalties – by a huge number.  Once again the media utterly ignored the situation but we published a piece on the record number of penalties – it all stopped.

Then it seemed Leicester ran out of ideas and after a decade in which they won the Premier League and FA Cup, and had two campaigns in Europe they were relegated.

Part of their problem was that after the exposure of their extraordinary ability to tackle with impunity and then their ability to get far, far far more penalties than anyone else, refs looked quite carefully at Leicester and the League started to wonder about their funding.

But then having had two very successful wheezes that helped them enormously in their drive to the top, instead of thinking, “let’s go back to playing the game as everyone else does,” Leicester’s bosses thought, “What trick can we pull next?” 

Of course, I have no evidence of their planning or thinking, but they have been a trifle controversial ever since.

For example, they refused to submit details of how the club was going to get their losses to within the limits allowed by the EFL, on the grounds that the rules say that clubs promoted or relegated to the  Championship don’t have to produce any figures until March 31.

They won that argument and it bought them time, but that response from Leicester brought some anger from both the Championship and Premier League – the latter particularly still annoyed at how stupid they were made to look over the fouling and penalty scams which were missed until we pointed them out.

Now The Athletic has reported that Leicester are facing sanctions both for this season in the Championship AND last season in the Premier League.  What this means is they will face points deductions next season whether they go up or not.

Of course Leicester has been making cuts.  Three players were sold for over £80m, while seven players designated “high earners” did not have their contracts renewed.  But the losses have continued.

At the heart of the matter is the club’s official business plan.   This is what got Reading its points reduction and relegation, when it had a plan to cut losses and didn;’t stick to it.  But Leicester again brought in the lawyers and won their case.  Normally that is that, but this time the EFL fought on and my guess is that the club’s previous behaviour over tackling with impunity and penalty manipulation made the rest of the league ever more determined.

Worse for Leicester, a number of PL clubs that were on the receiving end of those activities which allowed Leicester to tackle with near impunity and then head toward a record number of penalties before the refs started taking action, got really annoyed.  So uniquely in this case, the Premier League and the Championship are now both annoyed at the same time.

If as we expect last season’s accounts show a whacking great loss, the PL will charge them.  If this season’s accounts show a similar loss, the Championship will charge them.  And the amusing thing is that while Leicester have been exploiting loopholes themselves, the Premier League has now found one that will enable them to penalise Leicester next season (if they are in the PL) for their financial misdemeanors last season.  Loopholes it seems can go both ways.

But worse for Leicester, their whole financial approach has been based on being in the PL next season and thus avoiding charges from the Championship next year.  And the only way out for Leicester is to sell players like Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall (who cost them nothing so is good news in accounting terms)..

Leiecster might of course manage to win their cases, but in doing so their squad and funding model are both going to be squashed, as their unique approach to football is once more investigated.

One Reply to “How one team has attempted to manipulate the spending rules this season”

  1. Arsenal are always going to get problems with decisions by VAR staff, especially well known Arsenal haters like Paul Tierney.

    In the game against Brentford, Trossard was pulled down by his throat, which every TV pundit and commentators agreed it should have been a penalty, but given that Tierney is not a big fan of Arsenal, you can understand why Tierney the bias Arsenal hater did not give it. Tierney did however confirm to the ref, that Havertz first 50 50 blind sided high arm was a foul, even when every pundit said it was not.

    If it was down to the bias Tierney regarding Havertz getting a second yellow, he would of gave it. Tierney must have been kicking himself that he did not have the bias power to tell the ref to send Havertz off, but at least Tierney saved Brentford from an obvious penalty against which should have been a foul on Trossard. Let’s hope we don’t have Tierney officiate any more of Arsenal’s up coming games.

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