By Tony Attwood
Even Sir Alex F Word wasn’t impressed by what the referees have been saying as they have tried to deflect attention away from the growing mountain of evidence that the Premier League is fixed.
At least I think he wasn’t impressed. As with many of the commentaries of Sir F Word it is not clear what he is saying, which is why many people who watch BBC TVs coverage of football have been quietly chuffed that the old chunterer has been removed from the airways for a considerable amount of time.
Untold Arsenal has produced a load of evidence that suggests that there is something seriously wrong with the way referees work in the Premier League. There’s a complete index to the articles in the series, as well as a link to the BBC article which took note of and quoted our concerns.
What the Premier League and its referees could have done is answered the factual points we have raised, on issues such as the number of referees used and the low level of accuracy of some referees. It could have kept still and said and done nothing.
But it has done neither. What it has done is tried to lay down a smokescreen by blaming the managers and the players. This is quite obviously daft since it is not the players nor the mangers that actually referee the games. It is the referees. (I know, that’s a fairly stupid statement, but when you consider the context of the allegations raised by ourselves and the BBC, and by the weekly commentary on the BBC of the poverty of the refereeing in the EPL, it needs saying.)
Discussing a nearby but unrelated subject is a commonplace way of trying to distract interested parties from what is going on. And because much of the media has such a vested interest in the Premier League being seen as clean, and not subject to wholesale corruption, they meekly follow like sheep.
So, here we have the insanity of it all. Evidence is presented that something is very wrong. The EPL doesn’t answer any of the points raised, and instead announces a crackdown on “unacceptable” behaviour by players and managers towards referees. Any investigation into the quality of refereeing? No.
Instead abuse of match officials, the surrounding of referees, unacceptable criticism of officials and trying to get opponents punished will all be targeted. I am reminded of certain north African and middle eastern states in which the autocratic rulers say that it is impossible to have democracy in their parts of the world because of the unfounded criticisms made by the opposition of the good work of the government.
You can almost see the barricades going up around Referees House. “A word against us,” they say, “and you will be removed from the playing field.” Fortunately Untold doesn’t play much anymore, and it is hard to shut the internet down.
The Premier League chief executive, Richard Scudamore, said: “The clubs backed the idea that at the start of next season we want to raise the bar, we want to improve behaviour.
“I think we do need to concentrate on the player and manager relationship with the referee this time, as every one of us knows that there have been elements of unacceptable behaviour.
“As to what we think is unacceptable; it’s vitriolic abuse towards match officials and that has on occasions gone unpunished; the surrounding of referees is unacceptable; the goading of referees into trying to get opponents sanctioned we think is unacceptable; and also the undue criticism, where it spills over into questioning the referee’s integrity or his honesty is also unacceptable.”
Now that is interesting, because it says that the clubs backed the idea. Certainly if you are in a club that has got a number of referees in your pocket, criticism of the referees is the last thing you want.
Scudamore also said, “The debate will come and we will have it in consultation with managers, and remember the managers are also employed by the clubs so the unanimous support of the clubs today is important.” Which is interesting because elsewhere he spoke of a unanimous agreement on the issue. It seems rather like some middle Eastern countries it is possible to know the result of the election before the election is held.
Sir F Word’s response to all this was that, “Richard Scudamore doesn’t have a lot to do, does he?
“He’s trying to elevate the Premier League. Fine. That’s good, that’s his job. But I don’t think managers disrespect referees. I get done for what I considered was fair comment, the FA didn’t, and they give me a five-match ban, that’s fine. But that doesn’t mean to say we don’t respect referees. It’s a difficult job, we all know that. You wouldn’t referee a game, would you? Neither would I. But we do need them. I do think Richard is jumping off a high board here – a high diving board – without thinking about it.”
Well, yes, I might agree, if I actually knew what that lot meant. It is one of those sets of sentences where individually they might mean something, but if you put them all together they have as much chance of clarity as Wayne Rooney on heat.
This web site has presented analysis after analysis of everything from individual matches, to the statistical tendency of referees to favour certain sides, from the odd way in which the referees’ association organises referees to the way in which Fifa and the FA can’t even agree what the rules are and who can do what. Someone somewhere might want to put together a coherent answer to these points.
Or perhaps not.
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