42 responses

  1. marcus

    It seems extremely bizarre that premiership Refs earn about 1/20th of the average premiership player.

    They should be earning probably a minimum of about 200k a year, and then they should get chunky performance bonuses per game.(likewise linesmen).

    All that is then required is an impartial body that judges performance, plus video calls for penalties, goal-line stuff, etc.

    Any form of cheating, or malpractice, (betting etc), should result in a referee being immediately struck off.
    However, we don’t live in that kind of world….

  2. fred

    The problem with professional refs is that as soon as it is your main or only income you will want to make sure you do not lose your job. Resulting in an implicit management of games erring on the side of the most vocal or influential managers of clubs with the explicit consequence of definate bias.
    I believe this is happening now and further professionalisation will make matters worse; or better for some teams. Unfortunatly why would the Premier League or any league admit this unfortunate truth!

  3. WalterBroeckx

    After the successful experiment of taking on professional refs who are dependent for their income on staying professional the most important person in football is the head of the refs. It is him who decides who can stay and who can walk.

    And to put such an important position in the hands of someone with the pedigree of Mike Riley is absolute nonsense.

    It should have been someone who is beyond any doubt and suspicion. Riley is not that person.

    So the professional refs have to please Riley (and the persons behind his appointment of course). The assistants are not yet under such control and influence.

    So SAF insisting on putting the assistants under the wings of Riley…. why oh why….

    Imagine being an assistant and suddenly you go from getting 12.000 a year approx to let us say 40.000 a year for doing it as a part time job (let alone if it would be paid more and they would turn full time professionals…) wouldn’t you do a lot to keep your job?????

    I think the question answers itself in a way…

    Watch out for the professionals under the wings of Riley…and…

  4. WalterBroeckx

    Maybe some people are not aware of it but starting your comment with insulting someone will not make it appear.
    Most of the time we are trying to keep it civilized so please if you want to comment keep it that way.

  5. Asif

    “With the pros come the Cons”…really like that!

  6. mark

    The economic incentives ought to be for making correct decisions. Maybe suitable bonuses for refs who make more correct decisions per game would help?

    I think professional refs ought to improve the quality of decisions but this could be undermined if the incentives are not there for correct and quality decision. Clearly there are some incentives currently at work in the EPL that are not producing quality officiating.

    Did you see the article about the leagues in Eastern Europe buying their positions in the leagues? If it can happen in Serbia what makes anyone think it could not happen in England? Human being live and govern both places!

  7. mark

    I think two refs on the field would help too! The game is too fast for one ref to see everything. It works with Basketball.

  8. Shard


    I agree with you. The problem comes in finding an impartial body. The PGMOL was started as the impartial body. I don’t think it can be called that anymore. The league could always pay the linesmen and the referees more, without making them give up their ‘day job’. But it is a tricky puzzle to solve. However, I was simply stating what I think happened. That the beginning of the type of performances that we see, and the lack of transparency that goes with it, started with the process of making referees professional.

  9. Shard


    Exactly. Why would they admit it? They can’t anyway. I bet they are only too happy letting the refs take the flak (which is justifiable) but let us not forget that the refs don’t control their own appointments. They are at the mercy of the higher ups. The ones who we don’t hear about, apart from Riley. But how did he get the job?

  10. Shard

    The simplest thing that can be done to regain some amount of trust is to release the ref assessment figures that the Premier League proudly announces. The details I mean. Let us see how the FA appointed referee observers rate the referees themselves. But of course this won’t happen since it puts too much pressure on referees. What about more transparency that was mentioned when the PGMOL was created back in 2001? Should we pay the referees more, without judging their performance? Why the secrecy?

  11. Mahdain

    great article shard and have to agree with Walter Fergie has his reason for wanting the assistants to be fulltime since sometimes a Webb,a Dowd,a Dean et al is just not enough and hence why he wants the assistants too to be under his control
    Speaking of Mike Jones has he refereed another United game after that one?or is he suspended just like Atkinson was?

  12. Shard


    It does seem that SAF was campaigning for putting the linesmen under Riley’s control, doesn’t it? That, or it was just about his being a trade union man 🙂 Referees of the world. Unite(d)!!

  13. Shard


    thanks. I quit like it too 🙂

  14. Shard

    Oh and Walter, if I’m drawing insults, then it means I’m doing something right. Right? 🙂 You should know by now. Hey, maybe even Rhys will grace us with his presence 🙂

  15. WalterBroeckx

    Exactly Shard 😉

  16. Shard


    Basketball still has one senior official who can overrule the other officials. I believe Hockey is a clearer example of a ref being in charge of half a field. Both sports however, employ video replays to some extent. Increasing the number of officials won’t take away the inconsistencies, and might even increase the confusion. I don’t know. It might work, but UEFA’s extra officials on the line are useless. In any case, video is the way to go (though that also needs to be implemented properly)

  17. Shard


    Thanks. I don’t know for certain, but I THINK Jones did get one ManU game after that one. With clear instructions to not listen to amateur linesmen, I’m sure 🙂

  18. Shard

    The resignation of Urs Maier, and Carlo Bertolini’s statement, does show that at the least, this is an issue in the world of football politics. I wonder, how many referees from Switzerland will get appointed to the CL and the Euros now.

  19. Mahdain

    @shard agreed PGMO is anything but impartial..their appointments really do make you wonder why no one has being investigated yet…how come we keep getting our sworn enemies ala Dean(3 times in TEN games),Dowd,Webb upto 5 times while united keep getting their favourites to those numbers?
    One thing i have also been asking myself without an answer.. why is Mark Clattenburg being kept away from big matches even when he is the most logical choice ? Who has he angered?

  20. Anne


    I believe that they already get “chunky performance bonuses per game…”

  21. Anne


    “with the pros come the cons”

    I quite like this myself 🙂

  22. Anne


    Do you think that, in general, there are signs of increasing tension between the refs and the linesmen?

    I’m going to be keeping an eye on this in the future, I think. It’s easy to forget that the refs and the linesmen actually answer to different bosses, but it would be well worthwhile to keep a better eye on the differences in their performances.

    Great article. This is an issue that needs to be explored further, and I hope that you continue to do it.

  23. Mahdain

    offtopic but good article this

  24. Mahdain
  25. Anne


    Excellent link.

  26. Shard

    Great link Mahdain. And might I say, I have enjoyed the work of the writers on that blog on more than one occasion. One particularly interesting piece was about Alex Ferguson and his ‘feud’ with the BBC.


  27. Anne


    That link is fascinating. EVERYONE should read it. I wonder if they would let me re-post that one on Untold? Wish I could claim credit for it 🙂

  28. Shard


    I’m not sure there is any tension between refs and linesmen as a rule. I’m not even sure they have different bosses. Someone else might know more about this, but I would think it’s Mike Riley and the PGMO who appoint the linesmen to games as well. Which is why Flynn should ‘expect’ to not get to run the line at Old Trafford for seasons. Why else should it be so?

    Also, maybe some linesmen ARE full time professionals? AT least, they can hope to be promoted to be referees. They live and work with referees who probably tell them all about the money and the perks they get. And to their favourite linos, maybe also tips on how to get their faster? It’s all conjecture of course, but if only the FA would open up a bit more, we wouldn’t need to rely on conjecture alone.

  29. bjtgooner

    Exvellent article Shard. The most unfortunate consequence that I can see as a result of the PGMOL creation is that the control of the EPL referees by one man is total. Riley, as we remember, was a total disgrace as a referee. His reward for shafting Arsenal against the Manures was to be put in a position to have us shafted in any and many matches. It would be interesting to determine the individuals who appointed him. At present the misuse of that control factor is injurious to fair play in general and Arsenal in particular.

  30. Shard


    Hey hey hey.. I did more than provide a link you know? 😛 That’s NOT what everyone should read..LOL 🙂

  31. Mahdain

    @Shard i remember being fascinated by that article when i first saw it months ago..truly a great read

  32. Shard


    Thank you. I think that is a fair summation, though I’m sure there are a few more clubs that are shafted as well. But Arsenal are definitely right up there, and as we’ve seen it’s gone hand in hand with a coordinated media campaign, instead of there being any interest in asking the right questions.

  33. Anne


    Sorry about that 🙂

  34. Tasos


    Mike Jones did get to ref another Man Utd at Old Trafford after that game.

    Man Utd V Stoke City and would you believe it Mike Jones awards Man Utd 2(two) penalties.

    The Stoke manager Tony Pullis commented “Looking at them there (the penalties), they are very debatable but we are at Old Trafford.”


  35. Mahdain

    @Tasos he did get to follow his orders then….thanks for that

  36. GoingGoingGooner

    I absolutely agree with having two referees on the pitch. Ice hockey in the NHL made the move to this a few years back and it has been beneficial. People worried about differing standards between the referees and whether the game would be slowed down, however, this has not not happened.

    Will this aid the problem of bent referees, maybe…maybe not. A transparent body, independent of the Premier League, perhaps answerable to the FA (don’t get me started on their failings) might work?

  37. ak47

    great read, new bookmark too. cheers.

  38. Arvind

    @Shard: I re-read this and thought. It makes complete sense to pay refs well. Like in any other job. And you’ve alluded to that as well. But then you say the level’s crashed after that. That might well be true; I’m not contesting it at all.

    My point really is…where is the balance? In the sense…all of us have jobs and get paid well. So some day if the boss tells us to do something corrupt…would we all do it? Just coz we’re getting paid?

    I guess that is a rhetorical question and the answer is similar to what happens in “BMG” [My nick name for Big Money Games : D] .. people like Clattenburg will not be bought, the rest will be “influenced” to a degree. That degree will differ from person to person.

    So really…while the data is probably correct, to say making refs prof is a root cause (I know you haven’t directly said this but that’s a conclusion I draw) is probably not totally correct. It’s kinda inevitable that people keep getting paid more and more as the years go by.

    So I guess I’m asking…what’s the solution? Thanks.

  39. Shard


    Thank you for your comment. Solution? There is no solution to human tendency towards corruption. Apparently we’re all born in sin 🙂

    As of now, it is just a theory based on observation, and of course reliant on what could well prove to be a coincidence.

    But at least in the Swiss FA, it is a big enough issue to cause a change in regime. Germany does not have professional referees, and Walter has said that they do some things better. They have more referees, the refs give interviews etc. Also subjectively, the German referees seem to be better from what I see. So maybe it is a coincidence, but maybe it isn’t.

    Trouble is finding ‘proof’. Like any other activity of the PGMOL, real proof, is out of reach. But I am compiling some data. I don’t know where it’ll lead, or if I’ll be able to make any sense of it. (I suck at that sort of thing) But I’ll try to do something. If only to satisfy my own curiosity. This is just a theory at this point, but one I believe has some basis.

    The analogy of the refs and us in our jobs isn’t really valid. In our jobs, corruption is defined by the law of the land. In football, the law is laid down by the football authorities. If they decree that Manchester United’s players will not receive a red card even for a blatant elbow to an opponents head, then that isn’t really corruption as far as the referee is concerned. That is the law he is supposed to follow. Who is going to judge his actions in the end? (Let’s leave God out of it 🙂 ) The same person that employs him and told him to do something ‘corrupt’.

    Referees aren’t any more or less likely to be corrupt than you or me. But with professionalisation, the rewards they get (as well as their dependence on the one source of employment) have become much greater, while the risks are virtually non existent, if present at all. Basically a bigger carrot, and the stick only comes out if for some reason the ref loses his appetite.

    Immoral it may be, and I’m sure some referees leave the game disillusioned, both before and after they get to the top. But we don’t hear about it because it’s in everyone’s interest to keep it quiet. No one with any influence is asking anyway.

  40. Shard

    Oh and by the way.. I just realised who it was that gave Rooney a yellow for elbowing the Wigan player in the head. Mark Clattenburg. I wouldn’t count on him being some sort of saint. Though maybe he just doesn’t recognise dangerous play. He also didn’t send off Adebayor for stamping on Robin’s face.

  41. Micko

    Very good article.
    There seems to have been a bias towards Manu ever since Sky (basically) took control and renamed the old First Division to the Premiership, but the first time I noticed a bias actually against us (and not just for Manu), was at the end of the 2002/3 season when we were competing with Manu for the title. Although it was only slight (compared to now!). Since then the only time we have won the Premiership is in 2003/4 with the Invincibles, and yes, that is the only way we will win it again with the current PGMOL regime. In fact, I don’t believe that another Invincible side would be given the lee-way to actually form again in the first instance.
    I think that during the last 4-5 years it has now got so obviously pro-manu and anti Arsenal that a lot of people are beginning to take notice. I think this coincides with Mike Riley being made head of the PGMOL.

  42. Shard

    Thanks Micko. That’s interesting. I always suspected bias, but only in 2008 did I suspect cheating (when ManU won on the last day, not when we were being robbed) Bias, I can live with, because I think bias affects only some close decisions. What we see now I think goes beyond that.

    Riley’s appointment might well be the catalyst for it, but Riley would still need some trusty henchmen to carry out his work. I’ll be making an effort to see if such trusty henchmen began to be cultivated, and the rest weeded out, from the point they became professional. Hopefully, I’ll have something soon, but let’s see.

    As of now, I think, regardless of whether that’s the root cause, the issue of professionalisation of referees, and their assistants, is something that should be discussed and paid attention to. If for no other reason that Alex Ferguson seems to want it. 🙂

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