By Walter Broeckx
How random is random at the PGMOL? How do they appoint the refs for the games? Does Mike Riley knows what he is talking about when he said there is no bias? Or is he just a… Well of course I can’t say that, and I don’t have the evidence. And that is what this article is about really. We don’t know how the system works, so it is hard to know what is really going on.
But the mere fact that we have to ask these questions, the mere fact that we have to try to find out a few things in this series of articles about referees, shows there is something not right, for there really is no need for all this secrecy.
Let us start by the appointment of the refs. The first step to a fair world. Or not?
According to the PL website and I quote:
The appointment of match officials for matches is traditionally announced each Monday with 19 referees available to officiate 10 Premier League matches and six selected Football League matches. The appointments are made by the Professional Game Match Officials Board (PGMOB).
When making the appointments, a number of factors are taken into account including:
- – The current form of the official
- – The referee’s position in the merit table
- – Overall experience
- – How often they have refereed the Clubs involved
- – Proximity to the ground or city in which they were born or live
- – The team the referee supports
- – International appointments (For example if referees have UEFA matches on Thursdays they will only be available for matches on Sundays or Mondays)
I will start with the last criteria as this is a very obvious criteria and no one can have anything against giving the refs enough rest after an international game.
So that’s one out of the way – but let us look at the rest of the criteria now.
Now what do they mean with the current form of the official? What is the result when a ref is out of form? Will they then send him to a lesser team to screw their game? I must say that this criteria poses more questions than it gives answers.
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The next criteria is the referee’s position in the merit table. How should I read this one? Or better said: can we, the people who make quite a contribution to the financial well-being of football see that apparently all-important “merit table”. I can assume that this is a table based on game reviews of the type we do at Untold. But as this is kept secret and nobody has any chance to see that merit table (if you do have seen it please let me know) it could be nothing but dead words.
Or could it be that the merit table is based upon doing what the forces want you to do? Is the merit table based upon such a thing? Well that could explain 5 times Dean has overseen Arsenal (with 3 times in the space of 10 games).
Overall experience is also a criteria. And I can understand that your first game in the EPL should not be Manchester United – Manchester City. But then again I wonder if you are good enough to do games in the EPL then why should there be a discrimination towards smaller teams where they and just them have to pay the price for an inexperienced ref? This is an injustice in my eyes. All the teams should be treated the same and thus teams should be equally open to inexperience in the same way.
The next criteria is….well…. mind blowing. So apparently the PGMOL and the PL are aware of the fact that it is not a healthy situation to send a ref to the same team all the time. And yet we get to see Dean 3 times in some 10 games involving Arsenal. And we get to see Webb involved in 3 games of United in 3 weeks time.
The next criteria (proximity) is very funny with a certain ref from Manchester doing games from Manchester clubs. Oh well….
And the most important criteria is again baffling. The team the referee supports. Blimey so the PGMOL and the PL is aware of the fact that a ref can actually support a team. And supporting a team can only mean that you can also hate a team. An Arsenal supporting ref will maybe not be suited to do a Tottenham game. And the other way round.
But dear PGMOL and dear PL would you please consider letting the public now what the teams are those referees are supporting? Because they seem to know which teams the refs supports. And wouldn’t it be a nice thing that the public knows about this? Now it is saying we know there is a possible bias but we will not tell you which bias there is.
Luckily we have Dogface and the result of our ref reviews then to see that bias a bit.
I also wonder how it works in fact. Only a person living on a desert island the last 15 years will not have thought at some time or other that perhaps, maybe, well possibly, Webb supports Manchester United. I think even most fair minded Manchester United supporters will acknowledge that his actions can on occasion be interpreted as what we might call a “sympathy” for United.
And of course there is the issue of appointing referees for matches involving teams that the referees dislike? This is not to suggest in itself that the refs are evil, out to get a certain team, or anything like that. Rather it is the reverse. It is to say that the refs are like the rest of us. Human – with human likes and dislikes – often irrational but none the less real. I would bet that Mr Dean has just such an irrational dislike, just as I do.
So apparently there are some rules. But because of the secrecy that is practised by the PGMOL and the PL we don’t know anything about those rules, and so we can’t comment in any realistic fashion on whether they are being applied properly or not. It is like having a legal system set up in a country, and not telling the the citizens of that country quite how things work. No wonder if looks confusing.
We don’t have access to the form table of the refs. We don’t have access to the “merit table”. I really find this a very intriguing table and spooky.
We don’t know which ref supports which team. We don’t know which ref has a perfectly normal irrational dislike for a team. So once again the secrecy upheld by the PGMOL and the PL about those things leaves us open to what we are seeing right now.
So once again I ask Mike Riley to open up the numbers they have, to open up the things they know. And as long as they don’t do this I will not trust them. And trust is something that you have to earn. It is not because you say: “trust me” that I or the rest of the people will trust you. Not with your back ground, Mr. Riley.
In a next article I will give the answer to all the problems that could occur when appointing refs. Keep on reading Mike.