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July 2021

How random is random at the PGMOL? More questions to be asked.

By Walter Broeckx

We have said it before that the PGMOL is an organisation that works in a strange way. They want to make us believe that the ref appointments are done randomly. And as I have pointed out the refs should be appointed in an open way with each time getting each ref only 2 times in a season.

And for now Arsenal has had just 15 of the 18 available refs. Now next week we get Taylor for the first time in the EPL this season. And this could mean that we didn’t get 2 refs of the 18 to do an Arsenal game. As a compensation we got Dean 6 times.

That is in fact the highest number of games one ref has done with one team this season. And yet in a question asked by Guy Sinnot from the BBC the spokesman of the PGMOL has said that this is normal at this time of the season. Well then the question can be asked that why only Arsenal has had the privilege of having their worst ref 6 times this season.

There are teams who have had the same ref 5 times. Howard Webb had United 5 games. And will have them again in a way next weekend when he does the game Newcastle – Manchester City.

But so far no other team has had the same ref for 6 games this season but Arsenal with Dean.

In fact having the same ref 5 times is not that common my dear friends from the PGMOL. Only 7 teams of the 20 had the pleasure of having the same ref 5 times. And when you see the names of Howard Webb and Manchester United together you understand what I mean with the world pleasure. How random is it that United get their “lucky” ref 5 times and we get our bogey ref 6 times? What are the chances that this is actually really random? To complete the list I will give you the names of those teams and the ref who have seen each other 5 times.

  • Aston Villa – Micheal Oliver
  • Chelsea – Mike Dean
  • Manchester City – Martin Atkinson
  • Manchester United – Howard Webb
  • QPR – Martin Atkinson
  • Sunderland – Chris Foy
  • West Bromwich Albion – Lee Mason

Oh and then I still forget the times that some refs have been involved as 4th official in games with the same team. I think Dean has been involved in around 10 Arsenal games this season. That is more than 25%. A rather unhealthy situation if you ask me.

The possible influence Dean has had on our season is 18 points. Eighteen!. That is a possible 16% of the total points a team can get. How on earth can Arsenal even come close when the PGMOL has such an influence on this?

If you calculate all the refs and the games of Arsenal a ref has on average an influence of 7,2 points in the season. Dean has an influence of 18 points.

I have said it before that the PGMOl should send the refs in such a way that the maximum influence any ref has is 6 points for each team.

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Of course the PGMOL will have some excuses. They will say it cannot be done to send each ref two times in a season to the teams. Part of that is true as they don’t have enough refs. But who is to blame for not having enough refs? Yep, the PGMOL.

And yet it can be done. In fact so far this season it has been done. Our next opponent Norwich is a team that has had 18 referees so far this season. And thus the average influence of the refs is exactly 6 points. The maximum times they had the same ref this season is 3. I think even I could live with seeing Dean only 3 times involved in an Arsenal game.

Another team that has got close to the maximum referees is Swansea. So both new teams have been treated very fairly by the appointments of the refs by the PGMOL this season. Fulham also got 17 different refs this season.

So it can be done. But apparently the PGMOL is not appointing the refs random for some games.

And if we look at the way the PGMOL did this week it sure should raise some eyebrows. As the appointments are made public on Monday afternoon they suddenly changed it.  Oh there where some appointments but not for the PL. No for some reason they waited. And waited. And waited. And only the next day on Tuesday afternoon the announcement was made of who would do which game.

Now if the appointments are made randomly, why this delay? And is it really just a result of a random appointment that Howard Webb will do the most crucial game of the season? He was absent because of the UEFA training last weekend for the Manchester derby but now he can do his job at the Newcastle – Manchester City game. Totally random of course. And the fact that Foy, who has a great record in United games, will do Manchester United – Swansea will also be the result of the total random draw made out of the hat of Mike Riley. Foy who has had 14 wins, 4 draws and just one defeat in his 19 games of doing United.

Who does still believe that the appointments are made random? In fact they shouldn’t be made random. They should be made like they were done for Norwich. All the refs in a very equal way so that no ref has a massive influence on the total outcome of the league. That is how it should be done.

But certainly not like it is done now.

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58 comments to How random is random at the PGMOL? More questions to be asked.

  • bhj

    How is it done in other major leagues? Germany has a good reputation for quality of refereeing. Others?

  • mark

    They are not random as the PGMOL has said that other considerations are considered in the appointment of the ref, such as the significance of the march and the stature of the ref.

  • mark

    Do we have a video of the challange that broke Sagna’s leg?

  • AJ

    Dude, you mad?

    After a poor performance like that you talk about influence points.
    Our defense is poor, and you talk about 16 percent, 18 percent and 7.2.
    Rather than speculating over senseless issues, talk about how the team looked clueless, without a plan against an organized side, whatever be their position.

  • WalterBroeckx

    did you read the article? This was written before the Norwich game.

  • Tasos

    I can safely predict plenty of fun’n games today.

    Howard Webb taking control of Newcastle V Man City
    Chris Foy taking control of Man Utd V Swansea

    Question is why did the PGMOL delay these random appointments until after the Man City V Man Utd result on Monday?

  • AJ

    There you talk about match fixing and all that. Equally senseless.

  • Mandy Dodd

    As we can clearly see, there is nothing random in their appointments. And we are not benefitting. Norwich are a good footballing team who deserve credit over the season, but they also knew refs give teams a licence to kick us, and thats exactly what some of their players did. Dont beleive me, here is what Bac said
    If he really did not mean it, and Bac is wrong then fair enough, but it happens to our players time after time. It all started with Fergie spreading the word that we dont like it up em, then lesser managers adapting just that approach. Seems like the refs have by and large bought into it too, despite clear directives from the governing bodies on dangerous tackles. Seem to remember the first leg break on Sagna went pretty much unpunished think that was Dean again but stand to be corrected.

    Wigan are a good footballing team who deserve credit over the season, but they also knew refs give teams a licence to waste time and thats exactly what some of their players did.

    I am not totally blaming the ref for yesterday, our defending was shambolic at times, and has been for years. I wonder if players would dare do some of the things I saw yesterday if they had say Keown to answer to back in the training room. There is a place for Wengers aesthetic, libertarian, intellectual approach, but I cannot help feeling some could do with the presence of a St Major figure. I love our philosphy , the way we play, but we need to wise up to the dark arts a bit more. If teams kick us and the ref lets them, that is not easy to deal with, but tactical naivity is something else. Losing those 2 goals against Wigan really was not smart and could be costly The Invincibles and their predecessors could certainly deal with such things. And I reiterate, we need to spend hours working hard at defending, I hope our next assistant reflects this. 47 goals against tells its own story.
    But correct, a lot of questions do need asking of the PGMOL, and looking around recently, those questions are being asked in increasing quarters.

  • bjtgooner

    There is no evidence to support the PGMOL claim that refs are appointed on a random basis, rather it is obvious that the real appointment policy is based on manipulative selection.

    WRT the Man City game today, it was reported in the Sun some days ago that the Man City fans were unhappy with the appointment of Webb. One would think that Webb’s selection is so widespread that his career would be compromised. This appears not to be the case, the PGMOL are so sure of themselves that they have become more and more blatant in their appointments. It looks as if this secret society feels secure in the backing it has in high places, one wonders what level of obvious corruption is required before the plug is pulled on the PGMOL.

  • AJH

    Come on! are we still trying to blame the ref for yesterday? they received as many shocking decisions as we did and truth is, if we could defend we would not have dropped points.We have conceded 47 goals this season…….the most out of the top 8 in the league…..the same as WBA and more than Sunderland,who are in 11th place!

  • bob

    Yes, you’re right (but for the wrong reason): refs are also selected because of the significance of “the march” (you wrote). I know you meant “match,” but the deeper truth is as I said in August here, that “The March to Rednose XX” is now on.

    I will be happy to be wrong on this season’s final day of deliverance, but today would bet I’m right. And my happiness would be that Don Fungus being denied his ascension to the throne as Lord Football would serve as (partial) compensation for what he and his orks did to us at Old Toilet in 2004, thanks to your man, Micky R, the Queen Bee who dispatches the killer bees to those most “significant” matches.

    p.s. Thanks Finsbury for remembering: “Last summer Bob told us his thoughts about the Slurgussian XX.”

  • bjtgooner


    The debate here is about PGMOL selection.

    As for yesterday – we all know what happened. I am fairly sure that yesterday’s bonehead in black was not even handed – but I look forward to reading the ref report before making a final comment.

  • bob

    “Oh come on!” you snort?
    It’s not “just as many” that matters, but also WHEN they are called (or not called). Do you really defend the decisive non-call of Naughton’s take-down of RvP and the difference it would have made – at that very time – between a draw and a victory? You’re “it all evens out” mantra is blinding you (willfully or not) to the reality of when this penalty was waved off and its potentially awful consequence to Arsenal.

    As for your statistical wizardry on how many goals we’ve conceded, how do you (willfully?) forget that AFC went weeks without fullbacks (including Sagna!) while the goals against mounted? And that Sagna was surgically removed from the backline in this very match?

  • robl

    We’ve known about the “they don’t like it up ’em” for years now, but we still haven’t adapted our play around this.

    Pires, Parlour, Lungberg, Petit, Gilberto, Edu, Flamini and Viera wouldn’t have been out-muscled, but to suit the more attacking play we have faster, less strong players – more Barca than Real, which is better to watch.

    Yes, the reffing is blatently dodgy but we really have not helped ourselves by not adapting to the tactics used against us in the premier league. Quite apart from the poor reffing yesterday we just were not good enough as a team and didn’t take our chances.

  • WalterBroeckx

    Jezus Christ,


    Sorry for the shouting but some people really just say what is on their mind without reading the article. And it got on my nerves a bit.

  • bob

    Here’s Sagna’s quote:

    “I think he did it on purpose,” the 29-year-old told the sports daily L’Equipe on Sunday. “He stepped on my leg. Play continues, I get back on my feet. And when I tried to control the ball, I felt a crack, just like the first time at Tottenham. “He stepped right where the plate was. I think the plate pressured [the bone]. It’s a neat break, just above the plate.”

    Let’s deal with it. He’s been under siege from uncarded stompings last season, to carded retaliation that he made (a game later), to two broken legs this season. Can we rally and appreciate and defend this man – arguably the best in the EPL at his position this season. Indeed, this has been the buzz about him for the last couple of weeks and now this.

  • WalterBroeckx

    Problem is that when we go in rough we are surely booked or red carded.

    In fact Arsenal is the team that get the second most yellow cards in the EPL. And we get most of them at home also. And that with a team that is having a very high ball possession.
    A team that one could say plays Arsenal-light football (Swansea) is the team with the least yellow cards.

    So how can you explain this: Arsenal the team with the highest possession statistics get the second highest yellow cards. Swansea the least.

    So we cannot just enter the kick the shit race like that because we will get even more yellow cards compared to now.

    It will be a coincidence….

  • robl

    Sorry Walter.

  • bob

    You’ve surely proven that PGMOL-ref appointment is not random. We don’t (yet) have the “smoking gun” to prove “100% bias”. But overall the case toward showing probable bias has been well underway here. Building on your article, would a comparative table of each of Dean, Foy, Webb performances this season (and last?) in relation to results by ManUre, Manshitty and AFC (maybe Spuds, Chelski) be revelatory. And especially pertinent in this, the “business end” of the season?

  • iniez

    God is great, justice is done, COME ON YOU GUNNERSSSS!!!!

  • MK

    Thankyou Villa!

  • akasuna

    Thank you Cieran Clark!!

    Now it’s on our hands again..phew;-P Still up to us to loose 3rd place spot. COYG!! Do your best!!

  • pliget

    If you are a referee and you read dribble such as this then next time you are officiating Arsenal and have to make a quick decision then what do you think they will do? There seems to be a lack of graciousness to Arsene Wenger recently and blaming others and disrespecting other managers, viz. his childish “handshake” with Brendan Rogers instead of congratulating him and his team. Again if I was on the end of such behaviour it would only make me want to put in that extra 10% against Arsenal. I sense Arsenal are no longer most people’s favourite team any longer and are rapidly becoming the opposite. Still Arsene knows best.

  • marcus

    Walter…here’s a stat you Gord and Dogface could analyze. I stuck it on the other thread, but this is more current.

    Since SAF and the Apologists have brought up Probability Theory, this could be quite an interesting study.

    We know from Riley that Prem Officials get 90% of decisions correct. He has stated that.

    So that means there is a 1/10 chance of an error on a penalty decision.

    So if we illustrate however many home non-penalties have not been given. (and that number really is a bit crazy , given there were 3/4 just in the last game), but let’s say 20….(Walter could do the analysis)

    What is the Probability of 20 penalties not being given?

    (1/10) power 20 ?

    (sorry my maths is ropey….)

    Approximately 1/10000000000000000000 ?


    More chance of winning the lottery than getting an Emirates penalty!

  • marcus

    N.B. Probability Theory (aka “It all evens out in the end”)

  • Wama Walter let the barking dogs puke. You are a genius and the whorelists plus the modafuckers will not like it but we are almost there. I wish we get a better refere!! And really if spurs can get such a penalty why not us!!!!! LETS GO GUNNERSSSSSSSSS

  • pliget

    not only your maths but your logic and reason too marcus. Why not work it out for 40 penalties? Or 100?

    Or why not concentrate on what you can control, i.e. your own performance instead of blaming the refs, other managers, other players, David Cameron and Uncle Tom Cobley and all and just pissing them all off and developing a general dislike of your team.

  • robl

    @ Piglet, read the other articles, it’s about corruption per se not just regarding Arsenal results.

  • marcus

    I’m not worried about the maths so much Piglet, Gord has an PHD in Stats so he can do a proper study.

    Re the number, Walter mentioned 20 penalties the other day. But unless or until he studies every home game, we don’t know. The number will be around the 20 mark for home games though.

    Re your second remark Piglet. I control nothing, except, hopefully my own mouth. So I’m not sure what your point is?

  • iniez

    Piglet, stop talking pooh

  • PLIGET, childish hand shake my ass!! Did you want the Professor to kneel downnnnn??? Have you ever played any sport at all ??? And by the way you are damn wright Arsene KNOWS look at the table prick.

  • pliget

    I am just reacting to the article. It seems silly to me to castigate others as that just annoys them. If there is a serious corruption issue then take it up with the proper authorities rather than rant on a blog. It’s not just Arsenal. I find all this talk of “Fergie time” and referee bias very silly. Blaming others rather than looking seriously at one’s own problems is what children do – and grown-ups who are losing the plot.

  • pliget

    Ah, Kampala, how erudite you are :).

  • pliget

    marcus, I was just airing my opinion. One can prove anything with statistics of course. But is anything likely to change or will people just get irritated?

  • Ha HA HA Pliglet’so how many are you scoring Swansea ,you are trying to console your self mum’s boy,get lost.

  • marcus

    “One can prove anything with statistics”

    Pliget, it’s not us who brought up statistics. It is the stock in trade defence of most of the media, pundits, and football establishment.

    “It all evens out in the end”

    This is just attributing everything to chance. I.E. invoking Probability Theory.

    I am merely applying Probability Theory.

    If Arsenal have had 20 consecutive penalties turned down at the Emirates – (maybe more if we go back to the last ever penalty give at the Emirates) – and there is a 90% chance of every decision being correct, I am asking what is the probability of 20 duff penalty calls?

    By my maths, around 1/10 power 20

    Mathematically there is a 1/10 power 20 chance of what has happened this season at the EMS…..

    What is the likelihood of that being down to accident?

  • bob

    no, not “of course” that statistics can prove ANYthing. they CAN, as you might consider in this case, show massive likelihood of an outcome. you seem to rely on cliche to get you through; but “just airing your opinion” and answering marcus’s probability comment above is quite another thing. why not air your opinion on this? i won’t hold my breath. be honest and take on his mathematics and the likely conclusion that they show. And if you cant, then be honest to be a stand-up bloke and say that there’s a massive probability that you were incorrect. you’d garner respect, and we’d all be closer to something far closer to what is real, than merely airing your opinion.

  • RedGooner

    I think there is a need for the PGMOL to be more transparent no organisation apart from the mafia works with such secrecy.
    However the big dissapointment for me of the weekend was Sian Massey seriously to miss both of those penalty decisions yesterday and not even bring them to the attention of the referee. It made me feel like she is sleeping her way to the top with Mike Reilly.
    On the plus side the AAA reared its ugly in celebration only to find games in hand are not points on the board and now has to go back with its tail between its 2 legs.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Very true about the AAA Red Gooner. We have another get out of jail card, I have a feeling we will accept this one with open arms, as log as complacency is well and truely banished.I am still quite shocked by that first half performance yesterday, and the officiating, but today, things feel better!
    Anyone know how the refs did this afternoon – have not heard of anything contentious but did not see the games.
    Well done McLeish….for once…

  • bob

    why suggest sian massey is sleeping her way to the top any more than say, well, any other male official?

  • Stuart

    No doubt Man U are on target for winning by 11 goals, couldn’t have GD letting red nose down

  • RedGooner

    Bob appologies, I hadnt thought of Reilly swinging both ways 🙂
    God knows I have thought enough bad things about him lately !!!
    Good point though 😛

  • john L

    we have to be objective here. there are two issues.

    first, the issue walter is talking about, which is the refs. we all see that things are not right. this issue is bigger than just arsenal and the match v norwich. the questions being asked are about how the PGMOL works and exploring possible answers to things that seem a bit…off.

    second, there is our own performance. the fact that the ref was shocking yesterday, doesn’t take away from the fact that we were equally shocking at times. so we also need to look objectively at the match and where it went wrong for us. people say we are tactically naive, i disagree. i think we play a brand of football that requires a high level of tactical understanding. but i do think there are some issues that need sorting out, particularly the way the team presses off the ball and during the all important transitional phase when possession changes hands.

    both of these issues need to be systematically dissected and discussed. so lets not get the lines blurred and start talking as if they are the same issue. this article is clearly about refs in general rather than our performance yesterday. i am looking forward to the ref review and hopefully some detailed discussion and review of our tactics and team performance.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Wonder who we will get against West Brom – foorballisfixed reckon they have a bit of a thing going with ref Moss, but must admit, he has impressed me whenever I have seen him.
    Dowd anyone? Or even Clattenberg for what I think would be the first time this season?.

    Agree with everything you say there John L. Maybe tactical naivity is the wrong term – maybe defensive naivity is better. Whatever it is, it needs fixing. Arteta seems to be able to make things a whole lot better so that is a start.

  • Domhuaille MacMathghamhna

    The two issues we can unquestionably and absolutely defend regarding our treatment by the PGMOL are:

    a)Having the same referees officiate more of our games than any other team…therefore indicating,without a shadow of a doubt, that random selection IS NOT happening so if not,why not and,
    b)Not getting a penalty awarded for us at home all season. That is not just logically but statistically highly unlikely. How could a team NOT get even 1 call over 24 games an entire season? Did any other EPL Club have this happen to them Walter?

    The rest is all chaff and idle speculation, including the AAA rants against AW,the Board, half the team, the players we ¨missed¨bringing in ad nauseam.

  • Stuart


    The PGMO don’t claim to have a random selection process, in fact the reality is quite the opposite. They claim to award big games to more experienced refs and use other factors such as location…

    What needs to be transparent in my opinion is the full selection process to help us understand what they are doing here. All secrecy makes it look very dodgy.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Think maybe having some top foreign refs with less chance of any inbuilt bias could help….having said that, some of the refs we have endured in the CL…..maybe not!

  • dan

    Come on boys, cl is back in our hands.

  • MK

    It seems likely to me that most of the Refs tell the other officials not to flag for penalties in the PL as I haven’t noticed it occur recently at all?

    Most likely to avoid players getting upset if the referee decides to overrule the other official after they have flagged for it?

    It would be interesting if you could see on the replay the official’s mouths, would they be saying “penalty” or something into their microphone around the time of the incidents occurred and the ref is just ignoring it?

    Besides as far as I could tell Sian got all the offside decisions correct despite there being a few tight ones.

    No need to bring the officials gender into it, Sian seems as if not more competent than the most of them at the job.

  • RedGooner

    MK in all fairness Sian was on the correct side to see both RVP been pushed and the handball incident which after looking at replays both seem to be clear cut penalties.

    Thats not competence ….. If I was officiating with a referee who was blatantly ignoring the rules and not giving clear cut game changing decisions, I would drop the flag and tell him shove it up his arse. I would have no part in something as wrong as that.

  • RedGooner

    Oh and one last comment Sian seeming more competent that the others doing the job neither gives me encouragement or says a lot. She is paid to do the job right.

  • Walter

    I will give my view on Sian after the ref review if you don’t mind. I will give you my thought on why she did or didn’t do what she could have done.
    But I will leave it for there because with the decisions at hand it is easier to see a pattern.

  • bob

    Red Gooner,
    Of all the endless linos and 4th officials who don’t tell the Ref-in-Charge to stick it where the moon don’t shine, you decide to slate Sian. C’mon mate, there’s something statistically telling about Her drawing your fire. Unless you have actual evidence of her foul play.

  • MK

    Its just a suspicion of mine that at least some of the referees are warning off their assistants from flagging for penalties and rather getting them to inform them via headset to ‘avoid’ perceived widespread public controversy. I have no evidence to back that up with.

    You are right that it is a low bar for competence in the PL and I just meant that generally Sian seems to do at least as well as any other in that position (ie no other assistant referee would have called those for us either, as they haven’t done all season).

    Anyway Norwich could possibly have had a penalty or two also and the Assistants didn’t flag those?

    It should be an interesting review, I’m betting on the Ref deciding to even up bad penalty calls after watching the highlights at halftime! Although I’d had a ‘few’ during this game, so my judgement may be ‘even more’ questionable than usual. 🙂

  • WalterBroeckx

    I will add the subject of Sian and other assistants to the ref review once it is done. or maybe write a separate article about it to shed some light in to this and the problems assistants face.

  • Prasanna Veeraraghavan

    I have a big doubt now the season is rigged for Man City. The owners have bigger financial considerations with the clout extending far deeper than Man Utd’s Fergie who is a mere mortal when it comes to the petro dollars.

    I also have a doubt that this season would mark the beginning of the domination of Man City or rather the beginning of downfall of Alex Ferguson.

  • Jacobite Gunner

    Walter, an article on assistant ref’s sounds interesting.

  • bob

    Perhaps you’re right. But it’s never over until THE REDNOSE snorts. Shall we revisit the crime scene at season’s end? Perhaps you’ve nailed the moment when PETRO-BALL openly rules. Then again, LORD FOOTBALL has demanded his Anointment. Truly, the Business End is at hand!