By Walter Broeckx
Well it was another interesting moment involving referees in the PL the last days.
People often wonder why it is that referees fall for so many dives of United players and award penalties whenever they can. Or give decisions the United way. I will give you an answer at the end of this article or try to give you some insight on how it works. Because first of all we have to start at the beginning of it all. Our “beloved” PGMOL organisation. The organisation who sends out the refs in the PL. And if we take the words from Wikipedia and since the website from the PGMOL is shut down (check yourself) for the public we only can use what we have at our disposal so we take Wikipedia on their word.
For those who are too lazy to click on the link I will copy the most important information for this article below but do click on the link as I think you will like some of the content over there.
But this is what is written down:
The Professional Game Match Officials Board (PGMOB), and since made a Limited Liability Company (PGMOL, or Professional Game Match Officials Limited), was formed when English association football referees turned professional in 2001, specifically to provide match officials for all games played in the Premier League in England. The Board consists of the three governing bodies’ Chief Executives and Referees Managers in addition to The FA’s Head of Refereeing. The organisation is headed by Mike Riley.
The board are tasked with the responsibility of developing excellence in officiating in the English game at the professional level. The General Manager and his team of managers and coaches is responsible for the training, development and monitoring of referees.
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Mike Riley also decides which referees will officiate at Premier League matches while David Allison decides Football League matches and consults with the Football Association over the FA Cup.
So it is clear: Riley is the person who decides who will be referee at a game.
The next thing to keep in mind is what would be your preferred ground to go to as a ref. And with preferred I don’t mean that you prefer the team but just the stadium. Would you like to go to Old Trafford or do refs would prefer to go to Wigan? A ref is like a player. If you have the chance to choose between playing for Wigan or for Barcelona? Where will you go? Will you prefer playing for 15.000 crowds or would you prefer playing for 100.000? I think anyone will understand that playing or refereeing in a big stadium in front of a big crowd is far more pleasant than doing your job in front of a small crowd in a small stadium.
So been given a game at Old Trafford is by most refs seen as having a good appointment. A kind of reward even. I think any ref even without being the slightest bit of supportive for United will prefer to go to Old Trafford in stead of going to Wigan. Even I would go there with great expectation of having a big game in a big stadium. This is just one of the top stadiums in the PL so each ref will love to go there. And remember it is Mike Riley who is responsible for this. At least that is what they pretend.
So let us try and take a few examples on what happens to refs who are in charge when United lose a game?
- Mike Dean(Fifa-ref) was referee when Blackburn beat Manchester United 2-3 on 31/12/2011. Hasn’t done a game at Old Trafford since that day.
- Mike Dean(Fifa-ref) was referee when Manchester United lost at home to Chelsea 1-2 on 03/04/2010. The next time he went to Old Trafford was 22/05/2011. More than a year later.
- Mark Clattenburg(Fifa-ref) referee when Manchester United lost with 1-6 at home to Manchester City on 23/10/2011 hasn’t been given any United game since that date. Almost one year ago now. It speaks for itself he hasn’t been a ref at Old Trafford since that day.
- Martin Atkinson(Fifa-ref) and Keith Hackett (see later) was heavily criticised when United lost in the FA cup from Portsmouth on 08/03/2008. He had to wait till 29/12/2008 to come back to Old Trafford. That was his first game after that defeat. Before that he had been doing them 4 times in that season.
- Martin Atkinson(Fifa-ref) who according to Ferguson was responsible for United losing at Chelsea on 01/03/2011 had to wait almost 1 year before getting another Manchester United game. In fact since that day now more than 1,5 years ago he has never been referee at Old Trafford again.
- Almost at the end of the 2010-2011 season Arsenal won with 1-0 from Manchester United and Chris Foy was the ref. At the start of the next season Chris Foy had to do 2 games in league one (old 3rd division) and game in the Championship (old 2nd division) before he could return to the PL. It took him exactly one year to have another game at Old Trafford (06/05/2012 against Swansea)
- And now after losing 2-3 to Tottenham this same Chris Foy gets immediately in a row two games in league one (3rd tier of English football) and Ferguson was rather critical about Foy after the game….
Of course people will say this is all coincidence.
Just as it will have been a coincidence that Keith Hackett was removed as head of the PGMOL in 2009 after being heavily criticised by Alex Ferguson in 2008 for the FA cup defeat when Atkinson was involved. Ferguson then also attacked Keith Hackett and almost blamed him personally.
And banning a ref seems to be easy but getting rid of Hackett took a bit longer. But within a year Hackett was going out the PGMOL-door and was replaced by Mike Riley.
Of course we want to be complete and give you the words from PGMOL spokesman Phil Dorward who said: “For the conspiracy theorists who think Chris Foy’s been demoted to Lg 2 this weekend. He’s not. Select Group has 16 refs who are rotated. Foy and Atkinson done the most PL games this season (5) and average of other refs is 3.6 games. Hence rotation.”
My thoughts on this: I find it rather suspicious that the PGMOL is so quick in denying Foy being demoted. I would say that he is not really demoted. Just punished. The rest of the world sees it as Foy being demoted/punished immediately.
And my other thought when reading the PGMOL spokesman was: 16 referees??? Only 16 referees??? You got to be joking. Still only 16 referees in the PL. What is the PGMOL head being paid for? To just listen to Ferguson moanings or to bring better referees and higher refereeing standards to the PL? It should be the latter but it looks to be the first.
And then I come back to my first question at the start of this article: why do refs fall for the falling of the United players that easy?
The answer is simple. I know this because I can look at data, read things. But those refs who come together, train together, talk with each other. They also know this. They experience it. They know when Ferguson picks on them they will get lesser games and will not get back to Old Trafford any time soon. And it is only human to want to go to Old Trafford or other highly regarded stadiums in the PL.
So we know it, the refs who have to go on the field know it. Mess with United and Ferguson and/or Riley will punish you. So what would you do if being a ref? Wouldn’t you feel some kind of extra pressure on your back when entering the field? Isn’t it maybe understandable that this pressure can force you in to making decisions that make you look an idiot afterwards?
So the result is that refs will do anything to avoid the “go to Wigan, Swansea, QPR,-each week” scenario. A game of a top team in a top stadium is seen as a reward by refs so they will go a bit further in making this happening. And those who didn’t? Well they paid their price or are still paying it. The refs know this all too well.
The PGMOL can call it a coincidence? Sorry my dear friends at the PGMOL. I really find this hard to believe. Too much coincidence can point at something else. It usually does…. Oh and what was the Italian match fixing scandal all about? Yep about sending the “right” ref to the right games and avoiding the “wrong” ref for the “wrong” games. I don’t see much difference with how things go in the PL…
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