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July 2021

Gambling, ref fixing, money laundering, homophobia… all part of the rich mix of English football.

By Tony Attwood

The press made a fuss, radio made a fuss, TV made a fuss.  The big deal was that as all good English people know, you can’t trust these foreigners.   Not only do they fix matches in their own countries but they fix a game on English soil too.   [Just in case you are not of English origin, let me explain – this is a parody of how the English behave.  Johnny Foreigner, as he is called, does terrible things and behaves badly, while the English are the only ones who know that cheating and match fixing is wrong.  One plays up and plays the game.]

So now we know.  380 games have been tampered with and most of them were in Turkey, Switzerland and Germany.  Which is what we might expect.  And the corruption is based in the Far East – nothing to do with us.

We know that because… well we know that.  The fact that last season Untold Arsenal’s report on referees came up with figures that can only be understood in terms of either match fixing or gross incompetence.   This season, to avoid the suggestion of bias towards Arsenal we are running reviews of many more matches on Referees Decisions.  There is a link to the site at the foot of almost all the articles we run here.
And not only is that awkward fact ignored, so is the realisation that Qatar has been able to buy the World Cup and is now buying clubs as well.  And the fact that our FA still consorts with the organisation that allowed this to happen.  An organisation that does nothing to stop racism in football.  Just like Uefa, to which the Premier League is allied.
But ok, let’s ignore that facts just as in history while we rightly commemorate and respect those who died at Sheffield Wednesday’s ground, we forget the politicians who allowed that ground to act season after season as a semi-final venue without proper safety checks.  And we ignore the tragedy of Heysel in 1985 when 39 died and 600 were injured.  And why we ignore the fact that Bradford City directors must have known that their stadium was a fire hazard?  We often ignore the bits that don’t fit.
It is because we are selective in our history, as indeed most nations are.
But there are in fact three reasons why there might be any sort of doubt about football match results.  One is indeed match fixing by gamblers.  Another is the Italian model in which referees are provided with rewards for general favours, aided by the fact that the number of refs available is so low that it becomes more than likely that a particular referee will oversee a game in which a little help to a particular club might be useful.  And the third is money laundering – in which whole clubs and individual players are bought, manipulated and sold (or allowed to die) just so that vast amounts of money can pass through the club unchecked in order for it to be exchanged for clean money.
In this last case there is a real oddity in that who wins the match and how well a player does, doesn’t matter.  All that matters is that clubs and players are bought and sold at insane prices so that money can be cleaned.    If you have doubts just go back and look at the whole series of articles that we ran on money laundering in our corruption series.
And just while we are at it, lets not forget the disgraceful way in which homophobia has been ignored by the police and clubs.  Of course if you read this column regularly you will know how much I have written on this subject and I won’t bore you by covering the same events again.
Fortunately there are one or two journalists in this country who cannot stomach the “we’re all right it is just the foreigners” approach of most of the media.  There are reports of late in a couple of papers of a senior exec in the betting industry in this country speaking anonymously to a few journalists and saying, “You only have to look at the extent of the betting action in the Far East to know the threat is always going to be there. When so much money – and we are talking billions here – can be made so quickly, who could be surprised by yesterday’s news [of match fixing]? …

“We know that in the past games have been fixed in England – and there is just no reason to believe that a serious threat has gone away. In fact, it is quite the opposite.”

Yes, there have been match fixing scandals in England, of course.  At Arsenal there is one that we know very well, when Liverpool and Manchester United players joined together to fix a match at the end of the 1914/15 season.  We know of it because in the shake out from that event Arsenal were elected to the first division in 1919 as the league was expanded.  And then again in 1964 33 players were prosecuted in England for match fixing.  One went to prison.

The game in England will not improve until there is open recognition that there is something strange going on with refereeing in the Premier League, and that there is every chance that there are many other games in England being fixed by gamblers, and that clubs in England are being manipulated for money laundering purposes (one only has to look at the demise of Portsmouth to realise something is wrong, and that is while we are awaiting the trial of the senior executive of Birmingham City).   It is of course commonplace for fans of other clubs to say to us, “you are just bitter because you are Arsenal and you can’t win anything”.  That plays into the media’s hands and ignores the mountain of evidence we have gathered, and all the articles we have written.

If we could be proven wrong, then fine, we would put these subjects to bed.  But no one has done anything remotely like this, and the main hope of football seems to be that Untold and Referees Decisions will simply fade away.

Sadly for the authorities the more we uncover the more our audiences on these sites rise.  And the more that happens, the more the little group of us involved in uncovering the nasty side of football is determined to push on.


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33 comments to Gambling, ref fixing, money laundering, homophobia… all part of the rich mix of English football.

  • Stuart

    About the 380 games that have been altered / adjusted / tampered with,

    Are we sure they are not the 380 Premier League games in one season?

  • Gonnerjoe

    The penalty given to Liverpool tonight is a case in point corruption or inaptitude.

  • TheSKAGooner

    Great work as always, Tony. Keep it up!

  • Mandy Dodd

    There are things going on in this country. Refs are bossed by one of the most biased ex refs going, a man so tainted he cannot blame others for doing what he did. He makes the appointments, is he making them knowing the bias of certain refs? Certainly looks that way. In addition to the problems mentioned, there is doping. Dodgy doctors in Spain. Wenger hinting legends involved in doping…..not sure who he refers to, but guess they are brilliant players who never…or rarely get injured? Then there are the agents, anecdotal evidence suggests they have or have had some influence on the way clubs are run, maybe even clubs in the top league…in London. If all this is going on, and arsenal refuse to be part of it……explains quite a lot. Is mike dean and broken limbs our punishment? I keep repeating this I know, but Ivan, I know for a fact you read the blogs…..and you have to take this on.

  • Chris

    I’ve got one thing to say about this – Newcastle 4 Arsenal 4 – the two worst penalties I’ve ever seen given

  • bjtgooner

    Good article Tony. But what we don’t know and can only assume has not as yet taken place, is a detailed investigation into the EPL. Who knows how many matches there have been subject to fixing – either for gambling purposes or to favour a particular club? With so many strange refereeing decisions being made each week, it is painfully obvious the controlling PGMOL is long overdue for public examination and restructuring on an accountable basis.

  • Ray from Norfolk, Virginia

    Dear Sir,
    We are not corrupt, just selectively incompetent.
    Mike Riley, on behalf of the PGMOL.

  • FinnGooner

    @ Stuart no, not all are from EPL since 3 of matches are from Finland, those matches have been revealed here. Oh and yes it’s those foreign players tempering matches here too. (but Hungarian criminals affected to Hungarian players and it is part of the that case of Wilson Raj Perumal).

    I hope Referee Decisions could make fans from other clubs, media and some Arsenal fans too to see what is going on and really demand change.

  • Willam

    How is it one ref ,I can’t recall the name ,is always officiating Arsenals matches for 15 games and the gunners haven’t one when he is in charge?You contrast that with Clattenburgh and a few others who reffed the games at OT where the hated red faced lost. Guess what. They have not gine back to OT for 11 months.
    Is the stinking rf God of Football and entitled to call the shots and win games.No wonder he cant get going in the cl and long may it stay that way.

  • Gerry Lennon

    Burkino Faso semi final in the AFCON anyone? The only surprising thing there was it was just so badly done. At least our refs are more subtle about it … by comparison that is!

  • elkieno

    Ahh it’s all so sad isn’t it. I find myself wanting untold to be right as it looks more and more like your onto something, but on the flip side that means that everything ti do wuth football is very dodgy and can’t be trusted.
    ‘Rock and a hard place’, ‘damned if you do damned if you don’t’ etc.
    No point hiding from the truth, it is like the Force this curruptness, it binds us, penetrates us and surrounds us. The dark sith lord is Mike Riley and Dean is ‘Darth Vader’…
    Untold is the rebel alliance and Tony you can be Obi Wan, I will be Luke (I get Princess Leia, we not related in this story) so let’s go get those bastards I will slice them in 2 if they have cheated us out of a single victory, let alone a trophy!
    All for one and one for all!!

  • WalterBroeckx

    The thing is that with all this shit hanging around in the PL I can barely watch it.
    I do see some 4 up to 5 games each week. But that is because I work on the reviews of those games. But when a game is on live it has to be an Arsenal game or I will not watch it any more.

    Last night I had the choice between watching Liverpool – WBA and the U21 game between MU and Arsenal. Well I watched the latter. And didn’t regret it. Apart from the most terrible pitch I also have seen a great game of football. And I think a rather fair young referee who was doing a fairly good job.

    It is down to people like Riley that I don’t see the PL any more unless it is because of “working” obligations. The day I stop the referee reviewing I give up my sports channel and will watch the Arsenal games just on streams and that will be it. No other games.

  • elkieno

    @Garry Lenon: that is the sad part if all this. If Birkino Faso really did make it to the semi final of ACON on their own merit, it will be doubted now cos of all this hoo haa going on with 380 games under suspicion etc.
    In my country of Australia we have always prided ourselves on the fact we have are clean and fair and are nothing like the rest of the world. That’s how I grew up in the 80’s all we had was rugby league players drinking, fighting and having group sex with a consenting girl (until it gets out in media, then she claims rape etc)
    So the occasional cheat that is caught is hung drawn n quartered as should be.
    But now we have a big scandal going on where whole clubs are cheating now. They came out saying that they have given the players energy drinks, needles or whatever that were laced with banned substances! This was not a random player caught out back of training ground jabbing himself, this was the medical and coaching staff facilitate the cheating. That was just one club that admitted it before getting caught. So far 7 more clubs are under investigation and across different codes too!
    Nothing is sacred anymore…

  • elkieno

    Walter I can’t believe you do it too! I used to watch many games from EPL years ago, now I only watch Arsenal games (and Celtic I like them). Occasionally if a spurs game is on before us I will watch hoping for a loss, never watch utd, I can’t stand it how predictable it is.
    0-0 and 20 to go they will get a penalty without doubt. I wonder if the cheating going on then how predictable/sure thing is putting money on UTD getting a pen in 2nd half?
    I would have preferred taking a loss on rvp and sending him whatever. But maybe being at UTD for 5 years at that amount of money will hurt them? Naa thought as much….

  • Rupert Cook

    Well if you think many matches have been fixed why bother following football at all? I have almost reached that point especially with the recent revelations. I don’t have much time for the CL anyway and have had my doubts about the veracity of the results of several games in that competition. I certainly wouldn’t have much faith in the African Cup of Nations being corrupt free. A stance I’m a little ashamed of as it suggests I have a racist undertone to my reasoning.

    A lot of the corruption seems to involve certain actions at certain times during games, that is a player gets booked in the first ten minutes, a bet on that happening can ensure a big payout for those in the know.

    It’s sad that sport is rife with corruption: athletics, cycling, cricket, all have been tainted. One has to wonder if there’s any point in following sport at all.

  • Aziz, KL-Malaysia

    @ Ray ..” … We are not corrupt, just selectively incompetent.
    Mike Riley, on behalf of the PGMOL. … ”
    Hahaha – nice one !!
    I wonder in almost every second game why are some horrendous decisions popping up out of nothing. Always it’s “different angle”, “couldn’t see”, “instant judgement” and whatever else given as a BS excuse. Unfortunately, the vast majority of British media supports this crap, favouritism (to say the least) is with ManU and alike.
    I have more than a slight faint of feeling that there is corruption among the English refs.

  • WalterBroeckx

    And I don’t watch CL games apart from Arsenal games any more. Since the farce at Farcelona with the throat grabbing Farcelona players right under the nose of the ref and the sending off of the traitor I stopped watching. Certainly when moments later Bussaca was appointed head of the refs. Then I knew enough.

    I know when Arsenal plays in the CL and if it wouldn’t have been for my son I wouldn’t have known that already this week there are CL games played.

  • ClockEndRider

    Tony and co – keep up the good work. The job you’re doing is important to so many of us.

  • Shard


    I realised it this weekend that I’ve been doing the same. I didn’t watch any game this weekend apart from the Arsenal match. While the City game was on, I was out with friends. When ManU played I was watching other sports and other leagues. And I watched the U21 match yesterday (I too thought the referee was doing a good job) and then once that finished, I forgot that the Liverpool-WBA match was still on. I only remembered when a comment on a site said Liverpool were losing 2-0.

    This is not something I’d taken a conscious decision about. It just happened. I’m losing interest in the league. Bundesliga, Ligue1, and even the Spanish league (at least in terms of technical quality) are better products, and as a casual viewer, I don;t notice much ref nonsense, meaning I can actually enjoy the sport.

  • AmericanGunnerFan

    Cheating can never be completely eliminated from any sport, but there are things that could be done if there was a strong, international governing body that was not, in itself, corrupt.

    Here are some things that could be done to reduce the chance of cheating and match fixing:

    1.) Any player, referee or club official who is found to have a.) placed bets; b.) consorted with gamblers; c.)been present when other players, refs, club official consorted with gamblers and not reported it to his club and/or the governing body; d.)overheard or otherwise gained knowledge of players, refs or club officials discussing plans to fix matches and not reported it to his club and/or the governing body shall be banned from playing the sport or entering the grounds of any club playing the sport for life, without exception.

    2.) The performance of all referees in every league playing the sport shall be assessed and rated by a board of referees from a different country which shall be chosen randomly on a weekly basis by open lottery and the ratings shall be published for each league shall be published weekly. Additionally, each referee’s performance rating for the entire season shall be based a summary of these ratings that shall be published at the end of the league’s season. Any referee whose performance suggests match fixing or that does not minimum standard shall be required to take a training course and be demoted to working only games in his country’s lowest league.

    3.) All players, referees and club officials shall be subject to random drug testing using the WADA standards, which include blood tests for HGH and standard urine tests. Anyone failing the test shall be suspended for a minimum of 10 league games for the first offense; 20 games for the second; and an entire season for the third offense. A lifetime ban can be placed on anyone caught persistently doping.

    4.) All revenues, excluding moneys from attendance (including parking, etc.) and souveniers (including jersey sales), shall be shared equally by every team in all leagues world-wide.

    5.) The top two leagues in every country shall have a salary cap determined by the standard of living (including taxation)in that country and the gross shared income of those leagues in such a manner as to make the salary cap in one country equal to the effective salary cap in every other country (ie the salary cap in Germany might be higher than in Spain to offset the difference in cost of living and taxation so that a German club can effectively spend as much on players as a Spanish club or an Italian club or a Chinese club, etc.). Teams that exceed their league’s salary cap shall be subject to a very high, punitive fine to be then shared by all of the other clubs and/or have their salary cap cut the following season.

    6.) Any individual or group wishing to buy a club in any league must furnish proof of the ability to afford to buy that club and maintain its competitiveness to an independent financial review board hired by the league and one hired by the international governing body. The reviews of the prospective owner’s (or group’s) finances is to be presented to the other owners in the league who must vote on whether to approve the new owner/group or not. A two thirds majority of the owners of the other teams in the league must approve a new owner or group before transfer of the club to the new owner or ownership group can take place. If an owner or ownership group approved by the other club owners subsequently launders money through the club or loots that club’s finances, all of the owners of the clubs in the league shall be subject to a stiff, punitive fine.

    7.) Any player who is found to have subjected another player to a racist or homophobic taunt shall be suspended without pay for 10 league games for the first offense; 20 for the second offense; and a full season for the third. Suspensions in one league shall be honored by all leagues and national teams. No player currently under suspension in his club’s league can play for his national team or in CL or any super league during his suspension.

    8.)Any club whose fans chant racist or homophobic taunts aimed at any player (their own or an opposing player) shall automatically forfeit the match and have it counted as a defeat. Any club whose fans repeat this offense shall have the club suspended from league play for 10 games, with all 10 matches forfeited and counted as defeats. A third offense would produce a 20 game suspension and a fourth would result in the club being suspended from playing for a year and being relegated to the country’s lowest level league.

    9.) An owner or ownership group found to have produced false documentation in applying for ownership of a club or in any way doctoring the financial statements of a club or attempting to circumvent the salary cap of the league by offering financial inducements to players or club officials that are not on the books of the club shall be immediately stripped of ownership of the club without compensation by the league or any governing body.

    While these nine rules are, in some respects, draconian and might have a hard time standing up in the courts of law in some countries, they would go a long way towards not only cleaning up the sport, but making it more equal. Of course, the “big clubs” that exist today would probably have to be coerced into agreeing to these constraints (by having their players told that they could not compete for their countries on the international level in any events, etc.) because they would lose their financial advantages over all of the other clubs in their countries and would actually have to go out and develop quality players themselves rather than being able to buy them. And, as a group, players and agents would object–because clubs would no longer be able to spend huge sums in transfer fees and wages (even if the salary cap was a high percentage of the collective income) because “sugar daddy” owners couldn’t pour in huge sums of their own money to pay them.

    Nevertheless, these rules would make the game cleaner, more financially sound, and more competitive.

    Unfortunately there is no honest international body strong enough to impose such rules. There is simply too much money to be made for the various individuals and groups involved to want to see the game clean, honest and truly competitive.

    When I was young my father used to tell me “in France when there is a crime, they say “cherchez la femme”–look for the woman–but here in the US, when there is a crime, “cherchez la buck”!–look for the money”. In the world of international finance and sports today, it is the money, not the game, sportsmanship or integrity that rules supreme. Unfortunately, that not only brings out the worst in people, it is the reason that many of the people with their hands on the levers of power–in sports and in every aspect of life–do not want things to be truly fair, honest or actually competitive. And, it is those people who, more than any others, will resist efforts to change things as long as they are able to benefit more from keeping things as they are, no matter how corrupt.

  • WalterBroeckx

    The same over here. I was on the internet and one twitter someone mentioned a link to the U21 game. I had my TV on and on our sports channel the Liverpool-WBA game started. I watched for 55 seconds and then when my wife finally came to sit next to me I started a film she was going to see. 10 years ago she would have gone to our other TV and watch it there. So we watched the film and with one eye I watched the U21 game (my wife wasn’t happy about it but I said I was practising to become a man who can do more than one thing at the same time)

    I still like the game and love it but only when it is a real sport and done in a fair way.

    So the PL and CL are losing me (and many others) but the sport itself and my team of course keep me in the game.

    And when the film was finished and the u21 game also I didn’t even bother to see if the Liverpool game was still on. Will watch it later to do a review 😉

  • Rufusstan

    I am also in a position now that I only watch if it is Arsenal. I wish I could say it is just a partisan thing; I only watch my club. In truth I just cannot muster the interest any more unless Arsenal are involved.

    I realised 2 striking things recently.

    First of all I am even censoring Match of the Day, essentially timing things so I just get to see the Arsenal Highlights. Even then, the way the game is edited, and the incidents that are ignored mean I don’t even think I will being doing that for much longer.

    Secondly the stark contrast with the Rugby. I’ve watched all 6 six nations games so far this season (with some juggling between England-Scotland and the Stoke game). I’ve enjoyed them all despite who was involved, and got pleasure just from the quality of the play– something I used to be able to do with football.

  • bob

    Here’s my key to the twisted sisters list on the EPL:
    Your ref, it’s named Mike Dean (aka The Dean).
    He and Taylor are in the competition for Golem-lookalike (the corrupted creature from the Lord of the Rings)
    He and Howard Webb (aka the Webbmeister for the spider web’s he has spun for Manure) are in competition to replace Mike Riley (aka Micky R of the mob known as the PGMOL, aka the Hives of Riley).

  • AL

    I’m glad I’m not the only one who isn’t watching that much footy anymore. I tend to watch mostly la liga matches as they seem to be better techniqu-wise(no sides like stoke) and generally there’s less reffing nonsense as Shard put it. I find myself watching more and more live streams on my laptop apart from when Arsenal are on Sky/ESPN or la liga games are on(I feel totally stupid for subscribing to the Sky sports package, but then again my sons are mad about formula 1, rugby, and football(unfortunately!) so I don’t want to deprive them of their idea of entertainment at home).

    I haven’t watched manure play at all this season(can say I haven’t watched more than 30 minutes of their combined games so far) because of the following;

    -rooney swearing into the camera or remonstrating with the ref;
    -red nose chewing away at whatever it is that’s constantly inside his mouth;
    -cant bear to watch rvp kissing their badge or make two-footed tackles and getting away with it, something that never used to happen when he was with us;
    -and not to mention the predictability of the outcome like one poster said.

    Seasons before this I used to record matches that took place when I was out, & go to great lengths to ensure I didn’t find out about the result by switching my phone off, ask the missus and kids not to tell me the result, but this year I have just said why bother. A match will be on and I’ll be in a different room watching a recorded episode of CSI or something else(unless if the match involves the gunners of course:).

    Anyway, I think the fact there are so many of use here all agreeing to have lost interest in the game one way or another in the last few months cannot be a good thing for football, and long term we are going to see the impact of this.

  • Arun

    The good thing in football in India happened with the arrival of Ten Action and when they bought the rights to CL matches. Earlier, the whole scenario was dominated by ESPN as they held the rights to the EPL, CL and La Liga as well. Bundesliga and other leagues were barely available on TV. With the arrival of Neo Sports (Bundesliga) and the Ten network, things have changed a lot.
    ESPN is full of idiots who don’t know a thing about the laws of the game and no surprise, as they have been recently bought by fox sports. Pundits on the Ten network’s coverage of CL are much better than those on the ESPN and more important, they broke the ESPN monopoly on football. Though, from the ongoing season, ESPN has regained their La Liga rights.
    Before the arrival of Neo sports, I don’t think that Bundesliga was even on TV in India (although I’m not sure about this). I agree with the other posters that quality of football is much better in Bundesliga and la liga (no stoke like teams). Though I have not seen many games of bundesliga, but the quality of refereeing seems a lot better than the epl.

  • Arun

    Here is the reason I don’t trust the Indian media anymore (though I always had a fair share of my doubts about them ever since I started understanding them).
    This documentary mainly deals with the paid news system. And I am pretty sure things aren’t much different in other countries.

  • Matt Clarke

    ahem, @bob:
    It’s Gollum. (not Golem, something quite different).

    When this rotten apple bursts wide open it will be a long and sad fall. Keep poking UA.

  • I don’t think there is any corruption in England though to prove me wrong i want an investigation made in the 49unbeaten match officiated by ass mike riley.
    AND only then will i be so sure that nothing goes on behind the PGMOL.

  • Mick

    Yet Arsene- your guru- says that nothing is going on in English football.
    Do you not believe him? Is this a first???????

  • I have no idea where you get your information from Mick but there is an article on in which Mr Wenger speaks about the variety of challenges football is facing, and how saddened he is by match fixing.

    This is the problem really, just statements made which clearly you believe, and which are far from the truth. is the source but try this

    Wenger has witnessed dishonesty in the sport himself, when Paris Saint-Germain and his Monaco side were beaten to the Ligue 1 championship by Marseille, who later had their title taken away amid allegations of match fixing.

    So come on Mick – come clean. You made that up didn’t you. You and you six question marks. Who do you really support? Tottenham perchance?

  • Micko

    Different Mick here but according to the Guardian he did say that no cheating is going on in the English game – “But I don’t think at all that cheating or match-fixing is a problem in the English game.”

    I’m not quite sure why he would say that with the problems that we have with the refs, but it’s there in black & white. Which means that the problem isn’t even being recognised within the club.

  • Stuart


    I don’t think anyone believes what Wenger says, he only says what he has to say at the time to fit the agenda.

  • Woolwich Peripatetic

    We’ve got Mike Dean at the weekend, correct? It would be fairly easy to use DogFace’s data to place some safe spot bets on him/us. The odds of him booking one of our defenders in the first half are practically 1:1, there are betting exchanges who will take those sort of bets. If you can get enough money into the system it will snowball until it trips the alarms.
    Likewise, place big money on Webb awarding United a penalty at Old Trafford. Get too much liquidity in the system on daft bets and the alarm bells will ring.

    Essentially, you could get most of the EPL referees arrested if you were clever with your money, they are too predictable and their behaviour has been too thoroughly analysed.