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August 2021

After all our pressure Premier League refereeing is about to change. But…

By Tony Attwood

Don’t get too excited – the change in refereeing in the Premier League from next season is not the one we have been asking for (demanding even) in which we request the number of referees that PGMOL supplies to the Premier League is greatly increased.  Such a move would reduce the possibility of match fixing by ensuring that no referee could ref any individual team more than twice in a season.

That most logical, reasonable and straightforward demand is not being addressed, which is why I personally still believe there is something amiss with English Premier League refereeing.

But there is going to be a change – but whether it is a major change or just a move to distract from Untold’s campaign I am unsure.  Certainly our campaign seemed to reach a new audience during this last season and comments were to be heard in all sorts of places which had ignored us before, which was encouraging.

So, back to the new change.  The idea is that a panel of refs will watch videos of Premier League games to consider retrospective action for really bad assaults.  Think Shawcross and you’ll know what I mean.

The issue here is “further action” rather than something missed by the referee in the first place, which has been the position until now.  And it is interesting because until now, the authorities have said that “further action” was impossible since it would undermine the referee’s integrity and authority.  Apparently it won’t any more.

The decision to proceed with this new scheme came up at a meeting of the Football Association, Premier League, Football League, Professional Footballers’ Association, League Managers Association and PGMOL.

Now these are all organisations that well know about the on-going campaign to investigate the highly secretive PGMOL and its bizarre and eccentric choice of who can and who can’t referee, which has led to there being no referees from the south of England.

But the scheme is on the cards and if the  Football Regulatory Authority approves then the process will be in place for the start of 2013/14.

The case being cited as an example of one that would be dealt with under the new scheme is that of Callum McManaman of Wigan who only got a yellow card for a challenge on Haïdara of Newcastle.  The FA had a look at the challenge, but then decided to do nothing, even though Ref Halsey said he hadn’t seen the incident and that viewing it on video he thought the player should have been sent off.

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An interesting fact is that this new approach is only a Premier League issue.  There is no explanation of that – and so maybe it is a coincidence that the Premier League is the only League covered by Referee Decisions – the web site that exposes all the oddities and bizarre behaviour of referees and PGMOL.

But the news is not all good – violent conduct decisions will not be reviewed by the panel, and nor will flagrant errors made by referees – of which there is a multiplicity of examples.  Indeed there are a number of Premier League referees who would not be allowed to referee in top leagues in Europe, because their error rate is so high.
The meeting that set up the new approach decided firmly against the new panel taking action over other incidents because they felt that often in incidents that did not involve players going for the ball, both players were often guilty.  So that means diving can’t be punished either.
Thus we must ask: is this a step forwards, or just another smoke screen to take the pressure off the referees and the clubs that seem to get far too many decisions going their way?  Is it indeed a response to the review of referee performances club by club, which Walter Broeckx put together recently and which shows amazing variations in the results under different referees?
As things stand we are expected to take the usual media banter that “it all evens out in the end” (Referee Decisions shows it doesn’t), or that referees just don’t make as many mistakes as we show they do, and that’s it.
Let us hope, however this is the first chink of light, and that the secretive PGMOL is itself coming under pressure from the clubs that endlessly suffer from “strange” referee decisions, and the over-refereeing of certain clubs by certain referees.
As for myself, I won’t be satisfied until we reach the position of no referee overseeing no club more than twice a season.  Maybe the authorities could consult us one day?  After all, we are the people who (in part) pay their salaries.

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20 comments to After all our pressure Premier League refereeing is about to change. But…

  • Dominic

    Why a panel of referees to review an incident? With the technology available, during a match a referee could flag the time of any incident. Then later he could review the incidents using the recording from the different cameras. That way you would not undermine the referee’s authority as he would still be making the final decision. It would also highlight those referees who hide behind the “I didn’t see it,” arguement.

  • marcus

    When the PGMOL doesn’t allow a ref to work for a week or two, following a bad weekend, (think Dowd), they contravene their own rules, since clearly relegating or temporarily suspending a referee undermines that referee’s integrity and authority.

    So either the PGMOL is being woefully stupid, (coincidence theory), or they have a hidden agenda (‘conspiracy theory’).

  • marcus

    And as Tony points out, the hidden agenda has previous.
    There are numerous occasions where a violent assault has taken place which the referee has not witnessed, e.g the Stoke game where Adebayor amongst others was attacked, and the Sunderland game where RVP was punched, and the FA?PGMOL has not taken retrospective action.
    So the argument about undermining the ref is pure pigswill.
    As we all know, the EPL is rigged.
    SAF has retired to make way for Jose. Chelsea will win the next two Premierships. They will also recruit Ronaldo.
    Yawn. The suspense is killing me.
    Money talks.
    Buy into a club, move to Germany.

  • Anaekwe patrick

    The use of technology to review any incidence in a match is my idea of fun. I am in complete support of what Dominique said. This way hidden agendum of the referee would be unearthed on the day if he fails to apply appropriate decision. Simplicita.

  • marcus


    For many years the FA have maintained a very firm and consistent stance on goal-line technology.

    They believe that it is more important to have vigorous debate and disagreement in the pub after a match than to have the correct decisions made in a match.

    So it is quite clear that generating a debate is of a higher value to the FA than correct decision making.

    In this light, any poor refereeing is suborned to the higher good of a vigorous post match debate.

    The FA are consistent. Good quality refereeing is a low priority for them.

  • marcus

    In fact I am surprised they bother with the charade of evaluating referees at all.

    Why not put any old mug out there, who sends off three players for time-wasting and lets a couple of knuckle draggers break the opposition’s legs.

    This would generate a vigorous debate down the pub, which is what the FA puts the highest value on

  • marcus

    I meant subordinated… lol

  • Mandy Dodd

    Wonder if the PGMOL will change a bit for the better now their master has now…not quite departed but moved behind the scenes?

    Only indirectly linked to the topic but has anyone seen this?

    Even Platini, the head of UEFA cannot proper policing to help deal with match fixing – just how far up does this go? Once the masses realise the game is rigged at all levels, they will lose interest very quickly. Have a feeling some are out to stop Platini from any chance as Blatters successor.

  • Norm

    Who will these uber-refs on the panel be? Chosen by who? In Aussie Rules I believe there are ex-players who sit with umpires at player tribunals. Also in rugby league, any rough-house incidents on the field are put on report for a panel to look into the following week. Red cards are still used for ‘ref seen violence’. Why am I thinking of certain violent football incidents, where nothing happened – Ferdinand on Freddie, Rooney on Macarthy, Evans on Rosenberg, and going back, Hughes stamped on someone. Not difficult to make the link. Will anything change without old purplenose? Will Bugeyes be a Riley man?
    Interesting piece, but do you feel there is much transparent improvement in Platini after Blatter. I totally agree about the corruption in our game at every level. Platini does appear to not like English football and the success of the PL.

  • WalterBroeckx

    But for the FA the Evans punching Rosenberg was no reason to ban him retrospective…

    Imagine if it would have been the reverse situation…. or an Arsenal player. I remember Hlebb having his season ended after a likewise incident

  • Mandy Dodd

    I am wary of Platini and his bias as well Norm, but do not believe his intentions go into the criminal like those of others I could mention…or at least I hope not

  • mk

    Not sure this will help, sounds like something to hide behind and even worse the first bad tackle by an Arsenal player will likely be picked up after they have ignored or dismissed any number of other similar incidents by certain other teams with flimsy inconsistent excuses like the red card appeals panel currently does.

    Possibly this could be more helpful for them to influence results than not, especially as we have already seen how the pundits both won’t highlight certain incidents nor call them on their rulings.

    Hope I’m wrong though!

  • Adam

    Off topic.

    If your child went missing, would you want the whole World to stop and look for them?

    Tomorrow 25th of May is Missing children’s day and I politely ask that you follow the link and donate if you can, this is a global event and charities dedicated to finding our missing children need you support.


  • jbh

    Why not do a comparison with the other major European leagues and their policy re number of refs and how many games they can cover for a team each year. If Prem League is way out of line (and it seems they are) then such evidence could be raised with the PGMOL and more importantly with the media.
    Well done with the Refdecisions site, I’m sure it will gain in popularity.

  • Stuart

    It’s a farce. Having a panel of referees review a decision AFTER a game is pointless and is only being implemented to make it seem as though something is being done when in fact it changes nothing at all.

    Where is the justice when for example, a team should have a player sent off after only two minutes and be down to 10 players but only get this red card correctly awarded once the game has played and finished. This is still a game changing decision and scenario which wont be stopped by retrospective action and the damage will already have been done.

    The ONLY way this can be done s it is above board and 100% fair is instant video replays being viewed by the fourth official whilst play continues. We have been seeing more communication between officials over the past couple of seasons and I commend them for this however this retrospective plan is just a smoke screen, just as goal line technology was introduced in light of calls for assistance for the referees for decisions relating to fouls.

    Sort this out PGMOL, you have the means and technology to do it and it’s about time you made it 100% fair for EVERY fan who spends their hard earned on watching their team.

  • marcus


    Of course you could ban a player from the team against which they’ve offended, but this combined with retrospective action would mean we would play Stoke’s under 12 team.

  • Stuart

    The trouble with that comes when you have already played a team and are on the return fixture when the offence happens.

  • Steve

    The problem comes I think with people’s views of the incident. Take the Shawcross tackle/foul/assault on Ramsey, the following hours and days we were full of yes it was a foul, no it wasn’t, he’s not that type of player, he didn’t mean it, it was a bad tackle etc etc etc. If this was to be looked at again after the game then the panel would come under increased pressure from the media for thier decision.

    The other problem I have is impartiality, when I watch a PL match that does not involve Arsenal no matter how I think I don’t care there is a small nagging voice at the back of my head saying who you would like to win or lose, or I am looking at the table thinking if this team win what does that mean. I could be watching villa v stoke two teams that for some reason or another I do not like, I would be looking at the table thinking, if say villa lose that would take them closer to the drop if Sunderland win so now I am hoping for a Sunderland win against say Fulham and it goes on throughout the weekend. Now if I am thinking that is there a chance that one of the panel looking a decisions might be even on a smaller scale just be thinking the same!!!!

  • @Tonny was Fergus part of the panel?@Mandy@AL with the Premier league Chairman, Vice chairman ,FA boss and Referees boss all Manures will we have a decent league next season though the maniac is gone? I don’t think so, the vampire left a lot of vampires who will suck anybody, I hope I’m wrong.