By Walter Broeckx
Most of the times writing articles for Untold is fun.
I also have found much joy in the referee revciews we have done. I can say it is something that I once started all those years ago and that has grown in to what you can see over here on this site and on the site www.refereedecisions.co.uk You could say it is one of my sons. I have made it and seen it grown to what it is now. Of course just like with most other living creatures (as far as I know) you have to be with two to create something. Dogface was the other person who was there over the last couple of seasons when we turned out the reviews.
But now writing this article I feel a great sadness. It is writing an article I thought and hoped that I never would write. But I have to. Many of our regular visitors have been asking the same question for weeks: Where are the reviews? It really pains me inside. But I must come out with it now and give you the sad message:
The Untold Referee Review system as you know it, has stopped.
As many of you have been so supportive to me over the years I owe you an explanation of course. You have encouraged me, helped me, corrected me, you were all part of this in a way. Even those who shrugged their shoulders and told me I was an idiot or worse. Every reaction was looked upon and was regarded as a possible help.
The reason why I have to stop with the referee reviews is for a personal matter. Sometimes you don’t know what life is throwing at you in your personal environment. And one of the persons closest to me and dearest to me is struggling with a serious health issue. It has been this way for a few years now but things are going from bad to worse recently. I am not going to bore you with details but after running to dozens of doctors, hospitals, university hospitals, specialists they still can not even name the disease she is suffering. And that after some 5 years now.
And as she was and is the person behind me and supporting me, I now should be the person to stand behind her.
No real prognoses can be given as they don’t know what it is. We only know it started with a bite from a tick (the small parasites). So if you ever get bitten by a tick go to a doctor immediately and ask for antibiotics. Don’t wait till it is too late.
As a result however I must reorganise my live and my time. My family needs me more than the PGMOL. Or the referees. Or even the Arsenal. This cross we have to carry at home is more important than anything else. Some things are more important than football. I’m in a phase of my life that I am facing such a more important thing.
As I am optimistic of nature I hope that one day she will recover and I will be able to take it up again. Or it might even be no longer needed as the PGMOL would get their act together. You see I really am an optimistic person.
So now it is time to thank all those people who have been really very helpful to me in doing the reviews.
First of all Tony Attwood of course for being so generous to give space on his servers and make it possible for all of you to have access to the different websites.
Secondly we have Dogface. The man behind the scenes who can come up with all the numbers as if it is nothing. He set up a whole system that we used and that was an amazing job to do. He cannot be praised enough for doing what he did in also not easy conditions for him. And in the light of what he just suffered I really cannot complain about anything that is happening to me and my wife.
I also want to thank John and John. So one called himself Gianni to make it easier. They were the first refs to help me out on the reviews. I owe them a lot. Thank you guys.
And of course the referee-reviewers who helped me out over the last season. I salute you all and I thank you for your time, your commitment and your help. I think you all did a great job and I hope you feel proud of what we have achieved.
And of course I have to thank all the readers and those who commented on the reviews. Without you I would have stopped after 3 weeks probably. So you can pat yourself on the back.
But what saddens me most is that behind the scenes we have received a lot of recognition. This summer we had people from Talksport asking us questions and wanting to help us out and even talk about us and refer to our work and numbers. And from what I have heard from some of you they do use our work.
We had other people who wanted to help us spreading the word with links on other websites.
We had mail from a ref association that offered help in recruiting refs.
We had mail from people who once stood on the field on the highest level as referees who expressed their support to us and gave us tips and information. And who offered help to get a higher exposure.
We had contacts with people from the BBC and other media at times.
I received mails from supporters from other clubs who asked questions, supported us.
I know that many PL refs were aware of our work. I know a number of them read our work. I will not reveal their names to not get them in to trouble. As that was one thing in common with all the people that contacted us directly or indirectly: nobody wanted that their name was mentioned. You wonder why…
I think we were really close to taking the next step. Finally reaching the media. The big media out there. Maybe one more season doing even more reviews could have made the difference.
And then I have to stop. One little creature almost not even big enough to see it with the eye has thrown the life of my beloved ones on its head and now forces me to stop putting my more and more valuable time in to the reviews.
So you can understand that I feel gutted. But that is the way life goes. It has taken me weeks and months to finally come to this conclusion. I have thought about other options and possibilities but couldn’t find a solution. So I have to face the hard truth. And call an end to our reviews.
Of course I will continue writing for Untold and I will focus on any wrongdoings by refs now and in the future. And we will of course use the numbers we have gathered over the years to see if there are any other angles we can find. I am still looking at such angles but time… time…
I am also still looking at a possibility to keep it going in some form but I still have to think about it but if we can do anything about referees we will do it. But it will no longer be the systematic reviews we have known. So we say goodbye to the reviews but I will not leave Untold. Unless Tony kicks me out of course.
Thank you all for your help and comments and do please be careful about ticks: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tick Don’t let them get under your skin.
Update: Since publishing this piece we have received information on a comprehensive guide on how to choose the best ick repellent on, How I Get Rid Of. You can find it here: https://howigetridof.com/tick-repellent-for-yard/
A footnote from Tony
The heading of this article includes the phrase “or is it?” because what Walter has started is, week by week, having ever greater effects on the way the Premier League is being refereed.
And that was always the point – to make a difference. The data was the means to that end; making use of the data that Walter and all his colleagues collected and analysed is what is now happening and that is phase two of the project.
The previews of the referees for each Arsenal match, based on our existing data, are continuing as I hope you will have noticed. In recent weeks we have had Arsene Wenger mention the “company” that analyses referees’ mistakes. We have been noticed. The press picked this up. Walter’s work is having an impact.
Behind the scenes I also see other developments coming through. It would be premature to mention them now, but believe me they are there.
So I believe that change is now happening. It is slow, and the media remains resistant to accepting our message that there is something wrong with refereeing, but it is happening, and it is happening totally because of the incredible hard work of Walter and his team in producing the data.
I am sure every reader of Untold will want to send Walter and his family their very best wishes for the future and deepest thanks for all he has done. The result of his incredible work will be seen, I believe, in years to come.
And as Walter said, he is not leaving us but will continue with his articles (something for which I am incredibly grateful – I can’t imagine how Untold could exist without him).
Walter, on behalf of everyone who has ever read anything you have written, may I say a million thank you’s.
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