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August 2021

It there a level playing ground? Arsene doesn’t seem to think so but do the papers care?

Tony asked me to write something today having seen a piece in this weekend’s Saturday Guardian – an article entitled ‘Arsenal’s moment of truth’ by Daniel Taylor. I don’t buy newspapers any more, to be honest I find their clumsy misrepresentation of the truth annoying and self-serving, even papers (like the Guardian) that I used to enjoy. Fortunately for Tony one of my friends does still get the paper and gave me the relevant story.

Taylor’s piece is an exploration of how far Arsenal have come recently and reflects on Wenger’s remarks to the press, remarks that raise some very interesting points.

What difference would the absence of Sir Alex Ferguson make to the game on Sunday, Wenger was asked in his press conference on Friday. “That’s a question you shouldn’t ask me but the referees” was le Boss’ reply.

Interesting. And he went on…

Every year there is a company that makes a league table of what it would be like without the referees’ mistakes. So check that. Ask the referees. If I had a good sense of humour, I would tell you the difference”.

Taylor characterized Arsene’s comments as the actions of someone  ‘challenging to be alpha male’ now the fearsome Scot had vacated the position. He also noted that M. Wenger strayed ‘dangerously close to breaching the FA’s rules forbidding managers from talking about referees before games’. Interestingly no such comment is made about Moyes’ remarks about Ashley Young and refs on the next page…)

So who is this company that creates alternative league tables? Well a quick Google search finds debatable decisions but they don’t seem to have been active for at least a year, so I’m left with wondering whether the Arsenal manager was actually referring to the work that Walter and his colleagues have been doing for Untold.

Regardless of who gets the credit it is clear that le Boss is aware of the debate, is using it in public to highlight the performances of match officials, and is using it to apply pressure on the PGMOL. He said that referees “were absolutely relaxed and happy to go” to Old Trafford under the SAF regime. That seems a pretty clear criticism of the cosy relationship between the men in black and the manager of Manchester United.

This is all being used by the press as evidence that OT is no longer the fortress it once was, but I think they are still missing the point.

OT used to be a ground teams feared to go to because of the intimidating atmosphere created by the home fans, not because the officials were awed or corrupted by the home coach. Unless journalists are prepared to investigate the ugly side to this – the underlying suggestion that officials are being leaned on or even bribed – then a new SAF will simply arise elsewhere.

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Look at how Mourinho reacted to the award of the softest of soft penalties at the Bridge yesterday. He praised the referee, calling Andre Marriner one of the best referees in world football. If he had arrived in a Ford Focus and left in a Ferrari I wouldn’t have been in the least surprised.

Finally Daniel Taylor raised the question of RVP’s transfer. SAF said it was his direct intervention with Arsene that persuaded the Frenchman to sell his start striker.

Wenger responded that all Ferguson convinced him of was the price on offer.  According to Wenger it was a conversation with the player that made him realize he had to let him go. “Robin has been convinced by the Dutch coach (Meulensteen) who was at Manchester United. That played a big part”.

As Taylor points out, ‘No one from Old Trafford should have been speaking to Van Persie’. That is called tapping up.

But there he leaves it, as he leaves the referees question. He reported the press conference and framed the whole piece as an:  ‘Are Arsenal title contenders?’ one. Instead he could have used Wenger’s remarks to ask more serious and wider ranging questions about the former United manager’s role in deciding the outcome of football matches and the destination of certain start footballers and asked the really big question…

Is there a level playing field in the English Premier League?

When journalists start doing that I might start spending my own money on their newspapers again.





24 comments to It there a level playing ground? Arsene doesn’t seem to think so but do the papers care?

  • Kev 1963

    Good morning,
    I am a new member and pleased to find a blog that truly supports this great club.

    Having read Graham’s Polls book and the text messages between SAF and Mark Halsey, it is obvious that there have been some strange going ons. What is quite interesting is the spat David Moyes had in 2009 with the FA over the appointment of Mike Riley, for an Everton game with Man. Utd. He was unhappy with his officiating and a journalist alleged that Riley was a Man Utd fan. Moyes was not happy and asked for the FA to look into this. What an irony that Mike Riley is now head of the PL referees and David Moyes the Man Utd manager.

    The 50th game in our unbeaten run at Old Trafford, was the time I was convinced something was not right.

  • Mick

    Mark Saggers and Stan Collymore on Talksport this morning were talking about referee bias against the smaller clubs and concluded that they should maybe investigate the matter further. I have emailed them pointing them in the direction of Walters Referee Decisions site, it will be interesting to hear whether they follow it up. If they do they may not like what they find, given that stations prejudice for and against certain teams.

  • colario

    I think the gruiadian is quoting the match press conference that managers have to give before the match.

    In the build up to the game the ‘sensationlist’ sometimes known as reporters or journalists rarely focus on football and how the two teams will play. The focus is the ‘off the field’ tit bits that might be up for the chewing of.

    Usually the more obvious it is the more its played up as a ‘scoop’ or an ‘exclusive’ and is spilled out by anyone and everyone who thinks she/he knows football and is paid to gabble on and on as such.

    The fact that there is corruption in English football is realised by most who follow football in England but of course denied by those involved in the corruption. They have the support of those though not involved in the corruption believe they benefit from it.

    I believe that the late great Sir Matt Busby looks down on his beloved Old Trafford with horror at what he and some of us see happening there.

    Let’s hope today that there is the light of truth at the pitch end of the players tunnel. Its been a long time coming.

  • colario


    Just seen your comment.

    On Arsene’s birthday SAF published his book which is called ‘My Autobiography’It was as we know written for him. This is why Arsene using that laugh we have come to know so well when asked for a comment on it replied. ‘I think you mean the ‘made’ book!

    On Sports Talk that day talking about the book Mike Saggers told how he was guest at SAF’s table of plenty until that is wrote a piece for Sky and SAF’s son’s involvement with manure. From then on he was banned by SAF.

    I am therefore not surprised you hearing Mike Saggers speak as he did this morning. Let’s hope they act on your e-mail. I think they will some how although it might not be evident to us at the moment.

  • colario

    Kev 1963

    Hi Kev I am fairly new here myself. You are amongst friends. Can you share anything you found interesting in Poll’s book or those e-mails with us?

  • Nizam

    That is why for all dominance of the epl,the rf was very poor in the cl. He had two cl trophies, apoor return for all his dominance in the epl. Both were lucky wins. In 1999,he would have lost if not for the two last minute goals.BM had 99.99% dominance in the game and in 2008,Chelsea lost thru penalty kicks.
    So if Arsenal were to lose Sunday’s game ,don’t be surprised the rd were given a helping hand by the ref. Still not convinced?
    The MU gk scooped the ball out of the net . But the ref did not give Spurs the goal.When Hughes was the manager at MC,4 min aet was given for the MU game.MC were leading only to be pegged back with Owen scoring the winning in the 10th min.There are many other examples.
    I am happy that rf was not able to dominate the cl and over the moon when he lost to Barca twice.

  • elkieno

    Common the Geordies!!!
    It’s been conjbg for a few minutes now, not bad Newcastle, not bad.

    When I read those comments from AW I immediately thought of Walter and co.
    it actually makes sense too, he gets home from the game and jumps on net looks up untold and reads the articles and reviews. It is hard for me to stay interested reading them tbh, but le boss could easily do it and probably uses it with his own studies!
    He is a smart man with soooo much more class than fergie, one day everyone will see that.
    The game tonight is on at 3 O’ fuking’ Clock AM Sunday night/Monday morning!!! It’s 11:19 now so iwhat do I do, go to bed and try to get up without using the alarm (baby), sleep on couch which is possible but ill probably watch spurs v Newcastle (0-1, 20min gone) then Sunderland v City after, then our game, then work few hours later!
    Have to find out score in morning and the minute or two that it takes to load up is bloody torturerous. Half asleep rubbing eyes the room is dark, your eyes say a victory 2-1 but hang on let me rub my eyes not sure I am seeing it right.
    It’s the worse time having these games on at that time….

  • elkieno

    If only I was 25 again I could do the Monday with only 2 hours sleep thing easily. I will probably end up on couch, try really hard to turn off telly at half time of sky’s game (5min) but losing one nil is very nice to watch.
    The nerves really stating to kick in now….
    Comon You Gunners!!!
    Show em watch ya got!!!
    Show em watch ya got!!!

  • elkieno

    *sky??? Spurs game…

  • para

    I think Arsene Wenger has come of age concerning the subtle points of speaking English and the use of English words. Whereas he used to fall into the traps left by media and reporters, he is now conscious of how to use that to his and the teams advantage, albeit reluctantly i do believe due to his character. But he realises that one has to play the game sometimes or he and the team will suffer.
    So, i am primed for the match and as the hours tick by, i am becoming calmer.
    We are going to beat them today, it is only the scoreline that i cannot predict, although i would love it to be a proper beating of them, i will settle for even 0-1.
    Come on gunners.

  • elkieno

    Having now read the article I think you can’t make a saf like that, you have to be British and have a good team that is in the mix. Alan Pardew can’t be a SAF cos pards just isn’t good enough to get his sides to be able to compete for refs to then help. It would be too blatant and come undone especially how owner is… etc. you get my drift anyway.
    I suppose fergie selects Moyes, so if Moyes can get a team playing top stuff then green light all the way from refs? Ppl are blind as bats though so not impossible.
    Why do we have doubt for?
    Far out ball isnt going in for spurs, hold it y

  • elkieno

    Having now read the article I think you can’t make a saf like that, you have to be British and have a good team that is in the mix. Alan Pardew can’t be a SAF cos pards just isn’t good enough to get his sides to be able to compete for refs to then help. It would be too blatant and come undone especially how owner is… etc. you get my drift anyway.
    I suppose fergie selects Moyes, so if Moyes can get a team playing top stuff then green light all the way from refs? Ppl are blind as bats though so not impossible.
    Why do we have doubt for?
    Far out ball isnt going in for spurs, hold it strong Nova castrians…
    Who cares, COYG!

  • Mick

    Spuds lose 1-0.

  • Jax

    It’s a shame that Debatable Decisions have disappeared because they were an independent blog who’s research was probably more thorough than Walter’s and they constructed leagues based on the results of matches as they should have been if refs & linesmen had not made some disastrous errors. And guess who came top of the Premier the season before last. Yes it was us, and by quite a margin if I remember correctly.

  • Blacksheep63

    Colario, I thought I’d made it clear that the guardian was quoting from the press conference, it’s Taylor’s spin on the game that all journalists do. My grumble is that they avoid locking horns on the big issue and instead present a quite different scenario, one that is altogether safer.

    elkieno, you don’t have to be British. It might help but look around the world and there is evidence of refs being ‘fixed’ all over the place. Mourinho is savvy to the ways in which the media work over here, he can play them quite easily with his sense of drama and quotability. He is like the Don Juan of literature, before the journalists even realise it they have bent over and dropped their underwear for him.

  • Mick

    Man City losing 1-0

  • Mick

    It is a shame Debatable Decisions has gone because it was independant and people couldn’t accuse it of having an Arsenal bias. The only problem with it was that the ‘decisions’ they based the research on were apparently taken from MOTD footage which means the available data used for their findings was not nearly as comprehensive as Walter’s.

  • Mandy Dodd

    The papers might not care about arsenal but they might about plucky west brom with their British manager. Sponsors are pouring huge sums in they may or may not want a product that appears to favour the likes of utd and the obnoxious entity that is the modern day Chelsea. If the game truly is bent and money changes hands Interpol will also be interested. Everyone whether they admit it or not knows there has been issues with fergie and maybe utd and the refs. Jounnalists are now carefully hinting at this in some cases paying regard to libel laws. Some of them may want to preserve the status quo others will want to break this given the chance watergate style. Don’t imagine eufa would be over sympathetic to corruption in this league either despite their flaws and hypocracy

  • Jax

    I didn’t know about the MOTD connection, but if that was the situation and knowing MOTD’s slight anti Arsenal bias then it makes their research even more damming. And yes, not as thorough as Walters efforts (as if anything could be).

  • Mick

    Sunderland slay Man City 1-0.

  • Mick

    Mertesacker and Roscziky both out with a sickness bug.

  • the ground is not level in the epl. This is an obvious fact due to tilting of match outcomes by the referee. Wrong penalty calls, second yellow and in some cases not punishing bookable offences

  • Stuart

    There’s definitely not a level playing field. I think Wenger should enquire about training at the Underhill pitch to get used to playing uphill.