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July 2021

Liverpool manager takes up Untold’s call: there is something profoundly rotten with the refereeing system

By Tony Attwood

According to the Daily Telegraph, Brendan Rodgers, “is to ask the Premier League why ‘a referee from Greater Manchester’ was in charge of Thursday’s fixture [v Man City] which ended in a controversial defeat for the visitors.”

This is a very welcome step forwards, because it continues to force the issue of referees to the fore, and each time this happens it reduces the power of the old “it all evens out in the end” argument.

Unfortunately in one very real sense that is a very dumb question, because the Premier League don’t pick refs.  And it is a shame that Rodgers made such a mistake (if he did – we only have the Telegraph’s word for it) because it will detract from the power of his accusation.

But still it is a very welcome contribution to the debate, and hopefully the media will continue to pick up on this discussion.

However to begin with the basics.  As every Untold reader must know, refs are selected by PGMOL, the company charged with running the referee show, and a company whose actions we have regularly questioned.  Sadly, being a fanatically secret organisation, they never answer any questions, and indeed don’t even have a web site.  They used to, but then once we started asking questions, they took it down.  Now all you have is a rather dull Premier League explanation.

But we can answer the Liverpool manager’s question.  The reason why referees can be selected from close to home is twofold.

First PGMOL very deliberately only has a very small number of referees on its books, and this is why the same clubs get the same referees over and over again.

This in itself is not a bad thing, except for the fact that if there were to be corruption among referees then having a limited number of refs makes it a lot easier for the corruption to have an effect.  A larger number of refs is in itself a defence against wholesale corruption.

Second for some reason PGMOL will not recruit referees from the south, only from the north.  Which is why, when combined with the limited number of referees in PGMOL Liverpool will get refs from a part of the world they don’t want the ref to come from.

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Now back to Rodgers who spoke of “horrendous” decisions by the referee in the Man City / Liverpool game, and spoke of his dismay at having Lee Mason as a referee.

As with all referees Untold has done a review of  Lee Mason’s actions on the pitch – and let me add that although this is a site that reports “football news from an Arsenal perspective” the referees used to analyse each performance  were people who supported lots of different teams.  Some were Arsenal fans, but the majority were not, and all were qualified.   There’s an index to our most recent series of articles on refs at the end of this piece.

Rodgers added it was like “having someone from the Wirral” officiating – and particularly got worked up about Raheem Sterling’s offside in the first half.   He wasn’t offside.

Now, if you have read our continuous analysis of referees you will know it shows beyond all doubt that the standard of refereeing is way below that which is allowed in other countries, that there is horrific consistent bias by some referees in favour of certain clubs and against others, and that the notion that “it all balances out in the end” is a lunatic fallacy foisted on a gullible public by a kowtowing media who have bought into the Premier League dream.

There is no doubt that the PGMOL and its mates in the Premier League need to stop all debate on such matters, because once doubt arises about referees, then the whole credibility of the Premier League money making machine falls apart.

However the cracks are being seen – for as we reported the other day, some of the papers are now taking up our repeated calls for a total shake up of refereeing in Premier League football.  The mere fact that we are being reported by the national media is a major step forwards.

So the PGMOL via the Premier League and the FA will react to comments made by the Liverpool manager such as:

“We had no help from the officials. They were horrendous… We never got any decision for us. The linesman for the offside one – they’re not even on the same cut of grass. It is not even a difficult one.

“It is a perfectly timed run when he was through on goal, the kind of move we have worked hard on. You can’t get a decision like that wrong at this level. They are big moments in a big game.

“There was another incident where Luis didn’t get a free-kick when Joleon Lescott comes through and it was waved play on. It is arguable it is a penalty at the end. But it was throughout the game.

“Hopefully we don’t have a Greater Manchester referee again on a Liverpool-Manchester game. I was surprised we were playing in Manchester and have a referee from Greater Manchester.

“I never speak about officials but I feel the need to protect the players this evening. They were outstanding and got nothing.

“Come the end of the game, the next day or two, I will get a call from an assessor and be asked for my opinion of the performance. I would ask the question. I am sure we won’t get Liverpool-Man City [refereed by] someone from the Wirral.”

(Actually the “I never speak about officials” line is one the Liverpool man should drop.  It is a line endlessly used by Arry Redknapp ahead of each of his rants about a referee or assistant, and it diminishes his case.  Managers should speak about refs.  Not doing so is why the Premier League is such a mess).

All referees declare the clubs they support, and we’ve reported the list of who supports which club – and indeed this is another factor that makes corruption of referees easier when combined with a very low number of referees in the League.

But to be clear, I am not saying PGMOL, this or that referee is corrupt.  Rather I am saying that the standard of refereeing is very low, that it is possible to predict results of matches based on referee’s past performances (indeed it was the doing of this that attracted the media’s attention in the first place), and that the low number of referees, the refusal of PGMOL to appoint more refs, their refusal to debate issues, and the fact that it doesn’t “all balance out in the end” make it appear that there is a case to answer.

The main activity that we see around referees every day now is the managing of the reporting of referees to stop criticism, and to stop any suggestion that there is something wrong.

That process is however at last crumbling, and more and more people are ready to speak out and suggest something is wrong.   Of course when a manager reports that something is wrong in a single game involving his club, it is easy to laugh and snigger.  But the facts are here on this site for all to see, and fortunately for all of us, more people are looking.

In the latest series of referee reviews…

The earlier series of reviews:

69 comments to Liverpool manager takes up Untold’s call: there is something profoundly rotten with the refereeing system

  • rantetta

    Welcome (little bit) to our world, Brenda, lad.

    I stress little bit cos your club is in the North West, and you bitches have everything set up for you from the start of football. Don’t worry Bren, your punishment for speaking out will be a fraction of what a Southern team will get, and there are very few matches where you’ll be treated as you were on Saturday.

    Norf ****ing West. They’ve been shit-kicking since 18??, and appear to not understand the rule changes made long, long ago.

  • Jax

    Your stats show that Mason is a poor referee but Brendon is suggesting that he has a Manc bias, however the Daily Mail today show that his last four games in charge of City have resulted in three losses and one draw. Hardly shows a bias does it? Don’t know his record with United though. Yes he was poor yesterday, but giving Sterling offside was the linesman’s call, and no way could Mason have been in a position to judge it one way or another. He was backing his assistant but ultimately takes the blame for a two possible match changing decisions. I agree that there should be more PGMOL transparency and if Rogers, Wenger, yourselves and any others can pressure the Premier League into more openness then it will be welcomed by all supporters.

  • insideright

    At some time in the not too distant future the impact of having so many American owners in the EPL will be felt. In their homeland (where they generally also own teams) instant replays are deemed to be very acceptable and indeed part of the game. Watch American football for just five minutes and you’ll pick up on the culture of using all available technology to ensure that things are dome ‘right’.
    If you investing many millions of dollars into the English game you will want to be absolutely sure that you are not being robbed by unecessary inefficiencies. In the same way as Fenway argued that the introduction of Financial Fairplay was fundamental to their willingness to invest in the game here (via Liverpool) so will be the introduction of fairplay on the pitch.
    We may not like all of the consequences of US involvement in our game but tightening up on officials decision making on the field of play must surely be a welcome and inevitable consequence of becoming more ‘Americanised’.
    To give them their due pundits (maybe even especially on MOTD) are becoming more and more willing to highlight refereeing errors and the TV companies (who will provide the technology) will also benefit.
    The ‘charm’ of human error has now thoroughly worn thin. It’s time for major change in the way the game is officiated.

  • WalterBroeckx

    I have said it hundreds of times: I don’t want Arsenal to favour from wrong decisions. But I surely don’t want them to suffer from wrong decisions.
    The final line should be that it really evens out. In every game. And by evening out I don’t mean that when a ref makes a wrong decision for team A he should then make one for team B.

    No I mean that his wrong decision against team A is being corrected immediately by the 4th ref or the video refs. Should every foul or decisions be reviewed? Of course not. But the ones leading to game changing decisions should.

    Offsides should be not given unless the player is much offside. In case of doubt you don’t flag but let play continue while the video ref checks it. Is it a goal and was it offside the goal will be cancelled. Was it not offside, the goal should be given. Like the MC-Liverpool incident: assistant should have let play continue and then the goal could have been given. (The same can be said about the Arsenal disallowed goals at MC).

    Penalties and goals should be reviewed immediately for offsides, blatant fouls and such. Red cards decisions also.

    It all can be done while the game goes on or while players are surrounding refs (which can be stopped then as it will the video ref his call that will decide the outcome).
    Show the video evidence on the big screen in the stadium and all people will understand why a decision was made.

    At the end of the day all people will go home. Win, draw or lost…but they will go home in the knowledge that the result has been fair according to the laws of the game. (Results still can be unfair when a team that parks he bus wins it of course).

    I have a dream…I have a dream….

  • andy bishop

    @ walter..could not agree more. Other sports benefit from technology and adds to the interest. Why does the worlds greatest spectator sport seem reluctant to make these modern day changes??. As each year goes by the game suffers from increasing levels of cheating masquerading as “professionalism”. It will not be long before shirt pulling is acceptable while referees turn a blind eye. What has happened to the enforcement of simulation?. Corruption claims, referee bias, cheating. The governing bodies are negligent in all these matters and while the goose is laying the golden eggs I suspect no change for the better will happen

  • bob

    “But the facts are here on this site for all to see, and fortunately for all of us, more people are looking.”
    And they could be seen by all of us, all the time, with full video replay – not settling for the willful band-aid known as goal-line technology. What a lucrative farce. As is the PGMOL and its appointees in the fa/FA.

  • Mandy Dodd

    this BR thing is interesting, a well respected…home grown ..manager coming out with such a claim. makes it harder for the biased media to ignore than if the claim was made by say Wenger, or Rafa.
    Interesting point on American sport – from all I read about that, the officials are invariably excellent, experially in the complex game that is American football…and ref performances we see would not be tolerated over there. But I guess the US system is more used to a churn of champions as opposed to keeping the power with a small handful of teams, though no doubt someone will correct me on this.
    As for ref issues, yes, hard to prove anything as yet, but seeing what we see week in week out…and yes, not just with Arsenal, what goes on in the wider world, and the way human nature is, I am amazed some are not at least open to the possibility of ref issues, seems like in some quarters there is a very deliberate stifling of the debate.
    A tipping point will be reaches whereby the PGMOL / EPL / FA let alone FIFA will have to change things, someone will break ranks and things will turn. BRs comments right or wrong are just one point on that journey

  • bob

    “Show the video evidence on the big screen in the stadium and all people will understand why a decision was made.”
    And that would prove the technology for full video replay is alive and well. And that would open wide the competition on the pitch. And that would be a win/win situation for all fans and for many of the clubs. But a handful of clubs and their abettors want win only – their wins; not the win/win model which other leagues that make billions of dollars in profit (such as the NFL in the US) have adopted to exciting effect. Making billions for all players, let’s face it, is actually not enough for this lot.

  • bob

    “more used to a churn of champions as opposed to keeping the power with a small handful of teams”
    Yes, that is the business model of the very lucrative NFL (National so-called Football League in the US). It keeps it constantly on the boil for its fans and all teams and their owners. As I stated above: it is a win/win model. But this lot wants a win-only for a fixed group, with a few bread crumbs spared for the eager and graetful beggars at their banquet.

  • AL

    The only reason I can think of for someone to be against video refereeing is its because the current system unfairly ‘benefits’ others. Or in other words, the current set-up is open to abuse, hence they feel the need to keep it. Rugby uses the TMO technology and players who make dangerous tackles can be cited after the match if missed by the officials and punished retrospectively. As a result there is less controversy in Rugby, not to say it isn’t there, but the argument of whether it should have been a try or not has been significantly reduced. Yet in football(which probably has 20 times more money than Rugby) we still get game changing decisions like yesterday’s wrong offside call made daily, getting managers sacked and teams relegated. It’s ridiculous.

    Also why don’t we have sufficient referees, it’s not as if its a shift from the current set up? As pointed out in this article already, its to ensure a small, trusted and manageable clique of officials is maintained which makes it easier to rig matches. The whole thing stinks, and its unfortunate that the fan is the one that pays for all this rot. If only we could all speak with one voice as fans, perhaps something could change.

  • ARSENAL 13

    Cricket had introduced drs. To review umpires decision… I think football should also use that. In case of arsenals disallowed goals, we could have used the referral system. Same in Sterling’s case.
    If the referees desicion is upheld then you loose your right for referral. So players have to be confident enough to use drs. And not use it to waste time….

  • AL

    Am afraid someone has broken ranks already(Halsey) but is being hounded out of everything to do with the game in a way designed to scare off anyone else contemplating to do the same. It’s sad.

  • bob

    This is what Paul Wilson, the doyenne of the Guardian Football Department, is willing to say-risk: that is, he’ll only report Rodgers comment and fast ensure that readers know that the FA will suspend him. Full stop. End of story. No comment on whether BR was right or not. No scintilla of risk to his/Guardian Football Department’s access to the perks of access. Behold the careful limits of this long-time, long-in-the-tooth, very knowing senior writer. He knows, does Paul Wilson, but he will not openly say it. He guages which way the wind blows and toes that line. Behold:

    “Brendan Rodgers was so annoyed at Liverpool having a valid goal disallowed he appeared to question Lee Mason’s integrity in wondering why a Greater Manchester (Bolton) referee had been appointed to the match. Liverpool’s manager can expect to be charged by the Football Association for his comments.
    “I was surprised to see that the referee came from Greater Manchester,” he said. “If it was City v Liverpool at Anfield I don’t think we would get a referee from the Wirral.” He thought Mason was not alone in his ineptitude. “It was a horrendous performance from all the officials. Nothing went our way at all.”

  • Xavier

    Hi Tony. You made this statement in your article:

    “Now, if you have read our continuous analysis of referees you will know it shows beyond all doubt that the standard of refereeing is way below that which is allowed in other countries”

    I’ve seen plenty of your ref reviews from the Premier League but has your team ever done a ref review on matches from different leagues? It would be interesting if we could get a sample of maybe 10 or so games from Spain and Germany (and Italy and France to a lesser extent).

    I know since there has been a loss in the ref review team (and Untold family) it will be difficult but would that be possible as a small project for next calender year or next season?

  • marcus

    @Mandy Dodd, you say a homegrown manager speaking up

    “makes it harder for the biased media to ignore”

    but Mr G. Lineker on MOTD superciliously dismissed Brendan Rodgers’ complaints as ‘a rant’.

  • Philbet

    Much as I enjoy reading the site,(I follow every day if possible). i am afraid you are simply wrong about referees,they are not corrupt just human,they make mistakes (like the rest of us), they get paid about £90,000 a year and this standard is what you get for that money, Referees have made, bad/poor/wrong decisions since the game went pro and will continue to do so,simply through incompetence, the games fast moving,highly charged, played and in a cauldron of an atmosphere by 22 players, who have to be controlled by basically one referee, Quite simply he will get things wrong !!!!
    I am pretty certain if your reviewers studied the performance of every Right back in the league (average earnings £1.5 Million PA), noted every missed tackle,poor pass/control,when they were caught out of position,fouled an opponent,didn’t cover /track back, then you would find the best Right backs would play for the clubs chasing the championship and the poorer ones would be staring at relegation, none however would be perfect and its most likely none would be corrupt.These players earn up to 50 times as much as a referee yet make simerler mistakes, but you don’t deign it necessary to review them.
    Barring having the game refereed b a robot/computer then Human error will occur, I think you will be better off learning to live with it.

  • bob

    Lineker has thereby PROVEN his lenscrafter credentials.

  • Jax


    Wilson (of The Guardian) did back Rogers by saying that Sterling’s goal was incorrectly judged offside. He’s hardly going to support him on the comments about Greater Manchester is he?

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Watch the Game – Ref

    A spectator at a local league match at Bransbury Park, Portsmouth kept up a constant barrage of insults and derogatory remarks directed against the referee.

    Finally the referee could stand it no longer. He marched over to the sideline and, looking the noisy spectator squarely in the eye, shouted, “Look here – I’ve been watching you for the last twenty minutes…”

    “I thought so “, the spectator retorted loudly, “I knew you couldn’t have been watching the game !”

  • GoingGoingGooner

    @Philbet But why should we accept such ‘human’ behaviour when we have the ability to improve on it?

    The National Hockey League (North American ice hockey) added another referee because it felt the game had sped up. This referee is always behind the play so he has an overview of what is going on and can see actions away from the play. Most other major sports (Rugby, ice hockey, American Football, Cricket, Tennis, baseball…)have introduced technology to aid the humans and have somehow found a balance between tradition and accuracy. Why can’t football?

  • Brickfields Gunners

    From the Medical Division of UA , another rare football condition explained !

    Pedaspheraphobia (Peda.sphera.phobia) Fear of Football)Pedaspheraphobia – Gene causing fear of football

    Chinese doctors have identified the human gene which causes Pedaspheraphobia.

  • Cyberian

    One way to call more attention to the debate would be to publish prospective reviews of prominent matches other than those that involve Arsenal. I realize it would not be possible to do every game for every round, but one for each round would have substantial impact.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    What I ‘d like them to study is why alleged Arsenal ‘fans’ go on to pro- Arsenal websites and spew crap ; question the sanity of the writer and / or readers ; provide no intelligible nor sane counter arguments or points ; are very dismissive, but all in a very contemptible but somewhat dignified manner ?

    Could the reason be …
    1)Genetic or Birth defects ?
    Consanguinity and/ or incestuous familial relationships.

    2)Head injuries in childhood ?
    Getting smacked about the head by drunken parents and constant banging of said head on floor during temper tantrums .

    3)Irreversible teen /early adult physical , sexual and/or mental trauma ?
    Being groped/probed by relatives ;priests ; mall Santas ;
    sleazy foreigners ; size issues and ‘failure to launch ‘.

    4)Drug/medication use/abuse/exposure by self or parents ?
    In the ’50s & ’60s governments joined in the fun by exposing
    their population to radiation ,Agent Orange ,pesticides etc.
    The Hippies hit back with LSD , Mary Jane ,heroin and shit!
    Whatever brain cells remained were blasted into orbit by “Rock and Roll “!

    5)Adult life ,work,relationship/ marriage disappointments?
    Were you always the first one to be shown the door, failing generally at everything ? Never the groom..? Short cumming?

    6)Midlife crisis /meltdown ?
    Empty nest syndrome ? Alone again naturally ? Friends all successful ? Friends all support ManUre and have goaded you
    about ,”French elephants in the room ” ; 8 years without trophies and ‘spend some fucking money ‘?

    7) The fear that Arsenal ,who were perennial but comforting failures just like you ,are about to actually win something
    and leave you all behind ?
    Just too bad you AAAAs – enjoy and revel in your angst !
    Or you could all go down the road to support that ‘other North London club” – you’d loved it there – they always disappoint !!!!

  • marcus


    You still convinced that Rodgers’ comments are a rallying call for a media with a desire for the truth? Yahoo slurs Rodgers and those who agree with him as conspiracy theorists, (which is a sly and disingenuous way of calling someone a delusional fantasist and liar, because if you actually said what you meant, you’d either be punched in the face down the pub, or if in print, made to explain yourself, with the threat of libel charges not far behind)

    On a different tack – can’t help feeling AW must be thinking now of Podolski and Walcott as false wings, with Ozil as a false no9 – like Barca’s set-up

  • Brickfields Gunners

    RE no: 4 – I had mentioned it once much earlier ,but onone had taken the bait then ,so …..
    Did you know that in 1973 , Terry Venables wrote a book titled, ” They used to play on grass ” ; as I had never read it myself ,but always thought it was an expose of the prevailing drug culture by football players of that era .
    Apparently its fiction ! Hmmmmm !

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Sorry …but no one had…

  • Brickfields Gunners

    There are AAAA types in other countries ?

    A Game of Life and Death.
    Bill Shankly, the late, legendary Liverpool FC manager reputedly said, ‘Some people believe football is a matter of life and death. I’m very disappointed with that attitude. I can assure you it is much, much more important than that.’ It appears that this fan thinks much the same:

    An Italian football fan has started putting up a grave every time his team loses a major match. Inter Milan fan, Massimo Pecorino, 52, has so far erected more than 20 gravestones on a local mountainside. He says grave mistakes can only be marked by a grave where he buries his hopes and dreams, near his home town of Cortona.

    Pecorino said, ‘Instead of enjoying a celebration I felt like I was at a funeral, so I spent the day carving out my fury on a stone.’

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Mirror Images – and they aren’t even blondes ,or …

    Two AAAAs are walking along the road when one of them picks up a mirror. He looks in it and says, ‘Hey, I know that bloke!’

    The second one picks it up and says, ‘Of course you do you idiot, it’s me’.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    The end is nigh ,and its too late ,all is lost …

    God’s Football Team -vs- Devil’s Team .

    God, and the devil were each having a holiday in hyper-space. The topic of conversation turned to who could turn out the best football team. Much to the God’s surprise the devil proposed a football match to settle their dispute.

    As God was leaving he said to the devil, ‘Don’t you realise that all the ‘good’ players go to heaven?”

    The devil, smiling, responded “Yeah, but we’ve got all the refs!”

    While you mull this ,as you must , its goodnight from me !

  • Stuart

    This website is home to all of the reviews :

    Enjoy 🙂

  • Strus

    Referees were bunglers, but Brendan behind the scenes should ask :
    Henderson why he was doing a Bendtner to a Suarez shot;
    Sterling why he shot way over from primal position;
    Mignolet what he was doing with Negredo shot.
    Liverpool is Suarez + some bunglers, but it was near enough to get a win at MC.

  • bob

    You must mean (ap)Paul Wilson of the former Manchester Guardian. Remember that Jax? That website, and he taking a leading role (along with Hytner and the other Paul there) in the Xtreme sport of Arsenal/Arsene bashing and destabilization of two summers ago; and it/he continues to be massively proManure. Nope, you got me there Jax; the Manchester Guardian Football Department would hardly have the balls or inclination to point to the obvious about Greater (or would that be lesser) Manchester? Now I know that’s a petty remark; unless you worked in them satanic mills or grew cotton on a Yankee plantation back in the daze.

  • bob

    “Barring having the game refereed b a robot/computer then Human error will occur, I think you will be better off learning to live with it.”
    Wherever you bet your money on match day, I’d say you might have heard of video replay? At least from reading (big assumption) the commentaries above? Perhaps you’ve got an idea there about at least minimizing human error. Robots, though, are built by flawed human beings, so that would’s banish the error factor that you slate my species with. Ok, guess you win.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Not a rallying call to the media Marcus but just maybe a small step on the road to some degree of truth. The uk media can have a xenophobic side to it but Brendan is from these isles and cannot be dismissed as a whinging foreigner like some I could think of. If there u
    Is collusion and conspiracy the media as FIF suggests may also be under the influence of the corrupt agents and heaven knows who else and they will not give it all up over a remark by BR as you correctly mention but baby steps and all that. Take the point made in earlier post about halsey breaking ranks but not sure he went far enough need someone senior or under cover making statements to Interpol ultimately. Also needs big sponsors to help halt corruption from top downwards but who knows how or when that will happen

  • bob

    The miscreant ref, Martin Atkinson strikes again. Behold these from managers Hughes and Pardew from their match yesterday:

    “Stoke’s manager debated the issue with Martin Atkinson. The referee promptly gave him his own marching orders. In truth the first yellow card had been a bit harsh. “A softish sending off,” acknowledged Pardew. Hughes concurred. Emphatically. “I was absolutely dismayed by the referee’s performance,” said Stoke’s manager, who contested both Whelan’s bookings. “I can’t believe it. I don’t trust myself to go and see him.”

    That would be: “I don’t trust myself to go and see him.”
    What is going on here, you see.

  • Matt Clarke

    The NFL model of more referees will only work if the referees do their job properly. Simply adding six more idiots/corrupt-‘Northern-Chip-On-My-Shoulder’-types (whatever they really are) will not improve things.

    I see BR getting flamed big time by the Truth Police. His reaction will be interesting and, possibly, seminal (although, as others have noted, his Club does benefit from the Version that we are entitled to receive, so maybe not after all).

    I do hope that you are right with that (whilst amazed and somewhat dis-heartened that nothing seems to have been done to-date after many years of Yankee involvement).

    It is always good to read your posts – if we were players I’d have you on my team every time 🙂

  • Rupert Cook

    @Jax, I’m sure the lunatics on here don’t want to acknowledge your point about Mason if it dares to prove their prejudices wrong. As to your point about transparency I think we all want that and would welcome it.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Won’t speak others on here lunatics or not but most of the comments go wider than mason Liverpool or even Arsenal for that matter. In another post I defended mason reffing this game due to Bolton connections, apparently a younger brother played for them at some level. Should a Bolton ref do a manc team , not sure I know the ultimate answer to that but guess I would not like someone from N17 reffing us. BR made a comment it is up to him to substantiate in this incidence he will certainly get his chance. But right or wrong in this case his comments are significant and are part of the wider debate this and other sites have taken up

  • Mike T

    The more I read this twaddle the more I despair. Football isn’t an exact science its a free flowing contact sport something that no other game, not even rugby can claim to be. What your advocating will sterilise and slow down the game to such a degree as to kill it as a spectator sport. Oh no it wont many will say it will ensure the right decision is made so one simple question how far back will the video ref revisit the play. 20 seconds, 30, 40? but what happens if he missed a foul before the cut off point? How long before cries to go back even further?
    To illustrate lets return to the Liverpool game for a second, lets say for arguments sake Sterling was offside but it wasn’t given. He went through, shot and the keeper put it out for a corner. For the resultant corner Liverpool, and now nearly a minute after the bad offside call, score or how about a Man City player handled on the line which should mean a sending off and a penalty. Would you want to go back as far as the incorrect offside decision and expunge everything that happened following that?

  • Stuart

    Mike T,
    I think it is something that would be developed over time to get it right but initially, let’s say a maximum rewind of 10 seconds otherwise as you say, people would abuse it.

    I don’t understand why anybody would not want the actual correct decision to be made, oh hang on a minute, I do….!

  • Mike T

    The one thing I forgot to add is that at PL level I do think the refs should explain what led them to making the decision they did or perhaps didn’t and even if as a minimum they put their hands up and say I go it wrong or I missed the bad tackle, the handball, or whatever at least we the paying supporters will be better placed to make decisions as to a refs competence or bias as opposed to a set of figures compiled with the benefit of multi angled and slow motion replays.

  • Mike T


    For me its about honest decisions being made for many decisions(in particular fouls) are based on the refs judgement and all too often others will have differing opinions

  • Stuart

    Funny how that opinion differs depending on which team is affected though Mike T.

    I have to be honest, I think video replay is the right thing and I have not heard an argument that convinces me video replay is wrong but I’m all ears.

  • Mike T


    In cricket , in tennis they review a phase of play that is stand alone in term of the game you look at that point or that ball in isolation it has a defined start point and an clear ending it makes it far easier to both manage and understand.
    In rugby by virtue of its close quarter contact the ref is more likely to miss an offence but even then its only if the ref isn’t 100% sure he will ask for a view from the TMO and then only certain events.
    When people say they are in favour of video reviews I wonder what decisions they want reviewed. Is it all those not given but what about those that are given and prove to be wrong? Should the ref review all tackles ? What about when a yellow based on clocking up of fouls.
    I believe FIFA commissioned a review by a Scottish university with a view to introducing video refs and the conclusion was that the demands of football made it impossible to realistically adopt them without harming football as we know it.

  • Tom

    Mike T
    “The more I read this twaddle the more I dispair”

    My advice – Stop reading !. Desperation can lead to regrettable actions 🙂

    “Football isn’t an exact science….” This part of your statement is further from the truth than you realize. From player diet and nutrition, training methods ,opponent scouting, player performance monitoring and evaluation, I would argue that football has increasingly become an exact science.
    The only aspect of football that hasn’t kept up is in fact refereeing during gams and retrospective as well.

    Wether one thinks football is ” clean” or corrupted , the vast majority believe refs need some sort of assistance and providing them with video technology for goal scoring situations is hardly “sterilizing ” it. Not too long ago , we heard the same arguments against the goal line technology, but now that it’s here , everybody likes it.

    As for slowing the game down to the point of “killing it as a spectator sport ” , I don’t think you need to worry about that,seeing as some managers have been trying to do just that without success ( especially against Arsenal):)

    According to some statistics the ball stays in play for less than 60 minutes during the entire match and players protest and contest 73% percent of referee decisions anyway. Surely a video referee up in the booth could determine if the goal should stand or not in a shorter amount of time than it takes the match referee to tell enraged players to piss off , wouldn’t you say?

    But if you’re so worried by potential overeach, we can always start small.
    Let’s say , implement the video technology only for goals scored with the hint of off-side. So called “bang-bang” plays , where players have no time to react to a potential mistake by linesmen.

    You would still get to keep all the wrong penalty decisions so not to take all “the fun” out of football:)

    Getting as many decisions correctly as possible will not only not “kill football as a spectator sport” but rather will promote it to markets that are still sceptic about a game played for 90 minutes or more only to arrive at a unfair result.

  • Philbet

    Hi all, I would just like to state, extra referees,video replay and other modern technology’s,etc is something i strongly support,in my opinion getting to the right decision is always the best way, This however is a completely different debate to the referee is corrupt one, I say the official is incompatant because too much is asked and expected of him and it has been forever so, The ref will always fail many times a game because he’s only human..

  • Mike T


    In terms of player preparation managers/coaches would love all there decisions to be correct but they aren’t no matter how they apply the science!

    Two differing takes on this and yes I sort of understand where you are coming from in terms of off sides but even then we get a ref making a judgement call in terms of interfering with play. For me the only type of help could be was the ball over the offence over the line or put another way where the matter is beyond doubt as opposed to the officals take on it

  • Stuart

    Mike T,

    I’d like to see a system in place where a manager can request a review of an incident where he feels the ref has not awarded his team something. If the manager is found to be correct then play goes back and if not, play has not stopped so it just continues as it already was.
    There should be a maximum number of incorrect calls from the manager, let’s say 2 for arguments sake. If the managers call was incorrect, then they lose a call, if they make 2 incorrect calls, that is their lot. This would encourage honesty from the players rather than calling for every ball / incident to be in their favour even when it was not.

    As to the type of incident where this can be used – well that could possibly be up to the manager or you could say fouls, offsides & goals – I am not suggesting what should be included here.

  • Stuart

    My sentiments exactly.

  • Mike T


    Whilst I an see that sort of thing being an attraction we still come back to opinion, most decisions in football are just that whereas sports that have such a system in place have definitive rules such as was the bowlers foot behind the line , did the batsman hit the ball, was the ball pitching in line, was it going on to hit the wicket etc.
    Look at football. Was the handball deliberate , was the tackle made with excessive force.
    As I said earlier I am sold on the idea of the ref explaining his decision but for me the calls have to be honest and the judgement applied in making the contentious calls should be

  • Stuart

    Mike T,
    That opinion you talk about takes us back to bias as the ref can have an opinion of one team and a different one of anther team for identical incidents. This can also be broken down to individual player level too.

  • WalterBroeckx

    Mike T,
    Did you know that referees in Holland have been pleading for assistance from video replays for a while now.
    You see us lunatics over here (don’t know if it was you who used this term) are in rather good company.
    did you know hat the Belgian FA has asked FIFA permission to use video evidence during the game from next season on? Another bunch of lunatics out there…

    In fact there are more and more lunatics out there….

  • WalterBroeckx

    Mike T,
    handballs and deliberate are not the defining criteria any more.

  • Tom

    Every referee I ever spoke to said they would welcome some sort of help to make their job easier.
    The game has gotten faster and players have gotten craftier in trying to get “cheat” an edge.

    I had a chuckle when I heard Wenger say ” it’s not cheating when you appeal for a throw in or a corner knowing it was you who put it out into touch.” Really? What is it then ?

    When Wenger , whom I consider one the most honest managers in the game today , says a thing like that , what do you suppose other managers tell their players to do .

    Is it any wonder that players like Rooney ,Young and recently Januzaj have been diving consistently to win penalties or free kicks all over the park?

    I bet if you asked PL officials what they thought of video technology , they would say “bring it on”, if they could speak freely that is.

  • marcus

    It’s all a bit academic when they don’t enforce the present rules fairly and consistently.

    2 match ban for Wilshere, but I doubt they will do anything about the criminal abuse from the stands.

    Rooney diving….I thought there was going to be retrospective action now.

    It’s an endless litany of favouritism and preference – and any technology will only be any good if the people who run the show are clean.

    We know refs have microphones, but have any players ever been sanctioned for calling the ref ‘a ****ing w****er’ ? I doubt it.

    The whole game is rotten from the head down.

  • marcus

    @ Walter

    It was Rupert Cook who labelled the people on this site as lunatics. I would ignore this kind of comment because it is the kind of desperate recourse to insult of someone who has lost the argument.

    In the comments section of the newspaper, 95% of people agree with Brendan Rodgers.

    People are not stupid, and you can only feed them hogwash for so long.

    More and more dots are starting to appear, and people are connecting the dots.

    MOTD and the rest of paid for press will desperately cling to their capsized dinghy, because it suits them so. People like Lineker are wealthy on the back of the EPL; the last thing they want is for Joe Public to start thinking of it as piece of Kabuki theatre.

    But the masks are slipping…and more dots are forming. As Wolverhampton Wanderers fans were singing several seasons back…

    “The EPL is rubbish”

  • Wengerson

    Mike T (and everyone who is sceptical about video reviews)

    Video technology is already in use! Retroactive punishments, anyone? The problem with this system though, is that it is open to corruption, as we have already seen: Alex Song stamping on leg v/s Rooney elbow? The powers that be are scared sh*tless to have these reviewed during the game, as they will expose their rotten ways.

    Also, the idea is that there will be less and less “cheating” when the players are aware that they are being watched, and incidents are being reviewed on the spot (Ashey Young!). Take it like motorists behaving when there is a camera on the road. Damn even mourinho’s eye poking incident was based on video evidence! I bet Zidane(head butt) was sent off based on the same evidence.

    One thing that I’m also very interested in: the referee microphone conversations during the game. Watergate?

    ps: I’m a proud lunatic!

  • Brickfields Gunners

    @ Wengerson – If being an AKB = raving mad lunatic , then I’m
    guilty as charged !
    I quite like your ” Deep Throat” idea – just imagine it , a whistle-blowing whistle blower !

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Cruel and unusual punishment ? Way to mess up your kids !

  • Mike T


    You say that handballs and deliberate aren’t the defining criteria anymore. I think you ill find that whilst the law is being viewed from a slightly different standpoint the deliberate element still remains within in the rule and I believe is confirmed in this article by Graham Poll–The-Official-Line-The-new-handball-rule-explained-Newcastle-got-lucky-Fox-penalty.html

  • AL

    Agree, they already are using video evidence but only to suit their own agenda; ban certain players from certain clubs retrospectively for minor misdemeanours while others from other clubs remain untouched for more serious offences because, ‘well, we can’t re-ref the matches….’ The contradictions couldn’t be any starker.

    They’re worried if they make it official then every club will now be entitled to make an official complaint for a decision to be reviewed(like in rugby) and they’d be forced to act on it, so they thought what better way to give their preferred teams an advantage than to just sneak it in through the back door and apply it selectively. Song got punished for accidentally landing on a part of the body of a player that had tried to take him out in a two-footed lunge(conveniently overlooking the fact that the reason Song had jumped was from taking evasive action from a dangerous tackle from his, erm, ‘victim’), while Rooney will get away scotfree for his vicious kick-out at Huddlestone this week, even though there’s no excuse of the ref having seen it and dealt with it. All we just get is silence from the men responsible for dishing this retrospective punishment.

  • Mike T

    Moving the debate slightly I was interested to read that Stoke management team and supporters are up in arms over Martin Atkinson’s performance on Boxing Day. They are claiming a series of poor decisions lost them the game (heard that somewhere before)
    Hughes in particular is fuming that Whelan was sent off. It seems that Whelan’s first booking was for kicking the ball away after the whistle, which was clearly heard on TV and after two or so seconds after the whistle Whelan did indeed kick the ball away. Hughes claims no one heard the whistle!
    Whelans second booking was for a poor tackle which was only a minute or two after the first offence. In the refs opinion it was a bad tackle which it probably was.
    Their second red card was for denying a goal scoring opportunity which on the face of it was a good call.
    For me the only bad decision was Atkinson allowed play to continue when the ball was out of play. In reality he did need help with this type of decision as its not a judgement call as to whether a ball is or isn’t out of play and something I suggest is an area where technology could help.

  • TommieGun

    I’m very pleased with this post.

    I’m pleased I think it’s a move in the right direction.

    There is a problem with the refs. We all know it. But I thought that some radical line of thought within UA was detrimental to getting the result we all want: better refereeing.

    Now let’s say Johnny borrowed 100 pounds from me. He promised me it will buy medicine for his sick sister, and that he will pay me the money next week. But he lied, and he went gambling with it or buying drugs. And in the end he didn’t return the money.

    Now which is the better story to tell the judge? The whole story, including Johnny’s lies and drug habit, or just plainly saying: “Johnny borrowed 100 pounds from me, he promised to return it next week and didn’t”.

    Now most people would have the intuition to tell the whole story. First of all, because people WANT the whole story; and secondly, they think it might help portray Johnny as the shithead he really is.

    But the truth is, it’s much better to stick with the simplest facts that will help you get the money. You have a lot less to prove, and you don’t need to prove what went on within Johnny’s head. And in the end, if you win, it’s the same 100 pounds.

    I hope I was understood.

  • bob

    Tommie Gun,
    So please be specific on how to capsulize the current mess into a palatable enough story line that will work to even the playing field. Anything from a strategy to a tactic to a sound byte – something specific that would help reform the mess at hand. At what do you specifically mean by reform?

  • TommieGun

    Can’t do a better job than Tony.

    This post is the best presentation of the situation – no conspiracy theories, no insinuation to corruption, nothing that goes on inside others’ heads. The simple facts, without unnecessary subjective connection of dots that might or might not be the right connection.

    Problem: not enough refs, the level is just not good enough, PGMOL has zero accountability.

    Solution: more refs, better refs, getting PGMOL to act in transparency.

    You see? There is nothing dramatic, nothing over the top, it’s factual, it’s dry, and this is how things get done.

    Oh, and for sure no grounds for some libel action that will surely derail things and undermine the goal, which is getting better refereeing.

    In the end, the most you can get is your 100 pounds back. And in the end, all we want to achieve can be achieved without creating a sinister story (which might or might not exist – it’s really irrelevant).

  • bob

    Cheers for your thoughtful pragmatism. So, on to tactics: But low keying it also has its perils, methinks. Which is that it doesn’t galvanize pressure for change. Why would those in control cede more refs, produce better refs, and become more accountable to with fans who’d approach them with quiet think-pieces. Why now, suddenly, after all this time? You may be (are clearly) more comfortable with the “just the facts” style; but, methinks, so are they. Be honest about it. While your way may avoid the dread libel suit (a good thing), nothing really confronts them; so nothing to confront and no need to reform. They’ve already “given in” to (nice contracts, thank you) for your (cough cough) goal line technology, and that’s it (wink-wink.) I feel that your quiet reasoned way won’t garner from your betters (bettors?) even a chat at high-tea. Why would they bother to respond? Why?

  • TommieGun

    @ Bob,

    No offense mate, I appreciate your stance. It is what usually clients ask for and I am quite familiar with it. From my experience (and truly my philosophy) is don’t pick a fight when you can win with a good argument.

    Right now what the media is picking up to from UA work are the facts and the stats, and it isn’t like Rodgers said anything about corruption. That IS a good thing and we all can agree on that.

    And lastly: I don’t think that the factual arguments must be spoken quietly at high tea chat. I think that according whatever freedom of information act that exists in the UK, PGMOL (even though being a private company) must provide public reports by demand (because it provides a unique public service). In other words, a court can compel them to provide information.

    That would make them uncomfortable don’t you think 😀 ?