Southampton is the club to tackle PGMOL; but will others stand with them?

By Tony Attwood

Now we will see if the Premier League clubs that are messed about by the awful refereeing and the intransigent PGMOL will stand up and demand change.

For now is the moment we have waited for.  A club is standing up to the PGMOL – the organisation that handles the affairs of referees, appoints referees, looks into complaints on referees and issues judgements.   It is the judge, the jury, and the defence.

Or will the other clubs snigger at the naivety of Southampton and let them fight this battle alone – a battle to sort out the awful mess of refereeing in the Premier League continue.

Southampton’s complaint against Mark Clattenburg has been rejected by PGMOL – the body that appointed him to the job of refereeing the match in the first place.  But for once a club has said, no, this is not on.

Southampton wrote to Professional Game Match Officials Limited on December 31 2013, objecting to referee Clattenburg’s conduct towards Adam Lallana when Everton beat Southampton on 20 December 2013.   Now the Press Association has said that Clattenburg said to Lallana: “You are very different now, since you’ve played for England – you never used to be like this.”

The PGMOL has said it will now take no action and Clattenburg can carry on refereeing.  Worse, in a truly laughable statement PGMOL said, “PGMOL is committed to constructive dialogue and communication with clubs, managers and players. On 31 December PGMOL received a letter from Southampton who raised concerns about the conduct of Mark Clattenburg following their game with Everton on 29 December.

“In a written response to Southampton PGMOL acknowledge that their complaint has been considered in full. However, given the nature of the conversation with the player, having reviewed the footage and spoken to the team of officials as well as the Premier League match delegate it has been found that there is no case to answer. Mark has the full support of PGMOL management and will be considered for selection for all and any matches going forward in the usual way.”

So Clattenburg referees Arsenal v Tottenham today.

Southampton have said “An official insulting any player, no matter his intentions, is clearly not acceptable behaviour. For this reason we do not accept the verdict of the PGMOL in relation to this case, and do not consider the matter to be over.

“Under the circumstances we do not feel it appropriate for Mr Clattenburg to officiate in any of our matches until this matter is properly resolved.”

But there is more to it that this – the whole secretive way in which PGMOL work, the way it refuses to answer questions, the way it fails to inform the public of its actions through a web site, the way it puts out statistics which appear crazy and then fails to give any evidence as to how it obtained them, the way it rules itself allowing no independent outsiders to judge it… all this and more is what is wrong with the very heart and soul of English Premier League football.

Thank goodness someone has at last stood up and said, no, this is not right.

36 Replies to “Southampton is the club to tackle PGMOL; but will others stand with them?”

  1. If it’s true (the reporting of what Clattenburg said), then I don’t see an issue with his reply to whatever Lallana said to him. Was the player swearing, or protesting to actively? I think it might have been a reasonable response to an over the top vocal attack. Having said that I think it’s good that Southampton think it’s worth pursuing.

  2. It is not just what Clattenburg is alleged to have said to Lallana that has upset Southampton. They clearly believe that Clattenburg denied them two clear penalties because he was determined not to give Southampton anything before the game even started due to the history he has with Everton after his awful performance in the Liverpool derby six years ago since when he has not officiated at Everton. As such I think Southampton believe his approach to the game was thoroughly unprofessional and that is the real story. Refs have, in my opinion, done this sort of thing consistently over the years and no one has had the guts to speak out about it. Southampton are just saying that this sort of unprofessional behaviour has to stop. It’s not just Southampton who suffer like this. Most clubs have suffered from it at some point or other. Referring should be wholly unbiased. The sad truth is that it isn’t in this country. Media reports it as an ego thing. Maybe some refs do have huge egos, but it is more than that. It’s a career thing too.

  3. Poor little lad did the big man say nasty things to you? FFS the abuse referees take from players constantly, yet as soon as one says something back? Clattenburg is right one game for England because nobody else was available, and he becomes a prima donna.

  4. The point isn’t what Lallana said as Clattenburg as the match official had plenty of options with which to deal with it, especially if he was being abusive. Although the alledged statement seems tame it implies that Lallana has become arrogant or ‘difficult’ and is an unproffesional remark towards another when there was no reason to say it. What is really concerning is PGMOL response is to deem there is no case to answer so Clattenburg is not even required to apologise and highlights the issue with the Judge and Jury narrative of PGMOL.

  5. Only two people know what was said and the way it was said. It’s a bit rich players complaining the refs are insulting them. I wonder if the PGMOL record player and referee interaction during a game. Secrecy breeds conspiracy. The PGMOL close ranks in a misguided effort to protect the referees so nothing changes except more and more conspiracy. The longer this all goes on even the most erroneous conspiracy could become fact. Its time the powers got together and introduced technology like all other sports. If the referees make a bad decision it can be corrected at the time. Players and managers will have to improve their behaviour and restrict cheating(professionalism) and referees improve decision making and reduce the perceived bias. I like most football fans are fed up with the simulation going unchecked, managers ranting from the touchline, swearing and hassling of referees and deliberate over the top tackling. Maybe then we can all talk about football and its positive qualities.

  6. Southampton complain has been badly presented. Their view is that because they are a team of young, friendly, respectful players, referees in general and Clattenburg in particular can ignore their valid claims. Yes, Clattenburg said is not insulting nor offensive, but for them what Clattenburg said is the proof that they are viewed as docile players that can rough handle without making a fuss.
    Because their case has been badly presented, they have made to look like fool and cry baby by the press. The question is will Southampton new resolve and confrontational attitude will have any effect on the way they are refereed? If Phil Dowd, the self proclaimed guardian of referee honor is their next referee, they may be at the end of the same kind of referring Arsenal was in their 4-4 draw against Newcastle. Long term, their complain may change their perception by referees and journalists and be beneficial to them. Suddenly controversial decision against them are not brushed under the carpet, but are part of the narrative. Southampton is con by referee out of their rightful place.

  7. As tame as the remarks appear, as soon as a referee makes a comment of a personal nature to a player, he has undermined his own impartial status. I say kudos to Southampton for pursuing it. Referee’s are so wrapped up in cotton wool by the authorities, it’s about time somebody challenged them. ‘who watches the watchmen’

  8. @Lishman
    Yes i agree. If a player, indeed a manager makes an unprofessional remark to a ref, they usually get punished, so refs who do so should also be punished.
    I see that the consensus about PGMOL is not good so something needs to be done about their ability to do the job correctly. I am glad that all of this is now being brought forward and hope that we get some good response and changes to the ref situation here in UK.

  9. @Valentin,
    My sentiments exactly. If the clubs are to nail the PGMOL let them have a watertight case to present.
    If Clattenburg’s remarks are correct in all respects, the submissions by Southampton would appear to fall by the wayside.

  10. How can anyone perceive mark Clattenburgs as derogative.

    its time the young (and older)players grew up and got on with what they are paid for.Play football for whichthe fans pay good money to watch/

  11. No ! , is the answer to your question. Other clubs will not stand with Southampton regardless if there’s a case to answer or not and it will be for the same reasons most clubs have refused to admit there is a problem with PGMOL in the first place.

    Every time decisions go against a club , there’s another club that directly benefits from it and the manager of that club is very unlikely to speak the truth about said decisions.

    If Chelsea get awarded a penalty in the last minute of the game to preserve Mourinho’s undefeated run at the Bridge, it won’t matter how wrong that decision was or that it might’ve cost West Brom manager Steve Clark his job a few weeks later, Mourinho will never admit it was a wrong decision or that he was outplayed at home and should’ve lost that game.

    Most managers who label calls “scandalous and the worst I’ve ever seen” when they go against them, change their tune when they benefit from identical decisions going their way calling them correct or “soft” or say “I didn’t see the replay”.

    If Man City win the League this year by less than a two point margin and no game changing decisions go against them the rest of the way , will the City manager ,it’s players or fans admit that in the stretch of two games against two other top teams they benefited from a slew of wrong game changing decisions that might’ve got them points?, doubt it.

    If Tottenham make top four and Hull City get relegated by one point ,will Tottenham fans say they benefited from a wrong penalty decision ( on more than one occasion )that cost Steve Bruce’s team points and the Premier League status? , hell no!

    The deeply flawed system we have is in part due to the clubs themselves who only protest and speak out against it when it suits them and try to manipulate it to their advantage as much as they can.

  12. I am of the opinion that until we get a manager or club official who has the balls to come out and call a spade a spade and then get some solid backing from other clubs, especially the big one’s, and actually challenge the PGMOL to fully justify themselves then we will get nowhere. All this skirting around the edges is not enough and will always result in frustration. The nearest anyone has come to challenging the establishment was Benitez a few years back but look what happened, he got no support and was portrayed by the press as some sort of whinging clown and the whole thing finished up as a media joke fest. Arsenal have had many occasions where they could have presented a solid case for having been screwed but I imagine they feel it futile to do so because of the certainty that they would get little or no support from other clubs, particularly the big powerful ones who are in the main recipients of favourable treatment. I am afraid that until the Man U’s and other big players are screwed on a regular basis nothing will happen and the status quo will prevail.

  13. If PGMOL want players to have greater respect for referees they’ve just scored an own goal. The manner of their response to Southampton’s complaint suggests they will back a referee whatever the evidence to the contrary. If the reports on what Clatternburg said to Lallana are accurate, the language used is pretty innocuous – but that’s not the point. The point is Clatternburg made a personal remark to Lallana in response to the player’s protest about a debatable decision. PGMOL stance of ‘no case to answer’ suggests that they consider personal remarks by referees to players are OK. Yet players and managers who make personal remarks about referees get punished. Power to Southampton for not giving in on this. It needs a few more clubs to stand up to PGMOL and be counted.

  14. @Mick,
    Agreed that the support from brother managers and clubs is of paramount importance BUT there must first be a case. Without that all the support in the world is of no use.

  15. Clattenberg had not reffereed at Goodison for 6 years before the game with Southampton due to controversy at the merseyside derby! This seems to have gotten lost in the noise on what Clattenberg had said or not said to Lallana. Southampton had two penalty claims one clear cut. Is it not the case that Clattenberg bottled it so not to enrage Everton fans once again? Is Lallana gate just a smokescreen for what were very poor and unprofessional decisions given the circumstances surrounding Clattenbergs return to Goodison after six years? A number of points raised in the above posts are spot on in my opinion as Everton will not complain and what Southampton are looking for is an even playing field to name but two. Southampton have a rightful complaint. It could have been any club at Everton that day and given the circumstances any controversial decisions would not have gone the visiting teams way! It would have been much harder for Southampton to question Mr Clattenbergs integrity on the day just look at what happened to Bendan Rogers this week. Anyone who saw the game in question would fail not to agree that Liverpool were hard done by. Which club will be next? Put an open and transparent grievance process inplace with a board representing all bodies, clubs, FA, premier league, refferee’s etc for review of such complaints, record the refs mics and communicate properly the findings with a red and yellow card system for refs a totting up procedure resulting in suspension for the offending refferee. That would leave me the customer and fan happy.

  16. @Andy Bishop
    Taken from:

    “To reduce the risk of an episode of this nature being repeated PGMOL will introduce recording of the referees’ communication system on a private basis,” Mike Riley, general manager of the Professional Game Match Officials Limited which administers top level English referees, said in a statement.

    Premier League match officials, including referees, linesmen and the fourth official, are currently all connected through headsets and microphones to help them communicate above stadium noise but conversations had previously not been recorded.

  17. If it was the case that Llalana had been in any way abusive, he would very simply have been booked or even sent off.And this view is supported by the fact that the fourth offical has made no comment as to what Llalana might have said and you can bet your bottom dollar he would have done so had Llalana been in any way objectionable. He merely protested as was his right as team captain. Clattenburg is guilty as charged and not for the first time. Unfortunately for him Saints have a chairman with considerable acumen and it is highly likely that he will pursue this for the good of the game.Cheating in whatever form it takes is unacceptable, and in not applying the laws of the game against Everton when refusing to award penalties which were more than obvious to the millions that watched them is simply corrupt, and unacceptable..

  18. listening to the old guard on Sky today none were prepared to back Soton, not even le Tiss. Nicholas blathered on about ‘banter’ and no one is taking this seriously. Le Tiss said Lallana would probably just be embarrassed its making such headlines. The culture of English refereeing will not change until the the likes of Wenger, Moyes, Pelegrino, Moanio and Rodgers agree to act together. I can’t see that happening

  19. ““To reduce the risk of an episode of this nature being repeated PGMOL will introduce recording of the referees’ communication system on a private basis,” Mike Riley, general manager of the Professional Game Match Officials Limited which administers top level English referees, said in a statemen.”
    Perhaps this tape could be the object of a subpoena for litigations. Have this recording procedure been introduced yet? For Riley, “will introduce” could mean in the next decade after suitable study and a “fair” bidding process among the favored who brought in goal line technology to “fix” the problems (read chill out the mounting protest). This statement could be more of the same stall tactic. Who controls the recording and the all-important editing of the tape? The PGMob? And since it is a private tape, isn’t it time for the FAlls to insist (ha!) that the tape be madeavailable to the designated representatives of any club.

    Of course, a club who makes such a request puts himself in the telling position [an enemies list?] to have to) request it of the PGMOL. Why is it their property? It should be the FA’s and hence open to all legitimate requestors, if not a Fans’ organization. Then again, the recording “will” be made available. Perhaps UA would pressure for as much early start and exposure of this as possible. Riley senses the pressures and tosses a bone to the baying beasts. Its time he coughed it up.

  20. I think what Russ said at 11.01 is the heart of the matter.

    Clattenburg had a had match a few seasons ago and Everton suffered from his refereeing. After coming back for the first time after such a long time it can happen that a ref thinks that he will not fall in to the same trap again. and thereby not stepping on the field in a 100% fair way for both teams.

    You have to be able to step on the field with no prejudice or with no fear (and in this case it was maybe the fear to upset Everton again that cost Southampton)

  21. Barry,
    Well put!
    We’ve just seen the double-standard of their Respect-the-Ref campaign in action.

  22. we already don’t have enough decent referees
    if we continue to bash them for this crap of a case or a mistake visible only after a dozen of replays, nobody will ever want to become a ref

  23. Big clubs like AFC need to stand with any and every team’s right to question any event. The other guys’ plight today is your own tomorrow. Everyone in a position to do something about it knows this. What keeps any (greater) support among teams is, imo, a matter of not wanting to risk further refshite on the pitch (a fear which the bullying Riley has sown in this league) and, perhaps even more, to risk one’s place at the table for the gravy train known as a share of the TV money bonanza. That is, silence is (has been) golden. Southampton’s right to protest ought to be broadly supported by fans and clubs, or there will be no change — beyond the recent vague promise (if true) of PGMob’s private recorded ref conversations to come. Let’s not fall for that. Will UA advocate these be immediately made available to the clubs/public in some form that PGMob does not fully control?

  24. OlegYch,
    Nonsense – capable people who love the game will want to participate in a straight game. And the pay is at least respectable, especially in a weak economy.

  25. what is reported to have been said to lallana is not exactly 100% true. lets say it was more colourfull from clattenberg.

  26. This ref doesn’t get a game here for x years…that ref doesn’t get a game there for y years…??

    What odds that we get lumbered with Taylor, not to mention Dean, Mason and Probert at least once more at home before the season’s over?

  27. bob, a straight game means respect to the referee, amongst other things
    i can’t imagine anyone would want to be constantly abused or punished because of such a nonsensical accusation

  28. Here is the core issue with small number of PGMOL officials and the EPL. Clattenburg didn’t say anything truly offensive BUT, since there are only 16-17 officials at any one time for the 760 league games + cups and exhibition matches played per season, the officials get very familiar with every player and are usually on a first name basis with them.
    From experience, I can testify that this is both a blessing and a curse. Knowing a player and being able to talk to them in a personable way can reduce the temperature of an otherwise serious situation BUT, as in the above incident, it can be taken as unwelcome familiarity. That in itself is not the real issue, the fact that the referee seems to have had a bad game with Southampton has exacerbated the feelings of being abused and cheated by the official, their ¨friend¨, who is supposed to be fair.
    One of the key tools any official needs to be competent and fair is the ability to maintain his or her distance from any and all stakeholders in the game, ie: players, coaches,managers, spectators, league officials etc. Once they lose that neutrality, they are subject to potential bias and unwelcome preferences. It goes both ways, as they can also be overly harsh and punitive with some players or entire teams who have made their lives hard in the past.
    We are all human and can fail to maintain this impartiality perfectly but any official must be at arms length when officiating , otherwise he or she risks contravening the basics of the Laws and the spirit of the Game.

  29. The thing is we’ve been through this. Well much more actually…..

    We’ve seen our players assaulted on the pitch. We have seen our young promising players with their legs broken… And what response did we get….”its a contact sport”.

    We’ve been hit many many times…..we’ve become numb now. We’ve learned to endure the pain now.

  30. How is it Everton didn’t get Clattenberg for six years but we get the same referees again and again regardless of how badly they treat us?

    I don’t know the Everton match six years ago but I can’t believe Clattemberg’s performance was as bad as any number of referee performances Arsenal has had to put up with.

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