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Premier League Betting and Odds

Are Premier League matches fixed? Here’s how to tell.

By Tony Attwood

There are by and large three main approaches to fixing football matches.

The first is the oldest and most obvious: when a footballer or footballers deliberately fix a result, either to help promotion or avoid relegation.  This goes back to the early days of the Football League with one of the original cases being the Manchester United v Liverpool game at the end of the 1914/15 season the result of which affected the relegations at the end of that season.

As a result of this match fixing Chelsea were relegated, but subsequent enquiries revealed the problem, and Chelsea were voted back into the league by the other clubs.  Man U and Liverpool however, the two clubs engaged in match fixing, escaped without punishment, which was obviously an encouragement to others.

This approach however is dangerous to the perpetrators because it requires a number of players to be involved – and it only needs one to talk, and the whole thing comes tumbling out – as happened with Man U and Liverpool.

The second approach involves gambling: paying money to players either to play badly, or kick the ball out of play at a certain moment or to bet against yourself and then have a bad game.   These are the stories that the press love and the phrase “unusual betting patterns” usually emerges.

David “Bronco” Layne is the name most commonly associated with the early forms of this, due to his association with the British betting scandal of 1964 for which he was banned from football.

But again, like the wholesale match fixing of Manchester United and Liverpool, betting against your own team or betting on a specific event is dangerous because it is easy to spot today via the “betting patterns”.

The third and much more insidious approach to match fixing was made famous in Italy through the actions of Luciano Moggi (the Juventus manager) and others when they arranged matters so he could influence which referee got which game.  The system (“Calciopoli” as it was called)  did not mean that matches were fixed to produce a set score, knowledge of which could be used in gambling, but rather that favours were given by a variety of clubs to certain refs over time, and these refs edged games in favour of the clubs using the system.   A free kick here, a penalty there, letting a foul go at another time…

This is a much more sophisticated system, and it can spread easily and quickly – in Italy not only were a number of clubs involved in “influencing” refs, but also they were able to affect TV coverage in terms of how games were shown, which highlights were picked out.

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Of course in this system not every game was fixed, not every ref was bent, and a live showing of a game might show that the ref makes mistakes – but the notion circulated that the refs were just not very good so mistakes were inevitable.

Ultimately the Italian situation was revealed through endless checking of phone calls and the evidence piled up.   But it left a problem for the rest of us: how can we know if matches in our own league are fixed or not?

The absolute proof of recordings of phone calls requires a lot of people not affected by the scandal to be willing to investigate – and this in itself can be a problem if the match fixing is widespread.   We do investigate corruption in the UK – take the phone hacking scandal currently at the Old Bailey…   But the media has a vast amount of money invested in football, and the footballing clubs, authorities and their sponsors are powerful institutions that will certainly do all they can to stop even the idea of an investigation gaining hold.

The only way around this is to consider what might happen in a league in which the authorities were keen to ensure that no match fixing took place.  We could then look to see if this happens here, and if it does that would be reassuring.

Of course introducing such checks and balances could be called an admission of guilt, but most would see it as sensible precautions – the sort of openness that most of us want our governments, tax authorities, police, courts and the like to have, so that we as citizens can be assured that the country is truly being governed fairly in our name.

Not every signifier of match fixing can be checked in this way – but some can – and in drawing up the list of what we might do to avoid match fixing, if starting afresh, we can then check to see which of these precautionary measures are in place.

Such checks and balances might include…

1: Employ a lot of refs so that no referee ever refs a single club more than twice a season.  Ref can still of course influence negatively, ensuring that a rival of a club that is fixing games doesn’t get the “run of the ball”, but two matches per club is a start.

2: Ensure that no referee is employed on a contract which includes a secrecy clause requiring the ref not to give interviews about refereeing or the organisation of refereeing after retirement.

3: Employ refs from all across the country, so there is no chance of regional bias and no suggestion that a ref from one region is favouring teams from that region.

4:  Investigate irregular actions of referees as perceived by those outside the inner sanctum of refereeing, ideally through a wholly independent body.  This should not just consider blatant errors such as sending the wrong player off, but should look at trends and tendencies in the actions of a referee.

5: Consideration of the consequences of referee actions by an independent panel of refs who are not part of the elite body that appoints refs.  Thus if one team is seen as getting far more contact injuries than other teams (suggesting their players are being fouled more, perhaps without punishment) this could be investigated.

6: An external consideration of the percentage of accuracy of referees by refs from outside the the league.  Thus refs who have nothing to do with the Premier League (eg refs from Germany or France) might unannounced  independently monitor certain Premier League games and note the accuracy level.   A lower accuracy rate in one league as opposed to another would suggest something is going wrong, either in the training of the refs or through match fixing.

7:  Open publication of referee achievements in terms of accuracy across a variety of figures.

8: Measurement of the consistency of punishment of players for offences by an independent outside body.  This would reveal if certain teams or certain styles of play result in the players getting fewer red cards in some clubs than others.  (I’m thinking here of Stoke under Pulis where it appeared that the side committed more fouls but got fewer bookings than most).

9: An open independent organisation to be in charge of overseeing all of this – an organisation that has nothing to do with the body that pays and selects referees.

10: A regular review of the way TV highlights are selected, and the way in which replays are selected on live matches, by a body which does not include reps of the TV companies, refereeing bodies, and the like, to see if there is any reason to suppose there is any outside influence.

The advantage of such a system is that it would not be cumbersome, since the investigations can continue over time without interfering with the games.  What is more the refs, TV companies and club owners would know this is happening, and that might make them be more reluctant to get involved in anything untoward.

Now if as we looked at this list we found that maybe half of these measures were in place, we might think, ok there are some checks and balances in refereeing, but maybe more could be done.

In fact we have none of these checks and balances – and that is why the whole approach to refereeing in the Premier League is called into question.

And so we raise the next point: why not?  Why not engage in these checks and balances?  The answer that it costs isn’t really applicable given the riches of the Premier League.   The answer that there is no reason to investigate isn’t applicable either, given the work last season of Referee Decisions, and the analysis this season of contact injuries across the clubs.

The reason why nothing is being done must surely be because the media is not calling for action – presumably to protect its own investment.   When (as now) it costs the media a lot of money just to get permission to print the fixture list, you can see just how beholden they are to the Premier League.

The Premier League is a total brand, and like all brands of this magnitude, it will do anything to protect itself from even the question being asked – let alone the answer being given.

And that is both why the checks and balances are needed and why it is right to be suspicious at the fact that they are not there.


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46 comments to Are Premier League matches fixed? Here’s how to tell.

  • Annoynymous

    Perhaps that is why red face was able to dominate so long.The truth is a certain ref awarded him a record
    number of penalties in a particular season when he won the epl.
    That is why the god(good old days ) are gone and why he decided to sep down.

  • Sammy The Snake

    Great ideas, but we both know it’ll never happen. EPL is a brand, and in branding, you make sure all every outcome is sunder control… Including the results.
    Otherwise, the brand may lose its equity & appeal.

  • Philippe

    Referees are the obvious providers of assistance, a penalty that wasn’t for Chelsea against West Brom is one incident that springs to mind but what about the linesmen that consistently flag for offside that isn’t, or don’t when they should. Take a look at the many, many such decisions that have helped Man City this season.

  • nicky

    But when the PGMOL is no better for honesty than some referees, what recourse is there for those who yearn for equity in our national game?


    Excellent post!!!!Remember Necastle versus Arsenal???0-4 at half time,In the second hald 2 penalties,a sending off and a 4-4 result.
    Do you notice that some Referees are in control of Arsenal when it’a crucial game?.Last example Rosicky blantantly fouled in the penalty area with nothing give???

  • vintage gooner

    Very interesting post. There are two further things that could help.

    Firstly all referees are currently assessed every match so publish those assessments, how they are made up and who has done the assessment. This will cost virtually no money , can be done immediately and will be a major step forward in accountability.

    Secondly let us at least have some trial of video of refereeing decisions. This should be organised so that any club or individual can request a review be available to them after the game and then would be able to query any wrong decisions. A panel would have to be set up to consider any queries and any upheld would have to be recorded with the referees assessment so that errors become part of the formal record on referees. There would clearly be a cost and risk of abuse so there probably should be a high access cost to submission some of which could be returned if query upheld and perhaps the income could go to grass roots development for the game (linking to another recent post).

  • bjtgooner

    Good article & fully agree. When we have the self discredited Riley as head of the PGMOL that organization and those who appointed him are by association also discredited.

  • Pat

    Very good summary of what should be done and isn’t.

    This article comes at an opportune time when a short flurry of articles in the media about refereeing has once again died down.

    Untold does a unique job in keeping it on the agenda. There is a convincing case for saying this is the major issue currently influencing positions in the Premier League (aside from money in general of course).

  • TommieGun

    I think all of the suggestions are brilliant and necessary. What’s more, one does not need to proclaim that these steps will ensure that “no match fixing” happens – because such a contention might create antagonism. I think that it suffices to say that these steps will, for sure, improve the quality of refereeing. Since nobody in their right mind, thinks that the level of refereeing is generally satisfactory, then no one should object to these suggestions.

  • Shard

    It’s obvious isn’t it? There doesn’t have to be corruption there, but the conditions favouring corruption certainly exist especially as no one wants to rock the boat and as you say there are no checks and balances. Yet, any talk of referees and it’s ignored as excuse making etc.

    However, since all those years ago that Untold started looking at ref performances (and which is what drew me in, no one else was mentioning referees despite visible ‘evidence’ that something was wrong) there has been a slight shift in the discourse. It is now more acceptable to suggest that certain refs are refereeing games a certain way, or that the ref gifted a club points (even if some still hold on to the notion of it all evening out)

    Still, it needs to move beyond that. Hopefully articles like these will eventually lead to a further move in bringing some level of accountability and transparency of not just individual referees, but the refereeing organisation.

  • jambug

    Another great article by untold. Another great article that will be totally ignored by the wider populous.

    The problem is, as I see it, that in this Country we have ‘Match fixing by stealth’. It is insidious and incessant. There are very few incidents that are sooooo blatant as to open themselves up to a direct accusation of being a ‘fix’.

    So many times it is down to the ‘subjective’ decision. Decisions that, given the right motivation or a vested interest, can be seen whichever way suits.

    The biggest example of how this has affected us over the last few weeks is the ‘enough contact for me’ / ‘not enough contact for me’ quandary.

    It seems, when it suits, the use of a magnifying glass is deemed appropriate to prove ‘enough contact was made’ to award a Penalty(isn’t that so Sheerer), but on another occasion the most blatant of shoves from behind can be dismissed out of hand with a simple, ‘not enough for me’ (isn’t that right Owen).

    It is also a fact that the team that suffers the most from this rather scurrilous application of ‘subjective’ refereeing, and the subsequent ‘subjective’ evaluation of these decisions, is Arsenal.

    It is also a fact that the team most hated by the media is Arsenal.

    It is no coincidence, because one could not go unchecked without the others duplicity.

    Untold has unearthed, with the use of both current and ex officials, both with Arsenal bias and more recently neutrality, that over a vast selection of Matches, over a fairly long period of time, that there is a definite bias in the way officials referee many many matches.

    It shows the certain officials favour certain teams and disfavour others.

    It shows that whilst Arsenal are certainly not the only team to suffer at the hands of poor, biased, refereeing, we are without doubt the team that suffers the most, by some distance.

    We know that this site is frequented by the wider media due to the fact that they have, on occasion, plagiarised articles, in part, if not in full, and have certainly referenced it on many occasions.

    So by definition that means they must of seen, and presumably read, (I mean they are conscientious journalist striving for the truth are they not?) the detailed analysis of refereeing performances.





    Basically, whilst occasionally ‘paraphrasing’ or ‘cherry picking’ information from untold, the media are not interested in it’s findings regarding bias. Why?

    To my mind, what Untold highlights with regard to the general standard of refereeing in this Country, allied to the more specific accusations of bias, are shocking revelations.

    There must be some pretty heavy pressure from above to leave well alone because potentially this is massive, and any investigative journalist worth his salt would be all over this with a fine tooth comb, and they are not. Why?

    My view.

    Because it’s primarily Arsenal that suffer at the hands of this biased refereeing, not only do the media not care, they actually enjoy it, laugh at us for being paranoid, and worst of all, proactively encourage it.

    The phrase ‘banging your head against the wall’ readily comes to mind.

  • Pete

    If assessments were published – and the assessments would incorporate the kind of analysis reported at Referee Decisions – then it would start to become very clear indeed where the problems were. This, of itself, would influence behaviours for the better. Sunlight is the best disinfectant.

    Also, PGMOL should report to the FA not the PL (unless it already does – if so the FA should hang its head in shame). Scudamore has come close to admitting that the PL wants the teams with the most fans (=revenues) to do well, and Man Utd in particular.

    I would like to see referees utilised from outside England. Fly in 10 refs (different each week) on the Friday to Heathrow – and then draw lots to see who has which game. English referees could reciprocate abroad.

  • Pete

    And if Scudamore is making comments like that in public, can you imagine what he says in private? And Riley probably doesn’t need to be told explicitly what to do – he knows what his boss is thinking.

  • rantetta

    Tell it, Tony.

    At this stage I won’t add to superb comments by Shard & Jambug. Thanks to the 3 of you, and others commenting I on this thread.


    It’s the 13th anniversary of Rocky’s passing.

    I wonder if any incentives were involved in the selling of David Rocastle?

  • jambug


    If I didn’t know better I’d say you’d ‘cut and pasted’ that last paragraph 😉

    I agree 100% with you and I’ve been saying that on here for Months.

    My contention has always been that rather than just plain old bias, Referees are in fact refereeing to an agenda. More specifically, an agenda set by the media.

    The only thing Referees, and in turn the PGMOL, are bothered about is how there performance is rated, and subsequently reported in the Media.

    They don’t care that a blatant push in the back, trip, or elbow, is wrongly judged in reality, as long it is seen as correctly judged by the media.

    The Referees judge and jury, and ultimately there pay masters, are the Media. That is because it is they that will ultimately decide as to whether a Referee is ‘good’ or ‘bad’. Depending on how they officiate, in relation to the Medias agenda, will ultimately decide whether they keep there jobs or not.

    Having Referees flown in and out would at least keep some distance between them, the media, and there agendas.

  • I cannot agree more with Tony’s suggestions and those of my favourite regulars so I wouldn’t repeat the good points that have already been made.

    It is just sad that while the solutions to the issue of poor/biased officiating are in abundant supply, they will not be implemented because, well, there is nothing to see here.

    Move along please.

  • increasing the number of referees to 20 would, by itself, decrease the impression of bias. it’s so easy, even a caveman could see that. in a league that is billed as the best and fastest in the world, surely a paltry handful of 16 refs can’t be expected to cover so many games effectively, even from a point of view of flagging fitness toward the end of a season. but it’s easier to control 16 than it is to control 20.

    we may complain that the media refuses to highlight ref mistakes for whatever reason but consider also that very few arsenal bloggers even mention it at all. do not underestimate the inability of humans to see anything wrong in the face of quantifiable evidence.

  • PC Plod

    I dont understand this article.

    You highlight 3 main forms of cheating, only one of which involves the referee, even then forgetting to add that everyone involved in that was manipulated by the mafia and not by money. Influencing a game to stay alive is not the same as influencing a game to fill one’s pockets. It wasn’t like the refs had much choice in what happened in Italy.

    You then go on to offer 10 new strategies to stop such cheating, but mention referees in 9 of the 10 strategies and even in the one strategy you don’t mention the ref, you imply its a refereeing problem by the number of cards being dished out. no 8.

    Good job, so now you’ve crucified the refs, how are you going to stop the other 2 forms of cheating you’ve exposed?

    Cheating obviously goes on in football but the evidence is hugely against your indication of it being solely down to the referees and there is indeed any fixing of actual matches. The refs have a hard job and have always got decisions wrong since the game began, but unlike years ago they didn’t have 100 cameras in their faces showing their every mistake 500 times from different angles week in week out.
    Giving reason to paranoid fans to say ‘I say, they’ve been paid orf’.
    Nor did they have a bunch of modern day players that dive all the time to con the ref and win decisions.

    The majority of the cheaters are players and managers who take bribes and bungs, there’s not a lot the ref can do about that. It’s also fair to say that majority of cheaters are foreign, even when they’ve been caught in this country they’ve been foreign. So no to the idea of a foreign intervention, whether it be referees or regulators to regulate the regulators. I’m sorry but your asking for trouble, especially if Blatter and Platini are anything to go by.

    Unfortunately there’s not a right lot you can do to stop it. You can oly catch them when they do.

    If we make it illegal for the ‘in play betting’ to take place that encourages spot fixing, then the ‘in play betting’ just returns to the underground market where it can’t be regulated nor monitored like it can in the bookmakers.Its then back to relying on undercover cops to do all the research and it could take years to discover any patterns.
    We can ban anyone involved in the game from betting on their own sport, but we’ve already done that – and even then it doesn’t stop a few of them from trying.

    Video technology to help refs would be ideal, but the rulers of the game wont allow this. Not because it means they don’t want the ‘cheating refs’ to be found out, but because they’ve spent a whole heap of time tweaking up the rules of the game to make it faster and more appealing to TV companies (and their money). If we start adding vid tech for this and that, then where does it stop? All of a sudden a game that takes no more than hour and half turns into a 4-5 hour job because of all the stop start,review this, review that invasion and it simply doesn’t sell, which is why they wont do it.

    It takes a whole heap of evidence to prove something like match fixing of the magnitude your assuming happens, much like you answered you own question when you stated: ‘Ultimately the Italian situation was revealed through endless checking of phone calls and the evidence piled up. But it left a problem for the rest of us: how can we know if matches in our own league are fixed or not?’
    Key word you used is evidence and there isn’t any to say it happens in our league, if it did I’m sure Scotland Yard would be aware of it.

    Or are they in on it all too?

  • bob

    Ok, to add to all your fine points, here’s a few more for readers/UA to consider:
    1. restating a case for full to partial (beyond goal-line) video replay (as AW stated after MC game, for “on request by the referee replay” because the game is too fast)
    2. making public the ref reports that the PG-MOB (what a name!) pays Prozone to be made after each match.
    3. adopting of real-time on the air broadcast of referee comments as has been done in Rugby telecasts.
    4. allowing post-game media press conferences with the referees to field journalist inquiries.
    There is a harvest of improvements, minor to major, that could make substantial differences to leveling the pitch. All that’s been conceded is the touted goal-line (Hawkeye is it?) technology which I doubt has been used (to be generous) more than 10 times during this season. What a farce – this, and that fans settle for (demand?) wrestling match entertainment rather than demand the quality competition that only fairness can ensure.

  • bob

    p.s. Major League Baseball (MLB) starts today in the US. And they have started to adopt – for the first time (traditionalists do take note) a video replay system to try to ensure (and will tweak and improve over time as lessons are learned) that the right call (above all else!) is what is delivered. The baseball umpires’ organization has not organized to prevent this from occurring. (Nor, in fairness, does it have the power or the cheek to defeat it.)

    MLB Fans do not want games decided by a wrong call, and this has prevailed, for a strong beginning at least. PG-MOB would be run out of town in this pro sports league.

  • para

    Tony, you said it much better than i could.

  • Persian Gunner

    I remember the game against Newcastle on this current season, we had a fast and thunderous start, but they start to kick us harder and harder anytime we started a run thoard their goal, without even a blow for foul!
    And after that Our players got yellow cards for their fouls right after their tackles!
    So compare this to City game, there, when Ref disaloaded an absolute correct goal for the home side!
    This is just ridicules!

  • jambug


    You say:

    “…..a video replay system to try to ensure that the right call is delivered…”

    That is all very well, but doesn’t that depend on who’s doing the reviewing.

    Following the travesty at home to Villa I sat through pundit after pundit. Ex Ref after ex ref. Analysing, and in the final judgement, AGREEING with the referee. Apparently (Taylor I think it was) got all or at least a vast majority of the decisions right.

    Same after City away.

    Same after Man Utd. Not a penalty.

    Same after the Stoke game. Definite Penalty.

    Same after City at home. No penalty !!

    What good is a second opinion when it’s just as biased and agenda driven as the original decision?

  • TommieGun

    @ PC Plod you are missing the point entirely.

    1. If there are X number of corruptions, wouldn’t eliminating, or decreasing, any number, be beneficial? It’s as valid as saying society should stop fighting racism because it cannot fight homophobia. Absurd.

    2. If you think some of Tony’s suggestions are not going to help eliminate match fixing, great. But that real question is – is there anything detrimental in any of those suggestions? Would higher transperancy hurt anyone? Would a larger number of refs hurt anyone? Etc.

    3. The only people who would oppose any or some of those suggestions, are people that are benefiting from the current state of affairs. Since nobody would contend that they benefit from BAD refereeing, we know who are we left with.

  • bob

    yes, I’d surely add video replay reviewed by an independent non-PGMOL referee. Will that do it for you, or are you against it in principle?

  • Gord

    Partially OT:

    It isn’t fixing of football, it is fixing of sports. Athletes at USA Colleges and Universities often produce “profound” displays of intellect, apparently all in line with NCAA directives.

    The BBC has a story on a (probably plagiarised) paper which got an A minus for a UNC athlete. Here is the entire paper (pulled from BBC article):

    > On the evening of December Rosa Parks decided that she was going to sit in the white people section on the bus in Montgomery, Alabama. During this time blacks had to give up there seats to whites when more whites got on the bus. Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat. Her and the bus driver began to talk and the conversation went like this. “Let me have those front seats” said the driver. She didn’t get up and told the driver that she was tired of giving her seat to white people. “I’m going to have you arrested,” said the driver. “You may do that,” Rosa Parks responded. Two white policemen came in and Rosa Parks asked them “why do you all push us around?” The police officer replied and said “I don’t know, but the law is the law and you’re under arrest.

    Who knows if some of Tony’s fixing is not also involved in NCAA sports? Hey ref, if you give us a couple of soft calls, I’m sure your nephew could get an athletic scholarship at our school.

    There are quotes in the article by people in the media, who seem to be placing themselves on a pedestal as being soooo much better. But the media is every bit as much responsible for this as the schools and the NCAA.

    This attitude and behavior is part of the problem of hype in sports (every basketball player is the best basketball player that ever lived).

  • jambug


    Certainly not against it at all, in principal.

    If they can get the right people to sit on the ‘panel’ then I’m all for it.

    Personally I believe if there was such a panel, and it was impartial, you would instantly see an improvement in both the quality of Refereeing and the bias.

    Our refs are crap because they are allowed to be. They are never properly held to account.

    Worse, they are biased because they are expected to be.

    I feel they could, indeed would be much better under such scrutiny.

  • jambug


    Tonys original article, as well as others, have put forward various ideas to combat corruption and bias etc. Some More practical than others.

    Unfortunately I just don’t believe there is the will to combat it.

    Listening to the dialogue between officials would be a simple first step.

    The trouble is this would remove there room for manoeuvre. It would seriously compromise there ability to conspire whatever post match story they needed in order to justify there many questionable decisions.

    That would never do !!

    It will not happen.

  • Shard


    You are absolutely correct about the point of having TV replays if the judges themselves are going to make excuses for an original decision. Another concern of course would be who would control the TV replays themselves? Because Sky , even now occassionally, but especially a few years ago, would manipulate whether/how they show replays of certain incidents so as to colour the viewing.

    However, there is a significant advantage in having video replays. One, despite the words of pundits, images make it harder for a referee to hide. Secondly, they will not be able to use the excuse of the game being too fast for them etc to cover their ineptitude.

    As for concerns of time being wasted etc, those are valid concerns, but that is a secondary issue. HOW to introduce video replays is debatable and the best formula won’t instantly appear. It will need to be tweaked, as bob has mentioned (the NBA also does this since they introduced a limited video review). The first point that everyone has to agree on is that the correct decision must be made in a game, and that videos are a tool that can help with that. Beyond that an acceptable format can be worked out.

    Didn’t Arsenal suggest that they have a video review system in place some 3 or 4 years ago for the Emirates Cup? This was obviously turned down by the FA? Why? Because if it could be shown to work the demand for them to use it would have increased. And taht won’t do. Instead they can rake up fears of the game slowing down, controversy giving us things to talk about in the pub etc.

  • Shard

    Yes. Referees being mic-ed up for us to hear (maybe on a livefeed on a website rather than TV?) would be a fantastic step, and something which is easily done. Especially since one of the reasons they claim they are against it is because of the ‘colourful language’ used on the field which might be too sensitive for younger viewers. So stream it on a website with a sign-in feature or something. Makes too much sense doesn’t it? As you say jambug, won;t happen.

    (PS. The colourful language argument is bunkum. Start fining players for it is you think it is such a bad thing and it’ll stop within weeks.)

  • jambug


    Time to review incidents. Colourful language. As you say, bunkum.

    If the will was there, these problems are easily overcome.

    It isn’t !!!

  • @Tony thanks for that piece @Gord i’m in Africa could you tell me and my african friends if at any given chance there is a german,french or black ref in the premier?? There was one and he gave a card to the darling of UK and i have never hard about him.
    Or blacks can not do the work as its so superior to them or they can not use the same loos as mike dean shit does(Rosa Parks)? I’m not tribalistic but i want some answers over to you?

  • Eric

    Great article and posts (as usual)

    Weird noone’s mentioned the editing team though. For me they are the biggest problem:
    – no replay shown of clear bad calls (offsides, tackles, penalties, throw ins, corner/goal kicks, fouls in general ect ect.
    – replay shown from wrong angles to either show people falling over no contact (when there was, or to make the impact of a terrible tackle less) or the other way around to show more impact then actually was.
    – the zoom funtion
    – slowmotion: this one kills me the most tbh, aspecially the selectivness
    over replaying
    – show all kinds of non related to the football to hide something going on on the field (like wasting time, or a fight, or fill in … must be like 100 things I could use as an example)

    These highly paid shits (must be, cause they are the ones that influence a game the biggest for its viewers) allways manage to find the worst and best angles depending on the situation (allways against us anyway) and they do have skills, cause you only got like a sec or 2 to find all the right content. to bad they chose the dark side…

    must have forgotten a couple of em but its time to make a lovely pois chiche salade, I’m loving this weather already!

    Keep it positive, ARSENAAAAL

  • jambug


    On your point of selective editing.

    I believe, and I’m sure someone will correct me if I’m wrong, that out there somewhere in cyberspace is a blog that demonstrates how, over the last 10 years or so, Manchester united would of actually won more titles, by wider margins, if matches where re refereed using TV footage.

    The only problem is, unlike Untold who Re Referee ENTIRE matches, this particular blog only re referee using MOTD Highlights.

    If it is true, that is a serious indictment of editorial bias at the BBC.

    NB: If the afore mentioned blog doesn’t exist I apologise, but I’m sure someone cited it in a post on here in an effort to discredit Untolds statistics without realising the difference in parameters.

  • Gord


    How did I get picked? 🙂

    I believe all the current EPL referees are from the home nations (England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, Northern Ireland).

    Wikipedia has Category:Association football referees by nationality, of which we have:

    Scanning the list, there are some names not of English origin. Not that a German, French or African referee couldn’t have an “English” name, I am just being lazy in looking.

    I see two current referees that are non-English:
    Tahmina Begum – Bangladeshi origin, female referee
    Saša Ihringová – Slovakian origin, female referee

    Perhaps this blog points to some data for you?

    The article in question is concerned with the Clattenberg incident with Chelsea.

    That’s not much help.

  • Shard

    Pfff..Atkinson referee vs Everton apparently. Not sure of the implications but I don’t like him (though if we use that criteria we’d have even fewer referees left in the Elite List of the PGMOL) 🙂

  • Eric

    @ jambug

    Not sure you completely understand me, I’m talking of the people editing during a game, the ones that decide what can be shown and/or not on other broadcasters aswell. the ones that are doing the editing live.

  • jambug


    Well I thought I, did but I’m not sure now 🙂

    I THINK we’re on the same wavelength in so far as we both agree editing is a problem, be it live or for highlights.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Anything run by Blatter and co is going to be corrupt, and completely corrupt. match fixing, which does happen on all levels is just the tip of the iceberg of their activity. Just hope Qatar, and what’s being discovered about the bid proves to be the tipping point for this bunch, the Americans and their assorted agencies are really out to get them it seems, I wish them well on this quest at least. FIFA even tried a clumsy sabotage from within of the Garcia investigation into them , just hope this guy let’s em have it.
    The EPL is fixed in many ways for many different reasons, to what extent, we do not yet know, but things now trickling out about the favours Utd got. Fergie time….that is fixing, no other word for it.They were the perfect storm, a huge brand to be protected , a bullying manager, and a head of refs who at best was compliant, at worst was a supporter.
    Things have been fixed against wenger, he tried to change too much too quickly, tried to go with a style against the usual in England, and ruffled too many feathers in the process, a season unbeaten is one hell of a statement, one that upset a few , and one especially. Wenger had to pay for that, and it seems he does to this day.We may never get the favours of the north west clubs, but I believe we will get better treatment when eventually wenger calls it a day, wonder if that weighs on his mind?

  • ZedsAunt

    A very good article. To be recommended. Just the statement of what is not there nails what is there.
    An excellent point from Mandy – the ”compliant” and the ”supporter.” Between the ‘compliant’ of Riley’s mob and the actual ‘supporters’ of that mob masquerading as the impartial men in black, there is that great landmass – you do what you are expected to do.
    You behave by the book. Behaving in accordance with the expectations placed upon you underpins the ‘compliant’ and the ‘supporters.’
    Who needs a bribe when you act in strict accordance with what is expected of you? To be frozen out by Fergie would be a fate worse than death.
    You might miss the wife’s favourite dinner and dance. All those years climbing the ladder and you get the boot in your face.
    To actually be impartial when it comes to a team run by an intelligent Frenchman, you got to be kidding.

  • AL

    Excellent article Tony, and great contributions all round. These questions need addressing, but we know they won’t. Even some amongst us by the same BS trotted out by the media to stop people from probing further. An example is what PC Plod said above, that refs before didn’t have 100 cameras focusing on them making their job harder as fans can see things from every angle with the added benefit of replay. The contrary is actually true; those cameras should be making their job easier, not harder. If that was true then without a doubt this would be the only job that is made harder by the use of technology, every other job in this world benefits from using technology. We know it’s not true anyway, because refereeing in sports such as Rugby has improved quite significantly since the introduction of technology,with controversial moments reduced to a minimum, so why should it be any different in football. All major sports have implemented major changes in the way they’re run and managed, to keep up with the changing times. All except football, which has remained firmly stuck in the 60s. Why should that be so. I am against stereotyping but sometimes I wonder if it’s down to the type of fan you find in football as opposed to other sports.

  • Gooner Murphy

    Would it not be to your advantage to illustrate, one’s organisation in the most positive light and to maintain at all time amenable accountability in every matter pertaining to best practice for aspect of that company there Tony recommendations should at the very lease be the starting point for the EPL and the PGMOL and as already stated by Pete Scudamore comments have for the most part been ignored although Daily Mirror did have a good article contradicting Scudamore Pro Man Utd statement ,nonetheless the that Scudamore is confidant to formulate such a policy in public exposes the control the Premier League has over the Broadcast and print media. Let’s hope Untold Arsenal can draw attention to this scandal

  • Ray from Norfolk, Virginia

    The way things are, I am completely dismayed. In the United States, all of the four major sports leagues (Baseball, Basketball, American Football, and Hockey) are run so there is actual competition for the titles. In fact, were they to be non-competitive or oligo-competitive, the public will turn against them, and the media will follow; it helps that the media are divided and dislike each other, with essentially four mega-networks (NBC sports, CBS sports, ABC/ESPN/TBS, and Fox Sports, also dubbed Faux sports due to the inanity of their UCL pundits). In essence, the media and the team owners are all working to ensure that their team brand and sport/league brand sells well; hence the multiple layers of control to ensure that the referees are top notch and that all decisions stand the scrutiny of the slowest of TV replays. The most intense scrutiny is in American Football, a game that spans 180 minutes for 60 minutes of play, and less than 45 minutes of actual play, as the clock does not stop when the play stops with the ball inbound, and where the attacking team has up to 35 seconds to proceed with an actual play. If they were to change the refereeing and review system, there would be riots. On top of this, the league holds meetings every off season, and mulls changes to the rules based on a variety of significant events / incidents during the regular season, playoffs and final.

    In summary, a very transparent system as wanted by the fans, the public, and the media. Should they screw up, elected US officials would be very happy to hold hearings to engage in intense and intensive demagoguery.

    Back to the UK, the country that gave the world the Magna Carta: biased body of referees headed by sewer rat Mike Riley, biased referees chosen to tow the line, and the reputation of incompetence to make sure that “mistakes” are not put down to the agenda of Riley and his handlers, but to innocuous “oops” and the “he only goofed” etc…

    The only way I see it is fines. UEFA should have a system of fines, and review all games in the various leagues. The fines will pay for the experts who will have to review everything in TV slow time rather than actual time, with the rest of the money reverting back to the small clubs that are struggling to survive. Another option is to rotate referees so the 5 top leagues (BPL, Ligue 1, Bundesliga, Serie A, and Liga) rotate referees yearly, with the referees of any given country never allowed to officiate any game in their home country. The problems in the BPL are far worse than those seen in the other top leagues; even though Italy has gone through a big scandal, their skills were far better than Riley’s bunch, ensuring a far more deceptive and refined level of cheating, with most decisions being altered in a subtle way to escape scrutiny; this year in France, Lyon has complained about bad officiating, but looking at the evidence, it is nothing whatsoever when you look at the bewildering level of BS going on in the BPL.

    I still stand by my previous tongue-in-cheek comment about giving Usmanov a seat on the AFC Board if he can “keep an eye” on Riley and the other rat sewers.

  • Micheal Ram

    Dear Tony,

    Your work is unparalleled. Your suggestions are really honest and practical. You are an idealist, so is Arsene Wenger. The reason I am attached to your blog is because I am an idealist too. The ability and guts to say and do the right thing. However, we are living in a material world controlled by realist. The possibilities for things to improve in EPL is as much as the world will find out the truth behind Princess Diana’s death. And I say this with all due respect. I loved her as a human being. I was there when she hold the HIV infected child in Africa. It is not a British problem, its the federalists. The people in charge. I would know because my beloved country is falling into the same trap too. As long as these people’s wallet is filled, corrupts controls everything. EPL is a profitable brand and involves high stakes. I just hope Michel Platini is not the same.

  • finsbury

    Add the coaching of professional players by security consultants on how to deal with fixers that approach them. Threats, intimidation, entrapment etc.

    This already happens in English Cricket. Every single player (& official?) in the domestic league receives advice from the ECB on how to deal with fixers.

    But as we know when it comes to football “England is not like Italy, it all evens out in the end”. Just don’t mention Campbell at Rovers or any of the other cases. Godolphin? What? Neigh, it could never happen here.

  • @Gord thanks,atleast i can understand.