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June 2021

How the fall of Man U helped us understand how refereeing works. Part 1

By Walter Broeckx

At Untold we have done a lot of work in dismantling the old expressions that are used such like: it evens out at the end. We have proven that it didn’t even out at the end for most clubs. Our referee reviews have brought enough evidence of this. And it has given us so much information so that we can predict what referees will do.

We have pointed in the direction of the PGMOL for doing a bad job when it comes to the refereeing standards in the PL. We have shown which teams benefited from the referees making mistakes and who suffered. And we have shown that there are certain patterns in this. Arsenal on the suffering end and others like Manchester United on the benefiting  end of decisions.

Now I know that some people are doubtful about our findings. For some people it isn’t enough to see a body lying dead on the floor bleeding badly from a shot wound. No, some will need not only the smoking gun before they believe someone is murdered. They also must have a reason. Because otherwise it might have been a coincidence that the dead man was shot 6 times in the back.

Now of course we know how difficult it is for people like us to not only show the smoking gun but also give the reason why the shots have been fired. It took the Italian justice department years of listening to phone calls to discover who was involved in their football scandal that involved clubs, referees and the media.  Untold Arsenal is not an investigating company and we are not allowed to tap phones. So asking us : “Why?” is something we cannot answer.  We can only show the patterns and report how referees act and when they act strangely.

Now what do you need to have a calciopoli? First of all you need a head of the show who wants the best for the show. The whole show? And then you need someone who is willing to behave the puppet on a string role. And you need the cooperation of the media, as they can make or break a ref.

In Italy it all came together like that and the media covered the ref, the people who assigned the referees did their best to please the top of the pyramid. And the top of the pyramid could fill his pockets.  Filling it with trophies of course.

What also is helpful if that the top person of the league knows a bit about refereeing. And that he has a helping hand from the top person of the referees.

So what do we have? We have the top person of the PL who also happens to be a referee. And then we have Mike Riley who has shown that he is rather very biased in favour of United. And that in order to help United he is not afraid to make a complete fool of himself and of the referees.  He has proven that not just in game 50 but also in the other matches when he handled United. Another interesting fact is that he is second on the list of former referees who have sent off most Arsenal players with red cards in the Wenger era. He loves United and dislikes Arsenal. That is almost a fact. Certainly looking at his career.

What we also had was a very strong club. The flag ship of the PL  as Mr. Scudamore called it. Not literally of course. He said: “”It’s a double-edged sword.  When your most popular club isn’t doing as well, that costs you interest and audience in some places.” and “There are lots of fans around the world who wish Manchester United were winning it again,”

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Now the question is: who made Manchester United that most popular club? We could say that they reached that status with a little help from the referees. In fact I will never forget an interview with Rio Ferdinand a few seasons ago. When talking about his transfer from Leeds to Manchester United he made a very interesting remark and here we are talking about the year 2002. He said something like:  “I was amazed about the fact of going to United. In a way this was the club we all hated as players. We hated them because the got everything in their favour. They got the favourable referee  decisions. And now I was going to join them”. 

This was the way players thought about United in 2002! The reporter missed the obvious next question: do you still believe you are getting the decisions from the ref? It is important to know that players agree with the fact that the decisions going to United is happening.

But back to Scudamore and him regretting the downfall of flagship Manchester United. Scudamore is also a qualified referee. So he knows how referees work and can work. Always handy when you need to make some arrangements with the head of the referees of course.  You can even chat with him on how to work in the matches.

Now the fact that the head of the PL openly regrets the downfall of Manchester United is something that is giving me the answer to the “Why?” question that people asked me.  Manchester United had grown to become the most important club in the PL and so they had to make sure that they protected the ‘name’.

It was a nice cooperation it seemed between Ferguson, the  head of the most important club and guarding his own interests of course, Scudamore benefiting from the fact that it would help the PL brand and bring in the money and Riley as the puppet on a string helping Ferguson and his beloved club and helping Scudamore in helping the brand.

The slip of the tongue from Scudamore about regretting the fact that United has fallen back that badly was something that made me convinced that there might have been other things going on in the PL than just coincidence.

That is at least the interpretation I make from his words and based on the things we have seen over the years and the things we have found in our referee reviews all these years. There is something strange going on.

But why is Arsenal the team that is the hardest done by you might ask? Stay with in the next article to find a possible answer to that.

Editorial note: if you wish to comment it might be worth going back through our analyses of referees and their decisions.  Here’s the index.  The Man U analysis is number 59.

Overall reviews within this series of articles

The earlier series of reviews:

24 comments to How the fall of Man U helped us understand how refereeing works. Part 1

  • David

    Ridiculous. All teams get decisions going their way at any time. Stop making excuses for Arsenal being rubbish and accept the fact that United are better, regardless of decisions. If there is some sort of refereeing favouritism going on then why is it that this season we’ve been given literally nothing? Shut up trying to make out United have had help from the referees. It’s funny how every MASSIVE club gets the same rubbish said each time, E.G. Barcelona.

  • bjtgooner

    A fascinating subject and a well put together article.

    The comment from Ferdinand is also very revealing – part of the difficulty for the players of teams playing against MU for many years was that they knew that they ripped off – especially when the match was close – an MU dive would be quickly rewarded with a penalty.

    Scudamore has inadvertently ….well not quite let the cat out of the bag, but he as opened the fastenings. A further revelation from one of the parties involved e.g. MU, PGMOL, FA or retired referees – could be very damaging to any behind the scene “arrangement” which may have been in place – sufficient for any guilty parties to have sleepless nights.

  • Daivd, I think your comment might be taken seriously if you had actually referred to any of the research on the subject the links to which were given under the article. But failing to do so only one person is looking “ridiculous” as you put it.

  • Johnno

    Who made them the most popular club? Its more a question of what made them the most popular club and the answer to that is a dodgy aeroplane and an icy runway. Sad but true. Before that night in Munich, The Arsenal were easily the most widely supported club in the world but that tragedy and a downturn in our fortunes changed it all. As for the rest of the post, absolutely 100% bang on the money.

  • gb

    Is this website ran by Arsene Wenger? Get back to work Wenger and stop looking for excuses!

  • dan


    Prior last weekend I was in a discussion with a Man u supporter, I commented on decisions (a lack of) going for them of recent. He remarked “Yes, even the blatant penalties against us in the past are now going being given.”

    Honestly – their supporters truly think they have a god given right to everything, I realise most if not all fans are biased, but, this is beyond the scope of any fair play.

  • Shard


    One of the most apt tweets I saw from somebody a few seasons ago was ‘You cannot be both a Manchester United fan and a football fan’

    I agree. ManU players would dive and the referees would comply and I swear their fans wouldn’t even see it like that. Nothing wrong with their eyes or memories. They would remember incidents going against them, (such as the Atkinson game where he didn’t ref ManU again for 11 months) but even in the same match when blatantly wrong decisions went for them, they genuinely thought those were the correct decisions. And of course they pointed to the commentators as proof of that argument.

  • @David analyse and bring issues,why don’t you talk about what Ferdinand said??@Tony my views as of why Arsenal is hated are not many but the unbeaten record made The Arsenal hated even more if, it was any body he would be called a Lord as of now,Let me say Lord Arsene Wenger.
    Those pricks would die and in our last six matches i’m predicting, if we win at goodison park they will see us as a threat and they will unleash their assasin, mike shit dean to do the needful.
    If we don’t get him in the FA cup semis we will get him in the finals ,i wish i could bet on that.

  • Tasos

    Man Utd went 85 consecutive Premier League matches without conceding a penalty.

    31st december 2011 to 16th March 2014.

    85 Games. 7,650+ Minutes.

  • Tasos

    BTW During the same period Arsenal have conceded 14 penalties.

  • No gb, it is run by people who read and use research. Radical in its approach I know, but it is always fun to hear from those who contribute without reading the background.

  • Johnson

    The real thing to worry about is not that referees are biased in favour of or against any particular team but that you actually believe this nonsense.

  • para

    I thought so too, that one event made ManUtd name worldwide.
    What UK needs to realise is, one always needs a new flagship some where along the line.

    Anyway, Arsenal are doing things their own way and with their own efforts.
    See the Arsenal opening soccer schools in USA on, and many other
    “efforts” Arsenal are doing today
    Arsenal is the best club, it will take a little longer for the rest of world to realise.


    Anybody who says that Man.U. hasn’t gotten favorable referee decisions lo these many years and is a true fan of football is a MOTHERFUCKING LIAR. Over 85 games in a fast paced league like the Premiership and not conceding a penalty is just too good to be true. Old Red Nose had those piece of shit cowardly referees thoroughly scared to death of him. Why now that he’s gone did they give up three penalties in a single game? Why now are they a mid-table team? Nothing changed except the manager. I would like all those shit for brains Man.U. assholes explain that. They saw with their own two eyes what went on and kept their mouths shut, After all they were the beneficiaries of all those decisions. I earlier said true fans of football knew what was going on. In all my times watching matches in a lot of football pubs all over Manhattan, I’ve met a lot of supporters of a lot of different teams and they have all said that Man.U. got all the calls their way. Only those Man.U. shitheads were the only ones to say different. They blatantly denied it. According to them everything was on the up and up and strictly kosher. There is gonna be a lot of fucking Man.U. shit-headed assholes saying that i am crazy, but that is okay. deep down in their dirty rotten slimy souls they know what I said is the truth. They just aren’t man enough to admit it. I only wish I could tell it to each and everyone of those MOTHERFUCKING SCUMBAGS faces and in person.

  • Johnno

    Re. Para. Yes mate, its an uncomfortable truth but the Munich air disaster is the real reason Manure have such global appeal and it is this global appeal that makes corrupt scumbags like Scudamore come out with statements like the one in the article. Manure are a cash cow and the its not in the authorities interests to have them languishing in 7th or 8th place. This corruption then extends itself to officials and leads them to make the diabolical decisions that you see on such a regular basis. Expect normal service to resume next season. As for The Arsenal being the best club, no arguments there mate. All supporters THINK that they support the best club but Arsenal fans KNOW they do. We were the first super club in the world and we have the most tradition. We are the Royal family of the football world. Up the Arse.

  • Ugandan Goon

    Thanks for the article, Walter.
    I don’t know if you have already seen this but it looks like you might have to point your smoking gun to the blue bit of London.
    It looks like the dutch FA might be enlightening us on just how the manipulations of the bigger clubs are orchestrated and with any luck, kick Abramovich in the crotch.
    I also think you might enjoy this, here we have a tired and emotional club owner shooting from the hip, people so often want change for change’s sake, this will not deter them as most won’t know what a powerhouse Leeds Utd were in their pomp.
    The live recording has been taken down and i hear Mr. H has had letters from solicitors flung on peoples doorsteps.

  • Tom

    The reason your Referee Reviews have so much trouble achieving any traction in the main stream is because of all the other aspects of UA agenda that come across like a World -wide conspiracy against AW and Arsenal FC.
    The PGMOL , UEFA , the media and even other clubs and their managers , according to this site , have an agenda to ‘cheat ‘ Arsenal out of its rightful place at the top.
    Every referee decision that goes against Arsenal gets scrutinized endlessly while the ones in our favor hardly even get any mention – case in point – Rosicky penalty call against Zabaleta – not given ,created a separate debate onto itself , with most UA regulars calling it a stone cold, bolt on , without a doubt pen, when in reality it was a 50/50 call at best and probably a bit of a dive.
    When was the last time AW didn’t ask for a pen in his presser if he though he was denied a pen?. I can’t recall but he didn’t ask for it this time.

    There was no such a debate after Podolski took out a Swansey player with a blatant body check in a penalty area or when Probert blew the final whistle that stopped what could’ve been a winning goal for the Swans.
    If those two plays had gone agains Arsenal , there probably would’ve been articles written about those plays alone and how Probert again screwed us over.

    Now I understand perfectly this is a heavily pro Arsenal site so you can expect a healthy dose of pro Arsenal bias and I rather like that but that’s where it hurts your cause .
    It’s a shame really because the RR’s ,however imperfect ,are a very useful and insightful compilation of data which does indeed predict what to expect from most PL referees and does prove that it all does not even out at the end.

  • Micheal Ram


    You have full support on this. The best true example I can highlight is Paul Scholes. The savage tackle on Vieira, the leg breaking studs up on Chamakh and the persisting procovative swearing on referees and opponents shows what Man Utd is all about. How many red cards has he received in his career as media-loved-tagged ‘player who doesnt know how to tackle’. How many times have we seen Roy Keane man handle the referee? How many times have we seen Rio Ferdinand make a fool or thug of himself and get away with it? The fact that Paul Scholes insulting Arsenal for incompetence where else Man Utd is six feet under is really hilarious. And now we have Tony Pulis kissing Mourinho’s ass like he did for his previous master. What a embarrassment.

  • omgarsenal

    Ah David….United are better at what? Diving, intimidating officials, certainly NOT Football this season….it must HURT to be a Mancunian and watch your precious United tumble from their artificially sustained perch to mid-table mediocrity, when the officials stop helping them AND their true inadequacies are revealed!
    In answer to your question…United are NO longer the flavour of the month and Moyes is a wet squib who no one fears so…..its payback time. By the way, if you’d bothered to do a little basic research…you’d have noticed that two websites have confirmed the bent nature of officiating in the EPL, one of them is UA and the other is Questionable Decisions.
    gb….learn to compose proper English and maybe you might be actually listened to, but nobody will ever take you seriously….you too pathetic and ignorant.

  • ARSENAL 13

    Not conceding penalty is one thing. BUT how can you not concede a penalty when you have defenders like Vidic, Rio, Smalling, Evans…..HOW??…

  • Well Johnson, that is a mighty interesting commentary, and I can see that you have really delved into the years of research by independent referees including those supporting Man U. Thank you for doing that and giving us such a fulsome response.

  • Mark

    I think the word fixed is to strong a word for what is happening. I think a better word is the playing field is “tilted.” In the low corner there is Arsenal. In the highest corner is Man U. The rest of the clubs are spread out over the field. Clubs from NW England are more at the high end of the pitch and clubs from SE England are at the lower end. Clubs that spend lots on transfers are also rewarded favorably against clubs like Arsenal that only rarely make lots of purchases. I think this is because the media want news and clubs that buy and spend help them make news.
    The tilt is achieved by manipulation of the officiating.

    In the first half of the season Arsenal was able to win games in spite of the refs. But then the injuries started to accumulate because of the way refs allow abuse toward Arsenal players and this has affected the later half of the season. The tilt against the Gunners starts to catch up even if at times they are able to get a result against the run of the officiating.

    All of this is part of the manipulation because the people doing the manipulation don’t want Arsenal out of the competition they just want them always to come out short.

    I think there is something of “class” that is part of this as Arsenal is always looked at as the “snobby foreign team” with a “French” manager. So in the English Class system Arsenal are the boogie man that they want to always come of short. This some how satisfies the English working class view of how things should be.

  • Mike

    For all you Man U ‘followers’, I seem to recall some evidence which you can check for yourselves before arbitrarily slagging off everything that is researched and scientifically analysed by NON-ARSENAL SUPPORTING referees for this site.

    6 or 8 years ago (I can’t remember exactly) that nice Mike Riley refereed 49 games in a particular season. 41 of the games didn’t involve Man U. In those 41 games he gave one penalty. In the 8 games in which Man U were involved he gave 9 penalties…………..surprise, surprise, all to Man U. Now rather than keep coming back with unsubstantiated comments which are based on your own wild fantasies about fair play, why don’t you actually look at the mathematical probabilty of how likley that would be to happen in favour of ANY one club. Then do the maths to determine the probability of it happening to a named club……..and let’s face it, it was never going to happen to anyone but Man U now was it?

    When you’ve done the maths makes sure you then buy lottery tickets two weeks running beacuse the chances are more likley that you’ll win back to back jackpots. Well not quite, but put simply, 19 teams each have the chance to win a penalty from Riley once every 41 games. Based upon that, it would, on average mean that Riley would have to referee 779 games for each premiership club to be awarded one penalty. In the meantime, if Riley had refereed 779 games involving Man U, they would have received 876 penalties.

    Now I’m no mathematician and I am not stupid enough to think that this was a typical season. However, the fact remains that one club still experienced 876 times the chance of being awarded a penalty than all the other 19 clubs. Now even with an allowance for considerable variations/exceptions it is very hard to explain that on the basis of the laws of probability. And it certainly puts to bed the nonsense argument that it “all evens itself out” over the season that’s for sure.

    It’s no coincidence that Graham Poll admitted publicly a few weeks ago that he wasn’t surprised that Man U were not being favoured as much this season. His reasoning was that (apart from himself – yeh right!) all other referees were intimidated by Ferguson and knew they would get the hairdryer treatment if they gave significant decisions against Man U. Some admission…….but we also see, as pointed out by others, that if you did actually give descions agaianst Man U at OT, Mike Riley made sure you knew about it. Even more reason not do so.

    And like others, I wholeheartedly agree that it is Munich and the sychophantic press that have made Man U so popular. What they have yet to realise is that whilst Man U may have the most ‘hangers-on’, they are also the most hated team in the world because of the uneven playing field. Still it didn’t stop the pro-Man U BBC moving their studio to within walking distance of Old Trafford just so they didn’t have to go so far to stick their heads down the back of Alex Ferguson’s underpants.

  • jayramfootball

    This is a very plausible reason as to why the FA, PL and referees have systematically cheated for Man Utd for 20 years. Its one linked to money – and as we know from history in any part of life.. where there is money there is corruption and crime. I actually find it laughable that some people still bury their heads in the sand with the ‘it cant happen in England’ mentality. The bias in the decisions over 20 years is very unlikely to be by chance, yet many prefer to go with the unlikely scenario because it is more comfortable to deal with.

    It will all come out one day, it always does. I hope I am around to see that.