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April 2021

The video ref is on his way part 4: how PGMOL works to silence its critics

By Walter Broeckx

After our first article on the video ref  in which we set the scene and our second article in which we showed what the football authorities from Holland are doing to improve the refereeing standards we have shown in a third article what the PGMOL are doing in England to improve refereeing.

If you clicked on the third link (in case you didn’t read the articles before) you will have noticed that we sent you to an empty page. That is no coincidence. The simple fact is we cant find anything about what the PGMOL are doing to improve the standards of refereeing.

Now we will try to compare how the PGMOL works and how the Dutch football authorities work.

The Dutch football authorities have on their website articles about how they are working on improving the refereeing standards. They have articles to which I will link (but which are in Dutch) about their programme to improve refereeing standards   and about using 5th and 6th officials in some matches.

There is also one about the video referee and another one about the video referee and how they see it as the future.

And they even have a link for people who don’t speak Dutch where you can see the video with English subtitles.

Compare this with the PGMOL.

They once had a website. But the more Untold started to close in on them the more the website went silent. It moved from a situation in which they were looking for contributors to help enlarge the web site (Tony offered to write for them) to one which had a very small amount of information on, then to one for which one needed a password.

Now I can’t find it any more. It has gone. Vanished. Like the vanishing spray they are going to use. The only thing I do can find about the PGMOL is this on the official PL website. But the text on that article is as vague as can be and will probably still be the same in some 10 years time.

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And there is of course an article on wikipedia. In that article they removed the link to Untold Arsenal and Referee decisions I have noticed.

So it is clear that the PGMOL doesn’t like anyone saying anything to the public who ultimately pays the salaries of the referees.   They want us to shut up and they don’t want to say anything themselves.

Contrast this with the Dutch football authorities: when they have a problem they come out with it and they decide to work on it. They try to improve their refereeing. Even when mistakes are made, just the fact that the football authorities admit to the mistake and tell the public what they are trying to do about it is an amazing difference from the hear-nothing, know-nothing, say-nothing approach of the PGMOL.

When errors are made in the PL the final conclusion is: oops. And that’s it. Dutch football authorities say: we must avoid this and how can we avoid such mistakes being made again in the future.

While the Dutch football authorities stick out their neck and try to find solutions I can only imagine Mike Riley sitting there in his ivory tower unaware of what is going on. That image isn’t correct of course. I think Mike Riley and whoever is also responsible for the referees in the PL are very well aware what is going on.

But they refuse to take action. “Standing still is not an option” was the title of the first article. Well the PGMOL has taken that non-option. The worst possible option!

The Dutch football authorities have taken the option of trying to find a solution. In the ultraconservative football world at the top people don’t like change. Even if they can improve football and make sure that when the ref blows the final whistle that the final score on the scoreboard is based on correct decisions.  That is all I ask for. To know that when I go back to my house some 400 km from London after having spent a lot of money on travels and tickets that the final score is correct. I may not like it but at least I know I haven’t been robbed.

The Dutch football authorities have understood this very well. As they say a few times in their articles and video. They want to make sure that a match gets a fair run for its money.  And they have experimented in order to be able to show Fifa and Fiba that it can be done to use a video referee. And now they have asked Fifa and Fiva permission to take the next step. The step of linking the video ref with the ref on the field. To help that ref on the field in his decision making.

And the PGMOL……does nothing. Every now and then Mike Riley comes out to reveal some stats which are completely out of line with what we have checked. But that’s it. They say what the people want to hear: all is right in the referee world. Sleep gently. Rest assured.

And the Dutch football authorities say: all is not right in the referee world. And this is what we are doing and trying to do to improve it.

It is a question of making the choice. The brave choice they have taken in Holland or the stick your head in the sand choice from the PGMOL.

I know what I would choose. I know who I support. I know who I admire for having the guts and honesty to try to stop refereeing errors.

When I look at the different approach it seems to me that the PGMOL doesn’t care about refereeing mistakes. The Dutch football authorities clearly do care and want to prevent them. The PGMOL not.

I think it is criminal negligence from the PGMOL, in a business in which so much money goes round and round.  In a sport in which so many people are interested. In a sport where the happiness of so many people is directly linked with the decisions the referees make. For all those reasons it is criminal negligence from the part of the PGMOL to sit on their bums and do nothing about referee mistakes.

Unless of course…. unless of course…. unless of course…. you want the referees to have the freedom to make mistakes? Unless of course you want that freedom to direct certain referees to certain results?

The choice is simple Mr. Riley. Come out in the open and say that you want to tackle referee mistakes and prevent them. Support the Dutch question to use video referees. And if you don’t and remain silent once again I can only think that you don’t want fair results in football. And then this means that you are unfit to do the job they have given you. You and whoever backs you to stay in that job.

Clean football from referee mistakes and make it fair for all supporters in the same way. Not just for a few privileged clubs. That is your job Mr. Riley. Better start working on it. And you don’t even have to start from scratch. The Dutch football authorities have already paved the way for a big part. You only need to join them.

What are you waiting for?

The books

The complete Arsenal Anniversary series is to be found on the Arsenal History Society site.




28 comments to The video ref is on his way part 4: how PGMOL works to silence its critics

  • greencardusa

    “hear-nothing, know-nothing, say-nothing” Hmmmn, sounds like a dictatorship to me!
    Oh, Freedom, where art thou!
    Sport, like countless other social institutions, is supposed, among other things, to increase the freedom of a society. But, the PGMOL appears to be taking us back to the dark ages. What would it take to turn this ship around? Exactly what you are courageously doing Walter. Your voice and the voices on this blog keep that flame going. The automatons that view this concern derisively, sadly, are the very ones that at other times are far too eager to proclaim sloganistically the freedom of their society! We all look forward in our daily lives to improve who we are to become better people, why should our institutions be different?

  • oldgroover

    You crafty old sod Walter. Completely fooled me there.

  • Baldy

    I don’t understand what the issue is with using video replays. It works brilliantly in Super League rugby, does not hold up the game in any way and at least if you lose it was because you were beaten, not shagged up the arse by a blind ref or linesman.

  • finsbury

    Thanks for this series of articles Walter.

    Although much information about this organisation has been hidden we can find/remember examples of the type of training that is required in order to work for the PGMOL:

    Courtesy of Rantetta.
    Warning: Those of you who believe in or admire the Corinthian Spirit may find this link to be offensive.

  • oldgroover

    If the PGMOL are uncontactable, then it might be a good idea to spam the FA on this subject. A co-ordinated campaign of protest would at least bring it to the blazers attention.

  • goonermichael

    Offside goals would not be time affected in any way. If it’s a doubt the linesman lets play continue. If there is a goal the play stops anyway and the video ref can tell the ref to rule it out. Once a linesman makes a bad offside call it can’t be reversed. With a bad penalty call the ref has already stopped the play too so that wouldn’t be time affected. If the referee misses a penalty and the video ref tells him to call one the play should have stopped. Even when throw ins and corners/goal kicks are disputed the play has already stopped. American football is a start stop game by it’s nature. It is made up of set plays. The people who use the time argument are people who don’t want change. I see howard webb has taken up a position with the referees association.

    When zidane head butted matarazzi none of the officials saw it in real time. The 4th official clearly only saw a playback and he acted on it.

  • geekaybee

    Well researched and written. Professional football must use all available technology and common sense ( e.g. marking out 10 yards with a spray) to help referees make clear and correct decisions.

  • Sav from Australia

    Oh the brilliant series continues, Walter.

    You listening Mike?
    Do you know Untold has hundreds of thousands frequenting the website. You do know that don’t you?
    You will be caught and punished one day, rest assured. You and all you dirty, little cheats. Little men…little, weak, good for nothing leeches.

  • Pete

    Hi All,

    I have been away for a little while and unfortunately missed Walter’s excellent article on the North/South refereeing divide. I drafted the below as a comment on that but now a bit late for that – but seems a reasonable fit to this series too.

    Read it and weep…

    This whole thing is sickening.

    But it gets worse. I refer you to: – this stuff is eye-watering.

    And my article previously published here:

    Then, leaving aside corruption and the perceived commercial needs of the Premier League, it is beyond naive to think that referees don’t have their favourite teams and players – they are human. I have heard private comments that confirm this.

    Walter and Don, to name but two, have published articles on this site showing how easy it is for referees to tilt matches – albeit not always decisively. I am also sure they have seen plenty of examples first hand of biased officiating.

    So, to repeat the conclusion of my article linked above, Arsenal have been on average four goals a season worse off since 2009 due to skewed penalty decisions alone – far beyond any random statistical fluctuation. Then there are all the other problems (cards, lack of protection against bad challenges leading to injuries, free kicks awarded etc).

    That is a significant handicap to overcome every single season. But Arsenal should not need to.

  • finsbury

    Bingo! And there it is: the response of the PGMOL for their non-existent credibility.

    The Dutch FA have chosen their path.
    And therefore the powers that be, the blazers who sit on top of the PGMOL have granted us lucky souls who follow the PL the wisdom of Howard Webb in order to explain their Referee Decisions 😉
    Looks like they accept that they need, and I quote, “to enlighten people.” Can’t imagine why!

    No website. No contact information.
    Just Webb. Technical Director.
    In case you have problems reading the rule book.

    Says here:
    “It’s about trying to improve the communication channel through to people who watch football.
    “We’re keen to give them a greater understanding of the job that we do.
    “Hopefully that will bring some credibility. That’s a really exciting part of the job.”

    Like explaining that strange handball call against Clichy. If they wanted some credibility all they have to do is avoid such transparent decisions! Or, they could start by improving the communication between officials, like the Dutch are doing.
    How many kits of Hawkeye could you get for the salary of this Technical Director who did not have the technical ability to spot flying kicks in a game of football on more then a few occasions.

  • nicky

    The PGMOL should be reminded of the story of King Canute.
    Progress won’t be denied.
    The day of reckoning will come.
    And like the walls of Jericho, the false edifice which houses Riley and others will eventually be toppled.

  • oldgroover


    I’d be satisfied with a bit more transparency.

  • nicky

    The incompetence, bias nature and outright corruption of some officials is pretty transparent to me, my friend.

  • bjtgooner


    I agree – the net is slowly closing on Riley & his minions & his new minder Webb.

    Incidentally, on my travels today had a tuna/spring onion/mayo sandwich – with a considerable helping of cheddar – never came across that mix before – very nice!

  • Mandy Dodd

    I am actually surprised UEFA and FIFA, not being the most pro English league of organisations have not done more about the pgmol and their puppet masters, unless of course it suits them to let it go.
    Always read FIF blogs and tweets Pete, if only a fraction he writes is true, it is very depressing, if it is all true, we may as well give up,following the game and get into something less fixed like show biz pro wrestling.

  • soglorious

    Walter,Michael Oliver has been appointed for our CS match. Any ref preview on what we should expect? Bet it could be the beginning of us being screwed up

  • Ray from Norfolk, Virginia

    I would have rather had John Oliver.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Or Jamie oliver

  • omgarsenal

    Some great comments from our UA posters………..

  • Shakabula Gooner

    Thanks for this piece. It would have been wonderful if pgmol were to be as open and proactive in seeking out ways to discharge their responsibilities to the EPL more accurately.

    That they are not but choose to remain bounded in their mediocrity bring two questions to mind:

    1. Who is pgmol answerable to? Surely, they aren’t indifferent to or independent of the collective will of the EPL club owners?

    2. Are the EPL club owners happy with pgmol’ year-on-year performance and uninterested in seeing year-on-year improvements?

    The answer to the second question is crucial. In view of the owners’ actions to date, it seems as if, collectively, they don’t care about pgmol’s performance nor are they interested in seeing improvements. You only get what you ask for and care for enough to agitate for.

    Walter, you may need to do another series on why the owners are so indifferent as to not be taking every step to be more transparent internally and externally, in the qualities of the games it officiates. And why it is not seeking ways to ensure that pgmol gives better service, year on year.

    in my view, the EPL cup owners are as guilty in tolerating poor officiating and opaque pgmol processes as the pgmol officers and management that delivers them.

  • oldgroover

    Shakabula Gooner

    In the absence of Walter (who’s probably having a good lie in) I’ll give you two answers.
    A) PGMOL are answerable only to their employers The FA who themselves are answerable to FIFA.
    B) Club owners rarely (if ever) give opinions on performances of match officials, and delegate all actions in this area to CEO’s & managers.

  • nicky

    Don’t fancy a mix of fish and cheese at all.
    Both are OK on their own.
    Mayo and me don’t get on.

  • Pete

    I have long wondered why Ivan Gazidis does not sit down with Scudamore for a cosy 1:1, outline the overwhelming statistical evidence of bias in PGMOL officiating, and suggest this situation is resolved pronto otherwise Arsenal will start rocking the boat – as vigorously as is required.

  • Jayramfootball

    I do so hope that Arsenal and other clubs have been working in the background for years with private investigators to build evidence. Given the overwhelming nature of the cheating against Arsenal for over two decades it would be surprising if the club were not investigating independently.

    If not , how much would such am investigation cost?
    Could we all fund it?

  • Mandy Dodd

    Maybe the club are working in the background – was the lack of Anthony Taylor after the villa game a coincidence? But if they are, it is clear they are not doing enough…witness the refereeing in the FA cup final for starters.
    Things are changing at the club, perhaps a bit of modernisation and updating in the way things are run in many areas…fitness, the youth setup, and if we are adversely affected by corruption/bias, I would be amazed if someone is not looking into it, probably not Wenger,a purist perhaps above such grubby issues , more likely Ivan or our legal team. I certainly hope so, IG is a very powerful man. Lets see what the season brings

  • Mandy Dodd

    AMAZING – the refereeing decisions to be explained by Howard Webb in his new role!
    Maybe Untold are getting through to them.
    First impressions…devout cynicism…red or sky blue tinted glasses, and not the red of Arsenal…..but guess they deserve a chance.
    Keep up the pressure on the PGMOL!

  • Rantetta


    Thanks for a superb series of articles.