The extreme danger we face of PGMO doing nothing

By Tony Attwood

If anything seems to represent the style and approach of Professional Game Match Officials Ltd company which employs Premier League referees, it is a combination of complacency and secrecy, with a side order of arrogance thrown in.

This is a most dangerous combination, because the secrecy inevitably leads to a lack of belief that all is well with the game, and ultimately reduces the credibility of the matches that these referees run.   Meanwhile the complacency makes matters worse, and when the organisation does suddenly wake up to the need to act they inevitably turn up with the traditional “too little too late”.

You can just imagine the bosses of the organisation sitting in their equivalent of Versailles, ignoring the pleas for reform and claiming that no one would dare act against their royal majesties, while forgetting the lessons of history from 1789 onwards.

Untold has been playing the role of the Third Estate in challenging PGMO for quite a few years now and the response of the organisation has been silence – and indeed on occasion the silencing of some of those who talk to us, not to mention the removal of their own web site and the ceaseless vigilance over their Wiki entry in case someone slips in a word of concern.

Meanwhile the media has continued to report the bad refereeing decisions, but not contrasted them at all with the PGMO’s own bizarre reporting of how it sees referee decisions as having gone.  A brief attempt to respond to us via the Daily Telegraph, over the issue of the video referee, looked like a very quickly cobbled together press release, and the newspapers subsequent article suggested in-fighting within the organisation itself.   Since then we have been back to silence.

The media’s position is ultimately unsustainable, because as always they are never asking “why?”   Why are we seeing so many mistakes, and why are actions not being taken to resolve the situation?   We could add the question “why does the media ignore the issue?”  Is it because PGMO apply pressure, is it in the contract (“you can show these matches on TV but you must not question the competence of the ref”), or is it because in their arrogant manner the media thinks the issue of referee competence is too complex for their average readers?

That we don’t know, but there is on the horizon a warning of where this could lead if someone does not wake up soon.

For as I write this, games in all the professional leagues in Greece professional leagues are indefinitely suspended after a referees’ committee official was admitted to hospital following a violent attack.  This in turn follows earlier violence against referees in Cyprus.

In Greece Christoforos Zografos, the assistant director of the central refereeing committee, was attacked by two men using clubs, in Athens last weekend.

Now of course I am not saying such appalling action could happen in England, but I do say that silence, and complacency, leads to this sort of situation.

The Hellenic Football Federation denounced the action as a “murderous attack” and simply stopped appointing officials to matches until steps were taken to protect match officials.

Clubs in Greece have for a long time been seeking the intervention of overseas referees to take on matches to stop what is perceived as wide-spread match fixing through the bribing of referees, in the style that we have become familiar with in Italy.   Match-fixing scandals have indeed occurred several times in Greece.

Thankfully we are nowhere near such violence in England, but we have seen this season increasing numbers of managers risk the wrath of the FA  and Premier League by openly questioning the decisions of referees in games – something that they all know is completely beyond bounds.

Ultimately PGMO will have to open up, just as ultimately the press will have to start reporting the concerns that we report week after week.  They will do so of course using their “1984” technique of simply changing their approach and pretending that they have been concerned all the time.  That is a given, but at least they will eventually start reporting the issue.

The problem is not that it won’t happen, but rather that it might well happen only after the situation gets so bad it is ultimately irredeemable.

The future in terms of refereeing in England, is not looking bright.

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17 Replies to “The extreme danger we face of PGMO doing nothing”

  1. Very interesting article Tony!!

    The fact that steps to reform the current set up in the English game as far as officiating and appointment of officials is concerned is highlighted by the developments in Greece. I have been closely following many Greek Journalists who have amongst other things offered tape conversations of corruption between refs and teams in the Greek Super League.

    This has been going on for years!!!!!!!

    It is well documented on the internet and many high profile journalists have put the corruption issues to the public eye.

    It is NOT the referees who need protection…it is the game of football and its integrity!!!

    I am certain that what goes on in the PGMOL is a mirror of whats been going on in Greece – NO DOUBT ABOUT IT!!

  2. Some links:

    There are many many more and who ever has cable service to Greek Chanels, SKAI (a TV station running for years a series of investigative reporting on corruption of the game in Greece) has unfolded and discovered much for the prosecutors to consider.

    The Premier League is close to this type of thing!

  3. shame about these refs under threat of violence. Some of our refs will be honest and trying to do their jobs, but a figure like Riley, with his past record and his present inaction and complete lack of leadership is hanging the decent honest refs out to dry

  4. A few years ago I was working in Greece when a player bit off the Referees ear. Louis Suarez must have his spirit!!! I hope our referees are not attacked but I also hope the ones who ignore foul tackles suffer the mental anguish that players with broken limbs have to go through.

  5. I guess the previous article about Abou Diaby covers the danger of what PGMOL is doing!

  6. I have written a number of salient articles about what officials face in their lifelong efforts to become top quality officials but there are many barriers to success in this process. my upcoming article will deal with some of them.
    Lets remember that proving corruption is very difficult when it comes to match officials and even their assistants rarely are able to detect such corruption. We tend to shrug it off as the official having a bad game because we rarely officiate two games together in a normal season.
    however that said, it is hard to explain away some horrible incompetence like we saw in the last WC and quite regularly from EPL officials. We have to ask ourselves why CL officials seem to be better at it than their EPL colleagues, when they all have basically the same training and experience/expertise?

  7. “a combination of complacency and secrecy, with a side order of arrogance thrown in” Just add the word “Greed” in there and you could be describing Fifa. PMGO should feel really embarrassed to be that similar to such a truly appalling operation!

  8. One of the problems with bribery of officials or the PGMO using appointments to affect results is that there are only 4 officials at any game. It gets harder to manipulate results the more officials that are involved in any game. So if they increase the one the field refs to two, with two linesmen and an official time keeper and an official to manage subs and an official video review person it would suddenly get harder to manipulate the results. Because there were have to be 7 people bribed or 7 people with ‘tendencies’ to manipulate.

    At this point I as a fan have no confidence that the EPL is not being manipulated. If they increased the number of officials it would help restore some confidence that the PGMO is actually trying to get correct decisions.

    More officials would also help with bias that is to some extent native in human beings. It could be a small thing like Ref A does not like purple. So a team with a purple kit he has a slight negativity toward. But if there are 7 others involved in trying to make correct decisions it is very unlikely that all 7 would hate purple. So the others start to reduce the influence of native bias.

    I would also like to see a set of official assigned to the game with a random appointment to various tasks at the time of the game. This would prevent criminals from bribery, because they would not know who is going to do what part of the officiating. If they know so and so is going to do lines then they can pressure that person to make mistakes in ways that favor one team or another.

  9. Atkinson when we play Chelsea, Dean when we play Manchester United. The fact that Untold Arsenal always predicts this and it always happens is a clear indication that all is not well. All premier league referees should be regarded as equally competent, and there should be a random selection of which referees officiate at which games.

  10. Many years ago when I was still young enough to play Sunday League football a ref was supplied by the League and each club would provide a linesman. Some of those linesman attempted to be more honest than others but all in all their was a bit of bias one way or another by both sides. It strikes me that if both clubs provided 3 officials for each half of a Premier League game we would have a similiar level of bias. However, by my reckoning it would be a hell of a lot fairer than it is now despite the fact that the percentage of correct decision may diminish.

    Having said all that, I’m sure the powers that be would insist that Man U always officiated over the second half so that they could add on as many minutes as required in order to show due respect to the spirit of Fergietime.

  11. Tony, Walter,
    PGMOL must be abolished because it is a private company and FA should get back the authority for referees. Well … FA is not briliant, but at least is not a private company.
    I do not understand why clubs (Arsenal FC?) are not louder about PGMOL. Any ideas? Bravo Untold, keep your good work alive.

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