Premier League referees have to stop bottling decisions or someone is going to get seriously hurt
Wow. Take a look at that headline. Apart from the fact that the style is not very Untold, it could have been written on this site.
But it wasn’t.
Which is quite remarkable. Because it shows that whereas a year ago the topic of referee decisions was at still at the “it all balances out in the end” level, and the opposition fans would answer any of our articles with, “We should have had a penalty – Arsenal get away with wrong decisions as much as anyone” type of comment, now suddenly the debate is opening up.
We’ve had comments about how the way the FA strangles debate on referees in the press and how that has gone too far, and while no one that I have read has come out and applauded our ten point plan for a proper open way to referee the Premier League, there is most certainly a debate brewing.
If you are a regular reader you’ll know that the multiple problems within refereeing is one of the key issues Untold has been highlighting for years – and there has been no movement at all apart from PGMOL changing its name to PGMO, closing down its web site and removing anything that suggests it has ever been criticised from its Wiki page.
But now, slowly, it looks like the message is getting through.
Today, it is the turn of the Telegraph, who recently suprised us all by running a PGMO press release (PGMO being the organisation that runs refereeing in the Premier League) about how they were looking into video refs, but then quickly followed that up by a piece that started to criticise PGMO. It seemed a strange about face, and we’ve wondered where they are going.
The gist of the new piece is that there have only been six red cards for bad tackles and violent conduct this season in the PL. It makes it quite clear this is because the referees are increasingly becoming more lenient. They speak of “lax officiating”.
To see what a change in dynamic this is, I don’t think there was a single article in 2013 or earlier attacking referees in the Premier League for anything.
Certainly the Telegraph is onto a good point, for if the dearth of red cards, in what is becoming a more violent Premier League, continues, this will be an all time low for reds. There were 31 in 2010/11 – and on current form it will be about 15 this year.
According to the Telegraph, last weekend Marrriner should have sent of Fernando and Eliaquim Mangala of Man City, and Eto of Everton. Charlie Austin of QPR should have gone off much earlier, Sadio Mane of Southampton should have been red carded by Friend, while Leicester City’s Jamie Vardy should have gone.
Now the Telegraph don’t actually talk about overt bias against Arsenal, but in another ground breaking moment they do mention that the bias is clearly always in favour of the home team – something all our stats have shown.
That is a serious allegation of bias, but sadly the Telegraph then don’t follow this through with critical analysis. Instead they speak simply of referees “simply appearing to let more go and are refusing to take responsibility.”
Well yes, that too, but the home bias bit should never have been so readily glossed over. Home teams might win more because they don’t have to travel, but they should never win more because of refs.
They do however say that refereeing “is being scrutinised more than ever,” which is good news for our long running campaign.
“Shirt pulling, diving, dissent, players raising their hands to each other – each offence has been the subject of debate, division and media campaigning in recent seasons; in recent weeks, even. But the biggest threat to football is the biggest threat that it has always carried – the offence that breaks a player’s leg or tears the ligaments in his knee or ankle.”
So here we have it, at last, the debate is opening up. And my goodness they even acknowledge the “reckless lunge by United’s Paddy McNair at Arsenal’s Jack Wilshere.” Amazing.
So what is the solution? OK it is not our ten point plan for making PGMO an open organisation, as we called for, but for the Telegraph, “it is time to add the very best foreign referees to the Premier League roster.”
Now if for a moment you were to accept that there is perhaps a bending of referees going on in England along the lines of what has happened in Italy in the past, that won’t help too much. So it is a fairly weak idea. Worse, if it were to come in, a lot of people including PGMO would say that this shows nothing is wrong. But fortunately the Telegraph discredits its own idea by pointing out that the move to laxness probably comes in part from the World Cup and its dreadful refereeing.
So that could be a step back, but we should not be downhearted.
But the Telegraph goes on to call the referees secret organisation, “ridiculously political” and that is a step forwards.
In fact I would say the whole thing is a step forwards, and at the risk of seeming unduly pompous I think Untold can take a little credit for this, and Walter Broeckx can take major credit.
Walter has ploughed a lone furrow for years on this issue, and has highlighted so many faults in refereeing in the Premier League that ultimately the Grand Silence had to be broken.
And now it has. Hats off to Walter – getting an issue that has been silent into the debating chamber is the hardest thing of all, and he’s done it.
Amazing. I really had begun to wonder if it would ever happen.
- Clubs are showing signs of fighting back at journalists
- Are Arsenal really making progress, or are we starting to slip back?
- Luton 3 Arsenal 4: maybe it is time to say positive things
- Luton v Arsenal – the referee, the team, Saka and Cliff Bastin
- Luton Town – how do they play the game. The tackles, fouls and cards.