By Tony Attwood
When an organisation is battered into a corner the best way out is subterfuge, to make it look as if you are doing something when doing nothing, to suggest x is the issue when it is y and above all to stop people talking about z. The generic terms are “putting up a smoke screen”, “laying false trails”, “muddying pools” and the like.
So we see the Daily Telegraph, the PR front of the PGMO (the organisation that employs and selects referees) which is arguing that, “It is deeply frustrating that the governing body cannot see that refereeing in this country is teetering towards crisis. Many players, managers and fans have just lost faith in English referees.”
“Oh,” we might think, if we are indeed prone to thinking things like “oh”. What now? The Telegraph backing away from its out and out support of the PGMO?
Well, no, because the Telegraph is turning its ire not on PGMO, who through deciding to run an organisation whose secrecy is so overwhelming that they are said to give advice to the Security Service and Military Intelligence departments of the UK government (known in common parlance as MI5 (for uprisings within the kingdom), and MI6 (for operations overseas).)
No, Utlra Secretive PGMO can breathe easily in their deep bunkers far removed from reality. The ploy has worked. Their chums in Victoria, working at the Telegraph (a newspaper originally set up to sell to be read by the retired officer class in the Empire) are up to the mark.
For the Telegraph is after the FA.
They speak of “words that shame the FA and will surely lead to renewed calls for a shake-up of its disciplinary department”
And they quote an FA statement in relation to the match that J. Mourinho and his comrades in the Politburo have been getting so worked up about.
“The FA confirm no further action in relation to Ashley Barnes, as the incident was seen by the officials. In the vast majority of challenges for the ball, no retrospective action is taken as the incident has been seen by the match officials.
“Retrospective action was introduced as a deterrent for ‘off the ball incidents’ committed out of sight of officials. The whole game is in agreement that, in the vast majority of cases, match officials are best placed to deal with incidents to avoid re-refereeing.”
“As it stands, the FA is complicit in a miscarriage of justice,” says Henry Winter getting a bit confused. Miscarriages of justice occur, Mr Winter, when the law is wrongly applied, or the evidence is deliberately withheld. What has happened here is that the evidence has been provided – the ref saw the event and in that split second reached his decision. He may have been wrong in the eyes of other people, but that has got nothing to do with the justice – the rules of the game are that if the ref says he saw it, and says, “no foul”, then that is the end of the matter.
It is nothing to do with Atkinson; this is everything to do with the rules of refereeing, and the way that no one is allowed to look behind the scenes into what is actually happening with refereeing.
Suggesting that one referee should be withdrawn from footballing duty because of one decision is the sort of thing that idiot supporters do. They take one event and say, “well if that can happen, he’s obviously useless, kick him out” without any context or broader analysis. “FACT: Wenger is useless” – that sort of stuff.
This has all the hallmarks of the dirty tricks division PGMO putting one of their own out to dry, and deflecting attention from themselves by having their press allies shout at that one ref over that one decision.
“The whole incident and unsatisfactory aftermath damages the reputation of English refereeing around the world,” screams the Telegraph. What tripe. The reputation of the Premier League is damaged by the growing awareness that there is a level of bias in Premier League football, and that the PGMO is putting out figures of accuracy by refs which is simply unbelievable while deliberately restricting the number of refs available, and getting them to sign “silence clauses” at the end of their terms of duty, in return for massive pay outs. That is what has destroyed the reputation of Premier League football.
Of course when the Telegraph says, “The FA’s claim that it can speak for “the whole game” is nonsensical and arrogant,” they are right. The monetarily and morally bankrupt FA is arrogant beyond belief. That is why Sport England withdrew its funding.
And the issue isn’t whether Alan Shearer described Barnes’s high tackle into Matic’s shin as “horrific” and “dangerous”. The issue is that the regulations say that if the ref says he made a decision having seen the event, that’s that. PGMO in its absolute secrecy will have nothing more to do with the matter.
And where is all this going? Finally we see.
“Howard Webb and the general manager of Professional Game Match Officials, Mike Riley, have assessed the experiment going on in Holland. Riley said of the Dutch that “they should be congratulated for the foresight on behalf of world football to say, ‘How can we make this better?’ Because we can.” Because it is required.”
The Telegraph then quotes a Premier League official as saying, “Standards have been high and have been rising for a number of seasons. There is 99 per cent accuracy on offside decisions. There is 95 per cent accuracy on the major decisions. We are pretty much on a par with last season and we’ve lost Howard Webb, while Lee Probert has been out all season injured.”
As this point Mr Winter, author of the piece for the Telegraph could have said,
a) those figures are ludicrous – you only have to watch the game to know – and besides if they are true, can we see an analysis please, like they publish in Belgium?
b) there are clearly not enough referees – we are getting the same refs over and over again, and if some of them are getting things wrong we need to give them a break – but we can’t because we don’t have back ups.
They could have said either or both, but they didn’t. And that tells us what really is going on. When they get as far as quoting those numbers and not answering the questions they raise, we know there is something very, very wrong.
As a propaganda exercise the piece may have kept some of those ex-officers from the Empire chortling in their padded seats, but I doubt anyone else will have ended the piece without at the very least thinking, “hang on, that didn’t make any sense.”
Anniversaries of the day: Two exceptional Arsenal men
24 February 1962: George Armstrong played his first Arsenal game, v Blackpool. He went on to play exactly 500 league games for Arsenal before moving to Leicester.
24 February 1964: William Garbutt – the man who took football to Italy, died. He played for Woolwich Arsenal before managing Genoa, Roma, Napoli and Milan.
And if you are a Bob Dylan fan…
You might enjoy Untold Dylan.
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